2017 Highlights

Next Generation Team

NICDâs program of working specifically in state legislatures began 2017 with a bang putting on two state workshops in January âMinnesota and Oregon. The purpose of this program is to engage with elected officials before they reach the nationâs capital. Through our workshop, âBuilding Trust Through Civil Discourseâ legislators are provided with an opportunity to explore the benefits of improved communication in their stateâs legislature and more effectively work across the aisle.

In August, NICD partnered with the National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL) and the State Legislative Leadership Foundation (SLLF) to hold Leading With Civility, a conference for legislative leaders, from 13 states. Our Next Generation program was also featured at SLLFâs Majority Leaders Conference in Denver, Colorado. Program Director and Former Ohio Representative, Ted Celeste, co-facilitated an abridged workshop with Idaho Representative, Kelley Packer (R), for majority leaders from around the country.

Finally, Next Generation, in collaboration with the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF) and the National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL) received the first ever National Civvy Award for our work to improve the public policy discussion.

Revive Civility

The 2016 election has left our country feeling more divided than at any time in recent political history.  Meaningful change will take real leadership and will require a nationwide effort.  The Initiative to Revive Civility was created to counter this significant increase of incivility and look for ways to restore the norms of civility and respect in our public and political discourse going forward. Citizens and policy makers nationwide are standing up to declare their commitment to civility through; pledging to take individual actions which model and promote civility, issuing proclamations and, organizing civil conversations that bring together people of different views in communities and through our Text Talk Revive Civility platform.

We are giving special focus in our four deep dive states of Maine, Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona, where NICD is hosting and helping organize community conversations and texting conversations to bring diverse groups of people together for a conversation on reviving civility and respect. The community conversations will include skill-building exercises for participants to learn how to have a civil conversation across differences.  By choosing these four states to go deep in, we are laying the groundwork to provide models which other states can follow to have an impact on this crisis of instability and political dysfunction. And ultimately create a map for success for the rest of the country.

NICD launched Revive Civility in Tucson, Arizona, Columbus, Ohio, and Portland, Maine this year to great excitement and encouragement from community organizers, local organizations, and the public. We plan to launch our Iowa initiative in early 2018.

In June, the United States Conference of Mayors, took up a "Mayors United to Revive Civility and Respect" resolution calling on all Mayors and communities nationwide to join the initiative to Revive Civility and Respect and become visible ambassadors of civility.  23 Mayors from across the country signed the resolution. They represent a mix of small towns and large cities, coast to coast, the central parts of our country, and across political parties. They include US Conference of Mayors President, Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, Louisiana; and from our deep dive states, Mayor Johnathan Rothschild, Tucson, Arizona; Mayor Roy Buol, Dubuque, Iowa; Mayor John McNally Youngstown, OH; Mayor David Rollins, Augusta, Maine; and Mayor Joseph Baldacci, Bangor, Maine.

Listen to America Bus Tour

The Huffington Post and NICD partnered on a âListen to Americaâ bus tour this fall, hitting the road on a 25-city tour across America to talk to Americans about their concerns, fears, hopes, and attitudes towards the media. By converting a bus tour into a mobile video studio, they captured conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds. The goal: moving, multimedia storytelling that showcased what we share as Americans, rather than what divides us. Two members of our team, Basant Virdee and Kevin Kellit traveled on the tour blogging about their experiences. City stops included St Louis, Birmingham, Charlottesville, New Orleans, Tucson, Lincoln, and Detroit.

 

Research

NICDâs Research Convening took place in Tucson March 23-25th bringing together 34 scholars from seven different disciplines. The major theme of the convening was how best to study civility in contemporary political and public discourse. Scholars from across the ideological spectrum presented their research on civility generating lively discussion and gaining useful feedback.
Thanks to a grant from the Charles Koch Institute, NICD has provided seed grants to support the projects launched by 13 members of NICDâs Research Network.
Weâre delighted that in 2018 Routledge Publishers will publish our book of essays on civility as it relates to the politics of ethnicity, gender, and citizenship written by the prestigious members of our Research Network.

Looking Ahead

The momentum and passion we have encountered and unleashed with our initiative to Revive Civility will only grow stronger as NICD pursues and works with partner organizations on the national level like The League of Women Voters, the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, the Bridge Alliance, Everyday Democracy, and faith based networks that span the ideological spectrum including Faith and Politics Institute, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Along with many local groups such as the Ohio and Maine Humanities Councils, the Maine Development Foundation, City Clubs and Rotary Clubs in a number of communities.

It is impossible to ignore the different viewpoints and polarization we see across the country and within our own circle.  As we move into the holiday season and friends and family gather, we invite you to participate in the Setting the Table for Civility by pausing and reflecting on the need to heal the divisions in our country. We think these three questions will help:

1) What are you most thankful for about living in America?
2) How do you feel about the deep divisions and incivility in our country?
3) What can we do to revive civility and respect and to work together more effectively.