On May 14, CCMF Executive Director Ken Pulskamp was one of three guest speakers for a Cal-ICMA Coaching webinar titled “Moving from Conflict to Civility and Problem Solving.” The webinar posed the following questions to the panelists and attendees:

  1. What is driving conflict in communities?
  2. How have communities shifted from conflict to civility?
  3. What are useful tools to strengthen communities?

Cal-ICMA webinarKen kicked off the webinar by looking at some of the various reasons society has come to embrace, tolerate and reward rudeness or conflict. He pointed toward the evolution of television programming, acceptable behavior as sports fans, and media role models as some of the core factors for why “rude behavior has become commonplace.” Another reason we’re seeing so much conflict within local communities is because “social media makes it easy to find others to amplify your negativity,” Ken argued. He also advised that, to keep public meetings from getting out of control, city leaders should “set meeting rules upfront, agree on them, and be good role models.” Ken closed with an idea to highlight and reward unsung “Heroes of the Week” in the community, as a way to build community camaraderie and respect.

Dorothy Ann David — City Manager of Champaign, Illinois — continued with an in-depth look at how Champaign leadership navigated several tense situations within their own community over the years. She focused on the need for a combination of educating the public, building channels for two-way dialogue and, above all, mutual respect. “You shouldn’t have discourse if you’re not willing to act on it,” Dorothy Ann David concluded.

Dan Johnson — City Manager of Richardson, Texas — rounded out the webinar by educating the audience on methods for promoting and maintaining civility within a community. But he also noted that politeness does not excuse city leaders from properly serving their community: “Civility should not be a substitute for actual performance.”

You can view past Cal-ICMA Coaching webinars at www.cal-icma.org/coaching. For the Agenda, Presentation Slides, and a Video recording of “Moving From Conflict to Civility and Problem Solving,” click here.