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Continuing the Civility Conversation

Announcing results from the Detroit Civility Project, The Detroit News’ Nolan Finley and Detroit Public Television’s Stephen Henderson hosted two interactive sessions on Thursday, May 30 at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference.

The project, originally announced at the 2019 Detroit Policy Conference, matched 80 participants from different backgrounds to practice the art of civility through meeting with their match for a series of conversations.

Finley and Henderson, whose friendship has remained strong after years of public political debates, hope to serve as an example for how to listen to those who share different beliefs. The session began with a video highlighting Nolan and Stephen’s relationship, and pairs who were matched for the project.

“The point of this project is to sit down first and get to know each other,” Finley said. “Everybody comes to their ideas the same way. You take a set of facts, you apply your personal values and experiences, and often, you come to different conclusions. But that doesn’t make you evil.”

Participants of the project joined Finley and Henderson in the sessions to discuss their meetups.

“There was a moment in the conversation when we found a topic that we disagreed on,” said the City of Detroit’s Monica Rodriguez. “But we were both able to respect the culture that we had created in that moment. We were able to center our humanity, and I will still think of my partner as someone I want to keep in my circle, and someone I want to think through ideas.”

Oakland County Commissioners David Woodward, a Democrat, spoke on his relationship with his match, Mike Gingell, a Republican, noting that it starts with a foundation of trust and respect. Although the Democrats have the majority on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and he doesn’t necessarily need Gingell’s vote, he wants it because it’s important to have others invested in the successful outcome of policies.

“We’d like to keep this project going. We think Detroit has the makings to become a very civil community. And we hope this project helps,” Finley said.

The Detroit Civility Project is accepting a new group of participants to be matched for civil conversations at www.detroitchamber.com/civility.

The Detroit Civility Project is sponsored by Delta Dental.