My Turn: An exercise in constructive conflict
December 10, 2009
As the Speak Your Peace campaign officially winds up, we at Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation celebrate the success of this effort that got our community talking about how we interact with each other.
Not everyone supported the campaign. Some suggested it was a form of and#8220;thought policeand#8221; while others questioned the need for yet another set of and#8220;rulesand#8221; on top of others that currently exist for public meetings.
And yet, the fact that our community was able to have this conversation demonstrates the value of civility. When all else fails, both sides of an issue must still be able to speak to each other and be heard over the din. Civility is the root of civilization.
Being civil is not about just being nice. Real civility acknowledges the differences that cross humanity and helps us face those differences. There are issues worth fighting for and#8212; stopping racism and anti-Semitism for example. There are issues worth demonstrating for. Still, there is a difference between peacefully protesting in the street and violent rioting. One is civil and the other is not.
I’m on the list-serve North Tahoe Community Information Exchange and much of the current discussion is about development occurring in the Kings Beach/Tahoe Vista corridor. The discussion can be heated. In no way is there agreement among those posting. Yet, the group does a nice job of encouraging heartfelt and passionate disagreement on issues while discouraging personal attacks. That, in a nutshell, is the core message of Speak Your Peace.
During the last few months more than 1,000 people and groups signed a commitment to using the Nine Tools of Civility in their public conversations. This outpouring of involvement demonstrates that we value this type of dialogue and#8212; heated and passionate, respectful and productive as we address tough challenges as a community.
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I think civility matters to most people in our region. It’s now up to us all to keep Speak Your Peace alive in Truckee Tahoe. Keep the tools posted in your office. Refer to the norms at the start of a meeting. Since almost all of us live here by choice, our commitment to this community runs very, very deep. Let’s continue to build a civil society because our community is more powerful when it is built by the collective wisdom of everyone involved.
Lisa Dobey is CEO of Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. She can be reached at 530-587-1776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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