Elizabeth Dudash-Buskirk

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.”

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.

On Oct. 26, candidates for Missouri's 7th Congressional District will engage in debate at Missouri State University and the public can find out more about them and their stand on key issues.

Democratic candidate Genevieve Williams and Libertarian candidate Benjamin Brixey have both confirmed their attendance. Incumbent Republican candidate Billy Long has been invited.