Harford County is launching a local Choose Civility campaign

Harford County Public Library Director Mary Hastler and County Executive Barry Glassman talk about Harford County's new Choose Civility campaign. Harford County government

“Choose Civility” is a national campaign to lift up communities by promoting respect, empathy and tolerance between individuals, and within and among organizations.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and Harford County Library CEO Mary Hastler have joined to lead a new local chapter and will host a kickoff breakfast from 8:30 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 27, at Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp.


The local effort will be focused on encouraging considerate conduct among county residents and reducing bullying and other uncivil actions towards others, particularly on social media, the two leaders explain in a promotional video.

The keynote speaker for the kickoff breakfast will be Valerie J. Gross, president of Education Enterprises for Libraries and founder of the national movement.


Individuals of all ages, businesses and community organizations are welcome to register for this free event and help Harford County become a model of civility. Space is limited and will be available first come, first served, so register by Sunday, June 24, at https://bit.ly/2ynAsqZ .

“We are thrilled to have Valerie Gross help us launch Choose Civility in Harford County,” Hastler said in a statement. “Planning is also underway for more exciting events to make this a sustainable and countywide movement.”

About 70 people, one of the largest crowds ever, showed up for a presentation Tuesday by Campaign 42 on African-American history in Harford County at the Historical Society in Bel Air.

Havre de Grace resident Robert “Bob” Greene has been a longtime local advocate for the civility movement and said he is looking forward to the countywide effort.

Greene, a retired businessman and a former director of human resources for Harford County government, also has promoted the idea of designating Havre de Grace a “Capital of Civility,” going so far as to write then President Barack Obama about some of his suggestions.

In his Dec. 14, 2017, reply thanking Greene for his suggestions, Obama wrote: “I am honored to work on behalf of all Americans to grow our economy, protect our citizens and strengthen American leadership around the world. When America is united, there is no challenge too great or dream too big.”

Greene said he hopes to attend next week’s Choose Civility kickoff breakfast.

“This is great to hear, great they are doing this,” he said.

Based on a small but powerful book by Johns Hopkins University Professor P.M. Forni, Choose Civility outlines simple rules of considerate conduct that go beyond good manners.

The Longest Table invited residents to sit down for a catered dinner with people they did not know to exchange stories and ideas about Howard County.

Civility benefits communities by reducing feelings of insult, thereby reducing stress, anger, and the potential for violence, Harford County government noted in news release. Civility also leads to the productive exchange of opinions and improves social experiences for a happier life.

First launched in 2007 by Howard County Public Library, the Choose Civility movement has since spread within Maryland and to other states nationwide.

Local organizations are welcome to join the Harford County chapter, which will offer community events and activities, along with practical ways to overcome bullying and rudeness in everyday situations, including social media.

“The way we treat one another directly impacts our daily lives, which is why I am proud to partner with Mary Hastler and our public library on this ambitious campaign,” Glassman said. “We care deeply about our community because of the people who call it home. By working together we can choose to make Harford County even better – we can Choose Civility.”


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