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Howard County's Choose Civility Expands to Florida and Maine

Miami and Portland, Maine are the two newest chapters of Choose Civility, an organization that began in Howard County.

Choose Civility, an organization led by the Howard County Library System, has welcomed two new chapters on opposite ends of the East Coast.

The cities of Miami and Portland, Maine have joined the Choose Civility movement, which began in Howard County in 2006. Originally a local campaign, it has since spread; Miami and Portland are the fourth and fifth cities to take part in Choose Civility.

“In our everyday lives we all experience (turmoil) in one form or another,” said Christie Lassen, the director of public relations with the Howard County Library. “Whether it’s something that happens on a one-on-one basis or what you’re seeing on the national scene with maybe politics or other news -- often you ask the question, 'How do I make a difference?' This is one way to make a difference.”

Lassen said Choose Civility has more than 100 alliance partners throughout Howard County which has helped the grassroots campaign gain ground in its mission: to promote respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance.

Word started spreading beyond Maryland when Howard County Library System CEO Valerie Gross started hosting webinars on Choose Civility’s impact as a community campaign. She recently wrote an article for the journal Public Libraries, which has helped gain attention.

Lassen added representatives in Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois have recently reached out with the interest of starting their own chapters of Choose Civility. 

“I have a map at the office where I’m putting pins in where we’re getting calls,” Lassen said.

Miami and Portland join Washington County, Md. and Freeborn County, Minn. as chapters in addition to the home site in Howard County.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado initially announced the new Choose Civility chapter in his 2013 State of the City Address in March.

“Choose Civility ... is sparking positive dialogues and robust conversations in communities from Maryland and Minnesota to California and Maine, and now Florida. ‘Choose Civility Miami’ will strengthen our communities and continue to improve our quality of life.”

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