On building an empathetic community
English novelist Philip Pullman wrote: “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
This past week we recognized that need in the form of bringing five unique storytellers to the heart of the Big Apple. Chowk Labs our New York-based idea incubator collaborated with the Centre for Social Innovation NYC to create a space of compassion storytelling and unveiled 2018’s first ‘Life Of I- The New Beginnings.’
So LIFE OF I in NYC is a continuation of the same series which I conducted in Canada, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Iraq. The focus has been around lives stories which we stumble across as a part and parcel of our daily lives. The content and themes change from city to city e.g the ones in Toronto have ranged from diversity to sports. Those in Iran range could be about film and social justice. etc. So on and so forth.
So we make sense of our experiences, claim identities, interact with each other, and participate in cultural conversations through storytelling. These stories encourage us to view each other as compassionate human beings with a relatable story. As the Dalai Lama once said: “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.”
LIFE OF I is about flirting with the fine line between the comfortable and the uncomfortable through love, compassion and humor.
It was a very personal experience for me to see it all come together. As I went through my daily struggles for the past few weeks, I kept thinking … I have this one evening to look forward to!
And the stories, the capacity crowd, and the ambiance welcomed me as if I was finally home.
We heard tales reminding us that we all are one — in search of peace, love, gratitude, acceptance, and validation. We wept, laughed and held each other as the stories one by one encouraged us to conquer our fears; showed us that miracles were possible, and that the human heart has the capacity to withstand anything. These tales of déjà vu, miracles, good v.s. evil and the BIG WHY challenged all of us that evening, and I am still marveling at the feedback! Such joy to read how everyone who opened their hearts and those who embraced and listened — left with a sense of vulnerable intimacy. I couldn’t have asked for more, as a storyteller this was a dream come true.
Thanks everyone for bringing your heart and soul … and the best of yourselves. You were the stars of the evening, and we couldn’t have done this with you.
I am very excited excited about the next LIFE OF I evening coming in March!
Interested in finding out more or getting involved?
Read more at www.lifeofi.ca