Huntsville Aims for Recognition as First ‘Compassionate City’ in Alabama

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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.





  • Tommythunderball

    Is this a joke or what? Huntsville is a military dominated town that designs, builds and delivers weapons of war. If we truly desire to be a “Compassionate City”, lets start by offering assylum and refuge to immigrants from Syria, Sudan, Ukraine and other war torn nations. Heck, safe haven should immediately be offered to the foreign interpreters and civil servants receiving death threats for their service to our country during the Iraq and Afghan wars.

  • concernedmom

    It would be such a joke to see Huntville get this recognition. I’m not born and breed from here, but I’ve been here long enough to raise 5 kids in this city and I rarely see any “compassion” especially from these “weak” school systems! Huntsville puts up a good front because they have enough land for big businesses to move in and offer opportunities and the city is trying to ride off of that recognition. As for the city…they run from any situation especially where our youth are involved and that saddens me to my soul. If I had the resources and money, I certainly would be doing more to bring that to light and try to enforce more laws and changes to help develop our youth into more productive, law abiding citizens! “Compassionate City”! Ha, I’ll laugh on that for weeks.

  • Elizabeth

    The forced closing of the local “tent city” full of homeless people may knock the city down a few notches on the compassion scale… Just a thought.

  • Harry Martin

    Sorry, but I’ll have to agree with those who disagree! One must meet the approval of city father’s or meet with problems.The same is true at the VBC. Huntsville is a big city but it thinks small town,in several area’s

  • Karen

    How exactly does one quantify compassion? Sure, you can tally up dollars donated or hours volunteered. If you work hard enough, you can get just about any label you want. I don’t see the point of seeking an official compassion award. What would be the benefit of having this status? I don’t mean to be cynical, but labels mean nothing when there are people in this town that would run me down in a parking lot while I’m holding my baby because I’m in their way. Or who park in the handicap van spot so my MIL has nowhere to put her ramp down.

  • go for the prize

    Tent city could have been placed in jail after the warning UNDERSTANDING is part of compassion. The long haul pf getting a home or room and keeping it. Compassion includes realizing when it could be worse too

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