Cook County – Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project

Cook County

COOK COUNTY – Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project, an initiative of the Duluth Superior Community Foundation, believes the best way to determine what a community wants is to listen to what its people have to say – a fundamental principle of democracy.

Disagreements can lead to healthy debate, which brings new information and ideas to light. When a particular issue strikes at the fundamental beliefs of a group or individual, debates can become fierce or unproductive. In these situations, it becomes more important than ever to practice civility.

The Speak Your Peace Civility Project (SYP) urges community organizations, elected officials, and citizens to communicate in a more respectful and effective way and is an effort to improve public discourse. Those behind the project believe by elevating our level of communication and avoiding personal attacks and general stubbornness, we can avoid unhealthy debate; which can lead to a more effective democracy and help maintain a sense of community by increasing civic participation.

Members of the Speak Your Peace Steering Committee will be in Cook County to host an introductory session on Speak Your Peace to community stakeholders including elected officials, members of the community or nonprofit boards and interested public on Monday, Dec. 10, at 6 pm, at the City of Grand Marais Council Chambers. The presentation will cover:

  • The story of SYP, including how and why the program was developed 15 years ago
  • The specifics of the program and what they mean
  • How such a simple program can and has made a difference in:
  • Duluth in the early 2000s
  • Eau Claire, WI
  • Madeline Island, WI
  • Sisters, OR
  • The importance of civility in helping communities find new solutions in a world in which the life cycle on all solutions is becoming shorter and shorter
  • How civility is not just “being nice”–or “being Minnesota nice” (i.e., passive-aggressive)
  • Civility is all about encouraging civic engagement, not about avoiding difficult conversations
  • Why we need more heads in the game these days when it comes to problem-solving and future-finding.

The workshop following the introductory session will include:

  • Discussing and identifying difficult issues, including hard-to-solve problems or seizing opportunities that seem out of reach
  • Identifying how one or more of the tenets of Speak Your Peace could provide roadmaps/trailheads for getting the community where it needs to go
  • Identifying next steps for using SYP to achieve these goals

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, the SYP team will meet with the County Board of Commissioners and provide a summary of activities and outcomes from the previous night, as well as discuss next steps for the County and others.


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