Community Civility Counts, now in its second year, has been receiving accolades of late for innovation.
What began as a partnership of the Gary Chamber of Commerce and The Times Media Co. to simply raise awareness about treating each other right and that #CivilityCounts has been expanding and gaining recognition.
In September, the Associated Press Media Editors awarded us the prestigious APME Innovator of the Year award, judged by editors aross the country.
And in October, the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana brought us on board as a team on a night when so many impressive innovators were honored.
Innovative? Civility? If you were unsure, this recent election cycle demonstrated it loud and clear.
To recapture civility as a nation, it will have to start in communities — one after another. And Community Civility Counts, which is gaining steam in the Region and expanding nationally and internationally, can be a model for other communities. View our video, produced for the APME contest, that’s attached to this column online.
How did Community Civility Counts make a difference in this divisive election? Look at the top of our Opinion Page and see the #CivilityCounts guideline, added when we began this campaign in March 2015. It says:
“Civility counts for letters, columns: Letters to the editor and columns should be focused on the issues. No name-calling or other meanness allowed. Remember #CivilityCounts.”
With this guideline in place, we can say today that no candidate — Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or any other — was called a name on the Opinion Page or in any Sunday Forum section through the entire campaign.
Think about that: We were able to present debates on issues — through editorials, columns, cartoons, and letters from readers — without dragging it down with vulgar language and name calling.
This was a sharp contrast from the campaign rhetoric, the debates and rallies, the nightly broadcast coverage and more. It can be done.
Community Civility Counts also is leading the way with a civility in the classroom curriculum, now being taught in two charter schools in Gary.
Summer Moore, digital and audience engagement editor, worked with a team of teachers over the summer to build on a pilot program that we began last spring at Lighthouse College Prep Academy in Gary. This year it has been expanded to a year-long, curriculum-based program in two schools, Lighthouse and Steel City Academy.
It’s a program that teaches civility with self, civility with others and civility as a leader.
“At a time when school grades and funding are so much in the spotlight, it’s important to remember to teach our students life skills,” Moore said. “They need to know how to recognize their strengths and leverage them, and they need to speak kindly to themselves and others. They need the skills to moderate open and honest conversations about hard topics and why.
“And most of all, they need to understand why being an active member in this society is so vital. Those are the big goals, but that’s what the program hopes to instill.”
If you would like to hear more about the classroom program or bring it to your school, contact Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Civility Counts also has recently partnered with the Civility Center, a longtime national nonprofit, and both organizations will work to bring awareness of the community and classroom programs across the country. To learn more about the Civility Center visit civilitycenter.org.
It’s a win-win, and already we are planning our next World Civility Day event. Look for details to come, but save the date of April 13, 2017, for a full day of workshops and a dinner.
Last year’s World Civility Day event drew a capacity turnout at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary, drawing visitors from nine states and three countries. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors this year.
The nation must come together after this election, and this community-based #CivilityCounts effort offers a model that can work elsewhere.
Last Wednesday, we presented complete election coverage for the Region, but the paper featured a “Remarkable race to finish” front-page headline rather than a Donald Trump victory headline.
At our latest deadline, the race had not been decided. My home state of Pennsylvania was among several states that had not been called at press time.
Our latest deadline is set to ensure that you get your paper on time.
A week before we had set a similar late deadline for the seventh game of the World Series. A magical “At last!” front-page Cubs tribute was delivered the next morning, because the Cubs won the game in the 10th inning.
In both cases, news was posted online as it happened, and email alerts were sent to readers who have signed up for our breaking news headlines.
If you are a print subscriber and have yet to register for unlimited digital access, take a moment and visit the “manage your subscription” page at nwi.com. By creating a profile, you’ll be able to secure digital access and sign up for newsletters.
Thanks for reading us. Please contact me with any questions about The Times or our many publications.