The Elk Grove City Council on Jan. 8 adopted a resolution establishing a charter for compassion for Elk Grove, and a Compassion Awards program.
Heading the proposal was Compassion Elk Grove, a local nonprofit that grew from the Charter for Compassion movement. They are driven by the belief that communities thrive when conscious efforts are made to seek the well being of all of its residents.
The adopted resolution addressed the city’s long history of compassion and civic engagement in Elk Grove, and the diversity and inclusiveness that makes the city stronger and more welcoming.
Also recognized in the resolution are compassion principles, including fostering community building with an expanded sense of belonging to and with each other, reaching beyond comfort zones to expand compassion, and seeking for all to thrive through active caring and concern for others, especially in times of distress.
The approved Compassion Awards program is designed to recognize the city’s commitment to having a compassionate city and bringing its residents together.
The awards will be presented on an ad-hoc basis, and award recipients will be honored at the beginning of council meetings. These awards will be open to any individual, group, business or organization that meet criteria such as working to alleviate the suffering of others, encouraging a positive respect of cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, and promoting and practicing environmental sustainability.
All nominations for the awards will be reviewed by the Compassion Elk Grove group, which will make their recommendations to the city. Each awardee will receive a framed certificate of recognition.
Other related activities include strengthening and creating collaboration with the Elk Grove Unified School District, health providers, and others regarding principles on compassion.
The council was first presented details regarding this charter proposal during their Sept. 25, 2019 meeting, in which members of Compassion Elk Grove requested that the matter be placed on the agenda of a future council meeting.
In response, the council asked the city’s staff to place the item on the agenda for a formal presentation.
The council heard that presentation on Oct. 23, 2019, and requested that a resolution for a Compassion charter be presented to them.
Prior to the council’s adoption of the resolution, Compassion Elk Grove co-founder Bill Myers, stressed the need for compassion in this city.
“There’s a huge amount of science behind the idea of compassion,” he said. “It actually fascinated psychologists and sociologists. In a nutshell, compassion is good for the people who receive it. It’s even better for those who offer it.”
Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Detrick mentioned that more expressions of compassion would be good for Elk Grove.
“Compassion is not always seen as often as it should be,” he said. “So, I think it’s a very, very good reminder. I would like to believe that many of the things that we’ve done as a city council in the past have been with compassion.”
While Council Member Pat Hume liked the concept of the Elk Grove police issuing “Compassion Tickets” to citizens, he offered a suggestion.
“I would change it from Compassion Tickets – because ‘tickets’ are a negative thing – to a Compassion Citation, because you can receive a citation in school that is a positive thing and you can receive a (ticket) from the police that is a negative thing,” he said.
Elk Grove Planning Commission Chair Mackenzie Wieser expressed appreciation for the city’s support of the resolution.
“I commend the city for seeing the importance of looking at each decision through the lens of compassion first,” she said. “This means that you will look at the long-term costs and benefits of all future generations, even those who have yet to be born in our great city.”
Paul Merrill, who co-founded Compassion Elk Grove with Myers, responded to the council’s decision on the charter resolution.
“To me, the big takeaway is the City Council having identified and resolved to be compassionate makes it a fair and memorable and remind-able (point that) whenever business is conducted, whenever budgets are made, whenever disputes are negotiated, whenever decisions and priorities are made that compassion is on the table,” he said.
Bonnie McGraw, who is also a member of the group, additionally reacted to the council’s support.
“It gives us some extra publicity, basically within the city, and some added legitimacy, I think, and a recognition of the need for a variety of programs – whether it’s food or housing or classes on family finance or a gazillion different facets that contribute to impoverishment,” she said.
Further information about Compassion Elk Grove can be obtained through the website, www.CompassionElkGrove.org, or by stopping by the group’s informal coffee klatch at Peet’s Coffee & Tea, 8234 Laguna Blvd., every Saturday at 7:30 a.m.