From the Beach Reporter [news] – Over the past few years, Manhattan Beach residents Nellie and Steve Ambrose grew weary of the incivility in their personal lives, in business, on television and especially on social media. While intolerance along political lines has been percolating…
While intolerance along political lines has been percolating in American society since about the mid-1990s, the U.S. Presidential election last year seemed to make matters a whole lot worse, they said.
“Politics have sliced us into pieces and we really forgot how to be emotionally intelligent,” Steve said. “We forgot how to interact with other people because we started shielding ourselves from people. We have to get back to that.”
Putting their words into action, the married couple with two college-aged children started a social movement called Walk the Ridge. The first step was to launch a website where users can sign up for tips on how to be more civil in their daily lives. They also sell unique wristbands reminding wearers to be accountable while engaging others.
“Every day when you look at that wristband, it’s a daily reminder to be civil in your online and personal communication,” Nellie said. “As more people wear them, you know it’s a safe person to talk to. You know you can have a civil conversation.”
After just a few weeks online, there are more than 1,000 members who have taken the pledge to “Walk the Ridge.” Nellie and Steve plan to donate a portion of wristband proceeds for disaster relief. They see times of crisis as an opportunity for communities to come together.
“This divisiveness just seems to be the topic of conversation,” Nellie said. “So many people are saying we need to come together. Walk the Ridge is not our movement. It’s a way for society to bring back civility one conversation at a time.”
The name Walk the Ridge comes from an image Nellie had while visiting her daughter at Loyola Marymount University. While overlooking the city, she imagined two valleys separated by a mountain so that people can’t really see what’s on the other side.
“I sort of had an ‘ah-hah moment’ that we have become tribes of opinion separated by the ridge of a mountain. We’re not seeing each other for who we really are, just the box we checked on election day, and not hearing each other to really understand our backgrounds and how our views were formed,” she said. “We want to empower people to rise above the valleys and walk the ridge, the narrow path on the mountain range where we can see there is beauty on both sides.”
Steve said it’s not necessary that people need to agree with one another, but that they listen and try at least to learn something from an alternative point of view.
“That means not just engaging in sharing diverse ideas but really learning how to listen and learn from other people, not forcing yourself to do it but really believing in your heart that you’re not afraid of challenge and learning new things,” he said.
With 24-hour news cycles and social media creating an echo chamber so that even the most open-minded people become entrenched in bias, the couple feels it’s important to expose diverse points of view. But more and more, they say, this notion is being lost.
Incivility has shown up in the workplace, too. As many as 66 percent of employees report a decrease in job satisfaction because of it, said Steve, a healthcare consultant for hospitals and health providers. He said owners of companies have been signing up as a way to discover new tools to use among their employees.
The couple is starting off locally in Southern California, but eventually, they want Walk the Ridge to become a nationwide movement.
“We really feel we will see a measurable difference in the way we treat each other and the ripple effect will travel across the country and our leaders will have no choice but to take notice,” Steve said.