About the Civil Discourse Committee…
The committee serves as an educational resource to its members and to the public. They will continue to develop educational forums to carry a strong message of the power of civil discourse throughout Snohomish County.
The goal of the Civil Discourse Committee is to add an explicit statement about civil discourse to LWVSC’s position on Civic Participation. This goal was met by concurrence through all LWVSC units by February 2019. When exploring the language of the League Principles and its Positions at all levels – local, state and national, the committee found that while this value is implicit in the League work of educating for democracy, no supporting language could be found.
Through our research we found that the LWV of San Luis Obispo (CA) had done a three-year study on civil discourse. This resulted in the addition of the following to their state’s position on government:
“Promote civil discourse through action and education for all government bodies, staff, and citizens for the purpose of improved public policy decisions and processes. Civil discourse means, at a minimum, mutually respectful, courteous, constructive, and orderly communication.”
This statement was later adopted by concurrence in Oregon. Our committee’s plan is to follow the same path of concurrence: first at the local level, then at the state, and subsequently at the national levels.
Civil Discourse Programs
The committee has held several programs.
- An educational forum at Edmonds Community College in October, 2017. Facilitated by Bob Drewel, a panel of experts spoke on the state of civil discourse within their fields: Education, the Media, Politics, and Community. This brochure on Civil Discourse was reprinted with permission from the LWV of San Luis Obispo. It is also available in Spanish.
- A "community conversation" at the Everett Library. Featured speaker was Jacquelyn Styrna, Director, Dispute Resolution Center, Volunteers of America, Skagit County, who outlined elements of civil discourse. The audience participated in circle conversations around questions. (Conversation Circle Questions)
- A Civil Discourse Forum, "Diversity: Conflict to Cohesion," in October, 2018, at Everett Community College. Facilitator Bob Drewel posed questions to a panel who represented diversity within the county. Discussion circles for the audience followed, supported by questions and references in a handout as well as a bookmark.
The committee is planning a caucus for the LWVWA Convention in Tacoma to support adding civil discourse by concurrence to the LWVWA position.