Local groups sign on to "Civility Initiave"

By Nancy Cook | ncook@ktalnews.tv

Published 08/30 2014 08:52AM

Updated 08/30 2014 09:11AM



Long before he became the first president of the United States of America, George Washington wrote in his own hand, the 110 “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” as a class assignment when he was just a schoolboy. The rules are believed to being written by Jesuits late in the 16th century, and probably were written as a handwriting exercise. (Click on link below for a complete copy.)

Although the ‘Speak Your Peace’ civility initiative, which has been embraced by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, is not patterned after Washington’s ‘Rules,’ it certainly reiterates what the Jesuits wrote and Washington copied hundreds of years ago.

Actually, the Chamber’s campaign is modeled after a similar initiative that began in 2001 in Duluth, Minnesota. It’s based on a book written by Dr. P.M. Forni called “Choosing Civility” that outlines twenty-five rules for considerate conduct.  Dr. Forni is a professor at Johns Hopkins University where they founded a “civility institute” to encourage this effort.

Joining with the Shreveport Chamber in the endeavor is the Community Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, the Louisiana Association of Non-Profits, LSU Shreveport, Southern University Shreveport and, most recently, the Port of Caddo-Bossier in promoting a public awareness campaign in Shreveport-Bossier encouraging a more civil discourse. 

The Chamber wants everyone to “speak up” and “speak what’s on your mind” yet “speak your peace”.  It is particularly important during this election cycle, as local candidates compete for political office.  With political campaigns kicking into high gear, the groups believe it’s time to remind everyone about civility and respect.

Two weeks ago, the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce had the honor of leading a one-hour workshop on “civility” at the annual conference for the national Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Conference attendees exceeded 1,000 participants representing chambers of commerce from throughout the United States and foreign countries including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Israel, Ireland, Norway, and others. 

Local Chamber members are seeing the immediate results of their presentation in that earlier this week they were notified that the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce in Covington, LA has signed-on and joined the initiative to encourage civility in South Louisiana.

The Speak Your Peace civility project is as easy as agreeing to abide by nine simple principles of civility and encouraging others to do so as well.  Those simple principles are basically guidelines to more effective communication and human relations. 

Sign on to the Speak Your Peace movement by going to its website at www.speakyourpeacesb.org to sign the individual pledge. 

Leaders of organizations and companies are urged to the common resolution and have your Board adopt the principles.  Then share that with the Shreveport Chamber and become a part of the civility campaign.

The Speak Your Peace initiative encourages healthy debate in a way that respects each person’s opinion while still being able to disagree, yet in a way that builds better relationships and leads to greater communication and civic engagement.

To read President George Washington’s 110 Rules, click on the link below.

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