“Just Be Nice!” is the catch-phrase for a new initiative in Mono County. Choose Civility is a new county-wide initiative, led by the Mono County Office of Education, and supported by an Advisory Board with representatives from Mono County Library, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Mono County District Attorney’s Office, Mammoth Unified School District, Eastern Sierra Unified School District, Wild Iris, Mono County Superior Court, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Mono County Public Health, Mammoth Hospital and Mammoth Lakes Tourism.
The project intends to position Mono County as a model of civility, by enhancing respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance in Mono County. “Civility is a core value of a well- functioning community. The goal of this initiative is to promote civility in our everyday interactions,” said Dr. Stacey Adler, Mono County Superintendent of Schools.
I have to be honest, when I first heard about this initiative I was confused. Why do we need someone to tell us to “be nice?” I decided to do a Google search using the key words “Choose Civility” and was surprised by the results. There are numerous counties across the country implementing similar initiatives. The first result was for Howard County Maryland and they have an entire page dedicated to the program which they launched in 2006 and to my surprise a “Civility Store” offering hats, pins and shirts.
After reviewing several of the websites and the details of these nationwide programs I found a common theme. Most, if not all, were born out of conversations initially about bullying in schools but broadened to include a community wide focus on civility. These conversations where then inspired by the book, Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct, by Johns Hopkins University Professor, Dr. P.M. Forni. The book covers topics that include:
Think Twice Before Asking Favors
Give Constructive Criticism
Refrain from Idle Complaints
Respect Others’ Opinions
Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame
Care for Your Guests
Accept and Give Praise
Now it was starting to make sense. These initiatives, while sounding simple on the surface, are reminders of the importance of civility in a world becoming less civil.
I think about my life in “Corporate America” before moving to Mammoth Lakes and remember how common decency was often abandoned in the craziness of hundreds of daily emails, dozens of voice mails and the multi-tasking madness. In Mammoth Lakes, although the pace is slower and life much more simple, I do notice how some people forget to “be nice” with the mass of tourists and the bursts of craziness in between shoulder seasons.
Could these reminders promote positive and respectful behavior? Time will tell but there really is no downside to people talking about “being nice.” Think about it.
Have a NICE day!
Note: For more information on the local initiative, visit http://www.monocoe.org/choose-civility-initative/choosecivility