Tag Archives: Principles for Civil Dialogue

Principles for Civil Dialogue

Cynthia Wenström, Class 25
Chairman, Principles for Civil Dialogue
Vice-Chairman  Resource Development Committee

It has been the better part of a year since the last blog posting regarding Scottsdale Leadership’s Principles for Civil Dialogue (PCD) initiative. Since that time the PCD Committee has shared the Principles with civic organizations and city commissions; answered many questions; gained support from adopting and endorsing organizations; and refined its focus and timeline for future progress.

As you may remember, this initiative started by a discussion on a Class 25 topic day. From there, a committee was formed to generate a grass root effort to have the PCD in use throughout Scottsdale.  When we present to an organization, the history and details regarding are shared, and we also explain the meaning of adopting or endorsing the Principles.

An organization adopts the Principles when it is prepared to make the Principles part of its own culture (or if the Principles are already part of its culture).  Normally, an important commitment to the organization’s culture would be reflected in how it describes itself, such as its values, core beliefs and so on. An organization endorses the Principles when it supports them, but is not prepared to make a representation to the public about whether its own culture aligns with the Principles.

In each instance, by adopting or endorsing, the organization is acknowledging the Principles for Civil Dialogue are important to our community and resonate with their organization. They also agree to allow Scottsdale Leadership to publicize the organization’s adoption or endorsement of the Principles.

To date Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, S.T.A.R.S., Scottsdale/PV YMCA, the Scottsdale Library Board and the Human Relations Commission have adopted the Principles. Friends of the (Scottsdale) Library have endorsed the Principles and Arizona Foundation for Burns & Trauma uses our PCD as a guide for its staff. Conservatively, this initiative is part and parcel of organizations totaling over 2,000 members.

Additionally, five civic organizations and city commissions have PCD on their agendas and we look forward to hearing updates on their actions in the next 30 days or so. At one commission presentation a commissioner stated he would take this to his son’s Little League organization and since Mayor Lane honored Scottsdale Leadership with a Proclamation on November 1, 2011, the Principles have been referred to during a number of City Council meetings. That’s the whole idea! Keep civil dialogue foremost in peoples’ minds.

Chris Irish and/or I have met with several people from the Mayor to City staff about the future of Scottsdale Leadership’s first initiative of this sort. Support abounds, and while civil dialogue is part of the wording of the current General Plan, it is not easily located, so not often referenced. The PCD initiative has brought civil dialogue/civil discourse to the forefront, which is exactly the goal.

What can you expect to see in the future regarding the Principles for Civil Dialogue initiative?

  • A community forum on civil dialogue organized by the Scottsdale Library and Human Relations Commission on Monday, October 15th at the Civic Center Library (6-8pm)
  • a My Turn article in the Scottsdale section of the Republic
  • more adoptions and endorsements by civic organizations and city commissions
  • and visibility of the PCD in the City Hall Kiva

If you know of an organization that may be interested in a presentation about the Principles for Civil Dialogue, please contact Chris Irish, Scottsdale Leadership Executive Director at (480) 627-6717.

As a member of the Scottsdale community,
I will genuinely listen; speak respectfully;
and be accountable for my words and actions.


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Civil Discourse? Where is your line?

Braden Love
Director IT Business Consulting, Scottsdale Insurance Company

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

January 20th found Scottsdale Leadership Class 26 trekking to the outlands of Scottsdale and enjoying the hospitality of the Desert Foothills Family YMCA. Did you know that the #1 YMCA in the valley, serving 21,000 folks, was tucked away way up in northwest Scottsdale on 80 acres of Paradise Valley Community College land? I’ve been by 100 times and did not know.

Leadership Academy was in session. So far, the curriculum has been very engaging and this session, on Civil Discourse, was no different. I was impressed with all of the speakers as they were very articulate about the issue of civil discourse and the approach that they presented the information fit right along with the topic of the day. I also appreciated the diversity of the speakers on building partnerships as they were a good illustration of the different constituencies involved in community partnerships and had great insight as to how they can work. Interesting how good citizenship is good business isn’t it?

We’ve been spending a lot of time on Civil Discourse and it seems to really hit a nerve with a lot of people. To some it may sound like the foundation for respectful, constructive dialog and to others it may sound like impedance to robust debate and passionate advocacy. I think leaders are expected to exercise passionate advocacy and that a diversity of positions along with tension and competition between ideas is what makes a society healthy. But there is a line where I feel that competition becomes un-sportsman like.  For me it is defined by respect. But my line and my measurement of respect is my own.

How do you define and measure your line when it comes to civil discourse?

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Principles for Civil Dialogue

Cynthia Wenström, MBA/GM, Class XXV
Faculty, University of Phoenix

It was 8 months ago when Class 25 Day Chairs, Virginia Korte (Class 3) and Rob Millar (Class 17) introduced the topic of civil discourse. The impetus of the topic was an ‘unruly discussion’ between two Tucson-area politicians making headlines at that time.

The lively afternoon produced a first pass at the ‘Code of Civility’ and a team volunteered to move the project forward. The following day, January 8th, Senator Gabriel Giffords was shot and the need for civil discourse really rang close to home. The event seemed a clear signal to move forward with the initial class-day work effort.

Fast forward to May 2011 and the project resumed, put on hold due to the rigors of Class 25’s Pay It Forward projects and twice-monthly class days. The civility team now consists of several Class 25 and Class 24 alumni, as well as Chris Irish, Executive Director.

With diligent work, the original ‘Code’ was rewritten, removing references to ‘code’ or ‘oath’ and was condensed. More importantly, the team’s Principles for Civil Dialogue was unveiled to Scottsdale Leadership’s Board of Directors at the August 2011 Board meeting, passing unanimously for adoption by the organization. The Principles will appear on the website, the blog and in literature with the Mission Statement and other core values of the organization.

Principles for Civil Dialogue

As a member of the Scottsdale community, I will:
Genuinely listen, Speak respectfully and Be accountable for my words and actions.

‘Genuinely listen’ means I will listen for the purpose of understanding the speaker’s point of view, without prejudging whether that point of view is right or wrong.

‘Speak respectfully’ means I will voice my point of view calmly and respectfully without losing the passion of my position and commitment, discussing the issues without personal criticisms.

‘Being accountable’ means I accept responsibility for my words and actions.


Presenting the Principles for Civil Dialogue to other Scottsdale organizations is the next milestone, while growing the enthusiasm for the Principles organically. As energy continues to build on this initiative, the ultimate goal is presenting the Principles to the Scottsdale City Council for adoption.

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