Stories for Earth Week

These are news posts that pertain to the Serve the Earth – Love This Place Coopetition.

Earth Week Champion Spotlight: Amy Walker


We are thrilled to pass the Global Compassion Torch to Amy Walker today! Thank you, Amy, for standing for courageous compassion for others and the Earth in all you do. Compassion Games wants to recognize Ms. Walker and her artistic projects expressed from her brave heart, standing up for Mother Earth with infinite love, and teaching us what compassion really means. Our intent is to celebrate her authentic service to caring for the Earth and the powerfully embodied message she shares. See Champion of Compassion, Amy Walker receive the Compassion Torch and also leading us all in a Water Blessing Ceremony in this video! Please share!

Amy’s multi-disciplinary spirituality is integral to her art and life, connecting her with the earth and all beings as Relatives. Her practices include knowledge from being trained and adopted into Native Nakota medicine ways with the Yankton Sioux in South Dakota; initiated into Kriya Yoga through the line of Gurus at Self-Realization Fellowship; being a third-year Moon Dancer in Teotihuacàn, Mexico; as well as countless workshops, books, and teachings. Watch this video below,  a beautiful example of her love and power,  inviting us to unify together into the compassionate way.

“This came to me in the Nakota language for you and all beings. I share it now with the intention of sending healing love around the world, joining billions of people in prayer on this 12/21/12 solstice. Feel free to share, sing adapt, arrange… Love!” -Amy Walker

Love is Sacred Medicine -a prayer song for mi daku owase, mitakuye oyasin, all my relations.

Wiwowashte de pejuta wakhan
Wiwowashte Ina Makha sitomniya
Mi daku owase, unshi ma nayo
Wiwowashte, chante owase ota

Love is sacred medicine
Love around Mother Earth
All my relations, it’s the way it is, the way it should be, the way I want it to be,
Love, a nation of many nations of hearts

Amy Walker is an actress, singer, inspirational speaker, and multi-disciplinary artist, as a way of expressing #CourageousCompassion. Her passion is performing in productions that entertain and inspire positive change. She has been featured on TEDx, the TODAY Show, NPR, Inside Edition, and her online videos have garnered over 40 million views on YouTube and beyond, from the viral “21 Accents”, to memorable characters, songs, and inspirational insights. In 2015, she toured internationally with her one-woman show, Amy Walker: Inside Out ~ Celebrating the Unity in our Diversity.

Join Compassion Games International leadership Team pass the Global Compassion Torch to Amy Walker LIVE today Sunday at 9:00 AM –  9:00 AM PST.  She will also lead us in a Sacred Water Blessing Ceremony Song. Learn more and join us at this link.

As a way to appreciate Amy Walker, you can join her participating in Earth Week and report as a member of “The Vibers”, by sharing your compassion for Earth in action on the Global Compassion Report Map through May 7th. For example, you can reflect on Amy’s Water Water Blessing Ceremony today and share with others. Game on Vibers!

You can sign up for Water is Life! Protect The Sacred Earth Week today!

Let us light up the world with compassion for the Earth today and celebrate Amy Walker by sharing this article and joining us today as we honor her as a Champion of Compassion. 

Earth Day Wisdom for all players & teams playing Earth Week below!

See the many ways below to stay connected to this Champion of Compassion, Amy Walker:

See Amy’s courageous compassion sketches on her inspiring YouTube Channel.

Watch Amy Walker’s Ted Talk about Expanding Your Identity to Embody Your Potential.

Amy Walker’s Facebook Fan Page

Follow her on Twitter

Amy Walker’s Website

Earth Week Champion Spotlight: People’s Climate March

Join the People’s Climate Movement this April 29th in Washington, D.C. and across the country to stand up for our communities and climate. 

Now that Earth Day 2017 is history, the week of action, led by the Peoples Climate March; is happening on the 29th and as outlined a week of activities are happening all over the world. Anyone can engage with and shed light on the challenges and opportunities to protect and restore mother earth.

Throughout the first 100 days in office, the People’s Climate Movement is organizing a country-wide arc of action, culminating on April 29th in Washington DC in a powerful mobilization to unite all of our moves.

Sister Marches are taking place all over the world.  Follow this link to discover where you can join in.

Earth Week Champion Spotlight: Earth Day Network

As the world looks to find a new way to balance, preserve and protect Mother Earth we are grateful to have a partnership with the Earth Day Network and to recognize them as the lead “Champion of Compassion”.

Earth Day Network’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 50,000 partners in nearly 195 countries to build environmental democracy. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. We work through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer campaigns.


March for Science

This year the Earth Day Network is supporting the March for Science – a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.

Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

On April 22, 2017, Earth Day, we walk out of the lab and into the streets.  We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities. Our diversity is our greatest strength: a wealth of opinions, perspectives, and ideas is critical for the scientific process. What unites us is a love of science and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone. Science is often an arduous process, but it is also thrilling. A universal human curiosity and dogged persistence is the greatest hope for the future. This movement cannot and will not end with a march.

See behind the scenes of the March for Science in this video below!

You can watch the March for Science LIVE at this link on Earth Day Network YouTube Channel.

Our plans for policy change and community outreach will start with marches worldwide and a teach-in at the National Mall, but it is imperative that we continue to celebrate and defend science at all levels – from local schools to federal agencies – throughout the world.
CGI Global Calendar March for Science Event

March for Science website
Check out over 360 marches around the world planned that day.

Earth Week Champion Spotlight: Earth Gratitude

Earth Gratitude is a partner of Unify who introduced us.  They are focusing this Earth Week on “Earth Gratitude: Clean Living” and have published a beautiful Moni e-book with contributions from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to Elon Musk, from Tesla Motors, Arian Huffington, and many other remarkable voices. 

The e-book is free and you don’t even have to give your email.   Download the e-book here  as they say in the introduction: “We are in deep gratitude to everyone who views this book, pushes pause on the daily routine and status quo, and makes a bold, brave, and sustainable choices for their everyday lives.”

Earth Week Champion Spotlight: Pachamama Alliance

Thank you, Pachamama Alliance for being such a beacon of light, inspiring people around the world into Earth Caring action! We take this 4th day of Earth Week to pass the Global Compassion Torch to all who are part of the Pachamama Alliance Team making a positive difference a reality every day. Here is the Co-Founder of Pachamama Alliance, Bill Twist with the Global Compassion Torch sharing his light and gratitude.

We had the incredible opportunity to work with Pachamama Alliance in February bringing light and compassion to The 7th Generation Runners from Standing Rock in the heart of San Francisco as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week (see a video about the inspiring results of this event). Pachamama Alliance is a global community that offers people the chance to learn, connect, engage, travel and cherish life for the purpose of creating a sustainable future that works for all. Learn more about the story of why Pachamama Alliance is alive and thriving in the world in this video.

Here are some of the incredible impacts the Pachamama Alliance is igniting globally. Pachamama Alliance works in partnership with Indigenous People to attain permanent protection of the tropical rainforests of the headwaters region of the Amazon basin in Ecuador and northern Peru. Containing some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet, this is an area of immense ecological importance to the world.

There are 61 Pachamama Alliance Communities—local hubs where people work together to bring about a new future for life on Earth—in 21 countries, including the U.S., Mexico, China, Japan, Romania, and New Zealand. In 2016, Community Days were brought to 7 Pachamama Alliance groups, including Lima, Peru; Rochester, New York; and Beijing, China; equipping and empowering them in their vision to build a new society.

The Awakening the Dreamer program—Pachamama Alliance’s flagship educational program offered both in person and online—now has over 5000 trained Facilitators across the globe, offering the in-person Symposium in at least 16 languages and in more than 80 countries.

The Game Changer Intensive—an online course that picks up where Awakening the Dreamer leaves off and catalyzes the inner work of transformation, inspires and equips people to enter in effective collective action— and has now been taken by more than 4000 participants.

We invite you today to Protect The Sacred Pachamama and join the celebration by sharing this article on Facebook, Twitter, or on the Compassion Report Map with what you appreciate about Pachamama Alliance. Take action and get involved with Pachamama Alliance today! Here is where to start:

Have you signed up to play Earth Week yet? You can report your Earth Compassion in action on the Global Compassion Report Map until May 7th! Join the world’s largest compassion competition where everyone wins!

From Compassion Games leadership team hearts, we thank you for all that epic positive change you bring the world! We pass the Champion of Compassion Torch to you all!

Earth Week Champion Spotlight: Unify

Unify is one of Compassion Games most celebrated partners in the regeneration of self and society at this time. For Day 5 of the Water is Life! Protect the Sacred Earth Week, we are deeply dedicated to highlighting the remarkable work and accomplishments of Unify by passing them the Compassion Torch!

Unify hosts Globally Synchronized Events on Earth’s Solstices and Equinoxes with a focus on celebrating our shared humanity around the world. At these times, they invite all people to “meditate, host local ceremonies, pray and align with Source in their own way.” They write:

It is our conviction that we are One Human Family, transcendent of race, religion, or nation. By unifying at these times we create a living demonstration of our underlying unity and an Emerging Planetary Culture which embraces the interdependence and well-being of all.

Standing Rock has been a central inspiration for this year’s Earth Week Coopetition. Unify has been supporting the 7th Generation of Indigenous youth at Standing Rock, and uplifts the vision of MNI WICONI – Water is Life to millions around the globe. Watch a video they put together for Standing Rock below:

Unify also hosts a World Water Day in March. Their video on Water Day, featuring Indigenous leader Ta’Kaiya Blaney, is truly inspiring.

Unify helped host an Earth Gratitude series in honor of Earth Day. Learn more about Earth Gratitude and the free Mini-eBook they offered, downloadable here.

Unify continues to inspire us and countless millions around Mother Earth to lean into the vision of the world we know in our spirits is possible. Thank you, Unify.

Be sure to follow Unify on social Media!


The Summary and Highlights of Earth Week 2016

Earth is our home, and something incredible happens when we humans fall in love with the Great Story

CG-earth007-fish0416of Life. In knowing we belong here, we become calmer in the face of adversity. Our words and thoughts become kinder, our hearts become full and generous, and we naturally rise to the challenges to protect and
restore what is dear to us.

In this Summary and Highlights of Earth Week 2016, you will peer into the events and experiences of thousands of players and over a hundred teams from around the world who felt the calling of Mother Earth and were moved into action that can inspire us all.

If you’d like to view the Full Report, click here!

 From India to Sudan, Guatemala to the Philippines, the US to Vietnam, and Canada to Australia, people brought unbelievably creative and heartfelt acts of compassion to life for the Earth and all living beings at this remarkable time.

Here is a glimpse into the results in numbers, with over 20,000 people served in 8 countries around the world.

Earth Week Final Results 2016

For every result quantified and reported, there are stories of real experiences that uplift and inspire. You can see highlighted reports on the Facebook album from the Report Map here and the complete Compassion Report Map here.

The meaningful stories from this year’s Earth Week reveal perspectives we might not otherwise experience because the Games were played by such a diverse group of participants from nearly every continent on Earth.

From children in the slums of New Delhi seeing trees for the first time and learning about ecosystems, Indigenous peoples convening in New York’s Times Square to sign the International Treaty to Protect and Restore Mother Earth, and cities rising up to challenge one another across the United States, Earth Week was the embodiment of unity in diversity and unprecedented, unified action.

The following stories highlight just a handful of significant events and reports from exceptional teams and partners to showcase what took place during Earth Week.

Story #1: The International Treaty to Protect and  Restore Mother Earth

Four Worlds International Institute (FWII) uses Indigenous principles to heal communities around the world through the Fourth Way. Chairman of FWII, Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. – who is also the Chairman of Compassion Games International –  is a world-renowned luminary that leads a life-long mission to unify the human family.

For Earth Day, Brother Phil and many other Indigenous leaders arrived in New York by canoe as a sign of solidarity and respect for Mother Earth before announcing the International Treaty to Protect and Restore Mother Earth.

The #GlobalCanoe Arrives in Times Square

Phil Report

Description Summary: “Indigenous leaders from around the world came to New York City to convene and sign the International Treaty to Protect and Restore Mother Earth as part of Earth Day and Love thisScreen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.00.56 PM Place! Serve the Earth Week. They arrived in the #GlobalCanoe out of love and commitment to Mother Earth.  On average two Indigenous defenders are killed each week in defense of Mother Earth.  This team was led by Compassion Games International Chairperson Chief Phil Lane Jr.”

Report Reflection: “The message and experience of this deep spiritual foundation being brought to
Times Square in NYC, the place where all crossroads of commerce meet, offered a tremendous contrast between where we’ve been, where we are and where we need to go.”

Story #2: Play for Peace Bringing Compassion to Communities in Conflict

With over 30 registered teams for Earth Week coming from India, Vietnam, the Philippines, the United Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 11.54.08 AMStates, Guatemala, and South Sudan, Play for Peace is a celebrated partner and dynamic force for global peace and compassion.

Globally, Play for Peace has over 2,000+ clubs on every continent in the world, and their involvement in the Compassion Games continues to expand.

Play for Peace states: “Children, youth and adults, even in communities in conflict, are deciding to choose compassion and practice peace, and they are learning to do this through the joy of play… Play creates a gateway to moments when differences dissolve, fear melts away, and we see what connects us rather than what divides us.”

Play for Peace is the true embodiment of compassionate play in action. Here are just a few of the incredible stories they reported from the 30 teams they had registered for Earth Week.

Peace Clubs in New Delhi, India

New Delhi

Youth from impoverished areas of New Delhi came together to connect with nature for the first time in their lives. The report explains:

“These youth come from slum areas where if you open a window or door you cannot even see any tree or feel or see any greenery. So practical daily struggle of survival & life have made their connection with nature to zero.”

They learned about ecosystems and climate change, and realized that they themselves were not the main contributors to the climate change. Even so, they realized there were things they could do to help, like reducing their use of plastic and cleaning up parks.

“It was shared that in the communities they come from no one has 2 or 4-wheeler, no one has motorbike,Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.06.05 PMthey do not use AC, they don’t have refrigerator, they are not the contributor to this problem. At the same time we agreed we use lots of plastic & that we can plan to reduce.”

Upon reflection, they said:

“Each youth who had no connection with nature in daily life started experiencing connection and need of
this connection. They were inspired to contribute something in their limited capacity and in their surroundings. Each one became aware of hazards of using plastic and that they can make a difference.”

Peace Club in South Sudan, Africa

Sudan Report

In South Sudan, communities affected by crisis came together to heal through the power of compassionate play. From the report:

“South Sudan has been undergoing through violent acts especially during the 2013 December crisis that resulted to loss of lives, destruction of properties including homes and service facilities, thousands were displaced, many were traumatized, as hatred enlarged from community to community. In order to to bringScreen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.08.46 PM peace and heal those traumatized, Hold the Child is working on Child Protection programs in such communities, in one way or the other a high % children were affected during the crisis.”Upon reflection, the reporter wrote:

Since I went through a training of Play for Peace, I can bare witness that I have gone through a milestone of changes, through regular engagement of children and various communities. I have also changed my perception towards those who are our enemies, for example the cores principles of Play for Peace like cooperation, having FUN, safety, inclusion. I feel encouraged everyday when I see smiles on the faces of others. My great moments are when I take time with children and when I see them going back home singing or practicing on the Compassion Games.”

Story #3: Compassionate Communities

Austin, Louisville, and Silicon Valley

There are currently over 350 declared compassionate cities and communities around the world. At their best, compassionate cities challenge and inspire one another to reach new and unprecedented levels of civic engagement that leads to making their communities kinder, safer, more just and better places to live.The Compassion Games serve as a fun, creative catalyst toward this vital goal. In this year’s Serve the Earth Week Coopetition, three outstanding Compassionate Communities – Austin, Louisville, and Silicon Valley – have shown again why they are an exemplary force for igniting acts of service and compassion for other cities to build upon in their own way.

Team Compassionate Austin

Compassionate Austin and the members of its communities are true champions of compassion. View some of the highlights that took place in Austin for this year’s Serve the Earth Week.

Austin Becomes a Compassionate City

On April 14th 2016, the Mayor and City Council members of Austin, Texas’ state capital, voted to join with Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.10.12 PMother Texas cities San Antonio, Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth in becoming a “self designated” compassionate city: Compassionate Austin. Austin joins over 350 cities around the world that have embarked on similar campaigns.

The Austin City Council Resolution recognizes that “we are all compassionate Austin” and encourages everyone in Austin – city departments, area school districts, community and faith groups, and all Austinites – to participate in the Compassion Games as a way to show 3D compassion (caring for others, self, and the Earth) and strengthen compassion strength of their city.

Lesa Walker, a civic leader in Austin who led this initiative, stated:

“We now plot our course with compassion and envision ourselves as a Compassionate City.  However, we still face very serious unmet needs in our community.  We need to earn our designation as a Compassionate City through our daily compassionate action! We all own these issues and need to work together to address them.”

The City Council affirmed the Resolution just in time for the kick off of the Serve the Earth Week Compassion Games. What follows are a few of the highlights that emerged out of Compassionate Austin during Earth Week.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.13.24 PM

Team Compassionate Santa Cruz Mountains (Silicon Valley)

Nestled near the Santa Cruz Mountains lies Silicon Valley, the home of some of the world’s largest and most innovative tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Facebook.

It may be surprising to learn that compassion can thrive in such high tech environments, but Silicon Valley closely collaborates with Stanford’s CCARE, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. The synergy of this collaboration and the resiliency of its communities is nothing short of amazing.

Emerging out of the Santa Cruz Mountains was the Community Resilience Challenge, a featured Way to Play in the Games lead by Leslie Meehan, a civic leader, Compassion Games Ambassador, and community member of the area.

In the upcoming Global Unity Games it is likely that the civic and corporate leaders of this dynamic area will play a large role in igniting compassionate action around the world.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.16.33 PM

Team Compassionate Louisville

Each year, Louisville, Kentucky hosts its annual Give-A-Day: Mayor’s Day of Service celebration. During Earth Week, members of Louisville are encouraged to give one day of service to give back to their community.

Mayor of Louisville Greg Fischer ran and won on a platform of lifelong learning, health, and compassion. After receiving an award from the City of Seattle for affirming itself as a Compassionate City, he boldly and playfully declared that “Louisville is the most compassionate city, and will be so until proven otherwise.”

Mayor Greg Fischer has been a champion and collaborator of the Compassion Games since 2012, and began Give-A-Day to bring the vision of a compassionate city to life. In regard to Give-A-Day, he says:

“Whether you give an hour, a day, donate blood, give food, clothing or simply help a neighbor, everyone can do something! [T]hanks for helping make Louisville the most caring and compassionate city in the world!

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.17.00 PM

In total, Compassionate Louisville accomplished the following with the help of over 175,000 volunteers and 175,000 acts of service:

50,000 – Personal hygiene items donated through We Day Kentucky.

44,064 – Meals packaged by volunteers for Kids Against Hunger.

14,568 – Brightside volunteers who helped clean up Louisville.

11,000 – Calls and social media hits to the WHAS 11 Give A Day Telethon.

400 – Smoke detectors installed by volunteers with the American Red Cross Louisville chapter.

152 – Boxes of medical supplies sorted by volunteers for Supplies Over Seas, which sends the supplies and equipment to areas in need worldwide.

100 – Bicycles donated and refurbished through the Pedal Power Project for donation to Kentucky Refugee Ministries’ clients.

100 – Beds constructed and donated to JCPS students through the Build A Bed program.

10 – Houses renovated and new homes built for needy families by Habitat for Humanity’s Love Your Neighborhood program.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.19.39 PM

Is Texas Becoming the Most Compassionate Place on Earth?

Even though Texas is the second largest state in the union when it comes to size and population, it appearsphotothat it won’t be second when it comes to compassionate action. Look at what’s happening in the Lone Star State!

On April 14th 2016, the Mayor and City Council members of Austin, Texas’ state capital, voted to join with San Antonio, Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth in becoming a “self designated” compassionate city: Compassionate Austin. There are now over 350 cities around the world that have embarked on similar campaigns.  

It is well known that Austin is an incredible city that is smart, super cool, and determined to “keep Austin weird,” but now it is championing compassionate action and elevating compassion throughout the city.  Last week, the Austin Symphony Orchestra performed the United States premiere of the song cycle “Compassion” by Nigel Westlake and Lior Attar. At the performance a group of University of Texas business school students did their service learning project on the theme of compassion by hosting a “Compassion Corner,” where they engaged people in sharing their thoughts and stories of compassion.  The week before they created videos of people telling their stories of compassion at a “Compassion Conversations” exhibit and panel discussion at the Blanton Museum of Art.

The Austin City Council Resolution recognizes that “we are all compassionate Austin” and encourages everyone in Austin, city departments, area school districts, community and faith groups and all Austinites to participate in the Compassion Games as a way to show 3D compassion (caring for others, self, and the Earth) and strengthen compassionate action. At a City Hall press conference, following the passing of the Resolution, there were speeches made by representatives of Rosedale School (Austin Independent School District), the Austin Public Libraries, Earth Day Austin 2016, Interfaith Action of Central Texas, and Raindrop Women’s Association/Turkish House. Each of these groups, as well as others, participate in the Compassion Games and represent the many champions of compassion in Austin.

Lesa Giving Speech

Dr. Lesa Walker speaking for the resolution at City Council to inaugurate Austin as a Compassionate City.

This was clearly a brilliant strategic move on Compassionate Austin’s part. The City Council affirmed the Resolution just in time for the kick off of the Serve the Earth Week Compassion Games. Cities from all over the world will now have to consider ways to up their “compassion game” in response to this wave of goodness and compassion strength coming out of Austin, Texas. Here is a video of Compassionate Austin organizer Dr. Lesa Walker talking about the resolution and commitment to playing in the Compassion Games.


Dr. Walker with Simone Talma Flowers and Kuaybe Nur after successfully passing the Compassionate City resolution.

Lesa Walker says, “We now plot our course with compassion and envision ourselves as a Compassionate City.  However, we still face very serious unmet needs in our community.  We need to earn our designation as a Compassionate City through our daily compassionate action! We all own these issues and need to work together to address them.”

Earth Week: Love This Place!

Earth Day Austin is one of the teams in the Serve the Earth Week: Love this Place! Compassion Games and is organizing the Earth Day Austin 2016 festival happening on April 23.  As awesome as these actions are, the largest Earth Day festival in the world does not take place in Austin but takes place in Dallas, Texas with over 600 exhibitors. Compassionate Dallas-Fort Worth will be at that festival in Dallas thanks to Dr. Charles Barker, organizer of Compassionate Dallas-Fort Worth, and his remarkable team.

Congratulations to everyone in Texas for the remarkable work they’re doing to bring compassion to life! Want to see more of the creative and social innovation coming out of Austin? Take a look at this Austin Social Entrepreneurship Map. Compassion is the power source for social innovation. It is the power source to meet our personal and community needs and create a better world!  

Learn more and sign up for Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week here!


Being Human Ain’t Easy: Unexpected Lessons from His Holiness the 17th Karmapa

We surely can’t complain about the mystery and thrill of being alive. Yet, regardless of one’s walk of life, it just isn’t easy being human.

downloadLike the tilted spinning of the Earth traveling through the Milky Way, having balance in one moment does not necessarily mean we will have it in the next. Life is messy. We are each challenged by the struggles of maintaining harmony in our relationships, by the incessant demand of finances and making a living, and of nurturing the physical and mental health of ourselves and those we love. We each desire meaning, belonging, and purpose in our lives.

These challenges in life, in their various forms and magnitudes, are a given. It is how we respond – not react – to life’s challenges that truly matter, transmuting them into all the more reason to love harder and be more compassionate toward others and toward ourselves, knowing we all suffer in one way or another.

Unfortunately, this is far easier to say and know than to do.Karmapa Image

Which is perhaps why thousands of people flocked like weary birds to Seattle Center on May 9th, to receive a drink of the cool, spring water that is the presence and teachings of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. He is, after all, a shining example of compassion and love in a tumultuous world.

What we got, however, was something far different than expected. Something, I believe, that was far better.

First of all, His Holiness had a cold, leaving him visibly and admittedly drained. To top this off, Seattle was the last stop on his journey of events over the course of two months, which was extremely exhausting in itself.

Buddha or not, I thought, the Karmapa is human. This lesson, which had only just begun, was the greatest gift he could have given us. Here was a moment for us to have deep compassion for him. Curiously and unexpectedly, it wasn’t the last.

After forty-five minutes of his teachings about compassion from the Kagyu Buddhist tradition, a young panel of change-makers sat on stage with the Karmapa and asked him, each in turn, some very difficult questions.

One such question was from Jennifer Hotes, a young woman activist from a nonprofit called Love City Love which creates open spaces for artists to create art in community for one another for the sake of joy. She asked him:

“How do we have fun without using it as a way to escape from the suffering in the world, as a way to remind ourselves of the positive things in life?” She paused, almost forgetting to ask him the next part of her question with a sheepish but twinkling smile on her face. “And also, what do you do to have fun?”

The moderator quickly finished translating her question with a smile himself, and the Karmapa’s eyebrows went up in surprise. He put his hand to his chin in deep thought. He was, as clear as day, stumped! The audience laughed with him. To our surprise, here is some of what he said:

“It’s important in life, to not take things so seriously all the time. It’s important to remember to enjoy life to celebrate the good things… I remember when I was a young boy, my family would celebrate Losar, the Lunar New Year of Tibet. I remember that I would get so excited the day before that my siblings and I couldn’t sleep… We still honor Losar, but now I must follow set itineraries, the day is full of ceremony and ritual that I must fulfill. Sometimes I wish I could just lay in bed and sleep through it… As for what I do for fun now, I don’t know. I’ll have to give this more thought.”

As the last words of this were translated, the Karmapa unexpectedly began to speak again, which was translated to us once more:

“I really enjoy music and the arts. When I have time, I like to paint and make music. The arts are very important. That is all I have to say on the matter.”

It was an astonishing revelation, I think, for all of us. Quite simply, the Karmapa didn’t experience much of what it was like to simply play, to have fun.

This appears to be a common issue for everyday people and change-makers alike. We often feel guilty regarding the moments of joy in our lives when we know there is so much suffering in the world. Yet, play is an essential human need that allows us to connect with one another, building authentic relationships that can lead to sustainable action rooted in compassion. When we don’t take time to honor what is good and beautiful in life, we burn out. We lose our sense of wholeness. We actually become less effective at making positive change happen.

It is actually this concern that lead to us being invited to the event with the Karmapa at Seattle Center, to represent the CompassionCompassion Games Updated Logo for Shift Network Games and teach attendees about it. The Compassion Games are a social tool designed to ignite, amplify, and catalyze compassionate action in communities around the world. By infusing the power of playfulness and compassion with the fun of friendly competition, the Games offer a unique way to strive together to serve each other, our own personal well-being, and the Earth.

Experiencing the challenges that nonprofits face with finding financial support to grow and scale, the struggle can sometimes lead us to doubt the importance of play and the idea that you can use play to build the capacity of communities to be more compassionate. As we are currently fundraising to expand the Games to respond to a growing demand, this weighed heavily on our team’s hearts that evening.

Yet, once we began to speak with people about the Games, most people went from curiosity or confusion to an understanding grin on their face. “Team Seattle needs your help!” we would say humorously with feigned exacerbation. “The Mayor of Louisville said they were the most compassionate city in the world and would be so until kindliving1-300x245proven otherwise! In fact, he said they were so compassionate they would come here and help us beat them!” At that point, most people usually laughed and wanted to learn more. Obviously, no one can lose the Compassion Games, though they seem to tap into an innate human desire to want to play together, to do the heavy lifting in the world with a lighter heart. By doing so, the Games can help raise the capacity of compassion in our lives and our communities in ways we otherwise wouldn’t feel inspired, or believe were possible, to do.

This may be why the Compassion Games worked so well in a women’s prison, where for the first time ever there were eleven days of no violence while the Games were played. Or why they are so excitingly received in educational settings, where children can “cooperate to compete” to make their schools safer and warmer places to learn, and to experience compassion first hand.

We were feeling quite relieved about the reception of the Compassion Games at the Karmapa’s event, but then it happened: one of the change-makers of the panel on-stage, a young lady named Rekeda Roundtree from Roots of Empathy, asked another challenging question:

“It seems that competition is at the root of many social ills that we as a society face today. Can you tell us how competition creates barriers between people, how it is a separation that prevents us from connecting compassionately together to collaborate and make change?”

kl-stargirl02i-fish0814As an organization that aimed to use friendly competition as a kind of “culture hack” to get people excited about making a difference (the latin root for competition – “competere” – means “to strive together”), this question made our hearts skip a beat. Our team looked at each other with playfully worried smiles, holding our breath as we anticipated what would come next. Depending on his answer, we would either proudly stay, or try to make a break for it before mobs of outraged compassion-seekers descended on us.

The moderator asked if it was okay to inverse the question. He asked, “So, can I ask the Karmapa if fishastroheartpplcompetition can be used in a way that is positive, as a way to make positive social change?” The young woman, once again, reiterated her original question regarding competition’s more negative side, how it enhances social ills rather than alleviates them.

Here is what the Karmapa said:

“Competition is very pervasive in the world today, connected to many of the activities that lead to problems. Even when people are not engaged in competition – competition with distinct victors or those who are defeated – people may bring the energy of competition to their everyday lives, like in an argument and the need to be right at the expense of others. But, I think competition can have a positive aspect to it as well. Competition can be used as a motivator to better oneself, not to beat others but to compete with oneself to become more compassionate. In this way competition can be used to make oneself stand out, but in a positive way.”

All at once, we let our breaths out in a sigh of relief and laughed; there wouldn’t be any compassion mobs coming for us today. As it turns out, even the Karmapa believed that friendly competition could be used as a social force for good.

Once, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama said this when asked a similar question:

“Competition used to put others down: not good. Competition used to bring everybody up: that is very good.”

We were grateful that His Holiness the 17th Karmapa shared with us his down-to-earth human side. It allowed us, I believe, to see ourselves in him, not as an idol or state of perfection that we are not, but as a person like the rest of us. It made room for greater compassion toward ourselves in our own hardships, mishaps, and imperfections. Life is full of them, that’s for certain, but it’s easier to know that we are in them together, that even our suffering profoundly connects us all.

As for play and having fun: may we all enjoy the gifts that life has to offer us more often, not as an escape, but as a celebration to rejuvenate our spirits. And may the Compassion Games touch countless more lives by reminding us how to change the world by having fun, by reminding us of the child within us all.

We each desire to see the world become a more kind, safe, and loving place. It is much more rewarding when we do this together.


Story Written by Compassion Games Storyteller Joey Crotty
with support from Compassion Games Team Members Lesa Walker, Sande Hart, and Jon Ramer

Highlights for Earth Week from Around the World!

Greetings Compassionistas of Planet Earth!

We are proud to report that over 30 teams from 4 continents inspired thousands of people to come together, acting in ways that affirm our love and compassion for the Earth and all her inhabitants. This awakening biophilia, or “love of life”, is transforming the world!

We are still in the process of gathering the reflection reports on the Compassion Mapand have set a “liveline” (deadline) on the Scoreboard for Friday, May 8th. If you participated in Earth Week or Earth Day, add your report to make your actions known to the world! These reports uplift countless others, measure our collective impact, and show what we are capable of when we come together to act compassionately in our communities!

Here are some of the stories and highlights from Earth Week that we are aware of so far!


Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 11.31.53 AMOne of the new and most exciting ways to play during Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week was on the Story Mapping Challenge. We want to give a huge thank you to our partner Esri for making this resource available. In the challenge, players upload a photo of a place they love and tell a story about why they love this place. Take a look to explore a literal world of stories of people from around the planet, and consider adding your own to the map!

Biophiliac and Proud Meme Small

Are you a biophiliac, or “lover of life”? A positive relationship with the natural world is being identified by scientific research as a

key indicator for one’s sense of overall well-being and even feelings of compassion. During Earth Week, people were proud to identify themselves as a biophiliacs and rally behind their love of life as a motivator for compassionate action and change. Learn more about the profound advantages to unleashing your inner biophiliac and living a longer, healthier life here!


We are deeply grateful to Andy Smallman, David Spangler, Fish Astronaut, and everyone from the International Kindness Team who organized these incredible missions and activities associated with the Secret Agents of Green Compassion. Here is an excerpt from Day 1’s Mission:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.44.20 AMGood Morning Agents…

As Secret Agents of Green Compassion, we are part of a conspiracy with nature. Conspiracy comes from the Latin meaning “to breathe together,” which is literally what we do with nature.  We take in her substance in various ways and she takes in ours in reciprocity. We conspire together to express life on earth. But just what is this conspiracy to which we belong? And how are we conspiring?

Intrigued to know more? View all 8 missions that took place during Earth Week here and find ways to help bring ourselves and other humans into balance with nature as we shower the Earth with green compassion.

Compassion As

The Mayors & Cities League stepped up in a big way for Serve the Earth Week. In 2013, Mayors from around the country passed a landmark resolution calling for compassion as effective public policy. We all know documents aren’t enough to accomplish the compassionate change we seek, so cities like Louisville, KY under the leadership of Mayor Greg Fischer hosted their annual “Give-A-Day” where community members gave one day of Earth Week back to the community through acts of compassionate service. Learn more here!

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Baltimore’s riots last week have highlighted the growing unrest and injustices across America. Many are being forced to rethink assumptions we’ve made about race, power, civility, and compassion. Yet, leaders like Reverend Jim Lee are stepping up to guide us away from despair and into a place of compassion and profound healing. He urges his community to “Love our way through the pain. Let’s make the pain the lesson, not the reason.” Check out the way Lee’s community of Metro Detroit used the Compassion Games Earth Week coopetition to uplift one another and find pride in their city and the places they love.

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Can the love of money and oil be greater than the love people have for their home, land, and waters? In Seattle, WA community members, activists, and the Indigenous Peoples League are standing up to Shell Oil who intends to dock their drilling rigs in Seattle ports before expanding their exploration of the arctic for oil. Learn and be inspired here by what this community is doing in creative and loud ways to say “sHell No!” with a flotilla of kayaks and the power of the people!


The Earth gives us everything… water, food, shelter, and ultimately life! This Compassion Games coopetition – focused on awakening a love for our planet in a way that is positive, playful, and collaborative – was a remarkable way to ignite compassionate action to give back to our only home.

Start preparing for the Annual, Global September Compassion Games! Beginning on 9/11’s National Day of Service and ending on 9/21, the International Day of Peace, this Compassion Games coopetition takes place during the 11 Days of Global Unity. Learn more about it here!


Thank you for all that YOU do to make the world a safer, kinder, and more vibrant place to live for the Earth and all living beings! Love wins!