Americans are at their best when they can talk with another, disagree, even argue, but agree to keep the dialogue going. Unfortunately, too many people feel today like they can’t do that, and they have to avoid even speaking to people with whom they disagree.

The Civility Project is changing that.

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Celebrated journalists Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson have been longtime friends, despite their different perspectives on pretty much everything. The one thing they agree on is the importance of their friendship—which includes a healthy dose of disagreement and mutual respect.

The Civility Project places people before the moment of disagreement in discussion of how we come to our beliefs and viewpoints.

Why Be Civil?

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TESTIMONIALS

Kim Trent

The Inkster Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority hosted a conversation with the Civility Project that was thought-provoking and informative. Stephen and Nolan successfully challenged long-held assumptions about the futility of seeking consensus across the political aisle. Our members were very impressed with the presenters’ sophisticated answers to their questions about strategies to build political civility at a time when Americans seem to be more divided than they’ve been in a generation.

Immediate Past Social Action Committee Chair
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Inkster Alumnae Chapter

David Dulio

The work Nolan and Stephen are doing through the Civility Project could not be more important during this time of great — and seemingly increasing — political polarization. It is beyond refreshing to hear these two giants of Michigan journalism come together to talk about how their relationship is strengthened by their disagreements. In their sessions they model the behavior we want to see in our neighbors, friends and family when talking politics or any touchy subject.

Director, Center for Civic Engagement
Professor, Department of Political Science
Oakland University

Christopher L. Kelly

This is my second time in hearing the Civility Project and the message continues to be fresh, timely, and resonate! Stephen and Nolan continue to remind their audience that differing opinions, shared with respect, can bring out the best in BOTH parties. This message is SO necessary at this time and I am grateful to Nolan and Stephen for have the courage and “civility” to share it!

Director of Major & Planned Giving | Schoolcraft College Foundation

Rabbi Asher Lopatin

The Civility Project allowed our audience, from the Jewish community, to enter into a heartfelt, warm but honest and real conversation between friends. It modeled conversations that we need to be having across our community, where disagreement can lead to even closer relationships rather than the distancing of friends and family. As a result of this session, I feel our organization, the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee, felt empowered to seek even more political diversity within the ranks of our lay leadership and our staff, and we have found that diversity as empowering and energizing. Thanks to Stephen and Nolan for showing us that coming together even in disagreement – or especially in disagreement – can lead to a better outcome than just remaining in our own bubbles and algorithms.

Executive Director
JCRC/AJC: A partnership for community relations and Jewish advocacy

Wes Graff, President, Plymouth Community Chamber of Commerce

Nolan and Steven put on the best luncheon/breakfast program I have ever hosted in my 30+ years of Chamber work. We had 60 attendees who are all better people for being there yesterday. I received incredible heartfelt feedback from attendees about the value of the program.

David Dulio

Director, Center for Civic Engagement
Professor, Department of Political Science
Oakland University

I thought it was refreshing to see how two people who obviously were not in agreement on SO many things still found the common ground and set aside the differences and focused on the similarities to build a friendship. We need so much more of that in today’s world. Social media and politics have really IMO made this all the more evident. If you are on one side of something and I the other…you are now my enemy and we could never agree on anything. That is so toxic and getting out of control. I think the message is timely and very appropriate in today’s society.

The Civility Project with Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson is doing incredibly important work. In such a polarized political environment, their message about civility is refreshing. It is also exactly what we need as a society and nation to improve our politics, and with that policy solutions to our most pressing problems. Stephen and Nolan help participants see how it’s possible to disagree about politics but maintain a great working relationship, rather than talking past each other with assumptions of what the other person thinks. Anyone concerned about this issue should definitely engage with The Civility Project.

Suzi Klepinger

The essence of humanity is understanding why we do what we do. We are all facing new and challenging times in the midst of this pandemic. When Delta Dental offered the chance to participate in the ‘Civility Project’ I was curious to see what others were feeling and thinking about in these uncertain times. This discussion was a great reminder that manners, courtesy and civility should be at the forefront of our minds as we navigate through our common questions and fears. Living with intention allows us to remember that we are all in this together. It’s not you against me, but ‘US’ navigating, together. Do yourself a favor and see for yourself!

Tanya McClain

I enjoyed the session. I was pleasantly surprised by how the content and discussion did not dance on the surface but got to the root of many issues we have in society and in general with regard to communication and conflict resolution. It was a safe environment in which I was allowed time to self-reflect and encouraged me to be more intentional about seeking understanding in conflict. The moderators were knowledgeable and experienced. The format challenged me to move out of my comfort zone to squarely examine how to handle my thoughts and belief systems when seeking understanding and resolution in conflict.

Jude Halloran, Highland Township

I was impressed by how smoothly you kept the session flowing on Zoom, balancing the interplay of spoken comments with chat comments, as well as the exchange between Stephen and Nolan. They were super. The time FLEW BY.

D.D.

The Civility Project with Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson is doing incredibly important work. In such a polarized political environment, their message about civility is refreshing. It is also exactly what we need as a society and nation to improve our politics, and with that policy solutions to our most pressing problems. Stephen and Nolan help participants see how it’s possible to disagree about politics but maintain a great working relationship, rather than talking past each other with assumptions of what the other person thinks. Anyone concerned about this issue should definitely engage with The Civility Project.

T.M.

I enjoyed the session. I was pleasantly surprised by how the content and discussion did not dance on the surface but got to the root of many issues we have in society and in general with regard to communication and conflict resolution. It was a safe environment in which I was allowed time to self-reflect and encouraged me to be more intentional about seeking understanding in conflict. The moderators were knowledgeable and experienced. The format challenged me to move out of my comfort zone to squarely examine how to handle my thoughts and belief systems when seeking understanding and resolution in conflict.

M.M.

I thought it was refreshing to see how two people who obviously were not in agreement on SO many things still found the common ground and set aside the differences and focused on the similarities to build a friendship. We need so much more of that in today’s world. Social media and politics have really IMO made this all the more evident. If you are on one side of something and I the other…you are now my enemy and we could never agree on anything. That is so toxic and getting out of control. I think the message is timely and very appropriate in today’s society.