Community Conversation about Civility – October 12, 2011 @ Norwalk CT Fat Cat Pie Co.
Norwalk 2.0 & REd APPLES
The results are in from the first community conversation about civility hosted by Norwalk 2.0 and Red
APPLES on October 12th at Fat Cat Pie Company. About 50 Norwalk residents, reflecting a cross-section
of the community, shared their views in writing by taking the five-question civility quiz on a series of
posters around the room. They also selected drink tickets with civility attributes with show respect
topping the list, followed by seek common ground, show appreciation and listen tied for 2nd.
Participants’ written comments indicated they experienced nearly twice as many examples of uncivil
behavior as civil behavior over the past year.
Listening, collaboration and general politeness topped the list of civil behaviors. Little
things like saying please, thank you, good morning, and have a nice day make a big difference
according to the data collected. Participants also acknowledged the kind of collaboration
that took place after the recent hurricane with neighbors helping each other.
Examples of uncivil behavior included rudeness e.g., interrupting, not listening, bullying,
and general loss of self-control in public and on-line where people often hide behind anonymity.
Road rage was also cited as a troubling behavior.
Creating a civil community is important, according to participants, because people want
Norwalk to be successful, it’s easier to get things done, and they want to continue living here.
They also acknowledged the relationship between democracy and civil behavior, perhaps
taking a cue from George Washington who said, “Every action done in company ought to be
with some sign of respect to those that are present.”
The Speak Your Peace Civility Project in Wisconsin website states, “This is not a campaign
to end disagreements. It is a campaign to improve public discourse by simply reminding
ourselves of the very basic principles of respect. By elevating our level of communication and
avoiding personal attacks and general stubbornness, we can avoid unhealthy debate. This will
lead to a more effective democracy and help maintain our sense of community by increasing
The 4th question on the quiz asked people to identify something they could do in their
everyday work/life to be more civil. Comments focused on increasing self-awareness, developing
patience, and improving listening skills:
• Think before I speak, words can hurt.
• Slow down and be more patient.
• Listen to everyone and respect opposing opinions.
• Look for common ground.
According to one participant, “civility should be a normal, natural part of our
existence…simply treat others how you want to be treated…have respect.” Another suggested
that public officials and town employees need to learn that “a resident asking a question does
not equate to challenging the official.” Another shared, “Walk the walk, the world hates a fake.”
Norwalk 2.0 and REd APPLES plan to keep the civility conversation going by sharing the results of the
civility quiz and promoting ongoing dialogue through future programs