Steps to become a compassionate community

Any individual, group, or organisation that recognises the need for greater compassion in a community is encouraged to begin the process for creating a Compassionate Community.  While the Charter does not prescribe any one path, it does recommend that the process be designed and carried out by a diverse and inclusive coalition of people so that all voices within the community are heard, and the significant issues are addressed. 

The cities and communities that sign on to become Compassionate Cities and Communities have often begun their work by identifying the issues that are troubling the community and need to be addressed through compassionate action. For example, a community may discover a significant issue related to social justice- for women, for immigrants, or for some other marginalised group. Other communities may want to address issues of drug use, gang violence, the lack of equitable healthcare, or the effects of environmental racism. Others may decide to work to provide empowerment to youth or to educate their communities about the need for compassion in addressing environmental issues.

This checklist of 15 suggested steps was developed for those who want to organise a Compassionate City or Community, but it may also be useful to any group organising for social change and development.

Discover and assess

number-oneIdentify “discomforts” in your community—those issues that are causing pain and suffering to individuals or groups or the entire community—which can be addressed and relieved through compassionate action.

Find out what is already being done, or has been done, to address issues in your community, learn what has worked and not worked, and, recognise and acknowledge those successes.

Invite people to join you in assessing your community. Include community leaders as well as those informal leaders of other community constituencies that can give voice to the needs of the community.

Focus and commit

number-oneAnalyse challenges and opportunities from information gathered during “Discover and Assess” phase. Then choose an initial focus, perhaps one to four of the most significant areas that are of importance to the community and that could benefit by being addressed through compassionate action.

number-twoBased upon prioritised choices, create a plan to move forward including specific short-term and long-term objectives, action plans, and anticipated outcomes. Plan purposeful, measurable actions toward fulfilling your objectives with designated responsibilities and appropriate time frames.

number-threeRegister your campaign with The Charter for Compassion International. Participate in the global movement by making use of the Charter’s resources:  conference calls, newsletters, other website resources such as toolboxes, stories, readings, and bibliographies.

number-fourEncourage Partners in your community to sign on to the Charter and to join in the community efforts by sharing information resources, funding support, and in-kind services.

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Make a formal and public commitment to the concepts contained in the Charter for Compassion– by proclamation, resolution, or a completed action plan.

Build and launch

number-oneBuild momentum by involving other community members, linking to community events, and inviting nearby communities to participate. Educate the broader community about what it means to become a Compassionate Community, and acknowledge the acts of compassion that are already working within your community.

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Plan and launch a kickoff event to widely publicise your plans.

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Begin implementation of action plans around focus area.

Evaluate and sustain

number-oneMonitor and measure your progress, and continue planning. Celebrate successes; learn from unsuccessful efforts and adjust subsequent actions accordingly.  Then share your experiences and your stories with the Charter community –for example, by posting on the Charter’s website.

number-twoCommunicate within the community on a regular basis—meetings, emails, articles, social media, and whatever other means—to keep people informed and energised.

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Reach out to share globally—for example, by partnering with a community in another country.

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Sustain efforts to build a Compassionate Community.