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Author hopes Superior becomes 'kind city'

Superior is poised to be named a City of Kindness. The city will join Duluth on Friday as the only two cities in the nation with this distinction. Duluth native Victoria Vincent has written "The City of Kind Words," a children's book, and is trav...

Superior is poised to be named a City of Kindness.

The city will join Duluth on Friday as the only two cities in the nation with this distinction.

Duluth native Victoria Vincent has written "The City of Kind Words," a children's book, and is traveling the country to promote it and kindness in general.

Along with book signings, Vincent is inviting towns across the nation to join her Kid Kindness Campaign as Cities of Kindness.

To kick off her campaign, Vincent returned to her hometown and chose Duluth for the first kind city. Mayor Herb Bergson accepted a plaque and golden key on behalf of the city Friday at Barnes & Noble Bookstore. The mayor also shared his personal favorite kind word -- give.

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Superior gets its chance to become the second City of Kindness on Friday afternoon during a book signing at Superior Public Library.

Mayor Dave Ross will accept Superior's plaque and key, and speak with children about kindness.

To be a City of Kindness, Duluth and Superior's leaders will need to endorse and uphold the message of kindness, Vincent said.

"I think everyone needs to show kindness to others and use the words to ... build up others," Ross said. "We seem to have built up a culture of criticism ... any time we can promote kindness and esteeming others is good for the entire society."

Promoting kindness and civility is something Superior is already working toward, Ross said.

A few years ago the city council took a civility pledge that the council members would treat each other with respect and not shout or cut down one another.

"We don't get anything done by screaming at each other," he said.

Having the mayor of a town speak to children about kindness is a strong message. Mayors are respected leaders of the community, Vincent said.

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She said she hopes the cities will make billboards and other advertisements to promote kindness. Cities could also plan kindness promoting events, she said.

The City of Kindness campaign came from "The City of Kind Words" book, but now is surpassing it by reaching city leaders and adults as well as children, said Amy Poster, marketing manager for All Over Creation, the book's publisher.

The book and campaign's message is different than what most people in America are used to today, but it's an important message in a world with school shootings like Virginia Tech and Columbine occurring throughout the country, she said.

"People think it's a really simple message," Poster said. "We need a calling ... so people think 'How can I help others and make a difference today?'"

It's important to realize sometimes people just need the help of a kind word. Vincent has set out to help people with the publication of her first book.

"The City of Kind Words" follows the story of DaBa, a boy who inadvertently lands in the city of Unkind Words while traveling to the city of Kind Words. The story focuses on implications of both kind and unkind words.

Vincent has read the book for church and school groups in California and asks children act out plays of kindness and bullying to show the effects of kindness, bullying and ugly words.

The exercise helps children to understand that bullying and ugly words can hurt others. Teachers appreciate that the book shows unkind words and actions instead of focusing only on kindness, Vincent said.

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"It all has to do with the media right now. ... Words are containers of energy, and they can hurt or heal," Vincent said. Inspiring children and city leaders in her hometown to be kind is special for Vincent even though Duluth was not a city of unkind words for her.

"It's a fulfillment of a lifetime dream," she said.

Growing up in Duluth's Central Hillside with her 10 siblings, Vincent's strongest influences were God and trips to the local library.

Still, the book comes from her own experiences with unkindness and dark moments in her personal life, she said.

At times everyone lives in the city of Unkind Words. "The City of Kind Words," too, isn't a real physical place but it is inside everyone's heart. People can journey there by their own thoughts, Vincent said.

Kids can join the kindness movement by keeping kindness journals or making activity books, Vincent said.

Children can participate by sharing kind words and experiences at "The City of Kindness" Web site at www.cityofkindness.com .

"The City of Kindness" is Vincent's first book in a series of "City" books. The second book will be "The City of Faith." Vincent is also working on other books for children and toddlers to be released through All Over Creation. "The City of Kind Words" is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other locations.

Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram.com .

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