Municipalities aim for greater civilityWhat exactly does civility mean?
By: Laura Kruse, New Richmond News
What exactly does civility mean?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s “courtesy, politeness; a polite act or expression.”
It’s pretty hard to deny that the world today could use a little more of those traits.
During the month of October, residents of the Town of Warren and Village of Roberts will be asked to look more closely at their behavior toward themselves and others. Proclamations signed by both municipalities in August declared October as Civility Month.
The grassroots movement was prompted in this area by real estate developer Jim Zeller, who read the book “Choosing Civility, the 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct” by P.M. Forni. The book offers 25 rules for connecting effectively with others, and how to put those rules into practice, thereby making life and the lives of others more enjoyable.
The book is available for check out at the Hazel Mackin Community Library in Roberts.
The book has prompted civility-themed activities and movements in cities and counties across the country, like Duluth, Minn. and Howard County, Md. Howard County’s program began in 2007, with the mission, “We choose respect, consideration, empathy and tolerance as our fundamental values, enhancing the community’s quality of life.” Since then, their movement has expanded to include speakers, activities and community-wide support.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in New Richmond also had a two-year effort concentrating on civility starting in 2006.
Although Forni’s book offers 25 guidelines for civility, it’s not necessarily everyone’s definition of the term. Rather, the month of October will hopefully prompt a conversation about new standards and principles of conduct in the Roberts/Warren area.
Town Chairman Richard Meyer said he and the town board support the movement.
“I thought it would be good for people to take notice of what they’re doing,” Meyer explained. People need to be aware of the changes in attitudes and behaviors in terms of respect and treatment of others, he said.
Three rules come to Meyer’s mind when he thinks of the term “civility,” he said. Those words are respect, honor and honesty.
Roberts Village Board President Willard Moeri said the board was quite unified in its decision to support the civility effort and proclamation.
“These are good things people should be doing that have fallen by the wayside,” Moeri said.
Moeri said he read the “Choosing Civility” book. From reading it, Moeri said he had personal reflection and change.
“There are things I could have done better. We should try to better ourselves as humans,” he said. “Some things are simple, like it’s not what you say but how you say it.”
There’s not one particular thing that needs to change in the village, Moeri said, adding that he’s not condemning anyone.
St. Croix Central School District Administrator David Bradley said he thinks the civility project is good for the community. However, he said the schools are restricted in terms of time when adding new initiatives, and that another character program has been implemented.
“I’m confident that any work that our school district would do in the area of character and/or civility education would be greatly enhanced with a community-wide effort,” Bradley wrote in a letter to Zeller.
Civility-related activities will be held at The Country Store and Event Farms, 638 Highway 65, throughout the month of October. More details will be available next week.