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Seattle, Leading The World Once Again

Posted by Leonard on April, 29, 2010

This past Saturday,  I was fortunate to film a series of interviews with an incredible handful of people.  At the conference Compassionate Seattle, It’s Up To Us, The City of Seattle became the first city in the world to affirm The Charter for Compassion.  Keynoting the conference was Karen Armstrong, who was  awarded the 2008 TED prize of $100,000 that granted her one wish.  She used the prize, money and exposure to work toward promoting The Charter for Compassion around the world. In her words, “All the great traditions are saying the same thing in much the same way, despite their surface differences.” They each have in common, she says, an emphasis on the transcendent importance of compassion, as epitomized in the so-called Golden Rule: Do not do to others what you would not have done to you.

Thanks to a connection from my friend Sheri Herndon, I was able to work as a freelance cameraman for the day with Odyssey Networks, a video production company out of New York City that’s the largest interfaith media company in America. They are actively developing a mobile phone application that will share videos about compassion, interfaith dialogue, religion, spirituality, meditation, prayer and much more. Their goal is that people will be able to enjoy short videos of world thought leaders as they ride buses, wait on line at the supermarket, or wherever they may be.

Over the course of the day, as speakers came off stage, we filmed interviews in various parts of The Center for Spiritual Living campus.  Interviews included the self described Interfaith Amigos – a rabbi, imam and priest who travel the country together promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding, with Richard Conlin, the Seattle City Council president on hand to sign the charter, James O’Dea (the former Executive Director of Amnesty International), the boy who stood next to Barack Obama as he signed the Health Care Reform Bill (a Seattleite from the Rainier Valley!), Karen Armstrong, Courtney Martin (The Secret Society of Creative Philanthropy), and various reverends, authors, and activists.

They each talked about their understanding of the concept of compassion, their motivations and experiences with conflict and therapy and peace and love and community.  Very positive stuff.  What I particularly appreciated was the spectrum of experience, and the way in which each of them talked about the work they did, in terms of where they saw change coming from, and the greatest obstacles to worldwide policy initiation toward greater compassion.

It was a great day. Made me proud to be a Seattleite.  All of Odyssey Network’s content is open source so stay tuned, I’ll be posting as many of the interviews as possible as they become available.

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