By Amy Orr | LB Indy
“Our country has real issues right now, problems we can’t solve unless we learn how to talk to each other.”
Laguna Beach Councilman Steve Dicterow recently shared his concerns and spoke about a plan to make life a little better in Laguna, and on Sept. 11, the city of Laguna Beach is slated to take what Dicterow calls a “step in the right direction.”
During the Sept. 11 council meeting, the City Council will consider a resolution declaring support for World Kindness USA and its efforts to create a kinder world for children. Michael Lloyd-White, former secretary general of the World Kindness Movement and current chief advisor to World Kindness USA, will be in attendance as Laguna Beach begins the process to become a World Kindness City.
The “World Kindness City” designation is part of the broader World Kindness Movement (WKM), which started in Singapore in 2000. The 28 countries of WKM use a variety of initiatives in their quest to “connect nations to create a kinder world.”
To earn World Kindness recognition, a city must meet 10 criteria called Kindness Performance Indicators (KPI). The first is a resolution, at a full council meeting, declaring support for endeavors that create a kinder world. Other KPIs include placing World Kindness Week (or day) on the city calendar and using World Kindness Cards to record acts of positivity.
During the 2016 elections, Dicterow said he was discouraged by the hostility on both sides of the political aisle. Since then, he said he has watched many personal disagreements lose civility and degenerate into “whoever yells the loudest wins.”
Dicterow said he felt more hopeful after meeting Shadi Pourkashef, the head of an anti-bullying group called the Ability Awareness Project (AAP). When Pourkashef told him about the World Kindness Movement, Dicterow investigated the organization and became intrigued by the possibilities.
“You can’t legislate good behavior,” Dicterow commented, “but when leaders in a community advocate for things like kindness, compassion, and empathy, it makes a difference, like the ripple effect of pebbles in a pond.”
Pourkashef is a founding member of World Kindness USA and a goodwill ambassador for World Kindness in Laguna Beach. She said she wants the city and the school board to put kindness on their agendas.
“I believe we can all do better,” Pourkashef said. “We can all have differences of opinion…we don’t have to agree on anything to be kind.” She said she wants to encourage children to start kindness projects at their schools, like building friendship benches and putting kindness art on the walls.
Pourkashef said that Kindness Cards, which are currently being printed, will soon begin circulating in Laguna. Each card’s unique number will be registered and tracked on Google Maps.
“When you witness an act of kindness,” Pourkashef said, “acknowledge someone deserving and pass it on, entering their story of kindness online using the card’s unique number. [Then] explain to the deserving recipient that they will see their good deed online that night and ask them to do the same.”
Dicterow spoke enthusiastically about the Kindness program, describing it as a piece of a much bigger pie.
“People need to be nice to each other,” he said. “Civility is something we are all talking about. I intend to make it part of what I speak about everywhere I go.”