Appleton’s Dignity and Respect Campaign

Black History Month

In the city of Appleton, a movement is underway.

“This is about us being intentional about who we want to be as a community,” says Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna.

A campaign aimed at lifting everyone up.

“We are now building a critical mass of individuals.”

By ensuring all who live in this community are treated with dignity and respect/

“To me, that’s exciting, especially in today’s world where we are bombarded with examples of that not happening.”

One year ago, Appleton became the first city in the state to launch the dignity and respect campaign, in part, a response to a growing political divide along with comments from the city’s minority communities that at times they didn’t feel very welcome.

“Not what a mayor wants to hear, and that always bothered me.”

Looking to build cultural awareness and find common ground, the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator has spent the last year holding community listening sessions, teaching the public and local businesses 30 tips and skills to show people dignity and respect.

“Giving people the how is why I think this campaign has been so wildly successful, because there are very, very specific things people can do,” says Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Karen Nelson.

Actions like smile, say hello and thank you, find common ground, communicate respectfully, build trust, and lend a helping hand.

“I think people are desperate to have something that they can be part of, that really changes the type of discourse we are having in public with each other,” says Dr. Kimberly Barrett. Dr. Barrett is the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Lawrence University.

Mayor Hanna adds, “The more we do this and are intentional about it, the more it becomes part of our culture here.”

Since the campaign began, over 2,200 people have taken the dignity and respect pledge.

“I will do my part in making the city of Appleton a better place by treating everyone with dignity and respect.”

And Mayor Hanna says he’s fully committed to keep the momentum going.

“We shouldn’t work at looking for best practices. We need to spend time being the best practice.”

As the campaign enters its second year, trying to make the world a better place for all.

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