March 30, 2015 Compassionate Austin Meet-up

Summary of the March 30, 2015 Compassionate Austin Meet-up 

Monday, March 30th, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Yarborough Austin Pubic Library (Address: 2200 Hancock Dr, Austin, TX 78756; Phone: 512-974-8820).

Prep for the 3/30/15 Meeting (sent out with the meeting announcement/invitation):
Think of a story!
**Think of 1 story of compassion that has special meaning for you that you would be willing to share with the group! (2 minutes per person :)) You can share a simple moment, an event, a book, a film… anything that has generated compassion (caring for others, self, and the Earth) in your life.

Meeting Agenda:
1) Austin Voices of Compassion- Sharing our compassion stories/ insights
2) Earth Week- Compassion Games – April 18-26 (
3) The Keith Wright Celebration and Tribute- “Compassion On!”
4) SXSW Compassion!- the vision
5) Updates/discussion of ongoing projects: The “Compassionate Community” Assessment of Austin- UT School of Public Health student service projects; The Cunningham Elementary School’s Ashoka Innovation Grant to support Compassionate Austin; The 1 Billion Acts of Peace Campaign; etc.
6) Forming a core steering group for Compassionate Austin- people who can commit to active engagement
7) Next Steps

Summary Notes (provided by Lesa): 

We had 15 people in attendance!  It was a great meeting!

Austin Voices of Compassion:

I must say, you just had to be there for this! We had powerful and moving personal stories of compassion shared by those in attendance. The stories made compassion come alive and were the essential part of the meeting.  Thank you to everyone who shared their stories and to those who listened.  The stories highlighted that compassion is about the everyday things that happen in life as well as the larger organized service efforts. Compassion is multi-dimensional- compassion for others, for oneself, and for the Earth.  The act of truly listening to someone is a basic way we can show compassion to each other.

Several resources were shared with the stories:

Book:  “Turning Compassion Into Action” by Olivia McIvor (

Book:  “How Can I Help” by Ram Dass and Richard Gorman (

Program:  Peace Through Commerce- AWE in the Middle East- 2014 Workshop:

News Story- CBS:

Prayer:  The prayer of Mary, Queen of Scots- a call for kindness:

Compassion Games- Earth Week:

Lesa Walker updated the group about the upcoming Compassion Games “Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week” April 18-26 (see the “Earth Week Info” provided earlier in this email for details).

Keith Wright’s Life Celebration and Legacy:

Ted Ziehe talked about the beautiful celebration of Keith Wright’s life. Ted shared a notebook he had put together with the program, songs, verses, poetry, artwork, and stories that honored Keith at the celebration. The entire celebratory event focused on compassion and Keith’s desire to create a more compassionate Austin and compassionate world. Compassion was a central theme in Keith’s life. Ted shared that Keith, a Presbyterian pastor, gave a sermon in 2001 on the “politics” of compassion.”  Keith was a remarkable inspiration to us all and he lives on in us. People have expressed interest in donating to the efforts of Compassionate Austin in honor of Keith. Ted and others are working on the best way for these donations to be received and handled. Suggestions were made by the group for the donations to go to a church or other non-profit compassionate organization in Austin which would then use the funds in accordance with the wishes of Keith’s family to support a more compassionate Austin.

Compassionate Austin’s Organizational Structure:

The issue of donations prompted discussion of Compassionate Austin’s non-profit status. At this time Compassionate Austin is not established as a non-profit. We exist as a grassroots partnership to elevate all the compassionate work of organizations, schools, businesses, groups, etc. in Austin and to help identify needs in Austin.  We discussed the pros and cons of various possible paths for Compassionate Austin’s organizational structure, including non-profit, becoming a fiscally-sponsored program through another non-profit in Austin, creating an innovative collaborative partnership approach.  Jessie Metcalf suggested that we have a partnership of organizations and all organizations have a “chair” on the Compassionate Austin “Board.” Mary Berwick suggested that we call Compassionate Austin a “movement.” No final decision was made.  Lesa Walker and Ted Ziehe will continue to explore these options.  Ted will look into Greenlights ( We welcomed input from all Compassionate Austin.

SXSW Compassion Vision:

Lesa Walker set out a future vision of a SXSW Compassion track.  If we envision it, it will happen.  Austin has all the ingredients for the community to be a recognized hub of compassion expression via music, art, tech innovation, academic research, policy, city planning, etc. Compassionate Austin welcomes all brainstorming and practical actions to advance this vision.


1)  Two students from the UT School of Public Health are doing service projects (minimum of 20 hrs) to support the Compassionate Community Assessment of Austin.  One student is looking at the existing city research and planning contained in “Imagine Austin” and “CodeNext” and the work of the Office of Sustainability.  The second student is conducting a survey of breast cancer survivors to determine what services they need, with a particular focus on nutrition counseling.  Both will enter their findings on an online project planning tool called “Trello” which will enable building a common data set and facilitate collaboration.

2)  Cunningham Elementary School in Austin is generating excitement in their students about compassion and the expression of compassion. Students and the Cunningham Art Specialist are working to help design an interactive compassion sculpture with a local artist. The sculpture will be placed on the school grounds.  The school will also be helping to set up the Compassionate Austin website.

3)  Everyone was reminded about the 1 Billion Acts of Peace campaign.  Every time someone affirms the Charter for Compassion, it counts as an act of peace toward the 1 Billion goal.  The Charter for Compassion Intl is an active partner with 1 Billion Acts of Peace. Compassionate Austin is also a member of the campaign. Find out more at:  Click here to affirm the Charter for Compassion and contribute your act of peace:

Core Steering Group:

The door is open for anyone who is interested and willing to commit some time and energy to Compassionate Austin as part of core steering group.  We welcomed people to contact


1) The Interfaith Action of Central Texas Red Bench event is March 31st. These are great meetings.  The word for discussion is “Legacy.”

2)  Lesa Walker will not be here for the May, 2015 meeting.  [She will be here for the April, 2015 meeting.]  Jessie Metcalf agreed to host the May meeting in her absence.

Next Steps:

  1. Ted Ziehe will learn more about Greenlights- non-profit info.
  2. We all can encourage our Neighborhood Associations to participate in Compassionate Austin
  3. We all can invite organizations to participate- a sign-up sheet was provided.
  4. Please consider participation in the core steering group.