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The empathy tour begins!

Well, I’ve arrived in Boston!

The heat greeted me as soon as I stepped off the plane, punctuating my arrival on this coast.  I had a lovely conversation with the woman next to me on the plane, a longtime Bostonian originally from Puerto Rico.  She shared some of her life story, and those of her three children – one of whom lives in the Portland area – all of whom have chosen different life paths.

And, I’ve had a wonderfully warm welcome here so far!  My hosts are gracious and fascinating people, with extensive bookshelves full of all kinds of interesting-looking books about topics ranging from animal activism to NVC to polyamory to psychology/personal development to anarchism and all kinds of conscious ways of living.  I doubt I’ll have time to read any of them while I’m here, but it inspires me to simply be surrounded by such books and to know they exist.

One of my hosts, Hillary, treated me to dinner in Cambridge last night (where my father attended MIT in the 1960s) at the Veggie Galaxy restaurant; I hope and plan to return to Cambridge later in the trip.  Perhaps offer some empathy in Harvard Square?

Today I’ll be meeting up with a new friend for lunch, and then staying with a former coworker and her husband in Salem tonight.  I’m looking forward to seeing them.

And – most relevant to this blog, of course – I will be doing my first empathy stint of the tour today!  I’m excited, and a little nervous.  I will be using the same cardboard sign I made, and used, in Portland; after much effort and gnashing of teeth about how I could create a durable, packable, and waterproof sign – using Tyvek, wooden dowels, and tent-seam sealer – I finally realized I could simply fold my existing sign.  Not waterproof… but otherwise packable and fully functional. Duh. 🙂

So… I’m curious to see where I will choose to offer empathy first. Perhaps Boston Common?  And, of course, I’m curious to see how it will be received, and what I will hear.  I imagine it will be similar to Portland: people will be curious, some will want to talk about what I’m doing, and some will want to talk about whatever is on their minds or weighing on their hearts at the moment.  I expect I will receive it all joyfully and curiously.

Let the adventure begin!

An empathy tour!

It’s official! My East Coast Empathy Tour kicks off Saturday, June 1. I’m very excited, and curious as to what it will look like, on the street. The itinerary is as follows: Boston, June 1-4; New York, June 5-7, DC, June 8-12, and Raleigh, June 12-15. If you live in one of these areas – or know someone who does – and you have contacts or suggestions of where I should sit with my sign, I would love to hear from you.

I launched the Indiegogo fundraising campaign two days ago, and I’m so heartened to see people willing to contribute to my dream financially. I’m looking to raise $2500, to cover lost pay and travel expenses, so if you’re able to make even a small donation, I would be very grateful! Perks for contributing include Happy to Listen private empathy sessions and Dream Into Change inspiration/coaching sessions. (You can use them for yourself or a friend, or “pay it forward” so that I can offer a free session to someone who otherwise would not be able to afford it.)

In addition to funding, I am seeking to spread the word about this campaign, so if you can share the Indiegogo link or a link to this blog on your Facebook page or Twitter feed or email list, I would love that! I really want for this tour to help raise awareness of empathy as an important component for personal health and happiness, and cultural health and happiness.

I have been in touch with Edwin Rutsch of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, and he and I have been brainstorming about an “empathy bus” that could drive around the United States sometime next year, offering empathy and trainings to folks all around the country who are hungering for this, and even possibly heading to the White House to discuss what President Obama has publicly called a “deficit of empathy” in our culture.

So… there are all kinds of exciting possibilities percolating. I am thrilled to be making my own contribution to the movement by taking this East Coast tour. Thanks to all for your support!