For more than five years, scores of dedicated volunteers have been working to improve the living and working conditions in our region through Transform Rockford, a movement dedicated to turning Rockford into a top-25 place to live by 2025. Here’s a look at one of the people powering the movement.

Name: Daniel Sommer

Age: 44

Occupation/profession: I am a licensed clinical social worker with a private psychotherapy practice located at the Glenwood Center on the West side of Rockford.

TR project team name: 815 Choose Civility.

Project update: I am the team leader for the Education and Curriculum sub-committee of 815 Choose Civility. Our committee members are developing a curriculum that educates and trains participants to Cultivate Civility in their personal relationships. This curriculum is different from traditional civility initiatives in that it focuses less on changing behaviors (i.e. being polite, courteous, respectful, etc.) and more on learning how to recognize our similarities with other people. The philosophy of Cultivating Civility is that, when we initiate relationships from a perspective of commonality, the behaviors we commonly qualify as “acting civil” develop naturally. Furthermore, the goal of the Cultivating Civility is not to deny or ignore our differences, but rather encourage participants to prioritize commonalities so differences may be addressed more effectively and with less conflict.

We have developed a version of this program for adult participants. It is currently being presented to focus groups in our community so we can acquire feedback on its effectiveness and address areas for improvement. Once the test presentations are complete, our intention is to create a working version of the curriculum that can be shared with groups and organizations in the community. We also intend to create a train-the-trainer program for teaching the Cultivate Civility curriculum to interested individuals so they can share the program with others.

In the future, we will create versions of this program for younger age-groups including adolescents, children, and pre-school aged participants.

Favorite thing about Rockford: I love living in a city that is still a forest in many ways. Or, perhaps the other way around — I love living in a forest that is also a city.

Recent signs of progress: I am relatively new to the community (summer of 2017). So, I have been exploring the culture of Rockford as development occurs. However, as a newcomer, the most evident sign of progress I see is people frequently having positive things to say about the city. My understanding is this wasn’t the case in the not so distant past.

In 2025, I hope … Rockford is recognized as a thriving and exciting community to live in. I hear so much talk about Rockford’s “potential.” I look forward to a day when we celebrate achievement of that potential.

Why should someone get involved with TR? Because our community grows and improves with every active participant. By connecting with others and collaborating, there is no limit to what we can become together.