Key Points

· Strategic communications can play a crucial role in advancing tangible community-wide impacts.

· “Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project” (SYP) was developed by The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Millennium Group to improve the civility of public discourse, under the premise that this would strengthen community decision making, expand civic engagement, and increase residents’ interest in elected office.

· The SYP campaign promotes nine principles (or “tools”) adapted from Forni’s book Choosing Civility (e.g., pay attention, take responsibility, apologize, give constructive criticism).

· City councils, county commissions, and school boards in the region adopted the nine tools as ground rules for meetings, leading to more civil interaction.

· There is suggestive evidence that civility has spread to citizens who are actively involved in local public affairs.

· The initiative’s success can be traced to the multimode approach to communicating the nine tools, as well as the recruitment of “champions” who highlighted the tools and translated the tools into concrete policies and practices.

Open Access