Over 120 people came together this week in Akron to engage in a discussion about how residents and politicians can best address critical issues that are polarizing the country.
The conversation also featured a new Knight grantee, The Civility Project, whose goal is "to return civility to public discourse." It plans to use its $33,000 support from Knight to increase the community's ability to respectfully and safely discuss issues that divide people, by engaging citizens, organizations and political campaigns to live by a specific community civility code of conduct. The code of conduct is currently being developed.
The discussion featured panelists from the Akron Beacon Journal, the University of Akron and various faith based leaders, who collectively asked the community's input at they create a civility index that could help change behavior. The full conversation is available in the video above.
The Civic Commons, another Knight grantee, has started an ongoing conversation about The Civility Project via its online platform which it hopes will engage community members in understanding the basic pillars of civility, how to improve it and how to best apply standards.
As evident by their participation in the conversation, the community is energized around the conversation. It is also looking forward to shaping a model that can be used in other communities.
The event was part of Knight's ongoing commitment in Akron to hold a series of engagement breakfasts. An earlier, 2012 breakfast featured the community engagement efforts of the Akron Neighborhood Trust, which is bringing Community Learning Centers to residents in Buchtel.
By Jennifer Thomas, program director/Knight Foundation in Akron