Are you alarmed by increasing levels of incivility and divisiveness that seem to be evident everywhere? Discouraged by hyper-partisanship and the coarsening of communication, especially on social media?
Maybe you have a novel idea for increasing civility and improving connections within your community that you’d love to test out?
Gulf Coast Community Foundation today launched a regional civility movement that encourages citizens to take the lead in “saving our community one good deed at a time.”
Ten years and a week since introducing its first community-wide civility campaign, Because It Matters, Gulf Coast unveiled a new, reimagined, and reinvigorated initiative of the same name. The new effort includes grant opportunities for schools and community groups and a civility training program for workplaces and organizations.
It also features a cast of animated characters that promote civil behaviors and attitudes through a variety of materials and messages. Details on how to participate are available here.
Because It (Still) Matters
“Advancing civility is a priority that our Board has identified for moving our region forward,” said Gulf Coast President|CEO Dr. Mark S. Pritchett. “We must push back against trending extremism and embrace the differences that make our communities great. That’s why Gulf Coast invites everyone to join us in making civility the foundation of civic life in our region.”
Gulf Coast’s revamped Because It Matters initiative offers several ways for community members of all ages to get involved:
- ► Civility Squad Grants. “Mini grants” of up to $500 are available to help launch a new civility program or activity at a school, civic group, or other local venue.
► Civility Training. Gulf Coast has developed a free training curriculum to equip any employer or organization to introduce civility education into its office or meeting place.
- ► Civility Tool Kits. A variety of promotional materials designed to inspire and motivate civility can be ordered online at no cost and then picked up at the foundation.
Introducing “The Civility Squad”
Leading the way in promoting kindness, respectful communication, and other ways to build social capital is The Civility Squad, a group of animated characters created by students and faculty from Ringling College of Art and Design. The Civility Squad offers fun, gentle reminders about practicing the 10 Keys to Civility, a list of guiding principles identified by community volunteers back in 2007 for Gulf Coast’s original civility campaign.
“The Keys to Civility have not changed, but the ways we communicate and connect with each other sure have,” said Anna Hahn, Gulf Coast’s director of marketing and digital strategy. “Thanks to the world-class talent at Ringling College, we have an adorable group of mascots for civility in our community that will appeal to children and adults alike—but especially children. With the prevalence of social media and issues like cyber-bullying that have come with it, we think it’s critical to help kids see and share positive messages like ‘accept others,’ ‘speak kindly,’ and ‘make a difference.’”