Martin Luther King Jr day inspires curiosity in myriad directions. Dr. King was a prolific writer and thinker and leader, offering many pathways to follow. In recent years, MLK Jr day has been claimed as a “Day of Service,” inviting us to give our attention to our communities in whatever ways we can. King’s work for social justice was premised on the ideals of nonviolence, inclusion, and freedom. At times, these values can jostle with each other, can need our attention in different ways as we seek to create and sustain communities which embody the full vision of King and others who led the Civil Rights Movement.
The Choose Civility initiative invites you to consider your most sacred values, your deepest wishes for your community, and your commitment to enact social justice when and where you can. On Saturday January 24th, we will host our 3rd and final (for this season) “Portland Public Conversation” on the topic Picturing Portland.
We hope that you will make time to join us in this “design-thinking” inspired session which will help us consider how we take our best ideas and bring them to fruition. This will be a highly interactive session!
Although registration is not required, we would love a sense of #s for planning our lunch menu, so please do RSVP if possible, just by sending a quick email to email@example.com or “join” via facebook.
Here’s a sense of how our time will be spent:
10:00 am Library opens, we will have coffee, treats, and books to peruse
10:30 am Welcome, ice breaker, a bit of information about what we’ve learned from our Choose Civility programs thus far
11:00am The “Head-Heart-Hustle,” facilitated by special guest Sara Shifrin from Gould Academy’s IDEAS center, is designed to help us understand our own commitments, passions and capacity to contribute and to find themes among us that help us consider where we might best “Choose Civility” in 2015
12:00 pm Final thoughts & an invitation to continue participating in Action Groups supported by Lift360
12:30 pm Closing … Lunch will be offered after the formal closing of the program and will allow for more conversation and forming of action groups
We also invite you to browse the Choose Civility collection as well as the wonderful books and films that honor Dr. King’s life, that explore the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s & 60s or that engage us in questions about the status of Civil Rights today.
You know you want to save the world. You have a heart the size of our great State o’ Maine and finite finances. Where, oh, where to begin?
The good news is that there are some terrific resources out there to help you make good decisions that suit your priorities. Before your good intentions grind to a confused halt, take a look at some of these websites.
Where to start? A really terrific site to check out is Philanthropedia, Guide to Better Giving. It is a great tool to help you focus and to understand various strategies for giving. It answers questions you may not know you have!
Sometimes you have a good idea of who you’d like to give to, but you’d like some reliable nuts-and-bolts rating information* about how they use your hard-earned donated dollars.
* Keep in mind that different sites will use different grading scales when rating nonprofits, as outlined in this TEDTalk. This one is well worth a few minutes viewing time. It presents an interesting view of nonprofits’ spending strategies.
These sites can also provide some focus when you know you want your donation to go toward a particular area of need, but need to find an organization that is a good fit.
It isn’t easy to know who to trust when unsolicited pleas for donations come your way. It might be a phone call, an email, something in your mailbox, or someone at your door. The Federal Trade Commission has a few things to say on the subject.
And let’s not forget that when we indulge our urge to be generous, we do so with the blessing of the US Tax Code. Here are some tips from the IRS. Charitable giving can really pay off !
There are so many ways to make a difference. Finding what works for you can feel overwhelming. When opening your wallet seems like the best option, these resources may serve as guides. And, let’s just say it: there is nothing like the good feeling you get when you use your head to put your money where your heart is.
Happy Giving! Eileen of the Business and Government Team.
Over the last 18 months, the Choose Civility Initiative, in concert with many community partners (see partial list below) has explored a central query — what does civility mean when the goal is to increase civic engagement and participation among all members of a community?
Lift360 Maine Humanities Council League of Women Voters Elders for Future Generations West End Neighborhood Association USM Economics Department Coalition on the Commemoration of the 1964 Civil Rights Act ACLU of Maine
Collective definitions of civility have almost always begun with the concept of “respect” — respect for differing points of view, differing identities, differing ways of being in the world. This conversation often begs for deeper listening – our individual experiences of “respect” can differ and a central tenant of diversity and social justice education is the recognition that intention and impact can differ.
Peeling back “respect” often opens us to the value of curiosity. The practice of civility and civic engagement depend on some element of shared learning among members of a community. The Choose Civility Initiative quickly found that participants have a deep and abiding interest in sustained conversation – that the opportunity to learn from “experts” and from each other are equally important. Curiousity leads to increased empathy and the strengthening of the skill of “listening for understanding.” Our Choose Civility collection of 125 titles explores many topics and and our programming emphasizes opportunities for conversation among attendees.
Photo Credit : Sarah Davis Ground Rules Generated “Creating Communities We Wish To Live In” December 2014
In some times and places, a call for “civility” can be understood as code for a call to “quiet down,” to suppress controversial ideas or dissent. Portland Public Library embraces a much more rich and inclusive meaning of civility – civility is the value that allows full exploration of ideas, popular and unpopular; civility creates a climate where dissent can be expressed without fear of retaliation or violence; civility allows opportunities for clear and fair access to information that shapes the policy decisions that effect us all. As our larger community engages in debate and discussion about our values, we are Choosing Civility. As we share our own understanding of the word and listen hard to the stories of others, we are Choosing Civility. As we give of ourselves, as we advocate, as we serve, as we learn, as we appreciate our community, we Choose Civility.
We are grateful to the hundreds of individuals who participated in Choose Civility programming over the last 18 months and we look forward to continuing these conversations in 2015!