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Group Aims To Restore Civililty To San Diego’s Civic Dialogue

Carl Luna, a political science professor at Mesa College, and Martha Barnette, co-host of "A Way With Words," talk to KPBS about the Conference On Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue.


Carl Luna, Political Science Professor Mesa College

Martha Barnette, Co-host of Public Radio's A Way With Words


Civility is defined in the dictionary as formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. But in terms of public dialogue, it also means extending some respect toward others, even if you don't agree with them.

A group of San Diego educators, community leaders and public officials found civility sadly lacking in today's politics, so they initiated a conference last year aimed at restoring respect and civility in civic dialogue.

But based on last year's nasty political races, one conference was not enough. So the group is trying again this year with the 2nd Annual Conference On Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue.

"We can recognize there's an issue going on, get a dialogue going amongst people," said Carl Luna, a political science professor at Mesa College. "I think it's a long-term prospect to try to change the zeitgeist of a time."

But, he said, people are beginning to recognize "how we're talking at each other is keeping us from talking with each other."

Recognizing each other's citizenship could help, said Martha Barnette, co-host of the public radio show "A Way With Words."

"What we need to do is create a more civic dialogue, a more civil dialogue, that moves the country forward together," she said.

The conference gets underway Wednesday at the University of San Diego.

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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