Off the Beaten Path: Billboards remind others to be "North Dakota Nice"

By  | 

How many times have you been told to play nice or be polite?

Despite the best efforts of parents, it seems many adults ignored that advice.

In North Dakota, road trips remind people good behavior isn't something you only find down memory lane.

30 billboards stationed along a dozen different highways remind motorists to mind their manners.

"I kind of like them, certain ones do bring a smile to my face but some times but sometimes I feel like I'm being given an order, "Be kind or else," says Mariah Westerhausen of Jamestown, North Dakota.

The signs simply say "Be Kind," "Be Nice," "Be Polite," or "Have a Great Day."

"You're just driving in your car, you can't close your eyes, you can't change the channel, you can't turn down the volume" says Kari Newman Ness, the President and CEO of Newman Signs.

Newman signs launched the civility sign campaign thirty years ago. It's made a positive impression on lots of people.

"I smile and I think I wish everyone would be kind and sympathetic as the sign says," adds Peg Beckman of Jamestown, North Dakota.

Several motorists who declined to appear on-camera said while they appreciate the good intentions these signs promote, advertising politeness doesn't stop them from making obscene gestures when someone cuts them off in traffic.

Expecting simple billboards to produce world peace might be a bridge too far for this kindness campaign, still, for many, these messages are moving motorists in the right direction.

"Be kind, that's the one I like the best," says Peg Beckman, Jamestown, North Dakota.

Newman says, "People say, I see that everyday when I go to work, they make me feel good."

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is famous for saying, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

So perhaps the drive back to good old fashioned conduct can start with a few kind words.

The kindness campaign signs are located along highways all across North Dakota, eastern Montana and western Minnesota.