Why Civility Matters
Emotions are contagious - both our good deeds and our bad behavior make a difference in the community. It also makes a difference in our physical health. In the groundbreaking book, "Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community," Dr. Robert Putnam cites stunning statistics about the physical effects of positive social involvement. Civility matters because it affects our emotional health, our physical health and our community health. That's why.
Here's the where ...Because It Matters is a community-wide initiative to promote civility in our workplaces, our neighborhoods and civic organizations, and our schools. It is a campaign to encourage citizens of our region to communicate in a more respectful way, improving public discourse. We all have the ability to display and deliver a positive attitude and good deeds. The result is a strengthening of our social fabric and our region becomes an even better place to live.
Better Together - Why It Matters To You
Our Gulf Coast region was fortunate to become part of a landmark study called "Better Together," which monitored the effects of social capital. Social capital is a term that entered the mainstream following the publishing of Putnam's book. The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Suburban sprawl, the age of electronics, and consumer expectations have all caused increased isolation and decreased social networks and social capital, according to Putnam.
The study measured social capital in all of Sarasota County, plus Boca Grande and Englewood and was sponsored by Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The first study was conducted in 2003 and the second round in 2005. While we scored well in bonding social capital-birds of a feather flock together-we did not fare as well with bridging social capital-making connections among more diverse groups.
Because It Matters Comes To Life
Early in 2007, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation took "Better Together" a step further with, "The Value of Connections," a community visit and discussion with noted psychologist and best-selling author Daniel Goleman, PhD. Discussing his most recent work, "Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships," Goleman engaged the crowd with information from the field of social neuroscience. Data now suggests that interpersonal relationships actually shape our brains and thus alter our physiology. Our encounters with one another are critical factors in the equation for a healthy and successful life.
As a follow-up to that discussion, Gulf Coast Community Foundation invited the community to continue the conversation. Over 100 citizens reacted positively, coming together to shape Because It Matters. An initiative for civility was born.