Be a positive role model for civil discourse in the political process and beyond. When considering candidates, ask questions such as “how will you work with individuals who might represent a different view than yours?” and “what do you think of the state of civility at the legislature/congress and how can you improve it?”
The Arizona We Want Institute offers insight to what Arizonans are thinking about when selecting candidates and offers you the chance to give input as well.
Hold state and local government officials accountable for keeping their disagreements civil. Speak up to let them know how you feel or give them options to consider. Write them letters and/or emails with positive suggestions to learn better skills to help them. One suggestion might be for them to take a course on civil discourse.
Project Civil Discourse is a special initiative of the Arizona Humanities Council to provide opportunities for the public to participate in trainings, forums, and special events that share, model and provide insight on collaborative problem-solving skills. Arizona Town Hall is frequently brought in to assist organizations with finding common ground.
To encourage more participation from traditionally under-represented groups, consider including diverse perspectives in all meetings, convenings and gatherings you have control over or an opportunity to influence. Make diversity a priority in planning your meeting. Traditionally underrepresented groups include but are not limited to, rural or isolated communities, Native Americans, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, immigrants, veterans, persons with disabilities, seniors, and youth, and are to be included regardless of sexual orientation, sexual identity, or gender.
To encourage participation by rural Arizonans, isolated Native American populations, or people who are homebound or lack transportation, consider providing a reliable means of communication or transportation.
There may also be significant trust issues that must be overcome. Building trust may not be quick or easy, but it is imperative, and trust can be fostered by engaging these individuals and groups in issues that are important to them.
Encourage people to accept responsibility for their public comments. Vitriol may discourage others from exercising free speech and engaging civically.
An additional resource for cultivating civil discourse includes the National Institute for Civil Discourse.