HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville is aiming to become the first city in Alabama - and one of just 24 worldwide - celebrated for its compassion toward people of all races, religions and economic circumstances.
The Huntsville City Council voted in September 2013 to begin working with the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities, whose goal is to make human kindness "a clear, luminous force in our polarized world."
Making the decision to become a "Compassionate City" is just the first step.
Multicultural Affairs Director Kenny Anderson is just one many city leaders and community partners spearheading the effort to quantify Huntsville's compassion.
"We want to be a city that is recognized not just for our technology and the fact we produce great students and the fact that we have a great quality of life - but that quality of life also includes the fact that we as citizens care about one another," Anderson explains.
The plan to illustrate Huntsville's softer side will come through highlighting the good works of dozens of area nonprofit groups - focusing on our greatest resource - our people.
"We can have the best technology, the best schools, the best opportunities but if people operate in a community without care and concern for one another it really neutralizes that. The Compassion Huntsville Movement is basically an opportunity for people to share with on another their own personal resources - and the most important resource is their heart," Anderson smiles.
He says compassion is about the everyday - not just a kind word in times a crisis. Anderson says it can be as simple as getting to know you neighbors or coworkers better.
Compassion Huntsville plans to soon work with Huntsville City Schools to allow student to song what they are calling a 'Charter for Compassion' - a contract where students pledge to treat one another with respect and kindness.
There will also be a contest to allow city school students the opportunity to design a logo for Compassion Huntsville.
"The more time we spend getting to know our allies and our fellow human beings the more we'll recognize how much alike we are, and how much our differences actually create strengths."
There are two main avenues for community engagement. Compassion Huntsville has an organizing committee of about 30 different agencies around the community. Compassion Huntsville also has a Facebook page - you can go there for more information on the movement.
The Seattle-based International Campaign for Compassionate Cities has bestowed its top honor on 23 cities to date, including Louisville, St. Augustine, Fla., Houston, Winston-Salem, N.C., and Cincinnati.
Another 133 cities across the globe are going through the application process. They include Nashville, Amsterdam, Atlanta, New York, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Cape Town, South Africa, Charleston, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Dubai, London, Los Angeles, Nairobi, Kenya, and Washington, D.C.