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Mindful : October 2016
to recently released inmates. The jail has also implemented a peer-counseling detox model for addicted inmates with help from a local organization, The Heal- ing Place. • Right Turn, a program that helps older teens who’ve had minor scrapes with the law set personal goals and put their lives back on track. Fischer has also authorized giving metro employees two paid hours a week to mentor at-risk youth. • An initiative by the University of Lou- isville Medical School to train future doctors to provide more compassionate care. The city will also host a compas- sion training camp this fall for medical students from around the world. A good example of the compassion in action is Spalding University. In 2011, Spalding’s presi- dent, Tori Murden McClure, decided to make her school the nation’s first university to adopt the Charter for Compassion before Stanford did so. “I wanted Spalding to beat Stanford at something,” she says. “Then to my surprise, it took hold with our students in a way I never expected.” A few years later, while attending an introductory pro- gram for first-year students, she recalls, “one of the sophomores said, ‘ We’re a compassionate uni- versity and it’s up to us to keep it that way.’ You can’t make that up, and you certainly can’t dictate that from on high.” In an attempt to quantify her students’ dedication, McClure asked statisticians to calculate how many hours of public service the school’s 2,500 students had done that year. The number was around one million, which seemed surprisingly high to McClure. So she asked them to redo it, and a few days later they returned and said, “ We were wrong. It was 1.13 million.” One of the most promising efforts to grow out of the campaign is the Compassionate Schools Project, a partnership between Jefferson County Public Schools and the University of Virginia that emerged from a conversation between Fischer and the program’s director, Owsley Brown III. The project, which began last fall in three pilot schools, is based on an integrated curriculum designed by UVA researchers that combines mindfulness, yoga, nutrition, and social and emotional learning. The plan is to expand the program over the next five years to 50 schools and 20,000 students, which, Brown says, will constitute the largest randomized study of its kind ever attempted. 5 cities that are changing the face of politics. I Left My Heart in...Fayetteville? AUSTIN, TX Population: 926,426 Median household income: $58,458 Median age: 33 Dr. Lesa Walker was on a mis- sion. Disenchanted with what was going on in the world, she left her job as a doctor and shifted to par t-time work so she could spend two years performing positive acts every day. That eventually led her to launch the effor t to make Austin a compassionate city, which came to fruition earlier this year. Walker and her team designed Compassion- ate Austin as a grassroots movement because they wanted to attract everyone to engage in the campaign. They still have a ways to go, but the Austin area has fielded 29 teams to compete in the Compassion Games’ Earth Week event, including the Discovery School’s zero- waste initiative and the city’s legendary Green Day Festival, which drew more than 10,000 par ticipants. “Compassion is the power source for innovation,” Walker says. “ Without that driving force, we’re nowhere.” ATLANTA, GA Population: 463,878 Median household income: $46,439 Median age: 33 “The best way to change a community is to change the conversation,” says Rob- er t Thompson, one of the founders of Compassionate Atlanta. And that’s been one of the campaign’s primar y goals since the city adopted the Char ter in 2014. To that end, the group focuses a lot of its attention on conven- ing neighborhood forums on racial diversity and other topics to raise awareness of the benefits of compassion- ate action. Compassionate Atlanta has formed partnerships with more than 60 organizations, including Emory University, which has done extensive research on cognitive-based compassion training in conjunction with Tibetan academic institutions; the DeKalb Coral Group, a music society that per forms in retirement homes and other locations; and the Community Assistance Center in Sandy Springs, which provides shor t-term assistance to resi- dents in financial crisis. SOURCES:CENSUS.GOV;SEATTLE.GOV;AUSTINTEXAS.GOV;FAYETTEVILLE-AR.GOV COMPASSIONATE CITIES 68 mindful October 2016 society