Are you concerned about the dramatic decline in civil discourse? With this in mind, the Wilmington Memorial Library set-out to generate a community-wide atmosphere of kindness through a Revive Civility program series. The Board of Selectmen were so pleased with this series that they issued a proclamation declaring September 2018 as the Revive Civility Month. This series is an excellent example of a public library civic engagement program fostering the common good.
Please tell us about your Revive Civility program series.
In September 2018, the Wilmington Memorial Library presented Revive Civility a month long initiative to raise awareness of the importance of engaging in civil conversations. The library launched Revive Civility with a presentation by Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. Over 85 people attended this event, including representatives from state and local government. They heard Dr. Lukensmeyer speak about the causes of incivility in the political arena and beyond and took away tips on what they can do about it. Her presentation set the tone for the three discussion sessions that followed later in the month on Gun Control, NFL Protests, and the Future of Wilmington. The intent of these discussion programs was to give attendees the opportunity to practice the tenets of civility while potentially speaking to those who may disagree with them. In addition, the library hosted Bill Littlefield from Public Radio’s Only a Game who spoke on sportsmanship.
Meditation sessions were offered throughout the month to allow people to learn techniques for dealing with emotions that prompt uncivil behavior. In addition to offering programs related to civility, the library had books on display that dealt with civility and kindness. We purchased 15 copies each of the two featured books Choosing Civility by P. M. Forni and Treating People Well by Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard. These books were selected for the library’s monthly book discussions. We also offered a number of children and teen programs that dealt with kindness and etiquette as well as some passive programs such as the “Kindness Tree” and “Post It Positivity Wall” to encourage patrons to think positive and kind thoughts. Continue reading