Based on community input, Citizens4Community launched the Sisters Country Civility Project in February 2016 to encourage civil dialogue and civic engagement throughout Sisters Country. The initiative is using 9 basic tenets offered by Speak Your Peace and P.M. Forni’s book “Choosing Civility.” Those tenets are presented on the Sisters Country Civility Project’s “9+1 Tool Cards.” Drawing upon the talents, time and passion of Sisters Country C4C team members, citizens and valued partners, the Project includes quarterly community-wide meetings, educational sessions with partners, speaking engagements with area stakeholders and locally produced content and materials—all of which are designed to support respectful communication and build trust.
C4C welcomes our most recent Sisters Country Civility Project adopter—the Sisters Arts Association. Led by president, Bob Burgess, and vice president, Dennis Schmidling, the association formed in 2015. Its artists and supporters are dedicated to enriching Sisters' culture, to encouraging economic vitality, and to stimulating the spirit of togetherness that's essential to any healthy community.
Association membership includes more than 20 local galleries that, among other activities, host a city wide Gallery Art Stroll from 4-7 p.m. every 4th Friday. Strollers encounter amazing art, refreshments, live music and fun conversation along with occasional live demonstrations by working artists. It's a great opportunity to get out and about, meet your Sisters neighbors and enjoy our community. A map showing the Art Stroll galleries is available at the association's website HERE.
A little more than two years ago, we began meeting and gathering local input for what would become C4C and the Sisters Country Civility Project. Since then we have enjoyed wonderful participation—from our local adopters, sponsors and volunteers, to our lively audiences and the engaging speakers who have offered valuable insights at our free quarterly sessions.
During this holiday season, we want to pause and express our sincere appreciation to all of you.
We’ve covered a lot of territory in our quarterly sessions (e.g., listening more effectively, becoming more constructive in our criticism, and techniques for collaborating, showing respect and finding common ground). And we just enjoyed our latest session, “The Paradox of Connection,” featuring award-winning speaker and coach Moe Carrick. Among other topics, Moe touched on the importance of being present and listening wholeheartedly as a key to connecting.
As we look forward to 2018 and future sessions, we thought it also seemed like a good time to reminisce a little—to pull out our notes from one of our first quarterly sessions, held in April 2016 and led by Anne George. One of the region’s top mediators and facilitators, Anne shared with us effective strategies for better listening, creating stronger connections and building understanding (particularly amid disagreement).
When it comes to dealing with tough issues, Anne notes, “So often we want to slice up the pie and take what is ours.” (But) “what if the pie could be made bigger and solutions found that work for everyone?”
Anne suggested the following listening techniques to bring more meaning to our conversations (and to make the pie bigger):
1. Listen to understand.
2. Consciously will yourself to stop thinking about what you are going to say next. You’ll find it can actually be freeing to do this.
3. Ask a lot of questions.
4. Focus on what the speaker is feeling or what they have experienced.
5. Build personal curiosity and exhibit genuine interest; and
6. Let other speakers know you heard them. Repeat or paraphrase comments or points made by the speaker.
Likewise, Anne noted the following fundamentals of “active listening” foster more effective discussions—conversations that build trust and community.
A. Encouraging language (e.g., “I’d like to hear your perspective on this.” or “How did you feel when that happened?”)
B. Clarifying language (e.g., “Help me understand what you mean by that.” or “What did you mean when you said…?”
C. Restating content (e.g., “What I hear you say is…” or “I’d like to see if I understand you so far…”)
D. Reflecting feelings (e.g., “It sounds like this was very upsetting to you.” or “You say you’re okay, but by your tone of voice you seem upset.” or “I imagine this was a challenging situation for you.”)
We’re grateful to have had wonderful speakers like Anne share their expertise with us during the past two years. We look forward to continuing that tradition; and we hope to see you at our next session.
—The C4C Team
Save the Date for C4C's next Quarterly Session, "The Paradox of Connection," set for 5:15-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15. Moe Carrick will deliver the keynote address, offering ideas for fostering meaningful connection in a "highly connected" world that paradoxically also encourages division and community disengagement. The evening will kick off at 5:15 p.m. with "Soup & Civility"—a light meal with your community neighbors. For more details, see the article on C4C's News Page HERE.
C4C's next quarterly community-wide event is set for Jan. 25. The evening will explore the concept of what it means to "Be Agreeable"—one of the 9 basic principles of the Sisters Country Civility Project—and how to confront others respectfully and constructively when you don't agree with their words or actions.
Speak Your Peace and the Sisters Country Civility Project define "Be Agreeable" as: "Look for opportunities to agree; don't contradict just to do so."
For more details about the Jan. 25 free learning opportunity—led by Professor Gregg Walker of Oregon State University—see the listing on our Events page...
Citizens4Community's next free, quarterly gathering is set for Oct. 26 at the Sisters Fire Station Community Hall, 301 S. Elm St, in Sisters. We'll be focusing on the topic of "Show Respect"—one of the basic tenets of the Sisters County Civility Project and Speak Your Peace. Find out about more about the fun and informative evening on our Events page...
Speak Your Peace and the Sisters Country Civility Project define "Show Respect" as "Honor other people and their opinions, especially in the midst of disagreement."
Black Butte Ranch is a unique combination of residential community and resort. With more than 1,250 property owners, there are bound to be disagreements. In February, Citizens4Community Steering Committee member Clark Brody made a presentation to the Black Butte Ranch Board of Directors about C4C and the Civility Project. Dennis Tower, chair of the BBR Board of Directors, notes the board immediately saw the value of implementing the Project's 9 tenets of civil community engagement and passed a motion adopting those tenets. Since then, homeowners throughout the Ranch have been introduced to the tenets.
The Civility Project's new posters are complete. Special thanks go to Alena Nore, a talented Sisters High School graduate who collaborated with C4C to create the poster concept and whose wonderful artwork is featured. Each "peace" of the puzzle is designed to depict not only a civility tenet but also an iconic Sisters attribute. For instance, "Don't Gossip" reflects our Rodeo heritage while it encourages us to get information "straight from the horse's mouth," not through gossip. And "Listen" recognizes local performing arts and our Sisters Folk Festival, while "Be Inclusive" recognizes how our Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show draws thousands of visitors to our area annually. See the story in our News Pages, HERE.
Citizens4Community’s next free, quarterly learning session is set! Learn how to build trust by communicating more effectively. All are invited…
The event will run 5-8 p.m. Tues., July 12 @ Sisters Fire Hall, 301 S. Elm St.
- 5-6 p.m. Intro to Speak Your Peace & the Civility Project
- 6:30-8 p.m. Skill-building on how to “Give Constructive Criticism” (one of the Civility Project’s core tenets), featuring award-winning speaker Sharon Strand Ellison, author of “Taking the War Out of Our Words: The Art of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication."
Read more on our Events page.
As you run errands or enjoy some of our local Sisters area shops and eateries this week, you might notice flyers announcing our upcoming Civility Project quarterly event—"Up, Up & Away...Soaring Toward Better Communication." Make sure to mark your calendars, because a lively, positive and educational evening is planned.
Our Spring Quarter 2016 information and skill-building sessions are set for 5:15-6:30 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District Hall, 301 S. Elm St, in Sisters. The first session will offer an overview of the Civility Project and how to apply its "9+1 Tools" for better communication in your civic and daily life. The second session will spotlight the Tool "Listen"—with expert advice and activities geared around helping you better understand and better communicate with friends, family, neighbors and other associates.
In addition, C4C will share news about the progress of the Civility Project. During the past 10 weeks, approximately 20 area businesses, civic organizations, boards and associations have officially adopted the Project's "9+1 Tools." We're hoping to have several representatives of these groups in attendance on the 27th to share their experiences.
The Civility Project is focused on being an authentic, grass-roots effort; so we're encouraging ALL area residents to grab a friend—or two or three—and attend this FREE community event. You don't have to RSVP, but if you can, that will help us plan ahead. You can RSVP online HERE. Hope to see you on the 27th!
Citizens4Community’s next Quarterly Gathering for the Sisters Country Civility Project—"Up, Up & Away...Soaring Toward Better Communication"—is scheduled for 5:15-8 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District Hall, 301 S. Elm St, in Sisters.
All area residents are invited.
Plans call for the evening to include multiple sessions—to offer value for organizations and individuals who already have adopted the Civility Project’s “9+1 Tools” as well as those who are new to the Civility Project and desire more basic information. Come ready for a positive, lively get-together focused on skill- and community-building.
If you have adopted the Civility Project’s “9+1 Tools” and have specific ideas about what you’d like to see during an upcoming Quarterly Session, we welcome your input.
Feeling very lucky this March 17th as we think about the amazing reception the Sisters Country Civility Project has been enjoying—both in Sisters Country and also beyond. ...
Citizens4Community was just contacted by another group from outside our area. A large Oregon non-profit organization has been following our efforts and wants to meet with us to talk about ways they might be able to promote the Civility Project statewide. Wow!
We’ve also received inquiries from a community on the Oregon Coast and a civic leader in Central Oregon—both of whom are interested in learning more about how Sisters Country is implementing the Civility Project.
None of this would be possible without C4C's fabulous local partners. We so appreciate the growing wave of civility you're helping to cultivate.
We'll keep you posted on where this activity leads. Also, soon we'll be announcing plans for our next quarterly community gathering in Sisters. So, stay tuned! And, again, thank you!
—The C4C Team
C4C's heartfelt thanks go out today to HOWELLS Realty Group for sponsoring our Sisters Country Civility Project ad in this week's Nugget Newspaper.
Today's ad reflects the tremendously positive support we've enjoyed since officially launching the Project last month. A broad cross-section of groups have come forward to officially adopt the Civility Project's "tools" of civility.
C4C leadership is dedicated to building an authentic, local Civility Project that yields long-term outcomes. Between mid-January (when C4C incorporated as a non-profit) and early March, C4C’s steering committee logged 1,000-plus volunteer hours. We are committed to making Sisters a wellspring of civic engagement and a beacon for other communities.
The Sisters Country Civility Project this week unveiled its inaugural Sisters "Tool Cards." The Civility Project is a local, grassroots initiative by Citizens4Community (C4C), in collaboration with Speak Your Peace and a growing list of valued local Partners. The first nine "tools" highlighted on these cards were developed by SYP, based on 25 principles of civility proposed by P.M. Forni in his book “Choosing Civility."
Additionally, to keep this effort truly reflective of our local community, C4C is inviting individuals and local groups to consider adding a 10th civility "tool" that speaks intimately to them or specifically and genuinely to the work and values of their organization.
The Civility Project aims to encourage people to communicate more respectfully and—therefore—more effectively. It is NOT a campaign to end disagreements. Instead, it is an effort to improve public discourse by simply keeping ourselves reminded of very basic principles of civility—ideals that are sometimes particularly easy to forget during the heat of a discussion.
These cards are meant to reflect the inherent beauty of Sisters as they also communicate core C4C Goals, which include: elevating our discourse, bringing new ideas and voices to the table, and broadening civic engagement—all as a means to continually strengthen our community.
While definitions for the tools are offered below, C4C also encourages residents to talk about each tool among themselves and to contemplate how these tools might also be defined in the context of their own interactions.
1) Pay Attention—Be aware and attend to the world and the people around you.
2) Listen—Focus on others in order to better understand their points of view.
3) Be Inclusive—Welcome all groups of citizens working for the greater good of the community.
4) Don’t Gossip—And don’t accept when others choose to do so.
5) Show Respect—Honor other people and their opinions, especially in the midst of a disagreement.
6) Be Agreeable (i.e., Seek Common Ground)—Look for opportunities to agree; don’t contradict just to do so.
7) Apologize—Be sincere and repair damaged relationships.
8) Give Constructive Criticism—When disagreeing, stick to the issues and don’t make a personal attack.
9) Take Responsibility—Don’t shift responsibility and blame onto others.
The 114 local residents who completed surveys during last month’s Citizens4Community kickoff events were overwhelmingly supportive of C4C's efforts to bring a civility project—Speak Your Peace (SYP)—to Sisters.
More than 100 respondents said they believe the civility project could be beneficial to Sisters; and just shy of 100 people said they would encourage Citizens4Community to continue sponsoring similar programs aimed at fostering communication, collaboration and creative problem solving.
Respondents said they believe Speak Your Peace could heighten local discourse and could be an effective tool for groups including City Council, the school board and Sisters area HOAs. They also thought SYP could benefit future discussions of the proposed Black Butte Trail.
Most respondents also wanted to stay in close contact with Citizens4Community. Many expressed interest in becoming a member of C4C and asked to be contacted with more information about SYP. Members have spent the past three weeks following up with those attendees and developing civility project materials for Sisters Country.
If you would like more information about Citizens4Community or Speak Your Peace and have not yet been contacted by C4C, let us know.
Citizens4Community salutes Sisters Country residents who joined us at last week's sessions with Rob Karwath of Speak Your Peace to learn about tools that encourage respectful communication and to hear about other cities' experiences with civility projects. The level of attendance and engagement at this inaugural Citizens4Community event series exceeded our expectations!
C4C wants to extend a special thanks to Fire Chief Johnson for providing the meeting site, and to volunteers Barbara Secrest and Toni Landis for ensuring that attendees had a comfortable and nourishing environment to learn and interact in. Also, thank you to Sisters Coffee Company and Hop & Brew for donating beverages and snacks, and to Sisters Folk Festival for providing the amplification system for the speaker.
We also greatly appreciate the many event attendees who filled out feedback forms to provide Citizens4Community with guidance on how to move forward with our Sisters Country Civility Project in partnership with Speak Your Peace. It has been so encouraging to read how much our fellow area residents are wanting C4C to provide additional information and educational resources to improve communication and strengthen our community. The engaging conversations were inspiring and provided hope to many. We are so proud to call ourselves citizens of Sisters Country.
— The C4C Leadership Team