OREM -- It may be hard not to scoff at the idea.
But city officials say those who might want to laugh at Orem's new courtesy campaign ought to consider doing the polite thing and give it a chance.It's OK to be kind, after all. And you may get free ice cream or other awards if you're seen living up to the slogan.
Former Mayor Joyce Johnson is chairman of the Courtesy Campaign Committee that developed the "OK2BKind" effort as an offshoot of the mayor's advisory commission. She says she doesn't believe all of the city's problems can be solved with courtesy.
"Is this an answer to all of our problems? I think not," she said Friday at the kick-off luncheon in Orem. "But it is a beginning. It's a start."
Johnson said recent national events have made her more certain than ever that the campaign designed to remind people to be patient and kind and helpful is important.
"There are some downsides to rapid growth. Adjustments to growth usually happen after growth comes, and in the meantime, there's increased competition for streets, for ballfields and for services."
That pushes up the level of frustration, and the results can be unpleasant, she said.
"Unless we take action, the problems will only get worse."
Johnson said it takes absolutely nothing to be courteous, "no new land, no new buildings and no new city vehicles."
However, she acknowledged following the press conference that $10,000 in city funds and the sponsorship of a number of local individuals and businesses will help educate the community through radio jingles, campaign buttons, posters, balloons and bookmarks.
Under the committee's plans, all of Orem is now officially a Courtesy Zone, and residents are going to be encouraged and rewarded for giving service, returning a shopping cart, saying please and thank you and curbing their road rage.
Police officers will continue to issue courtesy citations when they notice something unusually thoughtful, something they started doing several months ago.
"A courtesy citation is not a citation, and an officer won't make a traffic stop to give one out," explained Mike Larsen, director of public safety for Orem. "As an officer sees assistance offered or helpful actions, he or she will give that person a certificate. That certificate is good for a free ice cream."
Larsen said officers have enjoyed having something positive to use in their interactions with the community.
Ironically, one of the first citations went to the owner of the local Dairy Queen for keeping her dog on a leash while others were running at-large. Dairy Queen is the business offering ice cream to anyone who receives a citation.
Johnson said the courtesy campaign is the brainchild of committee member Dave Washburn and is drawing rave reviews from the mayor and many members in the community -- even if some people joke about it.
She hopes Utah County officials and legislators in the area will carry the message to the rest of the valley and state.
"This is just the beginning," she said.
Schools will have their own kick-off event in September to involve children, and each Orem neighborhood is being asked to develop its own initiatives. Families, civic and business groups will be asked to do the same.
Ruby Anderson, 92, representing Orem's senior citizens, said the older generation is standing by to help.
Orem Boulevard became "Courtesy Way" following the press conference, and a Courtesy Zone sign was planted in Mayor Joe Nelson's yard. The mayor is recovering at his home from lymphatic cancer.
"He told us he wanted to be the first and he will be," Johnson said. "They will also go in City Council members' yards and in the yards of those nominated for courtesy awards from the mayor's commission."
Residents are invited to watch others and nominate those deserving of a courtesy award.