Mount Airy community learns to mind its manners

Kelly Frager

Kelly Frager wants you to imagine a scenario.

You're driving down the street and someone cuts you off. Your first reaction may be to honk your horn and throw up a finger, she said.

"In your car, you don't have any accountability at all," said Frager, a Mount Airy resident.

Now let's say you end up going to the same place as that person, and you realize you know the person when you get out of your car. Maybe it's even your child's principal, she said.

Had you known that, she assumes you wouldn't have acted that way.

"The more we can build our communities, the more civil we will be to one another," she said.

Frager, a certified etiquette instructor with a background in corporate training and human resources, said she wants her community to pave the way in civility. To do this, she said, the residents of Mount Airy need to start building communities, and to start to get to know all their neighbors better.

Frager is hosting a discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at the Mount Airy Branch Library called, "Building a Civil Community: What's a Person to Do?"

The Carroll County Public Library system called Frager and asked her to host the talk, she said. Neighboring Howard County has been a true leader of these discussions, she said, with a movement started in the library system called "Choose Civility." Now, Carroll County wants to start the conversation.

Frager recently met with the mayor and council of the town of Mount Airy, to help them talk through some of the civility issues they have had in the past.

Bob King, a current councilman, said when he ran for office in 2012 he made civility part of his platform.

The mayor and council in office four years ago had civility issues, King said.

"The council began not talking to each other but talking at each other," he said. "It was everyone at the table. It was almost as if they were playing for the camera instead of people who elected them. It was pretty disgusting."

King said he used to be part of the problem in his disagreements with Mayor Patrick Rockinberg.

"I am a much happier person now than I was being angry all the time," he said.

A few of the major issues being debated in Mount Airy are growth, and the town's water system as it relates to growth, he said.

In general, to get things done, you have to be civil to one another, he said.

"You don't get anything accomplished if you are standing there screaming at people, and you can't talk in a civil way," he said. "If you can't talk to people, you can't get anything done."

King said he can think of a few people who he hopes attend Frager's discussion. He plans to be there, he said.

Frager calls King a "civility champion," for making the topic part of his campaign and for his commitment to the issue.

Frager has been running her business, Etiquette for Everyday, for six years.

She said she works with people "of all ages and stages." She talks to youth classes, high school students about interviewing and professional skills, and businesses and corporations about civility in the workplace.

In her conversations, Frager tries to break down what she thinks are misconceptions of what etiquette is.

"People perceive the purple-haired granny looking down her glasses with her pinky in the air, raising her tea cup," she said. "That's why I named my business Etiquette for Everyday, because etiquette truly represents every day courteous behaviors; not just behaviors required when attending a fancy event."

Frager said she is hoping that people from all parts of the community come out, including the town's leadership, schools, and the senior community.

"I think it is just a discussion and hearing different people's perspectives and what they have to say will be wonderful."

Follow Jen Bondeson on Twitter: @Jen_Bondeson. 

If you go

What: Community conversation with etiquette coach Kelly Frager, "Building a civil community: What's a person to do?"

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5

Where: Mount Airy Branch Library, 705 Ridge Avenue in Mount Airy

Details: A discussion of how to be more civil to one another and respect one another in personal and professional situations, in your neighborhood and workplace. Refreshments will be served.

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