June 14, 2018

Our Seeding Civity initiative is off to the races in our first partner community: Redwood City – home to around 86,000 residents and located 27 miles south of San Francisco. Redwood City’s diverse population and changing demographics create ideal opportunities for Civity-building. Like many cities in Silicon Valley, Redwood City is a changing community. The city is working to navigate demographic transition and equity issues resulting, in part, from new redevelopment and an increasing lack of af...

June 14, 2018

Acts of dehumanization and humiliation are well-documented tools of war and submission. But the flip side – the impact of offering someone dignity, acknowledging their humanity – is less studied.

“It occurs to me that if you can damage the dignity of someone in a small or a very large way, well then aren't we also vulnerable to being healed? Aren't there small acts that would that would either restore or reinforce?” asks psychologist Claudia Cohen, an adjunct faculty member at the International C...

November 14, 2017

I’m writing at my desk in San Francisco, where terrible fires have been burning just north of me over the last few weeks. I have been glued to the radio, TV and Internet, trying to discover news of friends and colleagues and hearing terrible stories of death and loss of homes. 

I have also been hearing other news: stories of incredible heroism by first responders and others; of neighbors helping neighbors; of strangers knocking on doors to get them out of the fires’ way.

I listen to these stories...

November 14, 2017

“We are so quick to assume that people from the other side of the spectrum, whatever that is, are motivated by negative things,” said Andrew Hanauer, director of One America, on This Is Civity Radio. “This voice needs to be out there in the public calling for respect and inclusion, calling for people to not assume the worst motives of the other side. So, as much as possible, we want to build that.”

Hanauer and other faith and community leaders founded One America following the 2016 election as a...

November 14, 2017

Many of us are feeling powerless these days. We are overwhelmed by disturbing news stories and feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. Yet we also want to contribute to making things better. We ask ourselves, “What can I, just one individual, do to make a difference? How can I be the change I seek?”

I have a story to offer about a seemingly intractable problem, housing segregation – which is also a story about power … and about Civity.

The Story

I am an academic. I teach classes; I do resear...

November 14, 2017

In everyday parlance, to describe a situation as "complex" is to deem it complicated, intractable, and unmanageable. Politicians might label an issue as "complex" if there is no clear path toward resolution, essentially using the adjective "complex" as a rhetorical parry to side-step further discussion. Thus, from the smallest towns to the largest inter-governmental coalitions, there is an accumulation of unresolved "complex" problems in environmental, economic, and social domains. Where do we g...

November 14, 2017

Is Silicon Valley making the world a better place? In a piece recently published in CityLab, entitled What Silicon Valley Doesn't Get About People, Daniel Harris of the Knight Foundation suggests that the Valley could use some more empathy … right in its own backyard.

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Poor planning didn’t just aggravate the area’s housing problem: It helped create the Valley’s growing empathy gap.

As Silicon Valley, my home and place of work, dreams up what’s next, so, too, does the world dream up the next Sili...

We at Civity, along with people throughout the country, were gripped by the events in Charlottesville.

As in the wake of many disturbing events like this, we first reacted with horror and sadness. Then came the questions – those persistent questions that we turn over and over in our minds.

We look back: What happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen?

We also look ahead: What’s next? What can I do?

And, even more deeply, we search for meaning: What does what happened in Charlottesville and other...

July 17, 2017

Over the past few months we have conducted Civity workshops with people at some wonderful organizations!  In these workshops, we provide simple and focused strategies for connecting with one another, sharing stories, and listening to each other’s stories. Civity storytelling and storylistening support understanding and celebration of difference – as well as discovery of commonality.

By naming Civity, celebrating engagement across difference as a positive cultural value, we give people the power t...

July 17, 2017

Fear seems to be everywhere.

“Angry white men” fear becoming economically redundant. Black Americans fear police violence. Women fear sexual assault and marginalization. Immigrants fear being targeted and deported. Scientists and environmentalists – and others – fear climate change. Evangelicals fear changing cultural mores. The LGBTIQ community fears diminished civil rights. Poor people fear getting evicted or getting sick and worry about what will happen to their kids. Well-off people fear that...

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