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Civility project at Monroe library asks for kindness

Jana Alexander Hill photo

Shannon Dye, the librarian in Monroe who put together the civility project, stands next to a table set up next to the front desk stocked with materials for this community collaboration.

MONROE — Messages of politeness and courtesy are on display in a collaborative art project at Sno-Isle Libraries’ Monroe branch.
The Civility Art installation is led by children’s librarian Shannon Dye. The purpose is to inspire better behavior and better conversation.
People are asked to answer the question, “What does civility mean?”
Their answers go onto multicolored, 4.5-inch diameter poster board, with handwritten notes on each individual circle, such as “Choose Happy” and “Be a Friend.”
“I think it’s always important to treat each other with kindness and respect,” Dye said. “It’s about being able to talk to each other.”
Dye was inspired to create the project from seeing an art exhibit by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation about the Half the Sky Movement, which is tied to a book called “Women Hold up Half the Sky” by Nicolas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book is part of a movement to improve the lives of women worldwide, by turning “oppression into opportunity.”  
“I thought, ‘if we’re going to do something that inspires people to think about civility, it should be a collaborative art installation’,” Dye said.
Artists can adorn their hangings with feathers and googley eyes, using pens and crayons to add messaging and drawings. One drawing showed two stick figures facing a heart half the size of each figure; the two are holding the heart up with outstretched arms.
The orange and yellow circles were chosen to match the fall season, Dye said.
Most hangings have four circles; some have three. Keyrings hold the circles together and they are hung from a metal ledge above the checkout desk. The installation has just over 20 entries as of last week, and it is planned to stay up through November, Dye said.
The library movement itself is based on wider access to the best information. Dye said the best information can lead to better dialogue.

Monroe Civility Project
All ages are welcome to add messages to the art installation, but so far messages were written by visitors to the children’s library. Some of the circles say that civility means:
• Helping people in need.
• Putting aside preconceptions.
• Showing people Kind Niss.
• Practice having a resting,  happy face.
• Accepting people for who they are.
• What it means for me is to help people.
• Choose happy.
• Be a friend.


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