empathy

Just Be Kind

As I slowed down to make the left turn, I saw him out of the corner of my eye.

He was near Massachusetts Avenue and the entrance to 395 South here in DC. He was standing between construction cones and Jersey barricades. It was dark, and there weren’t any streetlights nearby either. He wasn’t far from several other panhandlers.

Without thinking much about it, I assumed I knew what the sign he held would say.

But it didn’t tell a sad story (“Wife died.

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Hitchhiking on Someone Else’s Smile

I was on the subway coming home from my workplace downtown. A man changed seats mid-ride and sat unusually close to another passenger. He leaned over too far into a man’s personal space and began looking at the other’s laptop screen. My anxiety rose. We all know not to do this, don’t we? I got up and moved seats, far away.

I’m not proud of this.

In a minute or so, the man came and sat directly in front of me,

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Telling a Damn Good Story without Words

I was playing a game with two toddlers and another adult. Everybody understood the rules: walk around until you’re instructed to sit down on your choice of colorful silk scarves spread out on the ground. And then we’ll take turns telling stories based on the color we’re each sitting on.

The younger of the two little girls doesn’t yet talk much in a traditional, technically accurate way, though she has specific sounds and understands any and everything. The other three of us have quite a lot to say,

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Catherine Woodiwiss, Guest Post, A SPACIOUS Cab Ride

We’re excited about our guest post today. Here’s a bit about the writer and then her piece in its entirety:
Catherine Woodiwiss writes on faith, policy, and culture; co-runs a design platform; compulsively joins or builds community networks around shared interests and values; and plays music whenever possible. A chronic “Yes, And”-er, she tells us she is also a huge fan of SPACIOUS, and we’re grateful for that.
 

For someone who loves conversation,

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Best of 2013

Reflecting on a year past is one of my favorite exercises. I spend much of New Year’s Day each year sitting by a fire, poring over the past year’s calendar day-by-day and perusing photos of the year. I try to marinate in gratitude for what has happened and for people I’ve encountered and from whom I’ve learned or benefitted. I map a point of basking in the possibility of what could be if I could learn from mistakes, amplify successes, partner with others,

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Let’s Start Imperfectly or We’ll Never Start

Many of you will have seen an article on the front page of the print edition of the New York Times this morning. Here is the online version of the story by Lydia Polgreen, Trading Privilege for Privation, Family Hits a Nation’s Nerve.

It’s about a young white family’s choice to spend a month in a shack living in solidarity with black South Africans, next door to their own part-time housekeeper. This “experiment in radical empathy”

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$100 Tips and Toilet Paper Scraps

One of my heroes is a woman who routinely cleans up the mess that others leave in bathrooms. You know the mess I mean… the stuff we all leave around because it’s “somebody’s job to pick it up.” It’s my contention that we each have two categories in this regard — the thing that OF COURSE I CLEAN UP and the things that JUST AREN’T MY PROBLEM.

We think about the latter category, “Yuck, those are someone else’s germs.” But we forget that our germs are not exactly appealing to the person who is paid to clean up after us.

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Tranquilizing Each Other

On 9/11 I just wanted to go to church. I wanted to hear the good news that this world isn’t all there is. I had to remember with others that I believe that. But I also simply wanted to gather with those who mean the most to me outside of my family, just because being together helped. When something rocks me hard, I want somebody else to know. And ideally feel the same.

I remember whom I sat by that night.

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Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Tuesday I wrote about a “peace truck” and how one person or a duo can make a big difference in broader social change by just finding a way to connect to each other across boundaries in spite of traditionally being enemies.

I read an article in the Washington Post, by Douglas Martin, entitled “Zhuang Zedong, athlete and key figure in 1971 China-US ‘Ping-Pong diplomacy’ dies at 72.” I commend to you the article.

What struck me about it was the fact that a way for diplomacy opened up simply because of a connection between two individuals.

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Peace Truck

Cat Stevens used to sing about a peace train. Well here’s a peace truck.

We loved Emily Wax‘s Washington Post article about an Egyptian American man, Moustafa Soliman, who is spreading a message about the possibility of peace between Arabs and Jews by operating a food truck in DC. This isn’t just a food truck with a cutesy logo or wishful thinking on wheels.

It’s a food truck that serves kosher food from one window and halal offerings from another.

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