Culture Karma A Compassionate City?

Daga Krackowizer wants Laguna Beach to be a compassionate city. She has been inspired by the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities, sponsored by the Fetzer Institute in Michigan.

“The future of the planet may well depend on developing this transformative power of love and forgiveness,” says Rob Lehrman, Fetzer’s board chair.

The compassionate cities project was seeded by a TED prize in 2008 to promote greater compassion among cities, schools and universities, and businesses. TED, for those who haven’t discovered this remarkable organization, is a non-profit devoted to spreading innovative and inspirational thought by sponsoring TED talks throughout the world. One of their simulcasts was broadcast June 27 at the Susi Q Senior Center.

“Of course we are a city of compassionate people,” Krackowizer says, but she would like us to consider formalizing our commitment. Krackowizer, who is serving a second term as president of the Laguna Interfaith Council and is an active member of Laguna’s Unitarian Universalist Church, has also been a steadfast advocate for the homeless.

Do we need to sign a petition or line up a committee to become more compassionate? Krackowizer is posing that question to a number of local organizations in her effort to explore the possibilities. Perhaps, by merely asking the question, she is a force for compassion.

She also recognizes that the city of Laguna Beach gets high marks for compassionate action. How many communities subsidize a day-labor site? How many support an overnight shelter or, for that matter, a 25-year old homeless rehabilitation program founded and funded by locals? How many cities rally around residents like musician Jason Feddy when they become too sick to work, or Britta Corradini, a young mother with breast cancer? How many have an organization like the Sawdust Benevolence Fund to help artists in need, or a Community Clinic to provide low-cost medical care?

Yes, we can ask the City Council to issue a proclamation. We can beseech members of the community to think before they act to ensure that compassion underscores all we do. Certainly we can call ourselves a compassionate community, but can we legislate compassion?

Krackowizer is a wonderful role model, reminding us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. That golden rule, the very essence of compassion, is universal to religion and philosophy, but, in the end, a matter of individual choice. A compassionate city consists of compassionate people.

Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered City Hall for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com.

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