More Information about "Bridging the Empathy Gap - Yes we can!"


First round voting for the Ideas for Change in America Competition closed at midnight on December 31, 2008.

This idea finished in 1st Place in the Government Reform category and has therefore qualified for the final round. Final round voting will run from January 5th - 15th, and as of Monday night, January 13 the proposal is in 14th place. Only the top ten will get the support offered to bring this to President Barack Obama for consideration as part of his administration.

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Bridging the Empathy Gap - Yes we can! is promoting a nationwide polling to make recommendations to Barack Obama for areas of focus for his administration with a program called Ideas for Change in America. is a social action networking web site that is attracting a lot of attention, especially in our community. Its vision, aim and history and the details of the program are presented below.

Bridging the Empathy Gap” that is quoted below took first place in its catagory and is now in the final round of voting.

If it is in the top ten, many people will be exposed to the benefits of NVC, and could actually result in many opportunities to fulfill our mission of facilitating the creation of life-serving systems within ourselves, interpersonally, and within organizations by teaching Nonviolent Communication.

Here is the proposal text.

Bridging the Empathy Gap - Yes we can! President-Elect Barack Obama has spoken repeatedly about empathy, which he defines as “the ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes; to see the world through those who are different from us.” In his words, “And that strikes me as the most important quality that we need in America right now and around the world right now.” Empathy is a value we can cultivate in our government now.

We propose to create an inter-departmental office of empathy (or a division within a Department of Peace if one is established) that can support the closing of the empathy deficit by employing strategies such as the following:

1. Implementing specific processes and methods for making empathy central to government operations both within government and in every sector of society to support meaningful use of our resources.

2. Identifying specific offices, agencies, and individuals within government that would benefit from intensive training in empathy skills.

3. Utilizing advanced empathic facilitation as a foundation for decision-making to support efficient and productive processes in all branches of government.

4. Assessing the impact of government policies and decisions on the overall purpose of bridging the empathy gap.

5. Creating public forums for dialogue to create empathic connection between people across differences - political, religious, ideological, racial, class, etc. The purpose of such forums would be bridging divides in our nation.

6. Creating and proposing curriculum based on Nonviolent Communication ( to all schools for teaching empathy skills.

7. Creating an Empathy Corps – volunteers trained in empathy skills to go into conflict zones domestically and internationally to support diffusion of conflict through empathic connection. “Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”- President-Elect Barack Obama

Catherine Cadden
Jori Manske
Kathleen MacFerran
Miki Kashtan
Sylvia Haskvitz.


Our Vision

Today as citizens of the world, we face a daunting array of social and environmental problems ranging from health care and education to global warming and economic inequality. For each of these issues, whether local or global in scope, there are millions of people who care passionately about working for change but lack the information and opportunities necessary to translate their interest into effective action. aims to address this need by serving as the central platform informing and empowering movements for social change around the most important issues of our time.

History is a social entrepreneurship venture based in San Francisco, CA. The company was founded by Ben Rattray in the summer of 2005, and with the support of a friend from Stanford, Mark Dimas, and a founding team of Darren Haas, Rajiv Gupta, and Adam Cheyer, launched the first version of its site in 2007

About Ideas for Change in America

About Ideas for Change in America What is Ideas for Change in America? Ideas for Change in America is a citizen-driven project that aims to identify and create momentum around the best ideas for how the Obama Administration and 111th Congress can turn the broad call for "change" across the country into specific policies.

The project is nonpartisan, and invites all political points of view. It is not connected to the Obama campaign or the Obama Administration.

Who's behind it? Ideas for Change in America is a project of, an online community and media network for social issues, in partnership with more than three dozen leading organizations, including MySpace, techPresident, the Sunlight Foundation, Netroots Nation, Declare Yourself, Student PIRGs, Voto Latino, HeadCount, and Change Congress.

How does it work? Anyone can submit an idea and comment and vote on others. The top 10 rated ideas will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009 as the "Top 10 Ideas for America." We will then launch a national campaign behind each idea and mobilize the collective energy of the millions of members of, MySpace, and partner organizations to ensure that each winning idea gets the full consideration of the Obama Administration and Members of Congress.

How are the top ideas determined? The "Top 10 Ideas for America" will be determined through two rounds of voting. In the first round, ideas will compete against other ideas in the same issue category. The first round will end on December 31, 2008, and the top 3 rated ideas from each category will make it into the second round. The second round of voting will begin on Monday, January 5, and each qualifying idea will compete against the qualifying ideas from all other categories. Second round voting will end on Thursday, January 15.

What happens after voting? Our work does not end with the voting process or the delivery of the top 10 ideas to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day. That is rather the end of the beginning. Instead of passively hoping the administration accepts each top idea, we will select a formal nonprofit sponsor for each idea to help create a nationwide movement to lobby the administration and Congress to turn the idea into real policy.

What should my idea be about? The mission of Ideas for Change in America is to identify and advance concrete solutions to the major challenges confronting the country, and we welcome any ideas consistent with this vision. Ideas that conflict with the spirit of this mission, that look backward instead of forward, that express values without offering solutions, that offer solutions which won't receive serious consideration by either the Obama administration or the 111th Congress, that are intended to attack others, or are otherwise offensive are not eligible for the second round. We reserve the right to remove any ideas that violate these stated principles.

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