Making Democracy Work

Civil Discourse & Civility

Civil Discourse events, news, and resources.

Civil Discourse Comes to San Luis Obispo County

Sharon Kimball, Chair of the LWVSLO Civil Discourse Action Team announced the Roll-Out of Civil Discourse at the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors' meeting held on July 7, 2015.

LWVSLO President Marguerite Bader and immediate past President Marilee Hyman introduced a resolution to adopt and support the practice of Civil Discourse at this meeting. The Civil Discourse Action Team and members of the LWVSLO were in the audience to show support and help with the roll out.

In July 2015, President Marguerite Bader and 1st Vice President/Director of Civil Discourse Action Team Sharon Kimball have introduced the concepts and principles of civil discourse to the San Luis Obispo County Meeting of the Mayors in Grover Beach. The Civil Discourse Action Team has also made presentations to the following: Paso Basin Advisory Committee, LAFCO, Arroyo Grande City Council, Oceano CSD, Good Morning SLO Chamber of Commerce, San Luis Obispo City Council, Pismo Beach City Council, South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District, and Grover Beach City Council.

LWVSLO Wins Award at State Convention June 2017

Our League won the Strengthening Democracy Convention award for mid size League for our Civil Discourse in the Public Arena efforts at our state convention

Civil Discourse Principles Newest LWVSLO Position

Board of Supervisors meeting July 7, 2015

At a Program Planning meeting in January 2013, League members noted the lack of civility in public meetings, the media, and Congress. In traditional League fashion, members decided to study the issue and develop a plan of action. Our first new study in ten years concerning civil discourse in local government was completed during this period and voted to be included in our local government position. Receiving the unanimous support of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, the Team is moving ahead to lay the foundation for action in promoting the practice of Civil Discourse among citizens, staff and elected officials in governmental meetings throughout the County of San Luis Obispo. Review the results of their study!

The original impetus came from members who came to the Program Planning meeting in January 2013 and noted the lack of civility in public meetings, the media, and Congress. In traditional League fashion, members felt that our local league should promote civil discourse. It seemed simple enough. However, we soon realized it was not so simple. The members voted to conduct a study on Civil Discourse, its definition, good and bad practices, and (as in any adopted League program), an action plan. A study committee was formed with Sharon Kimball as Chair. Emily Penfield served as Chair in year two of the study.

LWVSLO Civil Discourse Panel Popular Choice at CA Convention 2015

Emily Penfield at podium with Sharon Kimball and Marilee Hyman

The entire day of May 16th was a blur for Civil Discourse Action Team Chair Emily Penfield, LWVSLO President Marilee Hyman, and LWVSLO Board Vice-President Sharon Kimball when they participated in the Civil Discourse workshop at the League of Women Voters California State Convention in San Diego.

Yes, it was a standing room only crowd - the workshop was originally capped at 70, then at 80 just prior to convention. In reality, 137 folks were on the attendance roster which represented a significant percentage of everyone in attendance at the Convention!

The civil discourse workshop was the most popular, and was the first to be 100% completely full at 70 people on April 9th! Congratulations and thanks to the Team. It would seem they captured the interest of the attendees in a major collaborative effort.

Resources for Civil Discourse Activities

A detailed list of resources shared with A Capitol Connection: League of Women Voters California Convention 2017 delegates is provided here:

An annotated list of resources includes:

A Handbook on How to Adopt and Promote Civility and Civil Discourse in the Public Arena

Democracy in Dialogue is the PowerPoint used by the Civil Discourse Workshop presenters.

Applying Democracy in Dialogue contains principles of promoting dialogue taken from Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro.

Resource Guide: Democracy in Dialogue a comprehensive guide of books, websites, presentations, and guides about civil discourse.

A Study of Civil Discourse in San Luis Obispo County Our League study is available on the LWVEF Clearinghouse. Click here.