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A Civil City
Sherryl L. Parks | Mayor of Del Mar

Del Mar got a “shout out” last month when the National Conflict Resolution Center held its annual Peacemaker Awards dinner honoring those who are striving for a less conflict oriented world. When Del Mar residents Linda and Mel Katz received the Philanthropy in Peacemaking Award for their hours of work with numerous San Diego organizations including San Diego Central Library, UC San Diego Foundation and the Women’s Foundation, they in turn gave a “shout out” to Del Mar for recently adopting “Civility Works: The Del Mar Code of Civil Discourse.” They noted the importance of bringing civility to the political process and inspired us to make the code really work to resolve our community’s issues.
Council Member Dwight Worden and I introduced, and City Council adopted, the Civility Works Code on April 4th. The goal is to listen carefully to one another, to promote inclusion, to show respect, to be clear and fair and always to focus on the issue. Recognizing that it can be intimidating to speak on camera and in front of Council, this code sets the ground rules for how folks can expect to be treated when they come to council to speak. In turn, the speaker must implement these same ground rules while speaking to the council. It is proven fact that civil discourse works. When you believe you are understood and respected good solutions come without the added angst that disagreements normally cause.
On the heels of adopting the Code, local residents Gloria Sandvik and Barbara Freeman organized three training sessions for citizens in town. They had considered offering this training for a while and when City Council adopted the Code they decided it was time to do it. Feedback from these early sessions will help us plan for future training opportunities. Already the Del Mar Foundation has agreed to sponsor a fourth training session.

We also anticipate using the trainers for new staff members and residents on our advisory committees. Eric Sandy, our Parking Enforcement Supervisor, is a trained NCRC mediator/trainer. He said “On the surface it’s easy to see that civil communication makes sense and promotes good manners. To me, even more vital is the pragmatic advantage – organizations that use these techniques report lower levels of workplace stress resulting in better overall health, more efficient communication, shorter meetings and much higher customer service.”

The NCRC praised Del Mar for taking the leadership role in adopting the code. “We really envision the Code of Civil Discourse being a seminal document across the entire region, and hopefully, even beyond the region.” We are proud that Del Mar stepped up first. Other cities are also considering the code: Oceanside, San Diego, Chula Vista and possibly the San Diego Board of Supervisors. You will soon see the Civility Works Code banner at the council meetings. They are the new ‘rules of the road’ that we hope will inspire us in all our communication with one another. We are lucky to have NCRC right here in San Diego.

 

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