About Choose Civility

Choose Civility is an ongoing community-wide initiative, led by Howard County Library System, to position Howard County, MD as a model of civility. The project intends to enhance respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance in Howard County. We invite all within our community, as well as other communities around the nation, to participate.


Howard County chooses to be a model of civility.


We choose respect, consideration, empathy, and tolerance as our fundamental values, enhancing the community’s quality of life.


The question “Why in Howard County?” arises regularly and has revealed that there are two basic reasons for the immense interest in the initiative.

  • Howard County is already one of the most civil communities in the country, and celebrates this hallmark.
  • As a highly educated community, residents aspire to live the vision and appreciate the reminder.  Civility is a journey, not a destination.

While Howard County aims to enhance its own quality of life through Choose Civility, the initiative is benefitting communities in the region and beyond, as others are inspired to implement similar initiatives.

Principles of Civility

Howard County has chosen to promote 15 guiding ideas and principles that resonate with our community. Choose Civility promotes the following Principles of Civility:

  1. Pay attention
  2. Listen
  3. Speak kindly
  4. Assume the best
  5. Respect others’ opinions
  6. Respect other people’s time and space
  7. Be inclusive
  8. Acknowledge others
  9. Accept and give praise
  10. Apologize earnestly
  11. Assert yourself
  12. Take responsibility
  13. Accept and give constructive criticism
  14. Refrain from idle complaints
  15. Be a considerate guest

Strategic Plan

Choose Civility initially created a Strategic Plan that articulates the vision and goals for the initiative and helped to guide development, programming, operation and sustainability. Additionally, it suggests program components, including community events, classes, activities, marketing tools, and partnering strategies. Download Strategic Plan.