Civility starts in Akron.

Is Akron ready for that?

The answer is up to you.

On Wednesday, a group of community leaders unveiled the idea of making Akron a center for civility.

The Greater Akron Civility Center is up and running with a website (www.uakron.edu/bliss/civility-center/). The center is housed at the University of Akron's Roy C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

The mission?

“To set standards for civility; provide resources to promote civility and prevent incivility; coordinate an annual summit celebrating civility; and, most importantly, create a culture of civility in the Greater Akron community.”

The center came into being after a series of discussions last year among a group of community leaders. The diverse group included professors, politicians, business people, community organizers, students and me, the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Interim UA President John Green organized the initial discussions. We shared a desire to bring civility back not only into our conversations about politics, but also in how we treat each other overall.

Green, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, County Executive Ilene Shapiro and retired Rev. Carl P. Wallace spoke at last week’s unveiling of the center.

“This day we intentionally choose civility over incivility,” Wallace said. He went on to quote the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Time is always right to do the right thing.”

Horrigan said the civility center is “mission critical,” adding that there is a “national distrust and I would even say local distrust of government.”

Shapiro said that civility is “a powerful action that leads to dialogue, it leads to solutions and it leads to a common understanding.”

“The key is that the civility center is not owned by the University of Akron, it’s owned by the community,” Green said.

Those of us leading this effort have pledged to practice and encourage civility in our community.

We hope that you will join us.

Why not make Akron a center of civility that other communities can emulate? As a community, we can do whatever we set our minds to do.

 

Bruce Winges is editor of the Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com. Reach him at 330-996-3858, bwinges@thebeaconjournal.com or @BruceWingesABJ.