Recently, I was part of a delegation of Winnipeggers who travelled to Louisville, Kentucky, for a conference on compassion. Louisville, which has about the same size population as Winnipeg, became a Compassionate City by signing onto the Charter for Compassion in 2010, thereby transforming their community into a more caring and altruistic city.
The Winnipeg delegation, comprised of various civic leaders and community members, were keen to discover how Compassionate Louisville is creating effective social change at all levels of society. During the conference, the group participated in a variety of inspiring activities which included sessions by world renown scholars and teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It was a truly amazing experience.
One of the highlights of the four days was our taking part in the Walk for Compassion. It was organized by a number of groups including the Interfaith Paths to Peace and neighbourhood groups wanting to end violence and demonstrate that they are in control of their streets. It was so inspiring to see families and all generations represented.
The emcee for the Walk for Compassion was formerly involved in crime which left him seriously wounded. Now, he is a community leader reaching out to individuals who have also been injured by street crime. He visits these victims during their recovery periods and helps them to turn their lives around.
Music, dance, and crowd involvement made the afternoon very uplifting.
Louisville’s Chief of Police, Steve Conrad, impressed us with his taking time to talk to many who spoke to him with their personal issues.
Chief Conrad also met with Winnipeg’s Police Chief, Devon Clunis, during the week that the Winnipeg delegation was visiting. The two police chiefs discussed various progressive strategies that could inspire young people in particular, to choose a more positive path in life, other than one of crime.
“The trip to Louisville confirmed for me, the potential within our city and the connection with what is happening in the broader world,” said Chief Clunis, upon his return to Winnipeg from Louisville.
“We are not alone in our desire to create the healthiest environment in which to live, learn and grow,” he said. “That rich environment will only be created and sustained when we recognize our need for true community and the integral part each one plays in making it a shared reality.”
The few days we spent in Louisville, along with the Walk for Compassion, was an unforgettable experience of seeing compassion in action.
As the Walk for Compassion concluded, a few us from the Winnipeg delegation wondered how we were going to get back to our hotel. To our pleasant surprise, Louisville’s Police Chief offered us all a ride in his car.
In a matter of a few years, Compassionate Louisville has shown, in ways that are big and small, how a city can achieve significant and lasting change that improves community life for all of its citizens. Perhaps Winnipeg, at the heart of the continent, can one day do the same.
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 ‘compassion’ into the search bar at the top of this page for more stories on this subject.