What is Civity?
"Civity" is people working together to solve important civic problems -- building and strengthening relationships which reach across social, political and organizational divides.
"Civity", a word that in earlier times meant the civic body constituting a city, implies a certain quality of interaction that enables collaboration: an interaction based on mutual respect. With Civity, social, political and organizational difference -- diversity -- actually increases problem-solving and resilience. The Civity Initiative was founded to offer the story of Civity to counter the prevailing story of dvision and disempowerment.
The Civity Story
Around the country, people see economic, social, and environmental problems looming large. These are big problems; they are interconnected problems; and they are problems without obvious solutions. Gridlock, divisiveness, and conflict are limiting our collective ability to address these problems, and in some cases are bringing possible solutions to a grinding halt.
Reacting to these problems, we too often retreat into our comfort zones. We sort ourselves into neighborhoods and schools with others who are like us. We talk mostly to people who have similar backgrounds and experiences and who see the world through similar lenses. In our pockets of similarity, we focus on getting what we want individually rather than on doing what is necessary together.
But fear, defensiveness, and passivity are not the only games in town. In many places, people are reaching beyond their comfort zones to people who are “unlike” rather than “like” them. These bridging, authentic relationships can blossom into respect, which allows people to work together, think together, and create together. When this happens, collaboration and innovation spark progress on big problems. Civity is created.
Transformative one-on-one conversations with space for real listening and trust have long been valued in such varied contexts as executive coaching, counseling, and community organizing. The Civity Initiative has identified such conversations, adapted to the context of civic life, as a promising tool for directly encouraging people to strengthen their civic networks through relationships of mutual respect.
By engaging people individually to reflect deeply on the relationships in their own networks, Civity Conversations move individuals to realize that by being more intentional and strategic about relationships and relationship-building they can fundamentally shift how they do their work to accomplish their civic goals more effectively and with greater ease.
With support from The Whitman Institute, the Civity Initiative is adapting the transformative one-on-one conversation to the Civity context.
Civity Silicon Valley
Civity Silicon Valley takes the Civity Conversations and bridging tools used in other communities and cultures and applies them to the specific divide between the tech and non-tech communities. Our goal is to guide established and emerging leaders from San Francisco to San Jose and help them move from conflict and distrust to empathy and working together for the good of the Valley.