Sense of Community

March, June, September, December

From poverty concerns to major policy decisions, this series dives beyond the headlines to provide in-depth coverage of issues facing people and organizations in the Ozarks. KSMU's team of reporters combine for 10 stories each quarter, to air the final weeks of March, June, September and December.

(Photo courtesy Springfield Regional Arts Council)

Every summer the Springfield Regional Arts Council cooperates with the Springfield Community Center to present a six-week program for kids in Zones 1 and 2 who are served by the Community Center.  It's called "Arts in the Park"--Jordan Valley Park, to be exact, where the Arts Council's Creamery Arts Center offices are located. Each week during the six-week program, representatives  from Springfield's major visual and performing arts groups conduct week-long workshops with the kids based on each organization's specialty: the Symphony, Little Theatre, the Opera, the Art Museum, and so on.

Michele Skalicky

At times it seems that civility is dead.  People are constantly at odds with one another, and shouting matches are all too common, especially online.  Social media is often used as a battleground where people who disagree on various issues fight with words.   People who were once friends no longer talk because their political or other beliefs are different.  

Despite that, there are many things happening in the Ozarks that show civility and attempts to understand one another are, in fact, very much alive.

Michele Skalicky

Social media has become a platform for people to share ideas and learn more about one another.  But it’s also become a battleground, of sorts—a place where people can hide behind words and say things they wouldn’t dare say to someone’s face.  A recent study done by Wired Magazine and Disqus looked at the number of toxic posts in each state.  In Missouri, the study found that 7.3 percent of posts over a 16-month period, included hostile content.

When President Donald Trump came to town, hateful comments between those who support Trump and those who don’t were flying. 

But there were people whose comments sought to calm the situation. 

Ryan Welch / KSMU

Through the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, people are guaranteed the freedom to, among other liberties, peaceably assemble. Whether they’re called protests, rallies, or marches, there’s a long history in this county of its citizens coming together to stimulate support for or opposition to various causes. They’re held on street corners, in front of government buildings, and on college campuses.

On the first day of classes this fall at Missouri State University, hundreds gathered in solidarity with Charlottesville to speak out against racism after events in the Virginia city turned violent.

“This event was constructed to bring us all together at the beginning of a school year and to encourage spirit and comradery amongst all of us Bears regardless of our identities,” said Britt Spears, president of the MSU Chapter of the NAACP on Aug. 21.

Be Civil Be Heard
Scott Harvey / KSMU

Let’s say you’re involved in a conversation on the effectiveness of the U.S. healthcare system, and know your opinions are not consistent with the entire group’s. If you were to be attentive, inclusive, acknowledge others and listen you’d be on your way toward exercising all tenets of civility established by the nonprofit Be Civil, Be Heard. There are 10 total principals.  

“So you’ll notice the first four are about us not speaking,” says Dr. Elizabeth Dudash-Buskirk is a communications professor at Missouri State University and curator for the Springfield-based organization.

The other six tenets are, “Respecting others views, speaking with courage, acting with compassion, giving and accepting constructive feedback, treating our environment with respect and being accountable when we are uncivil or when there’s a problem that we need to solve,” she says.

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