Is Winnipeg a compassionate city? Are there things we can do as citizens to be more compassionate? Should Winnipeg become a signatory to a Charter For Compassion as other cities have recently done? And if we do, how would this affect public policy, civic engagement and our day to day interaction with our fellow citizens?
These are some of the questions we will be asking at a special Community News Commons (CNC) Town Hall Forum at the Free Press News Cafe Wednesday, January 23rd starting at 7:00 pm . The event is free and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend and share their views about this important subject.
A panel hosted by Gerry Labossiere, will also feature Elder Mae Louis Campbell and community activists Manju Lodha and Michael Champagne. Panelists will examine the issue of compassion and how it relates to life in Winnipeg.
Labossiere, a Winnipeg Foundation Board member, and Campbell, were part of a recent Winnipeg delegation that travelled to Louisville, Kentucky, to learn more about that city’s Charter of Compassion and what kind of differences it is making in Louisville. Lodha is a Winnipeg artist who promotes multicultural / anti-racist / multi-faith education in the community, and Champagne is an Aboriginal youth activist and organizer, well known for his weekly Bell Tower rallies in the north end.
Since CNC’s public media website was launched by The Winnipeg Foundation in July 2012, hundreds of stories have been published on the site by citizens of Winnipeg and Manitoba. Many of the stories describe people and events that illustrate the altruistic and compassionate nature of people in our community.
To date, the most noteworthy of CNC stories was one reported by CNC journalist Denise Campbell, about Winnipeg transit driver Kris Doubledee who spontaneously gave away his shoes to a barefooted man on the street in downtown Winnipeg. It was a simple yet profound gesture that’s been called one of the most memorable news stories of 2012. As the story reverberated across North America and around the world, it challenged many of us to find different ways to help our fellow citizens, in particular those who are poor, hungry and destitute.
We know from research that being compassionate not only helps those on the receiving end of the magnanimous gesture but also improves the overall health of those who are being altruistic. Studies indicate that the act of giving and caring tends to lower stress levels and contributes to better physical and mental health for those who are being compassionate.
The Dalai Lama is always pointing to the positive impact that compassion has on those that give it and receive it. He says, “If you want others to be happy, be compassionate. If you want to be happy, be compassionate.” He sees compassion as a key component to one’s own peace and mental stability; an essential element of human survival.
Asking the question of whether Winnipeggers are compassionate will likely prompt some to talk about the numerous acts of compassion that happen every day in our community. It can also focus our attention on what more can be done by all of us to confront the hardships and suffering existing in many neighbourhoods throughout the city.
I invite CNC journalists to write about compassion in the days ahead. Tell your stories of giving and caring that you’ve witnessed, have been a part of, or would like to see in our city. We’ll publish these stories on Community News Commons.
And of course, save the date – Wednesday, January 23 – and come down to the Free Press News Cafe, at 237 McDermot, for a 7:00 pm start, to listen, discuss and debate the question: Is Winnipeg a compassionate city?
TOWARD A COMPASSIONATE WINNIPEG
Recently, a delegation from Winnipeg traveled to Louisville, Kentucky — in November 2012 and again in May 2013 — to learn how city leaders there began Compassionate Louisville. From schools to government, healthcare to policing, Louisville is proving that a lasting, positive impact is created when compassion informs the day-to-day life of a city.
Community News Commons encourages anyone to imagine what Winnipeg could become if we followed the lead of Louisville and made compassion an integral part of our community life.
Click on the links below to read other CNC articles on creating a compassionate Winnipeg:
Friendship blossoms for Sikhs, Mennonites in North Kildonan
Knowing more about others creates greater compassion
Compassion helps take back the streets
Golden Rule unites world religions
The hard work of living a compassionate life
Winnipeg encouraged to adopt Golden Rule
Delegation seeks compassion, will hear Dalai Lama speak
Winnipeg delegation looks to compassionate Louisville
Forum on compassion asks: Does Winnipeg care?
Is Winnipeg a compassionate city?
You can also type the word ‘compassion’ into the search bar at the top of this page to access more stories on this subject.