(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 23, 2014)
Could a commitment to civility improve political discourse throughout Oakland County? Commissioner Helaine Zack was so impressed by a Good Neighbors Project and Civility Pledge in Ferndale that she decided to bring the idea to her colleagues on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. The group behind these and many other initiatives, Citizens for Fair Ferndale, was presented with a proclamation on Jan. 22, 2014.
The Good Neighbors Project asked people to create signs stating how they will be a good neighbor. Among the examples Zach presented to the Commission were “I will accept my neighbors for who they are,” “I will be helpful,” and “I will listen first.” People were photographed with their signs, which were then spread on social media, including their specially-created Facebook page. Even Congressman Sander Levin took part, writing “I will be there whenever you need me.”
To go along with that, CFF encouraged people to sign the Civility Pledge. The tools of civility touted in the pledge 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. Dozens of people signed the pledge and it was formally adopted by both Ferndale City Council and the Ferndale School Board.
“I have been so impressed with this group,” Zack told fellow commissioners. “This effort is a shining example of what it means to build and be part of a community. It is a source of hope and inspiration. I hope that you will take it back to your community and you will consider doing this type of resolution as a county with me.”
CFF Chairperson Kat Bruner James accepted the proclamation along with Greg Pawlica, Mary Schusterbauer, JoAnne Hite, Frank O’Donnell and Helen Webber. “If you’d like us to help put together a model to help take this to your own district, to your own city councils and school board, or even your own households, Girl Scout troops, we think this is a really good tool to develop constructive communications,” James said. “We appreciate people allowing us to present it to a wider audience and recognizing us.”
The proclamation was a “commendation to CFF for their years of community service,” honoring them for not only the Good Neighbors and Civility projects, but also the other work they do. CFF hosts independent community forums for local elections. They host the Good Neighbor Awards to recognize people who do nice things in the community. They’re also an incubator of good ideas, including the FernCare Free Clinic and pushing for “fair and equal treatment for all residents and visitors.”
For more information on CFF visit their website at www.fairferndale.org.
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