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The civility committee met for the first time since Almageddon to open the Civility Café. We were a tired, footsore bunch, but happy that we could open the café with last year’s menu. Acts of kindness are acts of kindness no matter what year it is…

What is life? My father is fading, the troops are rallying, and I realize that most of the best stories start with a death. The needs and deeds of the characters change; we’re telling each other different stories and asking each other for things we haven’t asked before. New territory, old and new emotions and a mix thereof.

Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. — John Lennon

I found this in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with ambitions, friends, routines, worries and craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives you’ll never know exist, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

And now I’ll verb it:
v., when you look at people and realize that they are all up in their heads with the same intensity that you are. As we passed each other on the sidewalk, we sondered each other.
In that moment of sondering is empathy born. One realizes that it isn’t always all about one’s self.

Pick something from our menu of daily specials and do it for someone or for you. Check out the daily specials on the kiosks and poster. Or, bust loose and create your own random act of kindness.

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning how to dance in the rain. — Vivian Greene

Do you have a quote about life or civility you especially like? Or something that just hit you with an insight or appropriateness? Lemmee know.

Well, it’s all right…


I sent this gif to Lori (click on it) and suggested that this is what Alma is doing to our heads.  I’ve been picking up a greater level of tension, confusion, stress, and a general “who thought this was a good idea”-ness (and that’s before I even get to work).  I want to suggest that it will all be ok.  We’ll figure it out and we’ll take care of each other while we’re doing it.

That’s what I’d like to say most today — it is a difficult time for all of us, so it is up to each one of us to offer a little more patience, a tad more foolishness, maybe explain again more slowly, to be hopeful that we will all live through the Alma transition rather than predicting gloom and doom.  We’re all in the same boat, rowing and bailing madly.  Give a thought for the person next to you.

Click here, too:  It’s All Right.

I’ll pick some chapters for book club later.

Talk about your random acts of beauty…

Copenhagen Philharmonic Flash Mob in the Metro

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Civility Book Club Meeting Five

I think people find it hard to be kind because they’re afraid they’ll lose something.

I get disregarded and people are rude to me; some folks use any opening to hurt my feelings and knock me off balance, and I wonder why. Do they have a zero-sum game outlook on life? Do they look at me and think, “If I am kind and patient with you I give something of myself that I will never get back? If I am unkind to you and make you feel bad I get…”  What? To keep all the points?? What???

Maybe they’re counting coup.

It hurts when I ask a question, offer an observation, or enter a conversation only to be snubbed, put in my place, or micro-aggressed. My cheeks flush and I wonder if they got what they wanted. I walk away…and after a person smacks me down enough times I just keep walking. When I can’t keep walking I pledge to limit communication to dry, polite necessities, withholding warmth and humor.

— later —

I wrote that yesterday – a yesterday that was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I’d awakened with a poor outlook on life, walked with a friend who is (for now and with good reason) in a perpetual state of knotted knickers, nothing in my closet appealed to me, I discovered halfway to work that my damn pants were on backwards (which made me feel like an old woman who wears pants that look the same backwards as forwards), and then, as I walked through the door into Circ, I got my feelings hurt. As the day went on my intermittent mouse and keyboard outage problem surfaced again and I reached complete disgruntlement.

Hence the whiny blog opening. I am better today, thank you, and as I reread and edited and contemplated jettisoning the opening I thought, y’know what? Hollering about what hurts me is just the flip side of talking about how I work to stay positive, foolish, forgiving, kind, thrifty, brave, and true.

Maybe if everyone walked around being in touch with each other’s hidden pain it could work out and even be beautiful, but it doesn’t feel safe to be the only compassionate person on the planet.
— Michelle Tea, Rose of No Man’s Land

For meeting number five we will be reading Chapter 23, Embrace Kindness and Chapter 50, Grow a Very Big Heart. We’ll be in study room 6420 from 2-2:50 on Tuesday, July 29. The books are out in the stacks: BJ 1533 .C9 H33.



Steven’s Core Values Creativity Contest Winners

Steven Sowell offered his CRSD staff a chance to win lunch, his treat, at the restaurant of our choice:

Core Values Creativity Contest: create a song, poem, skit, story, video, food item, crossword puzzle, game, documentary, etc. that includes all of the library’s core values: Access, Civility, Collaboration, Diversity, Innovation, Preservation, Service, and Sustainability.

I am posting the winning entries for all to enjoy as I did:

And from Patrick Layton:



Goodbye Cafe


As May’s Civility Café furls its awning, we bid adieu to a month of new thoughts of goodwill toward our fellow humans. A patron asked Lori where the Civility Café is located…

Today I told a coworker how lovely she looks. I told her that I’m pretty much only concerned with being clean and covered and she always looks so nicely put together with much aforethought – she beamed and said she’d been feeling kinda dreepy today.

A kindness, either given or received, can make your day.

In Door Into Ocean and Daughter of Elysium, Joan Slonczewski created a society called Sharers who take literally the concept of reciprocity, of mutual creation, and that what I do to you I do to me. The comforter is comforted. The mother gives birth to the child – and the child creates the mother. I find myself comforted in the act of comforting, and I certainly wasn’t a mother until my daughter made me one; she and I have continued a dance of mutual creation as we grow and change. I am not just the actor and she the acted upon, it is reciprocal.

I love the idea of immediate golden rulery: I shall not do unto you what I don’t want done unto me, and if I do do unto you, it is also done to me.

Civility Book Club Meeting Four

This week we are covering the chapters Strike a Tone and Build TrustStrike a Tone made me think of hammered dulcimers. I really like the sound of hammered dulcimers. Pingy, ethereal…and I like watching the players — their light touch with the hammers. What if we were aware of how we are “tuned” when we speak with someone? I think tone and word choice have a whole lot to do with expressing the intent of our communication. What if we made a scale:
Hammered dulcimer
Going from gentle to harsh, from polite to in your face, from I hope you are hearing me to I HOPE YOU ARE HEARING ME — what if as we spoke to someone the level at which we were speaking and the level at which we were being heard were visually or aurally apparent? Immediate feedback. (Actually, I think the feedback monitor is already there, but we’ve stuck a sock in it.)
From Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Our next meeting is Tuesday, May 13 at 2:00 in Willamette East. Read ahead, or show up and read aloud with us. We’ve had folks come to one meeting, to two, to all of them. If you’re interested, please come on ahead.

May is Civility Month

We didn’t make this up; if you search civility month you will find business consultants and community groups proclaiming May the month to be consciously civil.  Check out the kiosks for a daily special from The Civility Cafe.

Warmth is kindled with kindnesses. If I feel that you value me, my feelings of worth and pleasedness spill out onto the next person I meet.  We are interconnected — we can communicate with coldness, with impatience and cutting words, we can dominate and intimidate, or we can offer thoughtfulness, kindness, and humor.

The other night I was leaving through the Java II doors and a young man waited for me, holding the door open. I’m used to having the door held, but only if I am hot on the heels of the person in front of me. I did the same for the young woman a little ways behind me, and as I walked away I turned and saw her doing the same thing.

Try out a new expression of your esteem.  See what a kindness, consideration, or thoughtfulness nudges into motion. Forni says that incivility is disregard.

Let’s regard one another.

Civility Book Club Meeting Three


Calvin is my favorite.  My daughter has spawned three little boys of her own — sometimes I wonder if my wish for the ultimate entertainment of a Calvin skipped a generation, and if I should think twice about what I wish for, and maybe apologize to my daughter…..


I’ve had this above my desk at home since forever. I am unanimous in my dislike for numbers.


It is springtime.


Our next meeting is on Tuesday, April 15 (who picked that day??) at 2:00 in Willamette East.  We’ll be doing Embody Enough and Practice Patience.  Read ahead, or just show up and read aloud with us.

In the meantime, offer your coworkers some surrealism.




Civility Book Club Meeting Two

Next meeting: Tuesday, March 11, 2-3pm, Willamettes


My heart is still a little sore – about a month ago I got blindsided by family drama sparked by a stressful situation. (My father had surgery; we got the results after the usual wait and they’re quite good, thank you). I took massive offense to something my brother said and to his interpretation of events, and because he blew up at me in a text message I was able to shake with horrified hurt and anger in my living room, take my dog for a walk, talk to a friend, and breathe deeply for a good long time. I chose to respond selectively and texted back, “When they move Pop from ICU to his room please text me the phone number,” rather than responding to our stress- and history-induced emotions, “You think this isn’t hard on me, too, Jacko?”

Well, good on me for not escalating an incendiary situation, but even though the dust has settled I’m still carrying him around. “A personal offense is like a scratch on a phonograph record. I couldn’t move my thoughts beyond my pain. It kept repeating, as if I were stuck within its grooves. There was only one way to play beyond it. I had to forgive them, so my heart could take its form again.” — Laurel Lea

I don’t know that I’ve gotten to forgiveness yet, but I’m chewing that old cud less often and with less gusto…

So, for March’s book club, we shall talk about taking offense, not taking offense, taking offense as a choice, and what Stephen Fry thinks of being offended. We’re going to read chapter 19, Take the High Road, and chapter 20, Laugh at Least Once a Day out loud to each other and discuss. We’ve got a short video from Sara Hacala, too.

Feel free to drop in for discussion whether or not you’ve read the book, and whether or not you were at the first session. You are welcome. Tuesday, March 11, 2-3pm Willamettes.

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