More than 80 citizens and local leaders gathered the night of April 3 at Community Synagogue to discuss the state of civility in Rye.
“Civility is not something that automatically happens. Civil societies come about because people want them to.”— Jimmy Bise Jr.
Mindful of that truth, more than 80 citizens and local leaders gathered the night of April 3 at Community Synagogue to discuss the state of civility in Rye. The meeting, termed “Community Conversations,” was a follow-up to the first such event last fall and was again organized by the Rye Youth Council.
The gathering was an opportunity for honest and meaningful dialogue about the values in the community. Participants were invited to read a collection of previously collected comments by students and adults, reflecting on the question “what contributes to and what detracts from a culture of caring in Rye”. While the respondents mentioned many positive aspects of Rye life, such as volunteerism and helping one another out in a crisis, there were also sobering criticisms: a prevailing sense of entitlement, competition over compassion, a lack of accountability, and especially among the students a feeling of “not ever being good enough.”
From a list of 25 options, people were asked to identify five principles of civility that they felt were particularly important for Rye. “Be Accountable” was the top choice, followed by “Be Inclusive,” “Resolve Conflicts with Respect and Dignity,” “Demonstrate Empathy/Compassion,” and “Listen”. Based on these principles, smaller groups were given the task to brainstorm for ideas for “observable actions” that could promote and actualize civility within the community. Ideas ranged from workshops to walks to art projects. A draft “Rye Civility Statement” was discussed and will be amended based on the input. The final statement will be made available to the community in hopes that it will serve as a blueprint for the initiative to move forward.
The discussion throughout the evening was lively and thoughtful, with many participants acknowledging the need for greater civility in all aspects of our community. RYC Youth Advocate Casey DeCola closed the evening with a quote from English writer Mary Wortley Montagu: “Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.”
If you or your organization are interested in getting involved or would like to comment, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. A draft of the Civility Statement is available at www.ryeyouthcouncil.org.
The following Community Organizations are supporters of the Civility Initiative:
Christ Church, Rye Community Synagogue, Midland School, Midland School PO, Milton School, Milton School PO, Osborn School, Osborn School PO, Church of the Resurrection, Resurrection School, Rye Board of Education, Rye City Council, Rye City School District, Rye Country Day School, Rye High School, Rye High School PO, Rye Middle School, Rye Middle School PO, Rye Police, Rye Presbyterian Church, Rye Presbyterian Nursery School, Rye Recreation, Rye School of Leadership, Rye YMCA, Rye Youth Council, and Trinity Church.