November is Civility Month in Chelsea: Schedule of Events Here


By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

At the October 4 Chelsea City Council meeting, Councilmember Tony Iannelli presented the information on the city-wide Civility Month, which will occur throughout November.

Throughout the month, multiple community groups will host meetings that examine the issues of divisiveness, polarization, bullying, civility, and lack of civil discourse that have risen to the top of many residents’ concerns this past year.

Councilmember Iannelli is one of the planners for the month-long event and told the Council that the timing was deliberate. “We wanted to time it well with Thanksgiving, which is when people are brought together with sometimes different opinions, and hopefully to have civil, productive discussions.”

In one way, Civility Month has already succeeded before it has even begun. As listed below in the press release, various groups have already come together and organized themselves for the common good of their community.

Mayor Johnson highlighted the community effort behind Civility Month and added, “In the future, should other organizations want to participate and add some ideas for additional civility programming, they can submit those to the HRC (Human Rights Commission) email address on the City website.”

“We are certainly open to having Civility Month go well beyond just one month of the year,” she added.

Below is the schedule and description of events.


Divisiveness, polarization, bullying, civility and lack of civil discourse are descriptions that pepper our comments with friends and family. Even the candidates for local elections have included these in their statement of concerns. The Chelsea Human Rights Commission, along with multiple community groups, would like to explore these issues and hopefully offer ways we can learn to have difficult conversations but remain calm and respectful.

This November, Chelsea will celebrate Civility Month with different opportunities throughout the month to explore this issue. Events are being offered by the Human Rights Commission, the Chelsea District Library, the CRC, One World One Family, the Community Forum, and artist Kathy Gunderson.

Thursday, Nov 4. Civility Month Kick-Off. Panel discussion presented by the Human Rights Commission. A group of local leaders and citizens will address this question: Words like divisiveness, polarization, intolerance, bullying and meanness have been used to describe our current climate. How do these show up in your experience and what do you think we can do about it? The panelists will share brief statements followed by discussion and questions from attendees. The discussion will be moderated by Chelsea-resident Dr. Vince Elie. Panelists and their area of expertise include: Dr. Julie Helber (schools), Jeanne Franks (faith community), Melissa Johnson (government), Jean Vargas (seniors), Michelle Tuplin (area business), youth representatives, and Justin Heinze (parent and expert in school safety). Presented on Zoom. 7-8.30pm Link will available on City website.

Wednesday, Nov 10. CLARA Workshop hosted by One World One Family. This interactive workshop will cover the practice of CLARA. CLARA is an acronym that gives us an easy way to remember five concrete steps for building and maintaining respect and common ground with a conversation partner: Center, Listen, Affirm your similarities, Respond, and Ask Questions (or Add Information). The CLARA method is a way to achieve productive, civil conversations. The workshop will be led by Layla Ananda, MA, LLP, an experienced CLARA presenter. 7pm on Zoom. Register here.

Saturday, Nov 13. Community Forum. This zoom discussion, normally held on the 2nd Saturday of the month, will be focused on the topic of civility. Those attending the session will help to set the session’s agenda. Watch local media for link. 9am via Zoom.

Saturday, Nov 13. Movie and discussion hosted by the CRC. 12 Angry Men will be shown followed by discussion afterwards moderated by Dr. Al Hollenbeck. This movie, regarded as a masterpiece, is about a jury’s process of working together to arrive at a difficult decision. 2pm. In the theater of Dancy House (Main Bldg). Directions posted at the door. Limited to 50 and masks required. (If Covid restrictions apply, event will be postponed.)

Monday, Nov 15 Civility in the Visual Arts. Led by art historian Kathy Gunderson. Artists throughout history have provided a visual commentary on the social, political and religious world of their time. Kathy will discuss two artists known for their work addressing humanity in world events in the 20th and 21st centuries: Norman Rockwell and the street artist Banksy. 6.30 pm in the McKune Room of the Chelsea District Library. (If Covid restrictions apply, event will be postponed.)

Wednesday, Nov 17. Civil Discourse Workshop hosted by the Chelsea District Library. An interactive community conversation, facilitated by Dr. Lisa M. Perhamus, Director of the Center for Civil Discourse at Grand Valley State University; Victoria Vuletich, Ethics Consultant/CEO of Ethics Squared, LLC; and Takeelia L. Garrett, GVSU Student Ombuds.

This workshop will offer tools for navigating challenging conversations with friends, family, and your community in a manner that is honest and frank, while honoring multiple perspectives and promoting accountability and empathy 6.30pm on Zoom. Register here.

Questions on the month’s events can be directed to the hosting organizations or to the Human Rights Commission.

Photo: Doug Marrin

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