This area is for information about the
formation, development and maintenance of Empathy Teams, Free Listening
and Empathic Listening initiative, which are individuals and
groups with the goal of going to different locations and offering
presence, listening and empathy to those who need or want it. What
are good approaches for setting up and maintaining these teams? Various
individuals and groups are doing this in different forms. Let me
know of any other efforts like this.
Bar Lowenberg, has been taking compassion to the streets
of Santa Cruz with a “Free Empathy” table. For
over a year, most Saturday afternoons from 2 to 4 p.m.,
Lowenberg has set up a table in front of The Gap on Pacific
Avenue to offer empathy to anyone who needs some.
“It’s a lot of fun,” says Lowenberg. “Some people walk
by and say things like, “The world could use more of that!”
(In the 2 photos on the right, Bar offers Edwin some listening
and deepening empathy).
At a recent heated
demonstration in Oakland, I was part of one such team and came
across several other groups there with similar intentions.
Here to Listen
This gentleman had a T-shirt that said 'Here to Listen'. He told me,
'the empathy I can engage in is just to be present, to see they're real
I'm just here for them.
(Click to see the video)
Seminary of the Streets
This group from the Seminary of the Streets
also had T-shirts that said, 'Here to Listen'. They told me,
'I'm here to listen.. it's clear there are no good and bad guys
here...there's a system that's broken....I'm praying for everyone'
believe that everyone deserves to be heard. Being heard without
judgment or advice creates a space for self-evaluation, acceptance
and sometimes, self-intervention. We listen with no expectation of
an outcome or personal gain. We listen so that others may feel
I've been part of an Empathy Team located in
the Berkeley, California area. Here's more information about this team.
This team is initiated and supported by
Bay Area Nonviolent
We’re here as a team
offering to give people
an experience of empathic presence, and offer resources and support for
anyone who wants to learn more about the quality of empathy in their own
lives. We’re also here to promote the practices of empathy, mutual
understanding, and nonviolent communication - as a transformative force in
creating the world we want for ourselves and for future generations.
Steve, Edwin, Lea, Judith, Carol, Honey Bear at the New Living
Expo - Empathy Listening Booth
Here are some different definitions of an empathy team:
Lea, Honey Bear and Judith all like: An empathy team is a
group of people that deliberately spends time together providing
empathic presence to one another, and to others not on the team.
Carol prefers: The Bay NVC empathy team is a group of
people who have a conscious agreement to provide an empathic presence to
one another, and to others not on the team, working out of the
principles of nonviolent communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg
A rally was held in
Walnut Creek, California to support the BART Police Officer, Johannes
Mehserle who was convicted of shooting Oscar Grant. A counter rally was
also held and a heated confrontation between the two sides ensued. I
went to talk with participants on all sides about their views and
experience of the value of empathy. See the video.
City, community groups express pride following protests
Katz said she talked supportively with anti-riot police
deployed to the protest, some of whom, besides being taunted, spit on
and pelted with rocks and bottles, were soon to be laid off because of
the city’s budget shortfall. “They need empathy too,” said Katz.
and Comunication — at Street Level
Edwin Rutsch is videotaping all kinds of people in political hotspots
and asking them for their views about and experience of empathy. Today
he is at a pro-Johannes Mehserle demonstration in Walnut Creek, an
outlying Bay Area suburb.
2010-07-05 - Special Empathy Team training for the
Oakland Oscar Grant/Mehserle Trial
Miki Kastan facilitated a special class for
people whose heart is drawn to Oakland as the verdict of the Oscar
Grant/Mehserle trial nears. A group of us are preparing to offer an
empathic presence in downtown Oakland after the verdict is announced.
6th, the Empathy Team deployed at the annual "Israel in the
Gardens" festival in SF. Every year, Israel in the Gardens takes
place to commemorate Israel's independence day. Every year, it draws
thousands of visitors and is a magnet for protests.