“Drawing people together to build a community that is a haven of unity”
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Sooke Multi-Belief Initiative in action 2019 to 2020
Operating quietly behind the scenes, the Sooke Multi-Belief Initiative (SMBI), a working group of members from diverse religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, under the auspices of Transition Sooke, has been making its mark by focusing on the moral/spiritual, emotional and social needs of the Sooke community. In 2019, through sessions with community groups, SMBI developed a Compassion Action Plan for the Sooke Community. The Plan outlined short and long-term actions required to address the following core social issues facing our community:
- Affordability Crisis
- Social Isolation
- Inadequate Medical Services
- The Need for Better Communication/Awareness/Collaboration.
With the approval and support of the Plan by the Mayor and Council, SMBI was able to have our District declared as a Compassionate Community by the Charter for Compassion International.* That’s the easy part. Now the question arises about how do we get into action to make more good things happen.
In the summer they organized a series of four short talks by SMBI members on the theme of building resilience in times of stress. With limitations imposed by Covid-19, the presentations took place outdoors in John Phillips Memorial Park. The sessions were a moderate success given the circumstances we are experiencing these days.
Once the announcement of a provincial election was put forward in September, the group took on the task of arranging a provincial candidates forum by webinar. Maja Tait, Mayor of the District of Sooke, agreed to moderate the forum. Each candidate was asked to present the specific actions his/her party will take on over the next four years to address each of the following issues:
- Resolving Addictions, Mental Health and Homelessness
- Business Support and Economic Growth during and post COVID-19 Pandemic
- Affordable Housing for Youth, Families and Seniors
- Challenges of Transportation with Urban Growth and Liveability
- Climate Change Action Plans to 2030 (not 2050)
- Meaningful Alliance with Indigenous Peoples
The forum went very well with Mitzi Dean (NDP) speaking for Premier John Horgan, Kelly Darwin for the Liberals, Gord Baird for the Green Party, and Tyson Riel Strandlund for the Communist party.
Over the last several months, Mark Ziegler has been working on compiling a report on the progress made on the Compassionate Action Plan over the last year and the outstanding short and long-term actions required for the District and community organizations to work together to create a prosperous, flourishing community, a haven of unity and compassion, living in harmony with our physical environment.
The 14-page Sooke Compassionate Action Plan – Year One Report was approved by the group for release earlier this week. It will be put forward to the District of Sooke Council very soon. The goal here is to attach this report to the Official Community Plan which is being updated.
We are very grateful for the contributions from all members of our initiative and especially to Mark Ziegler for his excellent work on the report.
* Our District is officially part of the Charter for Compassion International which is a worldwide humanitarian movement of citizens in over 400 cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods that are striving for a kinder, better planet.
Moki Tacon and Don Brown
July 21-Aug. 11, 2020 ~ Building Resilience In Times of Stress: A four-part speaker and discussion series — outdoors and socially distanced — on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. in John Phillips Memorial Park. Subjects: Identity & Worth with Rick Eby and Andy Schell (Jul 21); Mindfulness with Troi Leonard (Jul 28); Grace and Gratitude with Mark Ziegler (Aug. 4); and The Psychology of Spiritual Wellbeing: How to Flourish in the Face of Adversity with Don Brown (Aug. 11). Free admission.
Nov. 6 ~ “Sooke – A Compassionate Community” sign unveiled at the up Sooke information kiosk at Evergreen Mall following approval by District of Sooke council.
Photo by Kevin Laird/Sooke News Mirror
Oct. 11 ~ Conversation With the Candidates, a non-confrontational, issues-focused federal all-candidates forum moderated by Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. Presented by the SMBI and the Sooke Chamber of Commerce. Questions focused on Social Inequality, Affordability and Taxes, Climate Change, and candidates’ willingness to work with the other parties in government.
Sept. 30 ~ Approval granted by District of Sooke council for the placement of our sign reading “Sooke ~ A Compassionate Community: Recognized by Charter for Compassion International” in the town centre.
May 30 ~ Sooke becomes the 103rd community world-wide to be officially recognized as a Compassionate Community. “With the District of Sooke affirming the Charter for Compassion, we formally recognizes your city as a Compassionate Community. What an incredible amount of work your group has put together. Your action plan, short and long-term, is incredible. Congratulations on all your good works!” ~ Marilyn Turkovich, Director, Charter for Compassion International.
May 13 ~ Presentation of the Compassionate Action Plan to District of Sooke Council. See pp. 59-73 of the council agenda here. (Or click here for PDFs of the Sooke CAP Plan 2019 and the 02:03:19 CAP Appendix arising from a second community consultation in early March.)
May, 2019 ~ Revision of the SMBI Quest document (download it at the end of this page) outlining the group’s purpose, values, strategic objectives, operating principals and the conduct of our consultative sessions. We’ve also redubbed ourselves the Sooke Multi-Belief Initative so as to specify that we are focusing our limited energies on the District of Sooke rather than the larger Sooke region.
February, 2019 ~ The SMBI has released its Compassionate Action Plan for the Sooke region (PDF file: Sooke CAP Plan 2019 ). The SMBI’s Mark Ziegler created a draft plan based on the comments, suggestions and recommendations provided by nearly 50 participants at our Oct. 27 workshop (video clip). Further input was received when this draft was distributed to the workshop participants for review in December. Now that the document is complete, the SRMBI is hosting a second gathering at the Sooke Baptist Church on Sat. March 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. to discuss the plan and develop implementation strategies. Everyone in town is again welcome to attend.
At our first CAP meeting, pictured standing is RCMP Sooke Constable Sam Haldane and the SMBI’s Don Brown. Seated on right among the day’s 50 attendees are Frederique Philip and TS co-president Michael Tacon. Photo: Jeff Bateman.
October 2018 ~ Save the Date: Compassion Action Plan Workshop, Sat. Oct. 27, 1 to 4 p.m. at the Sooke Baptist Church, 7110 West Coast Rd. All welcome to join us in an open-space meeting dedicated to identifying what we in Sooke might undertake as part of what we’re calling a “Compassionate Action Plan.” Speakers from the Sooke Food Bank and other local organizations will quickly set the context at the outset, then we’ll explore the possibilities through break-out group discussions. By day’s end, we’ll ideally have some concrete plans for short, medium and long-term action. It’s all part of our drive to earn official recognition for Sooke as a Compassionate City. Please email Don Brown or Mark Ziegler to confirm your participation.
September, 2018 ~ Our Don Brown sat down with each of the candidates running for office in the municipal election. 15 of the 16 candidates agreed to sign the Charter for Compassion.
June, 2018 ~ Thanks to District of Sooke council members for individually affirming the Charter of Compassion following a presentation by the SRMBI’s Mark Ziegler. We will be returning to council before year-end to present a “Compassionate Action Plan” focused on community issues that will be identified and prioritized at an Open Space meeting planned for the late fall in Sooke.
February, 2018 ~ Announcing the SRMBI’s Charter For Compassion awareness and affirmation drive in the Sooke region ~ launched at Sooke Talks by Don Brown and Rick Eby on Feb. 22, 2018 (watch their talk here). Join us in making a commitment to compassion (defined in this link in the words of Charter author Karen Armstrong).
Print out and affirm your own copy of the charter here (the flipside features an introduction to the SRMBI). Charter – SRMBI Then please sign it online and (important) let us know you did so by sending an email to us with the subject line “I signed.”
We need the numbers as a first step in Sooke’s possible recognition as an official Compassionate Community both in name and, more critically, in daily action. Takes less than a minute to sign … and a lifetime to practice!
Background on the SRMBI
One among many bright possibilities discussed at the District of Sooke’s Sooke Region Health Summit in May 2016 was the creation of a Sooke multi-belief group comprised of individuals from all walks of the inner life – religious, spiritual, philosophical and secular humanist included. Not to be confused with traditional multi-faith organizations, the group would be as inclusive of all residents in the Sooke region as possible. Effectively anyone who believed in the basic human values of decency, kindness and mutual respect (i.e, the Golden Rule as recognized by all faiths — see examples from source texts here) would be welcome to participate.
The suggestion was that a Transition Sooke working group could plot a collaborative course forward and launch consensus initiatives that would help foster even more of a happier, healthier, more engaged and connected community than is already the case in Sooke.
Support was secured from Mayor Maja Tait’s District of Sooke Health Advisory Committee in November, 2016. An inaugural SRMBI meeting was held on March 4, 2017 at Harbourside Cohousing. T’Sou-ke Nation elder Shirley Alponse began with a traditional blessing. Mayor Tait spoke about her vision of, and hopes for, a Sooke that could grow into even more of a compassionate community. The 22 attendees then got busy at break-out tables to document the range of good works being undertaken by existing organizations in Sooke, identify gaps and issues, and dream big about how the SRMBI might collaborate with, support and/or spark new projects. (Download the meeting report with its full summary of the break-out discussion here: March 2017).
Working group meetings continued throughout 2017. As a starting point, the group collaborated on a statement of SRMBI principles and strategic objectives that has been dubbed the “Quest.” (Download a copy at the end of this page.)
Effective January, 2019, the working group features (in alphabetical order by first name) Andy Schell, Bruce Hegerat, Don Brown, Eric (Hum) Anderson, Jeff Bateman, Koshin Sifu Moonfist, Les Haddad, Mark Ziegler, Michael Cruickshanks, Michael Tacon, Pamela Barreto, Sharla Emmanuel and Troi Leonard. New recruits are welcome; please email Transition Sooke with your interest.
We recognize our shared humanity and our shared homeland, the planet earth. Together we promote understanding, acceptance and common ethical and moral values to develop the Sooke region community as a haven of peace, well-being and caring for each other and our physical environment.
As a Multi-Belief Initiative, we recognize that we have diverse views of reality. While we do not attempt to reconcile these differing views, we explore commonalities, we build friendships, and we seek to eliminate prejudicial views held by others who differ from us in any way.
Our values are centred on the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” guidance found in all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions.
Our common ethical and moral values encompass the universal moral teachings included in all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions such as being truthful, honest, trustworthy, compassionate (as proclaimed in the Charter for Compassion), courteous, tolerant, wise, and just and fair in all our relationships.
We are respectful of the diversity of views held by all those of diverse religious, ethical and spiritual traditions and those of individuals, such as atheists and others, who do not belong to any of those traditions and who strive to live according to the Golden Rule and the ethical values outlined above.
We are inclusive. Every person who shares our purpose and values is genuinely welcomed as a participant in our Initiative.
We are inquisitive, willing to learn about other religious, ethical and moral traditions.
We are open and unbiased in all our interactions including a willingness to discover and remove our own limited and biased views of religious, ethical and spiritual traditions.
Our Strategic Objectives
To access the level of participation by the public in the region in religious, moral and ethical traditions and to determine and monitor indicators regarding the successful fulfilment of our purpose.
To ensure that youth and others in our region are given accurate and respectful information about the diverse religious, ethical and spiritual traditions.
To promote reconciliation with the indigenous people in our region.
To encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity.
To promote the adoption of the Charter for Compassion across our region by individuals, organizations and public institutions.