by JESSICA SHELTON, Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
Aug 1, 2015 at 10:53AM
Don't be alarmed if an inquisitive stranger waylays you downtown next week and hands you a notebook. The only thing he's soliciting is your response to the question: "Would you care to share your written concept of the word compassion?"
Bainbridge Island is one of the last stops in David Breaux's 13-city Compassion Tour, which he began last September in Keene Valley, New York.
David Breaux asks Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matt Hamner to share his written concept of the word 'compassion.' Photo courtesy of Reed Price
His mission is simple. "The process is to bring awareness to compassion," Breaux said. "A lot of the starting point for individuals and myself is to start thinking about compassion to grow and amplify and expand where people are acting differently in their lives."
And Breaux has certainly seen it in the course of his journey.
"People have been very generous," he said. "Each place that I've been to, there've been one or two people that have continued to put the word out, helped with connections and networking, and shown compassion through gifts of money, time and gifts."
Breaux does his best to give back, too, acting as a "street therapist" for many of the people he meets along the way.
"There's this urge for compassion in every single community I've been to," he said. "With the issues we're seeing on nationwide news-as far as race relations and some of the economic exploits that are taking place-people want to be heard. There are still people who keep in contact, who are in need of a compassionate ear."
After graduating from Stanford with a bachelor's degree in urban studies in 1999, Breaux pursued several conventional career paths - screenwriter, substitute teacher, youth coordinator for nonprofit - but since 2009, spreading the good news of compassion has been Breaux's life work, funded by friends and others who believe in the cause.
He started out by collecting definitions of compassion from a street corner in Davis, California, where his efforts made him something of a legend.
"At first, it was 'What is this man doing standing on the corner?'" Breaux said of people's reactions. "But by the time I left, there was a lot of respect and gratitude for what I was doing."
Breaux plans to write a book about his experience, highlighting areas of personal growth and sharing a few anonymous entries from the road.