July 28, 2014 Compassionate Austin Meet-up

Summary of the July 28, 2014 Compassionate Austin Meet-up

Announcement prior to the meeting:

Our first meeting will be a chance for us to introduce ourselves and our current interests, what compassion means to us, and talk a little about why we have shown interest in this group.  We will each have a few minutes to share about ourselves and there will be some time as a group just to chat together and get to know each other better.  As we close the meeting, we will discuss next steps for the group based on our introductions and discussion.  People are welcome to bring to the meeting any info they’d like to share with the group.

Additional info shared prior to the meeting:

Peace Through Commerce (PTC) (http://www.peacethroughcommerce.org/) and Interfaith Action of Central Texas (IACT) (http://interfaithtexas.org/) and other nonprofits are working on Austin becoming a “City of Peace.”  Here is info about the process of becoming a city of peace: http://www.internationalcitiesofpeace.org/how/how.html.  This effort seems to fit well with the Charter’s Compassionate Cities effort ( http://charterforcompassion.org/cities) and presents a great opportunity for collaboration.

Also, August 9th and 10th there is a Peace effort at Palmer Auditorium: the “Awesmic City Expo, 2014” (http://www.awesmiccityexpo2014.com/default.html).  The Austin City Council has proclaimed August 10th “Awesmic City Austin Texas Day” (a day supporting peace prosperity through cultural arts, science and education with an expo of diverse creativity, arts, keynote speakers, interactive sciences, lecture series, music concerts and poetry.)  This might be of interest to you.

Summary Notes:

Our 1st meeting was held at the home of Pat Siebert (thank you Pat!).

Attendance:  10 people.

Co-Chairs of the Meeting:  Lesa Walker and Pat Siebert.

Lesa provided a brief introduction to the purpose of the meeting: to explore and learn about each other and our interests, why we are interested in compassion and this group in particular, and what ideas we have for the group.

Lesa is an Education Program Associate of the Charter for Compassion International, and since she grew up in Austin and lives here, she wanted to convene people locally who are interested in exploring a compassionate Austin effort.

Lesa and Pat posed 2 questions for individuals at the meeting.

Pat led the group through a process in which each person took a few minutes to share their responses.

Question 1:  Tell us a little about your background and what brought you to this meeting?

Excerpts/themes from people’s responses:

Non-violence and non-violent communication is important; maybe Austin can pursue being a “Compassionate City” like San Antonio is doing; compassion is understanding people’s suffering and not wanting to condemn or judge; important to learn to listen compassionately, e.g. “Restorative Circles” effort in AISD; comPassion is “with suffering”;  interested in how to amplify every circle as a circle of compassion; discover compassion in everyday life- see the world through the lens of compassion; “12 Steps to a Compassionate Life”- great book by Karen Armstrong; need a new reformation in the church- shouldn’t be fighting if we are compassionate; want to find people of like-mind;  mission to multiply and deepen the world’s sources of love power and the way that power is used;  ability to feel at home anywhere, enjoy a mix of cultures; wanting to be a bridge or conduit to help people feel safe around each other; emphasize the 3 dimensions of compassion- caring for others, self, and the Earth- all 3 are important;  practicing and improving skill in compassion is critical;  there is a lifecycle of issues and concerns and movements.

[We had a wonderful, diverse group with amazing life stories and talents.]

Question 2:  What do you see us doing together as a group?

Excerpts/themes from people’s responses: 

Seeking out and helping existing organizations to see what they are doing already that is compassionate- focusing on marginalized groups; focus on non-violence- recognizing underlying needs and self-responsibility- important to listen to someone and reflect back what you hear them saying as a way to support one another- begin with kids in 4th-5th grade;  non-violence, pacifism, empathy; interest in inter-generational conversations and learning from different perspectives; there are many groups in Austin- how can we support them in what they do and make them better and stronger;  interested in helping lend support to others in the group.

Ideas:  News segment on compassion in Austin; reaching out to churches in IACT- trying to reach people who have lost interest in the church; promote ways to explore and discover simple acts of compassion and their powerful impact;  IACT article in Saturday’s paper “Doing Good Together”;  exposure to events that are manifestations of compassion;  formal endorsement by the City Council and buy-in from various sectors;  be a hub/clearing-house to field issues and help each other.

Lesa and Pat thanked everyone for attending.  Lesa closed the meeting and will send out a follow-up summary email.  In the email she will inquire about next steps and roles people want to take in the Compassionate Austin group.

**We decided to reconvene in 1 month at Pat Siebert’s home.    An invitation and choices for meeting dates will be sent out at a later date.