Gary Chamber of Commerce executive director Chuck Hughes was quick to point out about a new civility campaign, "It's not a program; it's a movement."
Community leaders gathered Wednesday morning for a news conference announcing a "Community Civility Counts" initiative Wednesday in Gary.
"As a committee, we came to the conclusion that we want to launch an awareness campaign that was so essential and that would remind everybody about civility, about treating each other right," Hughes said.
The idea behind the initiative came together after the Chamber's public policy committee discussions centered on making a positive impact in Gary and surrounding communities.
"If we are going to accomplish what we can in Northwest Indiana, we are going to have to work together," The Times Media Co. Publisher Chris White said. "If we could keep our conversations centered around issues, be respectful and civil to each other, we can get more done. That person who is your biggest opponent today, just may be your biggest ally tomorrow."
White pointed to the concerns that "everybody agrees on," such as getting better paying jobs in Northwest Indiana and providing better educational opportunities for children.
"We all want to take Northwest Indiana back up to its previous glory," White said. "We have to have a united front, and we can't do that fighting each other. Although we may disagree on how we get there, we all want to wind up in the same place."
"I'm very excited to see where this program can go," said Gordon E. Bradshaw, the Gary Chamber's public policy chairman. "You've heard the saying, 'a picture tells a thousand words,' so it's our hope that this logo will encourage you to let civility count and take it with you wherever you go."
The logo was designed to showcase individuals collectively running through the finish line tape indicating "it's a race everyone can win." T-shirts, decals and posters were made available following the press conference.
"This a great partnership, and it is very clear that the community is a big part of this initiative," The Times Media Co. Editor Bob Heisse said. "If you noticed, we created a #civilitycounts hashtag at the bottom of the logo. We are asking everyone to follow us and use social media to share why civility is important to you."
The Times Media Co. will encourage readers to share civility stories and ideas. On Sunday, an essay and drawing contest will be launched. Speaking on behalf of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington called the initiative "monumental."
"We will publish drawings and essays and encourage everyone involved," Heisse said. "After today, any media company, any organization, can run with this because this is something we can all embrace. This is not just for Gary or Northwest Indiana; it's for anyone that values the importance of civility."
For more information on this campaign, visit the Civility Counts Facebook page at www.facebook.com/civilitycounts.
Spread the word about civility by sharing uplifting anecdotes and observations about civility on social media, using the #CivilityCounts hashtag.
"This is an initiative that transcends all borders," Hughes said. "This is just the start, and the possibilities are endless."