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.

The Civility Project

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

The Civility Project goal:

Build healthy disagreement and constructive dialogue

In this hour long workshop you'll learn how to:

  • Agree to disagree
  • Engage in civil conversation
  • Build respect for each other’s humanity
  • Learn to listen to other sides
  • Use what you hear to challenge or affirm your own views
  • Stay curious
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 this hour-long workshop, participants will engage in enlightening discussion, learn to listen to others, 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.

Stephen Henderson of The Civility Project

Stephen Henderson is an American journalist who won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and the 2014 National Association of Black Journalists Journalist of the Year Award while writing for the Detroit Free Press. A native of Detroit, Stephen is a graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and the University of Michigan. Since 2015, he has been the host of “Detroit Today” on WDET. He has worked for the Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Knight Ridder. Henderson is co-host of One Detroit and host of American Black Journal on Detroit Public Television.

Nolan Finley of The Civility Project

Nolan Finley began his newspaper career as a copy boy at The Detroit News while a senior in college. After a brief stint with the Jackson Citizen Patriot, he returned to The News as a reporter, covering the administration of Mayor Coleman A. Young. He’s been the newspaper’s City Editor, Business Editor, Politics Editor and Deputy Managing Editor. In 2000, he was named Editorial Page Editor and his columns have appeared in the newspaper ever since. As he wrote in his introductory column, Finley is a product of The News and the Detroit community. He graduated from both Schoolcraft College and Wayne State University and in 2012 was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. Finley is co-host of One Detroit on Detroit Public Television.