Be Civil Be Heard

Scott Harvey KSMU

As KSMU's Sense of Community Series on the State of Civility In Our Community winds down, we're looking back several years at a then forward looking, and now on-going initiative. Be Civil Be Heard is designed to encourage and incorporate civil engagement in our community.

Elizabeth Dudash Buskirk, is a Communications Professor at Missouri State University, and Curator of Be Civil Be Heard, a not-for-profit partner of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, currently administered out of the MSU Center For Community Engagement.  Dudash-Buskirk says the concept for Be Civil Be Heard, came after a series of contentious Springfield City Council meetings, several years ago: “I think it was somewhere between eight and ten years ago, the City Council and others in Springfield, really wanted to get a grip on having community conversation that was more civil than what was occurring.  They felt the city conversations were really problematic.”

(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.

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.

Claire Kidwell / KSMU

Some students say they have a new perspective on the situation facing refugees after attending a listening session Wednesday on the Missouri State University campus.

The panel conversation among local refugee families and the officials who help place them in the community came just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.