Report from the Charter Call - Compassionate Cities/Communities September 13, 2016

Report from the Charter Call - Compassionate Cities/Communities September 13, 2016


Welcome and Introductions
Speaker Presentations:

  • John Steiner- re: the Bridge Alliance and the Charter Book Club call on 9/17, 9 am PT with Mark Gerzon
  • John Kesler- re: the Utah Summit in November, 2016
  • Jon Ramer (and Lesa Walker)- re: the Global Unity Games from 9/11 through 9/22, the International Day of Peace

Open Mic with Questions/Answers

Welcome and Introductions

Speaker Presentations:

Marilyn: Now it’s time for us to get started with our presentations. If at any time you want to ask a question, press 1 on the keypad on your phone and I will be able to recognize you.
This is an exciting day for us. Just as the Charter has many partners throughout the network- in arts, business, education, etc., we also have partners in cities themselves. Today we have two partners working close together as well as with the Charter. They will share what they are doing and take questions. Our speakers will talk about the Bridge Alliance and the Utah Civil and Compassionate Communities initiative.
Then, we will open up the mic to discuss everyone’s progress in their compassionate cities.
Our first speaker is John Steiner, a great friend of the Charter. He is also involved in the Bridge Alliance. I will let John introduce that organization and tell how each city can be involved

John Steiner: Thank you, Marilyn. If you go to our website,, you find 40+ Bridge Alliance organizations around the country that are working together as “transpartisan”. We have a number of organizations doing dialogue and collaboration with political leaders and with stakeholders.
The Compassionate Communities movement and the Compassion Games are members of the Bridge Alliance. What’s exciting about this relationship is that we see the Bridge Alliance as a transactional organization. We believe that bringing compassion and kindness and love into our politics is very important.
My colleague and partner in this work is a brilliant man who lives in Boulder, Colorado, where I live. He is Mark Gerzon. This year he has published a book entitled, “The Reunited Stated of America.” Marilyn, I understand that the Charter will be hosting him on a Global Read conference call this week.

Marilyn: Yes he will be talking about his research and case studies. Even if you haven’t read the book, being on the call will be exciting. You can think about how the work can make its way into your community.

**Global Read: Mark Gerzon's “The Reunited States of America”:

John S.: In his book, Mark has highlighted many authorities in this field and many are part of the Bridge Alliance.

Marilyn: If you have any questions about the Bridge Alliance and how you can begin a dialogue across the “great divide”, this is a great time to ask questions and begin to discover how we can have these dialogues. If you have a question, press 1on your keypad.

Rupa Cousins: I need to hear the title of the book again.

John S.: The Reunited States of America

Marilyn: Now we will introduce John Kesler- he has led the Compassionate Salt Lake City initiative. He has a special new project this year.

John Kesler: Hi everyone. We have launched the Utah Civil and Compassionate Communities initiative and are trying to connect with communities throughout Utah. We have responded to the Bridge Alliance and encouraged communities to hold Bridge Summits. We are trying to be a catalyst.
Here’s our statement of purpose:
To come together civilly and compassionately in Utah and
• Celebrate what we have already accomplished in being more civil, compassionate, inclusive collaborative and productive.
• Model how to bridge political and other divides through civil dialogue and creative problem solving.
• Lay the groundwork for progress on identified issues and possible solutions.
Revitalize the American Spirit and give America a fresh start, connecting with communities and groups across the nation who wish to illuminate and interconnect each other’s efforts and be in a learning and action community together in support of Americans Coming Together.

We are holding a Utah Summit on November 12, 2016. In September and October we are holding conversations in communities on issues that people have deep disagreements about. During these two months, in honor of the Global Unity Games we are promoting the theme of coming together in service. At the November 12th Utah Summit, we will harvest the conversations, and in the afternoon John Steiner and Mark Gerzon of the Bridge Alliance will help facilitate discussions among the Summit participants. We will have panel discussions of astute guests and these will be live-streamed nationally. We just went live with our website:

**More info is here:

John S.: Mark and I and a number of others still hold a vision of a national Citizen Summit. We thought that perhaps this Fall we would do a celebration of what Americans do together, which is typically not shared in our political discourse. Utah has taken up this vision. At the Utah Summit, we will have afternoon dialogue with local and national leaders about what is next after the election. That conversation will be live-streamed. We want to reach out and see if other communities want to have similar dialogues that day or during that week to discuss our shared values and how we come together as Americans across the divide, regardless of who is President. The live-stream will be on the website. If there is interest in taking this dialogue nationally, Marilyn has offered to host another conversation about how we can spread and expand these community dialogues.

John K.: For example, in Utah, the Summit’s facilitated discussion will be live-streamed and we will have library venues throughout the state that will listen to the panel discussion and then have their own library group discussions.

Marilyn: We will get a report on this call out to each of you. The report will include all the website urls and books and the ideas that are being shared today. Also, the report will be archived on our Charter website.

Lavonda: I’m from Alabama and I am excited to hear about your work. I am facilitator and Chair of “Citizen Dialogue and Discernment” here in Alabama. We have a small tribe of people who tend to be democratic or liberal. These are the only ones that attend my events. I find myself preaching to the choir instead of having a dialogue across political and socioeconomic lines. I love the November 12 conversation. I am hoping that the live-stream will give me ideas.

John K.: In Utah, we are benefiting from an active “Village Square” group ( They are providing a lot of energy and organization for our effort. We have a dialogue guide on our website. We would love to be in connection with you and others.

Marilyn: Do you have an example of what the “Village Square” has done?

John K.: They hold venues for discussion of topics interesting to people throughout the community. The discussions are often framed around political topics, but sometimes they explore cultural difference. Also, the Utah Humanities Council helps get the word out.

Marilyn: Here on Bainbridge Island, the library started something called, “Come Ask Some Questions”. They invite key people who are part of the community who are generating some controversy and offer a safe place for people with differing views to talk.

Brian: How are you advertising and reaching out to people other than libraries and the live-stream?

John K.: We are fortunate to have a 40- person advisory board, representing the wide diversity of Utah. They help get the word out. The co-chairs are state, local, and county level leadership. We are connecting with media channels as well. It helps to have a network of influence leaders.

Brian: How do you reach the general public?

John K.: We are looking for opportunities to get on local TV and invite key visitors that will spark interest.

John S.: They are planning to give awards to honor people like Jon Huntsman of “No Labels” (

For Lavonda in Alabama: A key member of the Bridge Alliance is Joan Blades of “Living Room Conversations” ( This “Living Room Conversations” model involves getting about 6 people in a living room and having conversations. There are 3 people on one side of an issue and 3 on the other. This is a model you might use. Often when people come together, they start relationships.

The book, The Reunited States of America is about how we move from control and tribal divisions to conversation, relationships, and collaboration.

Lavonda: Thank you for these resources. We also have an interfaith group. The Charter for me is the vehicle for me to launch a deeper collaboration. If I can get our community leaders to sign on to that, I can hope to move forward. We must find ways to practice this- by talking to one another.

John K.: Adam Hamilton has the largest Methodist congregation in the county ( His congregation is 60% Republican and 40% Democrat. He did a series of sermons that brought up controversial issues. His sermons are on YouTube. The multi-faith community really has the ability to make a difference with how we change politics. And, working with the Charter is a wonderful synergy.

Lavonda: Thank you for the encouragement and resources!

Marilyn: On Bainbridge Island, we have a small downtown. Via social media, our community invited everyone to come to downtown to share a meal together. The business leaders and City Council put up white tables and tablecloths and we all came, brought our own food, and ate together. We were asked to dress in white. This event was patterned after similar exchanges that have happened in France. Now this type of event has gone from downtown to various neighborhoods in our community. It is a stepping stone to working together and dialogue. The results have been spectacular.

Now, we will move on to our next presentation. Since Jon Ramer could not make the call, I am asking Lesa Walker to present about the Global Unity Games.

Lesa Walker: Thank you, Marilyn. The Global Unity Games are from 9/11 through 9/22, the International Day of Peace: Everyone is invited to participate. The Games are a great way to mobilize communities and engage people in compassionate action. It’s easy to participate. Just Sign Up; then, take compassionate action (to care for others, oneself, or the Earth); and, then report about what you did on the global Compassion Report Map: Afterwards, reflect and celebrate. The Games are a wonderful way to involve schools, businesses, organizations, faith/interfaith groups, etc. in your Compassionate Community efforts. This year, the Global Unity Games are partnering with a host of national and international organizations in the launch of the 5-year Tomorrow Together campaign with a focus on engaging youth and working toward the Sustainable Development Goals. Go to the website to learn more. You can Sign Up now or anytime until 9/21.

Open Mic with Questions/Answers:

Jasmine: We have a very small activity, “International Character Day”, in Beltsville, Maryland. Children will be given a packet of information on character education. We have kits about good character. We will be sharing these at a church. The following Sunday, the children will share what they learned with the congregation.

Marilyn: There is an organization in India offering a card game called “Acting Kindly”. This is something you might want to look into:
The Charter tries to network with many organizations. One of our partners from Compassionate UK just visited an orphanage in Albania and said they needed help. I will be writing about the orphanage in the next Charter Newsletter and maybe our Charter partner organizations will be able to provide some assistance.

Peggy Price: I’m from Huntington Beach, California. We really hit the ground running in the 2014 and 2015 Games. This year, we ran out of gas. This year, our Mayor was not receptive at all. We made arrangements for him to come to a reception and he failed to do that. That puts a hole in your balloon really fast. We don’t have the enthusiasm we always have. We are encouraging personal action. I share Oprah’s Gratitude Project videos. We will have a Golden West College event with the students and our Interfaith Council will have a dialogue. Part of our Interfaith Council has been taken over by right-wing people and there is some discord as a result. We have a lot of political divisiveness. We hope to reconcile after the election is over. This call has been very helpful.

Rupa: Brattleboro, Vermont is a very active area, but it is disparate. I would love to support all of these different groups. I am excited about bringing together many of the groups to hear and witness each other. Our project may be to come together to discuss our differences.

Marilyn: I want to remind everyone that one way to keep up with the Charter is through our weekly newsletters. We just announced two new sectors- 1) Race and Social Justice; and 2) Restorative Justice. We are looking for task force members to get these sectors off the ground. The formative meetings are just now being planned.

Zoe: I’m from Santa Monica, California. This Thursday, we are having a screening of a film about Muhammad Yunus and the microloan movement in Pakistan and India. We are partnering with “UN Women” (, specifically a campaign supported by UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, called “HeForShe” (; The campaign engages men and boys for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights. We have invited the City Manager. This is how we will end the Compassion Games- with a reception at City Hall with all male leadership. This effort is part of our Charter “Women and Girls” initiative. The screening of the film is part of our social and economic justice effort. I want to share that I am exhausted. I just attended a Nation Builder 2–day seminar. The conversation of race, violence, and compassion is intense.

Kay: Thank you everyone. It’s great to hear what’s happening. Ashland, Oregon is a very progressive town of 21,000 people. We have lots of activities through the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission. We have the same kind of declaration as the compassionate communities. We will be partnering with them. Compassion is a prominent theme in vigils we are having. There is definitely energy building for adding the centrality of compassion to the conversation of peace. I will be sharing the results of the call. We are participating in the Global Unity Games in schools. Thank you again and I hope to be more of a prominent part of these conversations.


Marilyn: If you haven’t done so, please register as a compassionate community initiative. We want to know who is out there doing their work. We want to add info to your community pages on our site. We are coming close to 400 compassionate communities in over 50 countries. We are starting to create compassionate hubs around the world. Thank you for coming on the call. I hope many of you can join us this Saturday, September 17, for the Global Book Read- check our newsletter for details.
**Global Read: Mark Gerzon's “The Reunited States of America”:


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