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?
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.
Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot’s seminal work on interrogating the lived experience of respect is a wonderful opening for deeper thinking about the ideal.
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!
EVENT POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER, new date will be announced at a later time. Our apologies for any inconvenience.
The Library’s Choose Civility Initiative began with the premise that we ALL share an interest in creating, maintaining and engaging in shared spaces and shared conversations about our broader community. We have engaged in all kinds of conversations over the last 18 months, some directly reflecting on the idea of civility and some giving us the chance to practice civility while discussing more controversial topics.
As our grant from the Lerner Foundation comes to an end, we will consider various strategies for maintaining Choose Civility programming at the Library. We welcome your feedback about the kinds of programs you like best — send us an email or look for a survey soon!
We are delighted to share the news that Lift360, one of our grant partners, will take leadership on a next phase of the initiative – organizing task forces to implement civic action.
More than anything, though, we invite you to attend our final “Portland Public Conversation” on December 9th at 8:00am (coffee begins at 7:30) to explore these queries in person: what is the status of “civility” in Portland? How might we strengthen our community through individual and organizational practices? Join us for “Picturing Portland” and share your insights and ideas!!!
Below are some of the programs we offered through this grant. What did you attend? What did you like best? What would you like to see more of?
- Civic Action in Portland : A Community Conversation
- Incivility Fatigue with Professor Dan Shea
- Welcoming : Creating More Welcoming Communities, a World Cafe conversation
- Welcoming : Posters for Citizenship Ceremony with “I’m Your Neighbor”
- Constitution USA : A Film Screening
- Capital in the 21st Century Book Discussion // Inequality for All Film Discussion
- The Guilty Pleasure of Erotica : a facilitated conversation
- Facilitation Workshop offered by Anne Schink of the League of Women Voters
- “Creating the Communities We Wish For” with Maine Humanities Council
- Active Hope : A Book Discussion
- Civic Writing : Workshops on writing letters to the editor, op-eds, blog posts, tweets and more
- Civic Education and New Mainers – Addressing the Gaps — a community conversation convened in partnership with LWV
- Muslim Journeys – a film series in partnership with Maine Humanities Council
- Celebrating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – coalition programming
- Portland Public Conversation Series : Portland’s People, Participating in Portland and Picturing Portland
The Portland Public Library is thrilled to announce Makers @ PPL—the first Maker Fair event to take place in Portland, Maine. It will take place on Saturday, April 25 from 11 am to 4 pm. In true maker spirit, we’re opening up the event to public contribution, asking: what skill have YOU got that you can teach to others? We know Portland is brimming with creative energy, technical expertise, and unique crafters, and it is time to come together to share these skills, pick up some new ideas, and walk away with a tool belt full of new ways to engage with the community.
Everyone has a hobby. Some people make cat beds from old computer monitors, while other people can make mini battle robots!
If you have a passion for creation, and can boil it down into a workshop style presentation (hands on encouraged!) we’d love for you to fill out this form to be a part of the event.
The event is themed like a conference, so participants can take part in a specific track (Entrepreneurship, Creative Arts, Science & Technology, Local History, and Food & Drink). There will be an exhibit hall in the auditorium for people to display and present creative endeavors that are not suited to workshop style presentation. Special programs for children and teens will happen too.
Get you application to present in by January 15, and be a part of the Presentation Team putting on this exciting event. Fill out the form here to submit an application. You’ll be notified by February 1 if you’ve been selected. The Library will be unveiling some cool new tools that we’re adding to our collection…so stay tuned!