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Nonviolent Carbondale

Diana Brawley Sussman addresses the Carbondale City Council Tuesday as Nonviolent Carbondale’s compassionate city resolution was passed. She was flanked by other Nonviolent Carbondale organizers.

CARBONDALE — During its meeting Tuesday, the Carbondale City Council made a formal pledge to engage in compassionate decision making by adopting a resolution from the community organizing group Nonviolent Carbondale.

Mayor Mike Henry introduced the Carbondale Compassionate and Nonviolent Community Resolution on Tuesday and read it before the Council.

“Be it resolved that the Mayor and the Carbondale City Council affirm the Charter for Compassion, declare Carbondale a participant in a long-term campaign to become, strive toward, and sustain a Compassionate and Nonviolent Community,” the end of the declaration says.

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According to its website, Nonviolent Carbondale strives to foster “community-driven explorations of peace, compassion and social justice issues with an eye toward joining communities across the world seeking to become Compassionate Communities.”

The resolution also explained this.

“Whereas, Nonviolent Carbondale is promoting the Charter for Compassion and a long-term Compassionate Carbondale Campaign as important next steps for having Carbondale become known as a Compassionate Community in name and in actuality,” part of the two-page resolution reads.

The document entered briefly Nonviolent Carbondale’s history in the community and the group’s effort to organize, namely through their “11 Days” events since 2011.

“The 2018 11 Days initiative brought together 34 organizations to host 41 programs and exhibits in 24 locations, showing overwhelming community investment in compassionate dialog and action,” according to the declaration.

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Nonviolent Carbondale’s efforts have had impact beyond Southern Illinois. Inspired by Carbondale’s participation in the “11 Days” programs, a popular advocacy event format, Nobel Peace Prize nominee John Dear created 50 Nonviolent Cities projects nationwide. This fact was also put forth in the declaration for the record Tuesday.

After reading the declaration Diana Brawley Sussman, director of the Carbondale Public Library and a key organizer for Nonviolent Carbondale, came before the Council to address its members.

She wasn’t alone, though. With her were about 10 other people who she said were integral to the days for peace and compassion being successful.

“We hope that you will consider this resolution (every night),” Brawley Sussman said in her remarks to the Council.

She said that it was the group’s hope that the city will make great efforts to consider human impact in all that it does.

After Brawley Sussman’s presentation, fellow organizer Sumera Makhdoom presented to the city a painting on behalf of herself and her husband Zahoor A. Makhdoom.

Brawley Sussman said later that while the resolution didn’t have any legal binding power, it still had its value.

“It puts it in public record and that’s important,” she said.

Still, Brawley Sussman said she hopes the resolution has some bearing on city officials decision-making.

“They make an awful lot of decisions, there are a lot of values that comes into that decision-making,” she said. “I want to make sure that compassion is one of those values that is taken into account.”

She used the words of Karen Armstrong, founder of the global movement, The Charter for Compassion, to explain what the aspiration of any compassionate community is.

“A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city! A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry. Uncomfortable if every child isn’t loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive. Uncomfortable when as a community we don’t treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated.”

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On Twitter: @ismithreports



Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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