Basalt prepares to join Compassionate Cities |

Basalt prepares to join Compassionate Cities

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

BASALT – It seems to Reverend Marie Gasau of the Basalt United Community Methodist Church that the anger simmering and erupting in the world has reached unparalleled levels, so she decided to try to do something about it.

She worked with about a dozen kids in her church’s youth group to convince the town’s elected officials to enlist Basalt in the Compassionate Cities Campaign and adopting a related Charter for Compassion. Basalt will be the smallest town in the world to join the international effort. Cities around the world, from New Delhi, India to London overseas and Portland, Ore. to Chicago in the U.S., have joined the campaign. The effort was launched in Seattle in April 2010.

Gasau said she heard about the effort last summer then absorbed all she could about it from online sources. It’s appeal is simple.

“People all over the globe are making a commitment to live their lives by The Golden Rule,” she said. In short: treat others as you want to be treated.

“I’m very concerned about what’s going on globally in terms of intolerance, violence …..,” Gasau said.

She and some of her students approached the council about adopting the Charter for Compassion in December. The council directed the students to work with town staff on the wording of an official town government proclamation. The four middle school students and eight elementary school students wanted to make sure compassion for animals and the environment were included.

The wording of the proclamation reflects their concern: “Whereas the Town of Basalt has a long and proud heritage of friendship and concern for the values of justice, equity and respect for peoples, animals, nature and the environment,” one sentence says. The proclamation will be read at Tuesday evening’s council meeting. It is scheduled for 6:25 p.m.

Joining the Compassionate Cities Campaign is more than symbolic. By signing on as a compassionate city, Basalt agrees to organize compassion action months over the next 10 years. Residents will work with civic leaders to apply compassionate solutions to problems and encourage community service in fitting ways.

“We want the community to think about ‘If we’re really going to take this seriously, how do we implement this?'” Gasau said.

An expert on the topic will be sharing some ideas. Ari Cowan, chief strategic officer at the International Institute for Compassionate Cities, will make a presentation on the concept at a public meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Basalt Town Hall.