February 23, 2015 Compassionate Austin Meet-up

Summary of the February 23, 2015 Compassionate Austin Meet-up 

Monday, February 23, 2015: 6:30-8:30 pm-  Pleasant Hill Austin Public Library 


6:30-6:40-  Welcome/ Introductions (Lesa Walker/Group)

6:40-7:00- The “3D” Compassion Landscape- What’s happening in Austin? – open discussion- share your thoughts and observations (Group)

7:00-7:20- Outreach/connection opportunities- come with your ideas (Group)

7:20-7:30- Recap of the Feb 1-7 World Interfaith Harmony Week and Compassion Games- Compassionate Austin on the Leader Board!  (Lesa Walker)

7:30-8:15- Updates/discussion of ongoing projects  (Lesa Walker/Group)

1) The “Compassionate Community” Assessment of Austin- UT School of Public Health student practicum/ thesis/volunteer opportunity;

2) The Cunningham Elementary School Ashoka Innovation Grant to support Compassionate Austin;

3)  The Compassionate Cities Challenge- to inspire the most signatures of the Charter for Compassion (http://charterforcompassion.org/the-charter);

4)  The Celebration of Keith Wright and Tribute/ Compassionate Austin Fiscal Sponsorship  (Ted Ziehe/Lesa Walker);

5)  The 1 Billion Acts of Peace Campaign; and,

6)  “The Kindness Journey.”

8:15-8:30- Next Steps

Summary Notes (provided by Lesa):

The night of our February meeting, Austin had a winter-weather advisory. Thankfully, the roads ended up okay, and several intrepid souls braved the cold weather and made it to the meeting.

As it turned out, we warmed up with a great group of true compassion champions and wonderful, stimulating conversation!

We started with brief individual sharing and then open discussion. People shared their thoughts about compassion and groups in Austin doing compassionate work.

Highlighted groups/organizations/activities:  

Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT) (http://interfaithtexas.org/);

Drive A Senior (http://www.volunteerdriving.com/);

Micah 6 Austin (http://www.micah6austin.org/);

Crop Walk (http://austincrophungerwalk.org/);

Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (https://www.austinfoodbank.org/); Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights (http://www.icpr-austin.org/);

Women in Black- for justice, against war (http://womeninblack.org/);

Mobile Loaves and Fishes- Miracles on Wheels (http://mlf.org/);

Foundation for the Homeless (http://www.foundationhomeless.org/); Interfaith Hospitality Network (http://www.familypromise.org/program/interfaith-hospitality-network);

Conversations About Race Series/ Undoing Racism Austin (https://www.facebook.com/events/387644198082282/http://www.undoingracismaustin.org/allies-other-groups/);

Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin- sending people to the Border to help children in the detention centers (http://wpcaustin.org/)

Highlighted article:

“My Own Life” by Oliver Sacks, February 19, 2015, The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/opinion/oliver-sacks-on-learning-he-has-terminal-cancer.html?_r=0.

We identified individuals at our meeting who represent lifelong compassion activists:  Mary Loer and Mike Renfro.  These are individuals who would be great to interview to gain a better understanding of compassion in Austin.  We want to expand our list. Hopefully, we can engage students interested in the Compassionate Assessment of Austin who would be interested in conducting interviews.


Compassionate Austin participated in the Interfaith Compassion Games/ World Interfaith Harmony Week February 1-7.  As part of the Games, we challenged ourselves and other Compassionate Cities to generate signatures of the Charter for Compassion.  We made it to the Leader Board of the Compassion Games!  We want to continue to encourage more people to sign/affirm the Charter: http://charterforcompassion.org/the-charter.

Every signature of the Charter is an “act of peace” and is contributed to the “1 Billion Acts of Peace” campaign which has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by 7 Nobel Laureates.  Compassionate Austin is a member of the 1 Billion Acts of Peace campaign (http://www.1billionacts.org/)!

Lesa Walker updated the group on her presentation to master’s students at the UT School of Public Health.  Several students have expressed interest in working on the Compassionate Assessment of Austin.

The celebration of Keith Wright’s life was February 15th.  The entire celebration focused on compassion.  We will share more about his celebration at the next Compassionate Austin meeting.

Also, we plan to have an update at our next meeting from Principal Lloyd about the Cunningham Elementary “I Am Compassionate Austin” project.

Next Steps:  We brainstormed some possible activities: Collect stories of compassion (about intention and practice and about developing compassion for someone who we find “difficult”); offer presentations at various organizations; hold “conversations of compassion” at social gatherings; learn more about the compassion “dyads” exercise (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/project-compassion-stanford/compassion-work_b_1655217.html) and how we might try that out in Compassionate Austin.

People attending the meeting were offered the opportunity to sign the Charter for Compassion and to sign up to indicate their areas of interest in Compassionate Austin.