Our aim is to make things better with words and ideas.

It started 108 years ago with the first print edition of the Star-Mirror, then the Idahonian, both prior namesakes of today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

We aspire to enrich your life with stories and photos of the interesting and significant, contribute to projects that make our towns better, promote comprehension of things around us, and advocate for the culture and lifestyles that drew you and me here — to put down roots and make a better life.

We — that’s you and me — love where we live, and that matters. There is no finer place.

We won’t always agree, of course.

That’s underscored with an important note: We have so much more in common than we have different.

We’re settled on the importance of investing in our schools, teachers and kids. We see the value of our area’s universities, access to quality health care, clean water, safe streets, a steady economy and unparalleled outdoor adventure opportunities.

Times are good, yet more complicated than ever.

Locally, there’s a growing list of big-box stores closing, a declining numbers of wild salmon and steelhead in our rivers and concerns about airline expansion needs and the health and vibe of Moscow and Pullman downtowns. And there’s higher ed budget woes. Add a couple of your concerns on your list.

All are surmountable.

Even more complex are the national trends — Americans are losing faith in our democratic institutions.

There’s a crisis of trust in news and basic information, along with the ongoing tension between President Donald Trump and national news organizations.

Our federal government is all but gridlocked. Partisan polarization is at a historic high.

According to U.S. News and World Report, a majority of Americans — 74 percent — believe our country is very divided along political lines.

Additionally, only 38 percent of Americans believe people with different political views can come together to solve problems, while 59 percent feel pessimistic.

The good news: Our towns and civic leaders have a history of always finding a path forward.

But more can be done.

To help with that, in August we contacted Keith Allred. He is a Twin Falls native, Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, and executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, which formed after the tragic Tucson, Ariz., shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Allred also is founder of CommonSense American, an organization that brings Republicans, Democrats and independents together to solve problems across the partisan divide.

We sought his advice and expertise, starting with a basic question: “What can we do to foster constructive local dialogue — recognizing the pressures of national politics — to serve and solve the pressing issues facing our home towns?”

From that we developed four ideas all under the umbrella of what we are calling the Civility Project.

One, we’re hitting the road to meet you. We, as your community newspaper, aim to be better and have higher expectations than yesterday. Our ears are open. We understand and welcome the criticisms of the national — and local — press. Help us establish coverage priorities. We want your feedback.

We’ll be at the Breakfast Club at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18. Join us for a beverage and a sweet treat. We’re buying, and no RSVP is required.

Two, we have scheduled a luncheon with well-known speakers willing to share their experience and perspective. Co-sponsored by Lewis-Clark State College, the Civility Project luncheon will feature members of Idaho’s nonpartisan board for the National Institute for Civil Discourse. Former Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter — the longest serving Republican governor — and former Congressman Walt Minnick — the last Democrat to represent the Gem State in Congress and Bill Manny of Idaho Public Television will speak and answer questions from those in attendance.

The focus: civility in today’s society. Save the date —11:30 a.m. Feb. 25 at Williams Conference Center on the LCSC campus. Preregistration is recommended and more details will be shared soon in print, social and digital avenues.

Three, the Daily News will be publishing a series of stories, starting Feb. 17, with the first focused on the Washington, D.C.,-based institute, one of the nation’s higher profile groups working on civil dialogue and engagement. Other stories will look at how our public schools and area colleges handle issues and situations that cause division.

And on occasion, political reporter William L. Spence will share stories about our elected officials and their formative life experiences. The stories are based on the work of the National Institute of Civil Discourse; the idea is it’s harder to demonize people when you know something about their life journey.

And four, we’re looking for actionable to-dos. After the dust settles from the luncheon and our Breakfast Club visit, we want actual change for our news operations. Together we’ll develop a list of improvements to meet and exceed your expectation as a reader, our true boss.

That’s a lengthy list — and some lofty goals, but the current affairs require a greater effort than ever.

We’re up for it and believe you are too.

Nathan Alford is editor and publisher of the Tribune. He may be contacted at alford@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2208.

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