(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 12, 2013)
There are many cool things to do this weekend at the DIY Festival, but one of the nicest things is to share “How will you be a good neighbor?” and sign the Ferndale Good Neighbors Civility Pledge.
The Good Neighbors booth will be full of Ferndale love and cordiality as they gather the peaceful pledges just in time for political campaign season.
Citizens for a Fair Ferndale Chairperson Kat Bruner James is among those who wanted to see the organization take on a project to promote civility. CFF is known for promoting fairness and diversity. They host the Good Neighbor Awards and neutrally-administered candidate forums. They kicked off The Civility Project last year with community meetings to discuss ways of encouraging civility. The project eventually changed into “Ferndale Good Neighbors,” a committee of CFF which has taken on a life of its own.
“CFF members observed that communication among people who don’t entirely agree with one another seems to have gotten more polarized, divisive, and destructive – a trend that is fueled by national political trends and “info-tainment” style television shows. While we can observe how this trend has stymied our national political process, we recognize that we can’t sit idly by if this trend slows progress in our own neighborhoods. We recognized the need to identify tools that help facilitate meaningful communication and productive problem solving so that when we experience challenging issues in our own community, we can access these tools, work together, and make our community stronger,” Bruner James said.
Visitors are encouraged to take the Pledge and put it on display in their home, workplace, and/or anywhere they might want to access the tools that will help facilitate challenging conversations. Ferndale Good Neighbors will keep a list of those who sign the pledge and post it on their website.
“We’ve all been in situations where someone has talked at us instead of to us, we have argued for the sake of argument, and we’ve been in situations where communication has shut down shortly after an important issue has been raised. It’s frustrating (to say the least), but it often divides people to the point where they actively avoid one another or only communicate through unproductive arguments. It was important to me to think about ways of preventing or repairing such divides, especially among family members, coworkers and neighbors,” she said.
After pledges are gathered at DIY, organizers hope to visit various community groups and invite them to adopt similar civility resolutions for their groups.
The ten tools of civility being touted are: Pay Attention, Listen, Be Inclusive, Don’t Gossip, Show Respect, Seek Common Ground, Repair Damaged Relationships, Use Constructive Language, Tell the Truth and Take Responsibility.
Last year CFF hosted a civility discussion with Civility Center Founder Kent Roberts. Through small group discussions Roberts helped people recognize both helpful and harmful communications. Video from that can be found at http://oaklandcounty115.com/2012/07/20/can-ferndale-be-any-more-civil-video/.
Civility Project tools can be found at http://speakyourpeaceswc.org/tools/.
NOTE: This story has been edited from an earlier version to clarify the relationship of Ferndale Good Neighbors to CFF, and to change the title to reflect this.