Apr 25, 2011

“Engaging Collectively to Live Compassionately”

Collaboration is not easy. The experiences I have had in Seattle demonstrate that collaboration often goes further in conversation and theory than in the application itself. This past weekend the Compassion

Action Network (CAN) held an event to move beyond the idea of collaboration and begin “Engaging Collectively to Live Compassionately”. The event brought organizations and individuals together from the sustainability movement, compassion groups, and organizations promoting peace and love.

Collective impact acknowledges no one organization -no matter how innovative or powerful- can solve the variety of issues we currently face. But, acting together we can collectively advance our goals creating spaces that are livable, sustainable, and promote compassion.

The day began with an introduction by Richard Conlin, Seattle City Council President, and was followed by an arrangement of different conversations and activities. Our first group participation exercise was facilitated by a member of the Compassionate Listening Project and helped shift the dynamic for the conversations and interactions that followed. The exercise was to find someone in the room who you did not know and tell them your story: story of self, story of us, and story of now. The group leaders modeled the exercise first and then helped us to remember to listen to the words with not only our ears, but with our hearts. The type of community and relationship building this exercise demonstrated was unlike any activity I have ever completed. Without this type of powerful, community centered, teambuilding activity the individuals in the room would have remained disconnected. This activity brought us together and allowed us to understand not only the work each of us does, but also why we have decided to pursue it. This connection facilitated collaboration and collective action and allowed our discussions the rest of the day.

Sustainable Seattle was amongst a variety of different groups asked to hold a workshop answering the following questions:

• How is our work helping to create a compassionate culture?

• How is our work mutually reinforcing with others?

• How does our work help others here do their work?

When speaking about Sustainable Seattle’s involvement with the movement of compassion in Seattle, the Happiness Initiative is very identifiable; the project measures happiness! However, I only recently realized how deeply rooted compassion is in the field of sustainability and all the work Sustainable

Seattle does. Sustainability acknowledges the interconnectedness between all of our systems and life forms. That is to say the actions we take here, have and will, continue to affect others in distant places, whether positive or negative.

The event yielded very positive results in terms of community involvement, excitement for our project, and the opportunity to form new partnerships with individuals in and outside of the Seattle region. As part of the City of Seattle’s 10-year campaign for Compassionate Cities, CAN will hold these events every 6 months. For more information on the October 2011 meeting say tuned to http://my.compassionateactionnetwork.com.

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