Over the past few months, we in the Tri-Cities Area (Ferrysburg, Fruitport, Grand Haven, and Spring Lake) have had some great conversations about empathy and kindness–and, yes, bullying, too. Not too long ago, the Grand Haven Tribune highlighted our community’s work by pointing out the importance of the conversations happening through Rachel’s Challenge at Spring Lake Middle School and book studies in Grand Haven Schools and throughout the community. The thing that seems to come out of these conversations is that we can do our best work if it stays on the brain, if it the topic stays on our lips. So how do we do that?
Let’s write a book together–about empathy. I’m happy to be the editor, but you are all the authors.
Why a book? Well, I suppose, it has a lot to do with me being an English teacher. It’s simple; I love books. And as an English educator, empathy has always played an important role in books, whether we stand in the shoes of Boo Radley and Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird or see through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. But I’m not alone in this idea that stories matter. This fall, through Emily Bazelon’s book Sticks and Stones, over 200 community members of all ages and backgrounds had some great discussion surrounding the topic. But it was Bazelon’s stories (and her incredible research) that made up this powerful book. Through the three stories in her book, we were able to understand multiple perspectives. That’s what stories allow us. They allow us to see from other people’s perspectives. They provide us with opportunities for empathy.
For this book (the working title is Elevate Empathy: One Community’s Effort to Raise the Social Benefit of Kindness), I want us to focus on the positive. If we can change the social benefit to weigh more heavily for kindness by being upstanders instead of bystanders, then we’re doing something right. The truth is that negativity will not leave us. Just look in the comments section of any online newspaper or listen closely in our school halls. Negativity is there. But that negativity “works” because it’s given social clout (i.e., people pay attention). Now, it’s time to give some social clout to the positive by telling our own stories of empathy. Whether to/from peers, parents, teachers/coaches, or total strangers, take this time to tell your story (and possibly get published), all with the purpose to ELEVATE EMPATHY in our community and others.
Follow this link when you’re ready to submit your story.
Story of Empathy Submission Form
- We’re looking for writers of all ages with a variety of stories.
- You do NOT have to be from the Tri-Cities to write.
- A book publisher is already lined up; we just need your stories.
- There are no promises that your submitted story will be used in the print version.
- All names in the story may be changed (Authors can use pen names).
- A group of editors will look for grammar errors, but please do your best to make your copy as clean as possible.
- Deadline for submissions: April 1, 2014.
- I will NOT accept profit from this printed book. Any profits from the printed book will go to a local fund to help elevate empathy in our community.
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, this: Don’t see yourself as an author? That’s the expectation. This isn’t about being an author. This is about having a story. Just focus on that. TELL THE STORY.