About the Civility Project

About the Program

A judgment-free zone; a safe place to talk, express yourself, and be OK with the outcome.

The Civility Project goal:

Build healthy disagreement and constructive dialogue while teaching people how to build civility in their relationships

In our workshops, you'll learn how to:

  • Agree to disagree
  • Engage in civil conversation
  • Build respect for each other’s humanity
  • Learn to listen to other perspectives
  • Use what you hear to challenge or affirm your own views
  • Stay curious
  • Agree to always return to the conversation
  • See the person beyond their politics
  • Understand that a conversation is not a competition

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.

“It never occurred to us that we couldn’t be friends because we disagree,” says Nolan. “We’ve never avoided conversation, we never pulled punches, we sort of enjoyed the mix-up.”
Americans used to engage in civil conversation with people of opposing viewpoints – enjoying the banter and debate. Today, many Americans believe they can’t be friends with people whose politics are different.

The Civility Project seeks to bring people of opposing viewpoints together for healthy disagreement, personal interactions and constructive conversations. In our live and virtual programs, participants become familiar with the pillars of civility, have a chance to engage in enlightening discussion and learn why the listening is important.

“If we reach the point where we dehumanize the people we disagree with, anything is possible,” Stephen says. “We must step back and learn to talk to people as people, rather than political adversaries.”

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

Listen to Stephen and Nolan’s Storycorps interviews!