Respect: 815 Choose Civility Pledge is Tuesday! Committee says civility is key to improving community
ROCKFORD — “Civility” recently has become a buzzword in political speeches, news reports and everyday conversations across the country. Lawmakers, pundits and citizens plead for civil behavior.
Georgia, Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas are just a few states where lawmakers issued a plea for civility as they convened their 2017 sessions.
In Rockford, the plea is coming from a different segment of the population.
“Not every community needs it, but Rockford does. We are very negative,” said Sherry Harlan, an attorney with Hinshaw & Culbertson in Rockford. “We need to learn to be respectful of people with other opinions.”
Harlan is a committee member of 815 Choose Civility, an initiative that began last August to help transform Rockford into a successful and thriving community.
“This needs to be organic — person to person. We have lost our ability to communicate one-on-one. We need to acknowledge that ‘My behavior does affect you. Maybe I shouldn’t treat you that way,'” Harlan said. “I know you can’t wave a magic wand. But if your peers change, maybe you’ll think twice.”
Kathryn Pearce, the manager of patient enhancement services at Mercyhealth in Rockford, is also a member of the civility initiative and one of the co-leads of the leadership and youth group in the renewal area of Transform Rockford. As her leadership committee researched potential projects, she noticed every idea had civility at its core.
“Civility can be very, very broad, but its basic principles are so critical in the foundation of culture,” Pearce said. “Culture is created by people. You have to have a set of values and norms that we identify and subscribe to.”
To get the conversation started, 815 Choose Civility will hold its first open meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at Heartland Community Church, 1280 S. Alpine Road, Rockford. The evening will include information tables and a panel discussion featuring Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea; Mark Baldwin, executive editor of the Rockford Register Star; KFACT mentor Shamika Williams; and Dick Kunnert of the Yeshua Catholic Leadership Institute.
Attendees also will be asked to take the 815 Choose Civility Pledge, agreeing to conduct themselves in a way that is honest, respectful, considerate and kind, even toward those with whom they disagree.