International campaign for Compassionate Cities

Guest speakers

International Cities of Peace: J Fred Arment
Compassion Fayetteville, Arkansas: Christy Pollack, Dian Williams and Edwin Williams

Agenda

0:00-0:10      Welcome and review of the purpose of creating compassionate communities and cities (Marilyn Turkovich)
0:10-0:20      Questions and answers (All)
0:20-0:35      Invitation to become an International City of Peace (J Fred Arment)
0:35-0:45      Questions and answers (All)
0:45-1:00      Learning from one another: a special report from Compassionate Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA (Edwin Williams, Dian Williams, Christy Pollack)
1:00-1:15      Questions and Answers (All)
1:15-1:25      The Charter Salons (Reed Price; Marilyn Turkovich)
1:25-1:28      Building participating communities on the Charter website (Marilyn)
1:28-1:30      Closing (Marilyn)

Welcome and review of the purpose of creating compassionate communities and cities

Hello. This is Marilyn Turkovich. Welcome to today’s talk. This is a great opportunity for us to share with you about how to begin a Compassionate City initiative. Also, it can be a refresher for teams that have been around for a while and are now working toward sustainability of their Compassionate City efforts.

cfc-dalai-lamaAs some of you may know, the Dalai Lama has called the Charter for Compassion’s Cities initiative one of the most important movements in the world today. The Vatican has asked us to give a presentation on the cities initiatives next month. We want to thank each of you on the call today who is involved in an initiative or thinking about starting one. It is important and timely work.

In a world where a lot is going wrong there is also a lot going right. This is a possible starting point for beginning a compassionate cities and communities campaign. Consider what is working in your community, who is helping on issues that need to be addressed, what can you learn from these successes, how can you celebrate these accomplishments. Then flip the coin—what isn’t working?

Compassionate initiatives are all about action. For some of you on today’s call this beginning part of the presentation may appear to be something you already know, but nonetheless, it seems important to reflect on what makes a city a place of compassion, and in a few minutes, we’ll see what is a possible pathway of also making your community an International City of Peace.

The first major hurdle an initiative faces is to determine the issues of concern in which it wants to engage, or as Karen Armstrong has said, “What makes your city uncomfortable?” In Karachi the key issues are terrorism, sanitation and healthcare, in Australia, indigenous rights, in Botswana, needs of street children and infant formula education, and, in Flint, Michigan, safety of water. The examples go on and on. Working to solve problems locally, and how many problems you want to tackle forms the basis of your action plan. We encourage teams to start with only a few concerns and then to add to their plans. Botswana is adding to their plan as they build multiple partnerships. Obviously, plans need to be multi-year and need to be sustainable.

There are many questions that a team needs to answer along the way: for example, when do you let local government know what you are doing? For some, it seems logical it would be from the beginning. Still, other communities decide that they want to get their act together before approaching their local government. There is no fast rule here, but again this is an issue for your team to consider.

Your action plan is essential. Over the last year or so we have worked with the University of Kansas, Communities that Care, Shareable, and other groups to build a Charter Community Tool Box that has an extensive assessment tools to help develop the issues you are considering in your plan. There are tools from how to write press releases to examples of measurement and evaluation instruments to help you along the way. Often, people will ask you to show what changes you are bringing about in your community. You’ll find all of these tools on the website under the
“Communities” tab in the navigation bar.

We want to help you in your dialogue—conference calls with cities are certainly one way of doing this. Joining cities together to help one another is another way. For example, Monterrey is now engaged with mentoring a potential Buenos Aires campaign. Joint projects between cities is another initiative spurred on by St. Augustine’s reaching out to its sister cities. While we have tried to address, and continue to address, needs as they are expressed, it is always important to have an opportunity to talk and share. We want to look at this call today as laying the groundwork for a cities/communities conversation that will occur every six weeks. Our next call will be March 22nd, so please mark your calendars. Further calls will take advantage of the Maestro platform’s ability to allow us to be in discussion rooms to share our accomplishments and concerns and help each other.

*Please email me at marilyn@charterforcompassion.org to let us know what you would like to explore in our next call.

Questions and Answers

Muhammad: Actually, I’m trying to understand a few things. I’m from Pakistan. I now live in Atlanta and there is a fairly large Pakistani community here. I’d like to do my part. How can I be an effective person to make a difference in working on these problems and making cities a better place to live? My question is what is the difference between the Charter for Compassion and Compassionate Atlanta? How are they different? I have a strong presence in Pakistan also. I am associated with a hospital in Karachi that helps provide healthcare to people for free. Here in Atlanta I work in an interfaith organisation.

Marilyn: As you know, there is a very large movement in Atlanta and a brand new Executive Director. Now the Charter has 350+ cities with initiatives. Seventy have signed resolutions with local government. An individual in a city may connect with another compassionate city as well. There is a large movement in Pakistan. In Karachi there is a team working with over 500 schools and there is another start-up in Lahore. You mentioned healthcare. This is one of the Charter’s largest partner sectors. We have over 300 healthcare Charter partners. We have a Charter Healthcare Asia-Pacific hub. Through this hub, we offer courses, etc. Muhammad, I will connect with you more outside of this call.

Connie: Thank you very much. I am from Indianapolis. We have an organising committee. We did a survey to 600-700 people to rate the top 3 priorities. These priorities are large issues. Now we might need to narrow them down. Is that what you are saying?

Marilyn: I think that three priorities may be a lot to work with. If you have people with expertise in those areas who are willing to take the baton and work on each of the areas, you are probably fine. It is important not to reinvent the wheel. If you have an interest in youth- consider calling John Hale from Seattle- they’ve been working on this for three years. Also, there are a number of cities working on homelessness. We can help put you in touch with these people. We are working and researching to build the youth sector. This would be a great time, if you have people who want to volunteer, to work with us to help create that sector. We are collaborating with a large youth interfaith group run by Eboo Patel. The Charter has 1500 partners and this number grows almost every day. Lots of sharing can be done. We can help you connect by phone and explore.

Invitation to become an International City of Peace

cfc-international-cities-of-piece-logoMarilyn: We have some exciting guests with us today. Fred Arment is the Executive Director of the International Cities of Peace, located in Dayton, Ohio, an organisation that fosters a positive approach to community revitalisation and is dedicated to encouraging safety, prosperity, and quality of life as consensus values for families, neighborhoods and nations. The organisation has been a partner of the Charter for many years. We want to work very closely together.

Fred is the author of The Economics of Peace: Freedom, the Golden Rule and the Broadening of Prosperity, published by McFarland in 2014, and The Element of Peace: How Nonviolence Works. We’ve addressed the question to Fred about how can a Compassionate City become an International City of Peace, and how can cities starting out simultaneously work to become International Cities of Peace.

Fred Arment: Thank you very much Marilyn. Just hearing you speak about compassionate cities; it is so parallel to what we are doing. A movement is happening that is pervasive around the world. We have five different cities in Pakistan. Our objectives are the same as the Compassionate Cities.

There are a number of reasons I am excited about this call. Compassion is the root of our motivations. The Charter itself is key. I did a two-year study of the Golden Rule and it is part of my book. The Golden Rule is essentially what everyone has in common. We can all rally around this and try to understand the depth in it and how it applies in our lives. As the International Cities of Peace, we have encouraged cities to take the compassionate cities track. Now, with the Charter Toolbox, we have an amazing resource.

There are some reasons for Compassionate Cities to consider becoming International Cities of Peace. Even Mayors for Peace and other groups are working toward the same goal. We have cities, towns, communities, states, and counties that have joined the International Cities of Peace. In the state of Guerrero, Mexico, the Governor has signed a proclamation to become a state of peace. We have 130 cities and more interested.

Becoming an International City of Peace entails finding a unique area that is of interest to your city. The group could focus on the arts, workshops on conflict resolution, celebrating the International Day of Peace, etc. Each city has a unique idea of what makes sense for their community. For example, in Mogadishu, Somalia, they are distributing water and medical attention. Sedona, Arizona generates a community magazine. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, there is an organisation that has 19 cities in South America committed to peace. Inés Palomeque, who is Founder and President of the organisation, is on our Board of Directors. Sedona, Arizona wanted to work with another city. So, they worked through the Rotary Club and connected with a city in the Republic of the Congo. The tribal chief there allocated a plot of land for them to help create a school.

When I get up in the morning I check my email and find many success stories. As we work together, we hope to move into a closer relationship. Compassionate Cities can become part of International Cities of Peace by connecting with me. There is the opportunity for a proclamation and for inspiration of the community. It is a rallying point for all the sectors in the area. In Rockville, Illinois, a group rallied around the city of peace to create a wonderful park and established a legacy for the future of peace there. Each city of peace has a unique website on the International Cities of Peace association website which helps announce each city of peace to the broad membership. The city’s website shows the city’s vision and goals. Since all Compassionate Cities are working toward peace, you can automatically become an International City of Peace. If you already have your own website, we can link to that website and help highlight your work. This allows people all over the world to see what you are doing. We have a global program. In Burundi, we helped 50 women who were abused and ostracised. We can help expand the Compassionate Cities network.

So, how do you become an International City of Peace? Just contact me at rment@fredarment.com or send an email to Marilyn at Marilyn@charterforcompassion.org. You fill out a letter of intent that starts the process. We work with you to help define your mission/goals, develop your website, and help with a city proclamation. It is part of building the accolades and recognition for the work you are already doing. There are wonderful places and people you can connect with. The idea of publicising each communities legacy of peace – that what we are about- to emphasise community-building and non-violence in the world. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. We are here for you.

Marilyn: We always put out a report from these calls. We’ll have the links for the organisations in the report. Fred, we could both consider having on our websites a special page for the cities, communities, townships, countries, villages that are jointly International Cities of Peace and Compassionate Communities.

Fred: That is something I’m thinking about doing. That is my objective. The International Cities of Peace website is: http://www.internationalcitiesofpeace.org/.

Questions and answers

cfc-q-and-aEd: I’m curious- are you a non-profit?

Fred: Yes, we’ve been a 501(c)3 since 2009. For a while we were able to help with tax donations for cities. We try to adapt to people’s needs.

Yasim: It’s so nice to be participating. I’m curious to know-where is there the concentration of the cities of peace?

Fred: We have 130 International Cities of Peace and 40-50 cities in progress. There are cities in 40 different countries in 5 continents. There are a lot of cities in Africa, the US, and Canada. However, the cities are pretty evenly distributed around the world. In terms of the challenges that people face, all cities are unique. Five cities in Pakistan have come forward- due to great need and yearning for peace. I live in Ohio and it is hard to fathom the challenges they face. Also, in the Republic of Congo, we have 5 cities. They have intense civil war. In Rockville, Illinois, and other cities in the US- people are dealing with other challenges. Some countries are working on tribal conditions, sanitation, etc. There is no one model.

Tom: Where is Fred from?

Fred: Dayton, Ohio.

Tom: Fred, I am in Pennsylvania. Perhaps we can connect.

Muhammad: I have a critical question. How do we have a relationship with the government?

Marilyn: I don’t think we have run into any difficulties with any of the initiatives. Many start with local government. Some come on board along the way. There have been incredible areas of cooperation with national governments. For example, in Botswana, the Departments of health, education, and defense have been involved. Our model city here in the United States has been Louisville, Kentucky. There is great enthusiasm and involvement of the Mayor in Compassionate Louisville’s work. We have compassionate initiatives in areas that are having a tough time- Turkey, Jordan, Soweto, etc. As Fred said, we have an incredible amount of work that needs to be done. It doesn’t matter where you live- your involvement is needed locally and internationally. As John Steinbeck said- you don’t realise what you have in your own yard until you look at your neighbor’s backyard.

Fred: One of the things I emphasise is being safe. We are working against all odds. Compassion is a consensus value. How we define peace is safety and the value of life. We are headed toward consensus values. People around the world are in very dangerous situations. The idea is to be safe. As we develop grassroots organisations and work with governments, there is a reciprocity relationship. We have to be together. The merging of grassroots with the government is the best of all worlds. We roll out our movement with consensus values.

Marilyn: Now, we need to turn to our other speakers for today.

Learning from one another: a special report from Compassionate Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA

cfc-compassion-fayetteville-logoMarilyn: We are joined today by three, great lead-organisers for the Compassionate Fayetteville, Arkansas team: Rev. Edwin Williams, Rev. Dian Williams and Christy Pollack. I’ll let them introduce themselves. I wonder if one of you would briefly address how did Compassionate Fayetteville get started, what are some the items in your action plan, how do you work with your partners, and finally, how are you helping Compassionate Fayetteville reach beyond its borders.

Dian Williams: I am the Facilitator for Compassion Fayetteville.

Ed Williams: I do all the IT work, emails, the website, and marketing.


Christy Pollack:
I’ve been on the team since almost the beginning. Patty Williams (unrelated to Ed and Dian) was instrumental in starting our city initiative.

Dian: How did Compassionate Fayetteville get started?

Several years ago, the movement started in “Fayetteville Forward,” an inclusive group which was part of the local government: From this grew Compassion Fayetteville. Patty Williams started Compassion Fayetteville about 3.5 years ago. In February, 2014- Fayetteville became the 26th city proclaimed as a Compassionate City. Our planning team grew. We now have about 15 active members and subgroups. We have focused on three different areas: 1) poverty; 2) hunger; and, 3) issues for immigrants and racial issues around recognition and inclusion of different cultures.

Christy: Thank you, Dian. Back in July, 2015- we got an email from the Charter about promoting the film, “Kindness is Contagious”- offered through GATHR. This was a wonderful way to get the word out to the community about Compassion Fayetteville and helped with our Compassion Games participation in September. “Kindness is Contagious” is a feel-good documentary- narrated by the best-selling author of “Pay It Forward”, Catherine Ryan Hyde. The film provides incredible research and interviews. People of all walks of life are interviewed and you hear their heartfelt stories of compassion. It is a documentary about Jonathan Haidt who studied the science of doing good and coined the term “elevation”- the experience of seeing good in front of you. This documentary is a film that encourages random acts of kindness. We used this to help our participation in the Compassion Games. We’ve done the Compassion Games every year. The GATHR people make it very easy. They take over, book the theater, post the registration info, etc. Once 70 people are enrolled, it is “green lighted”. They have a great website that explains how it all works- “theatrical on demand” by GATHR. We publicised the film showing via Facebook, our website, newsletter, press releases, etc. We had over 100 people show up. They gave donations at the door as well as paying for their tickets. We checked the registrants off a list. We had a great experience with the theater as well. I am thinking about holding one of these film screenings every year. Marilyn and her team introduced us to this film.

Dian: Thanks Christy. This is one of many events we do. The whole month of February we have Black History Month. The Black population in Fayetteville is only about 6%, but they are an almost invisible 6%. We want to make Black lives more present and visible. We had a walk, a display in a library, and a school presentation. In March, we are celebrating the Month of Compassion. We are addressing more of the issues we are trying to focus on in the city. We are collaborating with “Seeds that Feed” and “Washington Plaza” in a month-long food drive. There will be 15 food drop-off sites and advertising for the food drive all over the city. Our Mayor is involved. We hope it will be the biggest food drive ever in the city. We also have an interfaith harmony day- all religions/cultures invited to have a booth and share.

Ed: When a group of people form an s, what quickly becomes evident is the need for a process for tracking people who are interested in the organisation, i.e. partners. We found early that we needed to start tracking people. Presently, we have over 260 individual and organisational partners. It becomes very important to have someone tracking this info. I created a spreadsheet with the organisation name, contact name, phone number. We also added the business they are associated with- whether non-profit or profit, whether related to healthcare, spirituality, education, etc. By doing this, we now have a well-rounded view of what our partners look like. One to two times a year we have a meeting where we can learn more about each other, find out our commonalities. In this way, we can continue to grow.

We also have a large database for communication- to send out information on events, etc. We are a very active organisation.

Dian: Thank you, Ed. Maybe we can return now to Marilyn.

Marilyn: Can one of you address how the interest started with a city in Turkey?

Dian: One of the Founders of Compassion Fayetteville is from Turkey and has family and friends there. It took her a long time to get a contact there. Hopefully, the communication will go forward. A lot is going on there- the refugee crisis, etc.

Marilyn: This seems to happen with many of our compassionate initiatives. Sometimes people travel and make connections with other cities. This is the way the city of Cornwall, England connected with Soweto, South Africa.

Are there any questions for the speakers from Fayetteville?

Questions and answers

Susie: What was the initial outreach that you did to get people interested? Did you send a survey to people you know?

Dian: What happened was, Patty Williams, who is well known in the community, started with two friends from “Fayetteville Forward” and put together their email lists. They started with community meetings in the local library. That’s how Ed and I got involved. We loved the premise and signed on right away. They had sign-in sheets and set up an email database and sent out info about events, etc.

Marilyn: In November, I was in the Republic of Ireland. The launch for Dublin happened with the very film that Christy was talking about. It was a small group of partner organisations that started the interest. They sponsored the film to launch the movement. There were a couple hundred people. The Charter was explained and they got a core group. The film is based on science. People who may have hard questions, get answers.

Reed: This may be a good time to talk about the Charter Salon packet. You can get a small group together to start. The packet has a PowerPoint, video, and resources. It explains about the Charter and the various Charter sectors. It is a great way to get a small group together to talk about first steps. Also, the Charter Salon could be precursor to the “Kindness is Contagious” film. If you want more information about the Charter Salons, contact me, Reed Price, at reed@charterforcompassion.org or Marilyn Turkovich at marilyn@charterforcompassion.org. We can give you a link to a Dropbox with all the information. We will help you make it each step of the way.

Laura (via social webinar): How do you determine the first areas for focus, the hierarchy of need?

Dian: We have regular meetings with the Mayor every two to three months and we discuss our activities. We asked our Mayor about the main needs of the community and he mentioned poverty and hunger. That’s where we went.

Marilyn: Initiatives start when people come together and talk about what they think are the needs in the community. You need to ask yourselves, who is missing from the conversation- look at age, culture, race, etc. Your team needs to represent diversity and different sectors in the community. Another part of the conversation is how to involve key focal groups as partners. By bringing in an Interfaith Council, you are bringing in many different faith groups. By bringing in the school districts, you are bringing in a large number of schools.

Tom: Yes, I was interested in the Interfaith Harmony Day. Is there a source to find out more?

Marilyn: If you go to the Charter for Compassion website and put in “Interfaith Harmony” you will find out more. It is a week, the first week of February each year, recognised by the United Nations as World Interfaith Harmony Week. The Charter did a speaker series with a Maestro call each day during the week this year and you can find the reports for the calls on the Charter website. You can also go online and search for “World Interfaith Harmony Week” and look it up and find out more. During this time each year, people are encouraged to lessen conflict and intensify dialogue about our sameness and bring about harmony that extends beyond this one week.

The Charter Salons

[See also the information shared above by Reed Price in the “Questions and answers”]

Marilyn: One reason for the Charter Salons is to expose people to the work of the Charter and to motivate them to get involved locally or internationally. We always need lead volunteers. We only have 1.5 paid staff. We are a grassroots organisation. Much of the work we do is done by volunteers and people such as you. Also, we started the Charter Salons to help motivate people to donate to the Charter. This is one of our primary sources of income until we get more time to write proposal to help fund our projects. We spent the month of December writing the “Islamophobia Guidebook.” It is 150 pages of material. It is being translated into Indonesian. The Guidebook is being distributed by the United Religions Initiative (URI) and the Parliament of the World’s Religions. This is the kind of work we do. We have outlines for creating toolboxes in healthcare. We definitely need some financial support. We hope through the Salons that people would consider contributing monthly. We have some college students contributing $10/month.

Please contact Reed Price (reed@charterforcompassion.org) or me, Marilyn Turkovich, (Marilyn@charterforcompassion.org) if you want information about the Charter Salons.

Building participating communities on the Charter website

Marilyn: Also, I want to point out that it would be wonderful if you allowed yourself ten minutes to go to the Charter website and find the Charter and review the history of the Charter and its translation. Also, click on “Communities” in the main menu. This is where I really encourage you to spend time. If you go to “Partners,” you can find Fred’s organisation, “International Cities of Peace”. “Shareable” is there also. If you go on the “Shareable” site – you can see activities being done around the world. You may want to latch onto these activities in your local communities. We are also working with the “Green World Charter”. This is a really important partner for compassionate cities. The goal is that 1 billion trees will be planted in the world to help with climate change. Just spend some time on the site. Hopefully, you will get immersed and consider the idea of planting trees in your own community. Since 1970, Atlanta has lost many trees and this has raised the temperature by 6 degrees. So, tree-planting is an important endeavor. We also have a partner effort with the “Bridge Alliance.” Reed, would you explain this?

Reed: The “Bridge Alliance” is trying to raise the awareness of trans-partisan politics. Rather than being divided along party lines, we need to look at issues we can agree on. They are working to put together a virtual citizens summit with the SHIFT Network in August. They are looking for cities willing to host regional meetings. These can be informal or more organised. The regional meetings would involve public speakers to lead groups in your community and hold workshops. Look up “Citizen Summit” or the “Bridge Alliance” or contact me, Reed Price, at reed@charterforcompassion.org, for more information. Already, we have interest from Salt Lake City and Dallas and possibly New York City. We’d love to include your city.

Marilyn: Thank you, Reed. We also have information on the Charter website- use the Search bar. The “Bridge Alliance” is a great alternative perspective to political campaigning. I want to remind cities to please keep us updated on what is going on in your communities so we can continue to work with you to build your page on our website. We can make each page very inviting. We want photos, videos, stories. Contact us at the Charter with this information.

Closing

Marilyn: Thanks to everyone who has participated on the call and to our speakers. Thank you to Fred for offering to strengthen our network of Compassionate Cities and International Cities of Peace. And, thank you to the Fayetteville speakers.

March 22nd is our next call. I can see that there are some new people here who may be considering new initiatives. Please let us know and let us work with you from the beginning. We would be excited and grateful. We hope to see you on the next call. Please send in your ideas about what you would like to explore in the next communities call.

Thank you everyone.