Inspired Civility

Inspired Civility

Job loss creates hard times. It's hard to stay positive.

So, as our community experienced serial mass layoffs with thousands of jobs lost during the past decade, it led to increased conflict and uncertainty.

“Out of that came displaced anger,” recalled High School Principal Gus Mancuso. “It continued surfacing during the decade, especially around local elections—specifically school boards.”

It wasn’t productive. “People realized we weren’t getting anything done and our community was being divided even more,” Gus explained.

Trying times call for courageous leadership. So a local group visited Duluth to learn about Speak Your Peace, a civility project that was making a difference there. It improves communications by emphasizing basic principles of respect, using 9 Tools of Civility.

Heather McKellips took part. The visit left an impression. “I saw the impact that the Speak Your Peace project had on Duluth’s schools and political environment. Their community was very engaged.”

Participants in Incourage’s Advanced Leadership Institute saw the same need in our community.

“The group recognized that civility was needed for any change that we were going to help lead in our community,” Heather recalled.

Residents joined forces with the leadership group to establish Speak Your Peace here. Since it launched in 2008, more than 2,000 people have heard the message, including businesses, nonprofits, schools, churches and municipalities.

The 9 Tools are becoming part of the community’s culture.

“People see that it’s okay to disagree,” Gus noted. “But with Speak Your Peace, more civil, respectful dialogue is taking place.”