Stories for Teams

These are news posts that pertain to the different teams and the players on those teams.

The Power of Love and Compassion to Stop the Violence and Start the Healing

Baltimore’s riots this 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.  We seem to have forgotten concepts like fairness and justice as a nation. Without this moral compass to guide us, what’s left?

As video after video surfaces of young black males being brutally treated by police, it makes us wonder if racial discrimination and police brutality can now be tolerated in our society. Empathizing with the police and continuing to ignore the root causes of these problems is all too easy. Mainstream media seems to cater to our worst fears and instincts by amplifying the inexcusable behavior of a few.

From the New York Times:

The Rev. Jamal Bryant, delivering the eulogy of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, spoke of the plight of poor, young black men like Mr. Gray, living “confined to a box” made up of poor education, lack of job opportunities and racial stereotypes — “the box of thinking all black men are thugs and athletes and rappers.”

“He had to have been asking himself: ‘What am I going to do with my life?’” Mr. Bryant said. “He had to feel at age 25 like the walls were closing in on him.”

As his voice rose to a shout, and the cheering congregation rose to its feet, Mr. Bryant said that black people must take control of their lives and force the police and government to change.

“This is not the time for us as a people to be sitting on a corner drinking malt liquor. This is not the time for us to be playing lottery,” he said.

“Get your black self up and change this city,” he said. “I don’t know how you can be black in America and be silent. With everything we’ve been through, ain’t no way in the world you can sit here and be silent in the face of injustice.”

What a powerful call to justice. However, it isn’t just a call to African-Americans. If we see ourselves as one multi-cultural society we need a collective action that will lead to effective change. What is society’s role in providing a way out of the poverty, hopelessness and despair that these young men seem to be stuck in?

The pathway out used to be as simple as getting a good education and hard work that might ultimately earn you a fair shot at the American dream. But with the rise in the cost of education and the lack of decent paying jobs, this no longer seems like a winning strategy.  We need to do better as a society, even if it’s CG16-0015-fish (1)more difficult. We need to relearn how to respect our differences and work together: to address these challenges with effective policies, solutions, and on the ground actions that change lives.

The Power of Compassion and Our Interrelatedness

According to Navajo Medicine Woman Patricia Anne Davis,  “the word ‘compassion’ can best be translated into English using the word ‘proxy’, meaning that another person can experience another person’s experience because we are all related by our inherent divinity given to each person equally. It is an all-inclusive experience where there is unity in the natural order and everyone is interconnected.”

We are interconnected to the youth and to the police. Can we find compassion for the police officers who are upholding the law and for the black youth who have the cards unfairly stacked against them?

The challenges we face are personal and spiritual as well as economic, cultural and political. Compassionate action can build this bridge. The role of compassion is not only vital in our lives, it is a key to understanding the circumstances of every perspective and finding a way forward that is just and can heal the rifts in our communities.

In Detroit, Michigan a team called #MetroDetroit participated in the Compassion Games “Love This Place! Serve the Earth Week” Coopetition from April 18 through April 26.

We recently wrote a news post about the organizer of the team Reverend Jim Lee of Renaissance Unity Church titled “Love The Hell Out of Metro Detroit: From the Blame – Shame Game to the Compassion Games.

metrodetroit2Lee is “rewiring the cellular memory to a place of forgiveness so his city can thrive – so the beloved community can emerge.” Rev. Lee wants to be very clear, “Forgiveness is not about forgetting the past. It doesn’t change what happened. What changes is the interpretation and perception with a new quality, a new tone can emerge to heal us today, so we can move on to the beloved community.”

Lee believes that his community can revitalize and empower itself by bringing the power of love and compassion to bear on their everyday life. Lee says he wants to “Love our way through the pain. Let’s make the pain the lesson, not the reason.”

The #MetroDetroit team committed to participate in the Love This Place! Story Mapping challenge and set out to identify many of the places in Detroit that they cherish and love. The goal was to heighten appreciation of their physical environment, their sense of social cohesion, and their experience of safety and peace within their neighborhoods.

We are happy to report that team #MetroDetroit posted more photo stories than any other city in the world!  Congratulations #MetroDetroit!  You can see all the story photos here.metrodetroit3

We can learn so much from this remarkable team and their accomplishments. We can come together to make just and lasting change by building cultures of compassion and kindness. There are over 300 cities around the world that have embarked on compassionate city campaigns. As people of this remarkable time – filled with great challenges and surprising opportunities – what do we choose?

The Compassion Games supports communities committed to creating cultures that are safer, kinder, and better places to live. You can find out more here www.compassiongames.org Game on!

 

Compassion in Prison Year Two: Let Them Eat Cake!

The following article was written by Compassion Games Head Coach Sande Hart — Energies and attitudes are high at the California Institute of Women’s (CIW) 2nd Annual Compassion Games.  Last year, Rev. Shayna Lester, a volunteer chaplain, first heard about the Compassion Games at a SARAH meeting (a women’s interfaith group that I co-founded) and knew this belonged at the women’s prison where she leads a Jewish learning group.  After getting the approval from the warden, she quickly convened a meeting and the women loved it.

Players in the game call themselves Compassionistas. They came up with a point system and agreed to organize their housing units into teams.  After racking up 4600 points in last year’s Games, a shift in culture was well on it’s way. Not all inmates played, but those who did, had profound experiences.

In support of this year’s Games, I had the chance to visit the prison on Day 8. Almost 100% of the inmates are playing in this years Compassion Games, all but 3 women who simply refused to count their acts of compassion.

Once again, Acts of Compassion are being recorded on 2” square pieces of colored paper, each color representing their respective unit. With a goal of 10,000 points, the tiny slips of paper are deposited into envelopes in each unit, of which I learned are stuffed full, some have 3 envelopes completely packed.

Compassionistas have been handing out blank slips, even sliding them under doors to inspire more compassionate action. While everyone wins, and everyone gets frosted cake (a delicacy), the color of the frosting represents the winning unit.

During my visit I asked about the atmosphere at CIW during this years Games; here’s some of what I heard:

  • “We hear a lot of talking about Compassion. Everyone’s talking about it.”
  • “It’s good to see someone who’s not normally kind, being more kind. “
  • “We are not seeing a lot of bullying.”
  • “We are seeing more women not putting up with gossip.”

One artistic inmate, armed with colored pens and poster paper, made 18 colorful posters that are hanging in each unit to inspire compassionate action during the Games. One poster, decorated with a heavily frosted slice of cake reads, “Let Them Eat Cake”.

When asked if, like last year there had been no recorded incidents of violence during the 11 days of the Games, the answer was no. There has been some violence but over the past month things had gotten rather rough at the prison and tensions were high when the Games began. However, the women credit the Compassion Games for helping to create a more tempered environment and chances are things could have been much worse had they not been focusing on compassion.

To illustrate this, they shared that there had been a number of lock downs early in the week during 108 degree weather with no air conditioning. Still, the women were reminding each other to practice self-compassion. “Drink lots of water, keep hydrated” one had said. “Think compassionate thoughts” said another. They acknowledge that the Games helped them through what could otherwise have been considered Hell. “There’s a sense of self-responsibility, and this is our life.” said one inmate. “We have the power to change the culture and we have to make our own way.”

Compassion Relays: Prison Style

compassion-relaysAfter first hearing about the Compassion Relays at a meeting about a month ago, one of the Compassionistas shot up in her chair as if struck by divine inspiration and said, “I am visualizing a relay around a running track, everyone running together, passing the torch from one to the next.” She made that vision a reality.

It was not possible for her to organize all inmates to participate according to prison rules, so, undaunted she came up with the solution of 4 Compassionistas from each housing unit participating. They ran, walked, skipped, hopped and/or danced their way around the yard passing the torch to their teammate until the 4th had made her way around the full circle.

Everyone was laughing, hugging, and cheering each other on. Everyone knew that everyone won and that was OK. Some of the younger women helped the elderly, even walking for them despite the fact they were from a different unit.

“I ran as fast as I could.” When other inmates asked her why she was trying to win when everyone wins, she told them, “That’s my compassion! It runs deep. I was just overcome with joy and I was having a ball. I was happy and I was free.” She continued after a long thoughtful pause and tears running down her cheek.  “I feel so accomplished. Imagine, in prison I can bring such joy to people and improve their lives.”

And the Torches? They are made out of toilet paper rolls and colored paper with ribbon.

Compassion and Affection

With the recent rise in tensions, the prison has been elevated to a higher level of security, explaining elevated level of restrictions. The women know there is a dark cloud looming over them, yet the Compassion Games brings them a sense of humanity, a sense of worthiness. “I want my mother to know my time here was not wasted.”

Not all the women at CIW are “hardened criminals” resembling the typical stereotype we all think of. Those we have met are intelligent, articulate and loving women, whom for whatever reason ended up on the wrong side of the law and the gates.

They want those of us on the “outside” to understand they are working very hard to show that no matter what your circumstances are and no matter where you find yourself, you have a choice on how to live and give meaning to your life.  “The Compassion Games gave us the tools to navigate the difference between our reality of the growing restrictions and being the best we can be,” said a lead Compassionista.

They also help women in the Substance Abuse Program who cannot feel their own emotions understand compassion.  When she first arrived at CIW 30 years ago, the inmates could touch, hold hands, give a hug to one another. Things are different today. There is to be no physical contact.

“We’ve been stripped of the basic need of affection. The Games give us that affection.” The quiet that overcame the room, coupled with the tears running down cheeks, affirmed that the Compassion Games have indeed brought something very powerful and important to CIW. But the fact is, it was there all along.

On October 2nd, the women will meet to explore what’s next and how to continue the spirit of the Compassion Games all year long.

A Compassionate Response to Ebola

Ebola is certainly in the news and everyone is having to respond to this terrifying threat. The 2014 Compassion Games team known as “Fearless” are living up to their name. After hearing about a fundraising effort on The Shift Network’s Summer of Peace program, they decided to raise funds to support education and outreach in response to the recent Ebola breakout in West Africa.

The “Alliance for the Earth” initiative is a part of the Liberia Peacebuilding Project, an organization helping the people cope with the Ebola crisis.  The funds were donated to the Foundation for West Africa which supports Sierra Leone’s Independent Radio Network and Radio Moa 105.5 FM, a community-owned radio station in Kailhaun, Eastern Sierra Leone. Both radio stations are helping to keep the people informed and to educate them on how to prevent the spread of ebola.

The Compassion Games also inspired compassionate contemplation, so Fearless team members also put Andrew Kromah, Foday Sajuma from Sierra Leone, Harper M. Karmon and Christian Wolo Bethelson from Liberia; all who are working tirelessly to help their countries deal with the ebola situation on church and personal prayer lists.ebolareport

Here’s a great example of how the inspiration of the games can be brought to bear on pressing social challenges that we are facing.  Above is the report submitted to the Compassion Report Map.

 

The Leaderboard: Measuring Our Compassion in Action

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” ~Unknown

The Compassion Games maintains a Leaderboard where everyone can see the results of what each team has reported during the games. We count the number of reports, number of volunteers, hours of service, dollars raised for local causes, and the number of people served. The reports are submitted to the Compassion Report Map and then tallied and put on the leaderboard.

Does this mean there’s one winner of the Compassion Games? No! Everybody wins. The Compassion Games is an infinite game which means the more people play, the more people win!

Then why have a Leaderboard? Because beyond winning and losing, measuring and improving our results does matter. Taking the time to reflect upon what we have accomplished adds a very important dimension to our thinking, speaking, doing, and playing. The Games are not about winning or avoiding losing. It is the journey of our playing, not the destination, that matters.

Our results can be an annual benchmark for measuring our collective capacity to play the games and develop the skills we need to learn to treat each other, our earth, and ourselves with the utmost love and compassion.  In the end we are only competing with ourselves. Ultimately, the games are about looking at the ways we are in the world and challenging ourselves to become the ways we want to be, to be living examples. As Gandhi said,

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

We are challenging ourselves to move beyond our “comfort zones” and into our “stretch zone” to expand to make the changes that need to be made to make the world the way we want it.  The Compassion Report Map lets us read the stories about what we are actually doing.

For me personally, being compassionate is not being soft, it’s being real. It’s going sometimes to the very depths of who we are and questioning ourselves in profound ways. Each year the games has challenged me in surprisingly creative and meaningful ways. It’s very much like going on a journey in which you set out to go west. What you soon discover is that no matter how far you go there’s always more west to go!

Be Prepared to Be Surprised

There’s no doubt that organizing the compassion games is one of the most exciting and challenging things I’ve ever been a part of. The games include many important dimensions about learning to work together including teamwork, strategy, adapting to difficulties, dealing with failure, dealing with success, sacrificing individual glory for team success, hard work, discipline, and the value of practice. These are the very skills that we are seeking to amplify in the games.   So when you check out the Compassion Report Map and the Leaderboard look to see what we have done for ourselves, each other, and the world.  Look beyond who won to see how together we are all winning!

“I am in a competition with no one. I run my own race. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone, in any way, shape, or form. I just aim to improve, to be better than I was before. That’s me and I’m free.”  ~Unknown

Compassionate Silicon Valley: The Heart of Innovation and the “Spiritual Element”

Silicon Valley is known as a hotbed of innovation. A fiercely competitive environment, it is a place in which discovering and promoting the next big thing is everything. Could it be that “compassion in action” is the next big thing?

As it turns out, one of the most inspiring and effective teams in the 2014 Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest is Compassionate Silicon Valley. To participate in this global “co-opetition” they have amassed a team that includes more than 20 affiliated organizations that have challenged each other to work and play cooperatively. The list includes:

  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
  • Brahma Kumari World Spiritual Organization
  • Campbell United Methodist Church
  • Carry the Vision
  • Center for Spiritual Enlightenment
  • Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale
  • Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints
  • Council of Churches of Santa Clara County
  • First Unitarian Church of San Jose
  • Global Ministries University
  • Gnostic Sanctuary/Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum
  • Hindu American Foundation
  • Interfaith Council for Economics & Justice
  • Interfaith Space
  • Jain Center of Northern California
  • Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
  • Northern CA Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess
  • Pacifica Institute BAY CC
  • San Jose Friends Meeting
  • San Jose Stake
  • Sikh Gurdwara-San Jose
  • South Bay Islamic Association
  • Temple Emanu-El Congregation
  • Tzu Chi Foundation
  • Universal Church of the Master
  • Working Partnerships, USA

In all the years of the Compassion Games, we have never seen such an innovative, highly developed level of cultural-maturity and competitive altruism at play!  This is unprecedented… clearly they are up to something, and this something could be really good for all of us!

What we suspect is that they are developing and implementing a “spiritual core” for their highly diverse team to ensure that the functionality and applications of Compassionate Silicon Valley are built on an innovative next-generation platform. It suggests that they are taking a Human Kind / Kind Human 2.0 approach to living, working, and playing together.

Could this prototype of a “spiritual element” be an extension of the “secure element” recently patented by Apple and that is now at the heart of Apple Pay?  It’s the logical next step beyond “payments” – giving freely with no expectation of anything in return.

Putting pluralistic spiritual and non-spiritual values at the core of their team and its applications to ensure balance, harmony, peace and empathy amongst all the players. It could be a brilliant strategic move that takes Compassionate Silicon Valley right to the lead in the Compassion Games, and continues the tradition of having the valley be a leading hub for fresh, novel, and inventive development.

James and a Friend

Dr. James Doty and Unnamed Friend

We checked in on Dr. James Doty M.D. and Founder of CCARE (Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education) at Stanford University who is right in the heart of Silicon Valley and it’s environs.  We are wondering whether he thinks such a “spiritual element” is a technically feasible and viable approach to building high performance teams and applications capable of implementing cultures of compassion in communities around the world; Dr. Doty says:

“As a species, humans are finely attuned to the emotional states of others. The survival of our species, literally from birth, is one in which others of our species intervene, support and care when they sense we are in need, in pain or are suffering. It is our default mode. And it is when we demonstrate this reality that our physiology functions at its best and it is also when we are most happy. It is what allows each of us to thrive and is what gives meaning and purpose. Fundamentally, this defines compassion and its power for the giver and the receiver.”

“In Silicon Valley,” he says, “there is for many a sense of anxiety, isolation and loneliness. Compassionate Silicon Valley has created a platform that includes many spiritual and faiths traditions offering a place of safety, security and fellowship ultimately creating a sense of trust and unconditional acceptance that is so critical for authentic social connection.”

“I have no question the power of this effort.”

Speculation has begun about this new heart-based “start-up” on a quest to find a repeatable and scalable way to bring compassion culture to the masses. The new venture Compassionate Silicon Valley is being led by Girish Shah, a spiritually-gifted technical wizard.

Take a look at the instructions they have published for participating in the 2014 Compassion Games:silicon-valley-page 2A

 

 

 

 

silicon-valley-page1BWe can expect great applications of compassion in action from Compassionate Silicon Valley as they build upon the diverse and powerful Human Kind / Kind Human 2.0 platform they are developing.  We will all just have to upgrade our collective capacity to do good in order to keep up with this novel approach to playing and winning the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest!!

Skeptical that compassion in business could work? Listen to Simon Sinek speak about why a true leader creates an environment of trust that makes people feel unquestionably safe, and you might change your mind. Or better yet, your heart.

The 2014 Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest – Day Six of Eleven

Today marks Day Six of the 11 day annual “co-opetition” we call the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest. The games are a chance for all of us to engage in fun and creative ways that will touch countless numbers of  people and enrich our own lives in the process. It is also a chance to care for our Mother Earth and to realize that compassion is something that affects all living things.

Just 2 years ago, only two teams played in what was the first Compassion Games ever, and last year 19 communities formed teams to participate in the Games.  This year, we have over 150 teams in more than 12 countries and the numbers individual players and team are still growing!

We have grouped the teams into leagues with each team having one primary league.  The leagues include places (such as cities and towns), schools, faith and interfaith communities, families, businesses, arts, and multi-cultural groups, among others.

Here’s how you can join in:

1. You can commit to play as an individual or you can team up with family and friends.

2. Visit the “Ways to Play” page to get an idea for the types of games, random acts of kindness, service projects, flash mobs, and ways to organizeinfo-graphic-large collective action that brings compassion to our world.  You can post an event on the calendar, tag it with your team and share it to have others join with you.

3. After you play come back to the Compassion Report Map and submit a report about your experience – you can report anonymously if you choose to. Giving your experience some thought gives it more meaning for you and those around you. You can use the Compassion Today mobile app to report to Compassion Map.

4. Reporting, sharing and celebrating. if you so desire, can be a key part in building our capacity to learn the skills we need to be more compassionate!

If you are part of a team, add your team’s name and #hashtag it when you report so that the points show up on the Compassion Games Leaderboard.

The Leaderboard

On the homepage of the Compassion Games web site we have a leaderboard where the results for each team are posted. How do players and teams score points? Points are scored by the number of volunteers, the hours of service, the dollars raised for local causes, and the number of people served.

Thank you for participating in the Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest. It’s amazing what we are capable of doing together.  When we’re willing to learn from our play and move beyond our comfort zones, we can be the very best we can towards each other, the earth, and ourselves.  Game on!! To find out more visit Compassion Games.

Leslie’s Invitation to Join the Compassion Games

Dear Friends and Family,
Come play the Compassion Games with me! I’m an organizer ‘cos I’m a big fan of the whole idea of people and teams around the world competing in “survival of the kindest” games for good every year. By doing good as part of the Compassion Games, we can do more good together and we all win!

Starting TODAY  September 11 through September 21st, thousands of individuals and more than 150 teams are making our communities safer, kinder, more just and compassionate places to live. More than 40 cities and entire school districts are playing. A prison in Southern California played last year and had no incidents of violence for eleven days for the first time in their history; this year they’ve inspired the LA County Sheriff to bring the Games to the LA jails.  Healthcare, Businesses, Family, Interfaith/Multicultural and Faith Based, Women/Girls, Youth and Environment Leagues are all pumping up their hearts and hands, warming up their compassion muscles for the Annual Games!

handsI invite you to Join In and “get in the Game!” See Ways to Play for ideas to play yourself or organize your family or community.  You can Drive With Compassion and/or sign up to be a  Secret Agent of Compassion. Or, download the Compassion Today App to pay more attention to being compassionate with yourself and others. Or, see 2014 Teams to join a team near you. Teams have a point system per act of compassion, person served, dollar raised and/or hours served. Leagues coopetite with one another to inspire Compassionate Greatness and make us all want to stretch a little farther to win! Return to the Compassion Report Map after you “Play” and tell us all about it!
May we all win! ‘cos you know what? Love Wins!
Love, Leslie

Kamloops, British Columbia – A Bright Shining Compassion Star

kamloops-flyerThere’s good news coming out of the city of Kamloops in British Columbia. It’s the story of a Compassion All-Star Daphane Nelson who took a stand to give the gift of peace and compassion to her city.  Daphane Nelson heard about the Compassion Games through her mom. She checked it out and saw this as a way to recognize all the good work happening in her community. Take a look at all the events they have planned for the Compassion Games.

Daphane honors her community and the “amazingness” already happening in her interview on the Midday television program.

This week the Mayor of Kamloops, declared September 11th as Compassion Day and a Compassion Week Kamloops that follows. The words of the proclamation by the mayor are moving and timely.

compassionatekamloopsIt recognizes that the local governments cannot meet the needs of all their citizens and there is a growing network of individuals and groups organized around compassion to empower our communities to meet the challenges of these needs. The proclamation is to unite the residents of the city of Kamloops in the commitment to compassion and to resolve to live compassionately. How good is that!

The city of Kamloops now has September 11 as a Day of Compassion that starts their Compassionate Kamloops Week. We congratulate and welcome the city of Kamloops into the “compassion games” and look forward to your participation in this global challenge and movement!