About Compassionate Seattle

Compassionate Seattle is part of a worldwide network inspired by the Charter for Compassion. Aware that our world is deeply troubled and polarized and committed to make the world a better place, we work to establish and sustain cultures of compassion locally and globally through diverse initiatives—education, cities, business, religious and spiritual communities, and the arts. We supply resources, information and communication platforms to help create and support compassionate communities, institutions, and networks of all types that are dedicated to becoming compassionate presences in the world. Through a vibrant Charter for Compassion Partner Network we welcome and communicate the sharing of information, stories and experiences that touch the work of compassion.

Our Story

For one week in April 2008, Seattle hosted an unprecedented event—The Seeds of Compassion. “Seeds” was an historic series of public gatherings, discussions, and workshops that galvanized individuals, networks, and organizations around the world.

Over 154,000 people participated in the 5-day event.  More than 7 million viewed the event online.

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Seeds of Compassion event in Seattle.

Anchored by the deep wisdom of the Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and other luminaries, this community-focused event celebrated and explored the relationships, programs, and tools that nurture and empower children, families, and communities to be compassionate members of society. Each of the five days provided those present an opportunity to better understand the real benefits of compassion and concrete steps on how to bring compassion into their lives. 

In addition, community and spiritual leaders, educators and writers, researchers and thinkers all gathered to share their wisdom, ideas, and questions with tens of thousands of others. Parents, children, youth, teachers, activists, politicians, and philanthropists were prompted to consider how we can help Seeds of Compassion resonate for many years after April 2008. One of the outcomes of that process was Compassionate Action Network International.

With the Seeds of Compassion providing a strong foundation and with a strong passion and commitment to give form to the desire for compassionate action, CAN International began building a worldwide organization to help foster a culture of compassion. In mid-2009, CAN International received its nonprofit status. 

The Charter for Compassion

On February 28, 2008 acclaimed scholar and bestselling author Karen Armstrong received the TED Prize and made a wish—to help create, launch, and propagate a Charter for Compassion. After much work and the contribution of thousands of people. the Charter was unveiled to the world on November 12, 2009.

Inspired by the Charter, Jon Ramer and Compassionate Seattle worked to have the City of Seattle affirm the Charter and declare its support for a 10-year campaign for creating a compassionate city. In April 2010, the Seattle Mayor and City Council unveiled the Compassionate Seattle proclamation. Karen Armstrong was the keynote speaker for that event.

From 2012-2013 CAN served as the umbrella and incubator for the Charter for Compassion until that organization was launched as an independent body in January of 2014.