Compassionate Cities

There are many instances, positive and negative, throughout our careers that cause us to pause and reflect on the true purpose of why we chose a career in local government: ethics, service, community, compassion…

“The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical, and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.”

In 2008, a religious scholar, Karen Armstrong, gave a prize winning TED* talk on the golden rule, wishing for help to create, launch, and propagate a Charter for Compassion. The Charter was unveiled the following year, inspiring the creation of an organization entitled, Charter for Compassion.  Over the last five years more than 107,000 people and 1,000 plus organizations have affirmed the Charter since its release. The Charter invites communities of all sizes to bring compassion to life in practical, specific ways through compassion-driven actions.

“It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain.”

The City of Richardson was approached by a grassroots organization, Compassionate DFW, whose mission is to foster the International Charter for Compassion and compassionate action in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex. Rather than affirm the Charter alone, the city council and staff recognized that being a Compassionate City takes many partners: school districts, churches, nonprofits, universities, health care providers, as well as businesses.

Compassionate Richardson is an initiative that seeks to partner with each of our community partners to uphold the Charter for Compassion.  Two key partners in this initiative are the Richardson Interfaith Alliance (RIA) and Helping Agencies Serving Richardson (HASR). Founded in May 2012, the purpose of RIA is to increase respect of all faiths through education and increased awareness to coordinate and enhance faith-based services for the betterment of the Richardson Community. The mission of HASR is to improve the delivery of social services in Richardson by establishing a coalition of nonprofits to promote better communication, coordination, and cooperation among such organizations that serve the Richardson Independent School District geographical area.

Together, a Compassionate Richardson has taken part in a food bagging event for people living in poverty, participated in the city’s annual Trash Bag event, held film showings and lectures, put on events to give thanks to volunteers, and much more.

“We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous, and dynamic force in our polarized world.”

(Article submitted by Taylor Lough, Assistant to the City Manager, Richardson. If you have interesting news or helpful topics to share, please submit them to Kim Pendergraft at [email protected]. Please keep the information to fewer than 300 words.)