How do we respond with compassion?

Dear ServiceSpace Friends,

Times are tough, everything feels uncertain, and our resilience is maxing out. Still, our hearts keep asking: how do we respond with love? In July, 250+ change-makers from 25 countries joined our first Laddership Pod, with that fundamental inquiry. It was an "Alchemy of Uncertainty", as Sharon observed: "Today I had this image of compost -- all this is compost for catalyzing a kind of alchemy within us. Then, lo-and-behold, a precious soil emerges as a bed for new life."

On that note, a few recent highlights and upcoming events ...

  • INSPIRATION: Recent Awakin Calls included Master Gu's call on embodied wisdom (now the highest rated call to date); Deb Ozarko brought heart to a complicated topic of "letting go of hope for a world in collapse". Lindy & Francis Wilson shared South Africa stories on "using white privilege for the liberation of all." Acclaimed author Adam Rothschild offered "History lessons for a dark time". We're also exploring many variants, from dialogues (even in Hindi!) to interviews by teens. Two upcoming calls: Brian Conroy on Art of Storytelling (tomorrow!) and teenagers interviewing Maggie Kane on food security.

  • ENGAGEMENT: within the "Zoom fatigue" constraints of the pandemic, how do we marry our content with the context of our being? After having hosted 100+ offline retreats, our crew got busy innovating. Enter virtual "Hands, Head, Heart" immersion. Instead of acts of kindness for each other, you do it for your neighbors; evening community nights still include Nimo's music, but now family members get to join the festivities; and who says you can't bow online? After two noteworthy experiments, the applications are now open for the third: October Immersion!

  • INCUBATION: In July, we piloted a month-long Laddership Pod, with new technology that is designed for inner transformation. It is likely the deepest collective learning experience we've seen thus far. What does it mean to occupy the grey, to live into a contextual "middle way" of virtues, and to build labor-of-love projects that circulate a "force more powerful"? Holding sacred complexity of our uniqueness with the elegant simplicity of our universality created an uncommon tensile strength to our inquiries. Next Pod starts in mid-September. Learn more and apply: join upcoming Laddership Pod.

Almost as if graced by the osmosis of each other's stories, we continue to dig deep and help each other respond with greater compassion -- all around the globe.

In Japan, Miyagi-san is initiating a "be the change" movement around the Olympics, while Yuko is bringing Gandhi-inspired hand-spinning to pregnant women. In Hungary, Julia hosted an outdoors Laddership Circle. German magazine, OOOM, featured interviews with many members of our community -- from Stephen DeBerry to Anne Jarchow to Janessa Wilder -- in their "humble heroes" series. In Colombia, Oscar is integrating gift ecology as a part of his "social MBA" curriculum. While Michelle and john powell piloted a 21-day Belonging Challenge. In Indiana, Colleen started a Little Free Pantry in her front yard, while in Nebraska, Preeta initiated a "NeighborLink" program to connect youth with elders. On the island of Guernsey, Karma Kitchen inspired volunteers are piloting "ShareASlice" pay-it-forward pizza experiment. And one of our summer interns, Tanvi, realized that her grandparents couldn't read KarunaVirus good news -- so she started converting it to audio!

So many of us are holding the question that Bonnie recently raised: how can my kindness be bigger than my mask?

All through the pandemic, I have held in my heart, the unsung heroes who work in grocery stores and other essential businesses. I want them to know I care, and a mask can get in the way. I smile but no one sees it. I try crinkling my eyes, but fear I look maniacal. All constraints are creativity in disguise. The constraint of a mask is no exception. I choose to let kindness be bigger than my mask. Not in spite of the mask, but because of it, this cranky old introvert (me) works harder at appreciating the strangers who serve me daily.

In the spirit of kindness,

(on behalf of ServiceSpace)

P.S. Seven bright-eyed teenagers joined our virtual summer internship! To see their sheer joy of being alive, alongside their innate propensity towards goodness and enthusiasm for social change, it. was. heart. opening. Six Lessons from Summer Interns


ServiceSpace is an incubator of volunteer-run projects that nurtures a culture of generosity. What started as a small experiment in 1999 has rippled into myriad expressions of service in dozens of countries around the globe. For more, watch a video on our unique design principles.