Compassionate Atlanta is a grass roots movement that seeks to raise awareness about the benefits of compassionate action in the Greater Atlanta area. The Compassionate Atlanta Planning Team, which was formed in 2013, was instrumental in getting the City of Atlanta designed as a Compassionate City.
That important step was taken on February 3, 2014 by the City Council of Atlanta and approved by Mayor Kasim Reed on February 12, 2014. In so doing, Atlanta became the second largest metropolitan area in the United States to become a compassionate city.
The Compassionate Atlanta Organizing Team has identified three specific initiatives that it intends to support in 2014:
- Encourage and support Community Conversations designed to raise awareness about the benefits of compassionate action;
- Encourage and support businesses, schools and other organizations to become Charter of Compassion Partners;
- Encourage and support cities and towns of all sizes to become Compassionate Cities.
The Atlanta Plan of Action
Our Mission: Start the Conversation
Three Atlanta interfaith organizations (Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, Interfaith Community Initiatives and Neshama Interfaith Center) are collaborating to invite selected cities in metro Atlanta to embrace the Charter for Compassion and declare that they are “compassionate cities”. Once a city government signs on to the Charter for Compassion, citizens will partner with government officials to develop their city’s Plan for Compassionate Action.
The Metro Atlanta Campaign Strategy
Phase One: On 9/11/13 an interfaith gathering, “Beyond 9/11, Building the Beloved World Community” was held at the Atlanta Friends Meeting House in Decatur, GA. 200 people were invited to play the “Compassion Games”* for the following 10 days. These participants were invited to become “Secret Agents of Compassion” by committing random acts of kindness and/or giving volunteer service to Atlanta organizations (Atlanta Community Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and others) already engaged in compassionate action. Participants were also introduced to the “Compassionate Cities: Atlanta” campaign set to begin in February of 2014. Seventy participants shared their contact information as an indication of their desire to get engaged in the cities campaign.
During the month of October a Compassionate Atlanta Facebook page (currently 800+ likes) and a website were developed, www.compassionateatl.com. The Compassionate Cities organizing team, consisting of 19 people meets regularly to report back on actions and receive feedback from other team members.
Phase Two: The Compassionate Cities movement is rooted in the conviction that community transformation begins when the public conversation shifts. Two examples: The Civil Rights movement changed the conversation from segregation to equal rights and more recently the quest for LGBTQ equality. Shifts in both conversations continue to transform how we live together.
Compassion awareness and compassionate action are conversation changers. Compassionate cities focus on violence prevention, raise consciousness about bullying and develop strategies to reduce homelessness and hunger. Compassionate cities consciously seek to build bridges in a polarized society. Compassionate cities are not governed by fear or hate. Compassionate cities celebrate kindness, interdependence and the Golden Rule (treat others as you would have them treat you).
We believe the Compassionate Cities movement will be a conversation changer.
On Sunday afternoon (3 to 6pm) February, 2, 2104, a metro Atlanta gathering will explore questions such as: “If metro Atlanta was a more compassionate ring of cities—what would change? What would change if “compassionate action” was to become a commonly used term in our personal and public discourse”?
In preparation for the February gathering, the Compassionate Cities: Atlanta organizing team has already begun to invite neighbors and friends in their communities to read and discuss the Charter for Compassion. Between November, 2013 and January, 2014, at least 20 of these small group conversations will be taking place around metro Atlanta.
With the help of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, neighborhood leaders throughout the metro area will be invited to participate in the February 2014 gathering. Utilizing the outreach tools of FAMA, ICI and NIC networks, members of the Atlanta interfaith community will also be invited to engage in the February gathering.
Concurrently, members of the Compassionate Cities organizing team are already introducing the Charter For Compassion and the cities campaign to the mayors of Atlanta, Clarkston and Norcross. By January, 2014, elected officials in Decatur, Sandy Springs and Marietta will also learn about the Compassionate Cities campaign. The convergence of the grassroots campaign with the awareness of government officials will create synergy for the Compassionate Cities campaign in metro Atlanta.
Phase Three: Following the February gathering, participants will be encouraged to invite more people to participate in small group gatherings (one in February and March) to continue the conversation about what the Charter means on a personal level as well as answering the question: “What would change if my city was more compassionate?” Participants from across Atlanta will gather at Morehouse College the first week in April to report what they learned and what actions they suggest for creating a more compassionate metro area. Using feedback from individuals and various groups, the Morehouse gathering will initiate the planning for the next phase of the Compassionate Cities Atlanta campaign.
Included in the plan will be a continuing effort to engage metro Atlanta cities with the Charter for Compassion while developing new strategies for engaging other sectors such as, business, education and healthcare in conversations around the Charter For Compassion.
With a new roadmap in place, the Compassionate Cities Atlanta organizing team will spearhead efforts engage a growing circle of participants across metro Atlanta region.
Proposed Outcomes and Measureables:
Engage at least 20 communities in the metro area in conversations around the Charter For Compassion.
At least four city governments sign on to the Charter For Compassion.
In at least 3 of the cities, compassionate city planning with have begun.
As a result of the February gathering 300 or more people sign up to be involved in the unfolding Compassionate Cites Atlanta campaign.
*Between September 11th and September 21, 2013, citizens in 20 cities across the USA joined in playing the Compassion Games. For more information go to: www.compassiongames.org
Compassionate Atlanta Issues Statement on Openness and Understanding
Dear Friends of the Charter For Compassion,
Please read the following statement from the Compassionate Atlanta Board of Directors in a spirit of openness and understanding.
On July 15th, a small faction within the Turkish military engaged in an unsuccessful coup attempt.
The Turkish government has asserted that individuals and non-profit organizations inspired by the ideas of Fethullah Gulen are the perpetrators of the coup attempt, and we are deeply concerned at the actions undertaken in the wake of these allegations, for which substantive evidence has not been provided. In particular,
- there have been massive numbers of arrests and detentions in Turkey (including police, judges and teachers), along with businesses closures, suspensions of teaching licenses, revocation of passports, and seizure of personal and business assets;
- the government has undertaken a substantial PR campaign to discredit targeted non-profit organizations in the USA and elsewhere in the world. These targeted international actions include letters mailed to interfaith leaders within the USA.
These actions are undermining decades of work promoting interfaith and intercultural harmony, advancing freedom of speech and democratic process; and providing education; and they are creating great personal hardship for the affected individuals and organizations.
We ask you to stand up and support the principles of democratic and legal process, both in the US and in Turkey; we ask that you speak out against the targeted actions of the Turkish government to suppress opposition and freedom of speech; we ask that you consider speaking out against unsubstantiated demonizing of individuals and organizations by the government of Turkey; and we ask that you speak up for all individuals and organizations engaged in supporting interfaith and intercultural harmony.
Robert V Thompson, Chair, Compassionate Atlanta Board of Directors