By Ciara Smith, Gary Crusader
Blight, crime and declining revenue may be hard to ignore in a city like Gary, that’s struggled for years, but the Gary Chamber of Commerce won’t be deterred from reclaiming the city’s life and civility. An event steeped in kindness and respectability sold out last year, attracting more than 300 people from nine states, and three countries. This year, the Gary-based Community Civility Counts initiative plans on making it bigger and better.
World Civility Day, a full day of civility-themed activities and awards will be held on Thursday, April 13, to promote the Community Civility Counts campaign, which focuses on raising the bar in business, education, and all facets of life throughout the Northwest Indiana (NWI) region.
The initiative started as a project of the Gary Chamber of Commerce Public Policy committee and has since expanded to include partners both locally and nation-wide.
Officially launching in 2015, in a Gary Chamber board room, Civility Counts has since joined forces with The Time Media Co., and the National Civility Center to get its message out.
“It’s an awareness campaign. We looked at every walk of life. People bully — cyber and social media bullying, young people are fighting, domestic abuse, disputes in the workplace, we have people shooting policemen. Anywhere you look there is a need for civility in our actions and that’s our purpose for it,” said Charles (Chuck) Hughes, executive director of the Gary Chamber of Commerce.
Hughes credits Gordon E. Bradshaw, the Chamber’s public policy chairman, for birthing the idea and creating a poster. That poster, drew the attention of Dr. Clyde Rivers, the United Nations Ambassador who will give the keynote address at World Civility Day for the second year in a row.
The Community Civility Counts team was recognized as members of the Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators in 2016 — a fitting award, as organizations and surrounding communities are beginning to follow suit. Hammond, Valparaiso, LaPorte city councils and the Lake County Council have all adopted Civility Counts resolutions.
The movement has also spread to state government, as a senate resolution recognizing the Community Civility Counts Initiative has already been introduced by Senator Lonnie Randolph.
No matter how far it reaches, “the good part about it is that it gives us something that we’re leaders in, and it’s nothing but positive,” said Hughes.
The big day will include a kickoff lunch and workshops at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, IN and extend into its first awards dinner that evening at Avalon Manor in Merrillville.
Workshops offered on April 13 are slated to include: “The Business Case for Civility at Work” by Lew Bayer of Civility Experts of Canada; “Civility in the Community” by the National Civility Center; “Where do we go from here – chaos or community?” by the Urban League of Northwest Indiana; “Civility in the Classroom” by Summer Moore of Community Civility Counts and “Cyber Bullying in Schools” by Cathie Bledsoe of the Indiana State Police Internet Crime against Children Task Force.
To follow the activities of Community Civility counts, visit and like the Civility Counts page on Facebook. Sponsorships and tickets are available through the Gary Chamber of Commerce at (219) 885-7407.