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On March 6, 2012  twenty community leaders participated in a training to become a facilitator for Speak Your Peace.  The training was  held at Mid-State Technical College and was led by Shawn Zee, Brenda Dillenburg, and Michelle Boernke. The marshfield News Herlad sent a reporter and he reported on the new program.

Marshfield Area Community Foundation Project Promotes Civility

The Marshfield Area Community Foundation has launched a project to promote civility and open communication in every realm of public discourse -- from politics to church groups, school boards to youth athletics.

The Speak Your Peace civility project is modeled after programs implemented in the past decade by the Incourage Community Foundation and the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation.

"There's a real need we see in the community," said Amber Kiggens-Leifheit, MACF executive director.

MACF officials held a training and information session Tuesday at Mid-State Technical College that sought to recruit "facilitators" who will hold presentations for community leaders, groups and businesses, spreading the project's message.

Tuesday's group of more than 15 people included local teachers and school administrators, leaders of nonprofit groups and health care officials, among others.

MACF leaders hope to get 40 facilitators involved who will reach more than 500 local residents through presentations in the project's first year, Kiggens-Leifheit said.

"We're trying to hit everyone in the community," Kiggens-Leifheit said. "It can really be applied everywhere."

Speak Your Peace focuses on author P.M. Forni's nine "tools of civility," which include showing respect, seeking common ground and using constructive language.

The project's tagline: "It's not what you say. It's how you say it."

The initiative also involves a resolution accepting the nine tools that organizations can adopt. Several government bodies and school boards in southern Wood County have passed resolutions supporting the concept.

Kiggens-Leifheit said she would like Marshfield City Council, local school boards and "all groups in town to pass the resolution."

The effort is particularly relevant now, given the hyperpartisanship dominating state and federal politics.

"Our state, our nation, is very polarized," said Darlene Berry, an eighth-grade teacher at Marshfield Middle School. "I think it's seeping into our (personal) relationships when it shouldn't."

Berry said she plans to apply the group activities and concepts from Tuesday's session in her classroom, and she's interested in volunteering for the civility project.

Kiggens-Leifheit said the foundation will hold another training session for volunteers in the next month. She said community members will be able to request presentations through the MACF website, www.marshfield, or by calling the office at 715-384-9029|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Civility on the National Stage:

Editorial: Rush Limbaugh not the only guilty party here

The nation's political discourse has crossed so many of the lines that used to define civility that you'd think it would be hard to be shocked anymore. How naive.

In the past two weeks alone, Montana's chief federal judge, Richard Cebull, e-mailed around a coarsely racist joke about President Obama, and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student a "slut" and a "prostitute" for advocating that her school's health plan cover contraception.

Crudity isn't just an affliction of the right. In the past year, liberal MSNBC host Ed Schultz called conservative Laura Ingraham a slut, and HBO's liberal commentator/comedian Bill Maher used two vulgar terms for female anatomy to describe Sarah Palin.

This is the sort of verbal ingenuity you'd expect to hear in a locker room full of 14-year-old boys, but that demeans 14-year-old boys. What's most revealing is how the various offenders, and associates, have dealt with the fallout from their words and actions.


Opinions expressed in USA TODAY's editorials are decided by its Editorial Board, a demographically and ideologically diverse group that is separate from USA TODAY's news staff.


Most editorials are accompanied by an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature that allows readers to reach conclusions based on both sides of an argument rather than just the Editorial Board's point of view.

Cebull admitted the joke is racist but denied that he is, explaining that he sent it because he's "anti-Obama." This, mind you, is the defense mounted by a judge with a lifetime appointment who's supposed to be setting the standard for other federal judges in Montana and at least feigning impartiality and judicial temperament.

At least Cebull apologized in a letter to Obama. Limbaugh — after compounding his initial blunder by calling on the law student to post sex videos — belatedly apologized on air only after advertisers began fleeing his show.

Schultz apologized to Ingraham and was suspended for a week. Maher denies he has to apologize because, unlike Limbaugh, his show on HBO has no advertisers. Maher isn't as influential among Democrats as Limbaugh is with Republicans, but he just announced he's giving $1 million to a Super PAC that supports Obama. The Super PAC should say thanks, but no thanks.

As disappointing as what these men said is how few people called them out for it at a time when the nation's political discourse is so bitter and polarized that it's poisoning the process of finding solutions to the country's most critical problems.

In Montana, top officials were silent or tepid until Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., told us through a spokesperson that Cebull's actions imply "racism and sexism (and show) poor judgment."

The Republican presidential candidates have been so timid that conservative columnist George Will concluded that they are "afraid" of Limbaugh. All front-runner Mitt Romney could say was that Limbaugh's "was not the language I would have used." What a missed opportunity to make a stand for decency.

Anyone who helps set the tone of the national conversation has a responsibility to keep it within the bounds of civility. No one in these sorry episodes meets that standard