East-Coast Outreach on Twitter: "Busy night out on the streets tonight, over
75 fed, lots of coats and sleeping bags gone out #OpSafeWinter"
#OpSafeWinter: Generosity Goes Viral
by free • December 6, 2014
#OpSafeWinter: Generosity Goes Viral
It’s the time of year when we are most often asked to “think of the less fortunate.”
But what if we felt empowered to take action that might actually help them?
, inspired by the lessons learned at Occupy Wall Street
teachers like Sharon Salzberg
and Bob Thurman
, aims to do just that by
providing a decentralized network of support for the homeless.
Instead of waiting around for relief organizations, is it possible for us to involve ourselves in direct
mutual aid, thus revealing the interdependent nature of suffering and
Inspired by the real-world experience and skill sets developed on the ground during Occupy Wall Street and Occupy
, folks involved in these two previous relief missions came together to address another problem threatening more and more people during the
economic crisis: homelessness.
contact describes mutual aid as a two-way street. Not only do the homeless and
hungry receive relief in the form of coats and food, but those doing the relief are developing contacts and getting the chance to use their skills.
Everyone gets an expanded sense of what’s possible by learning to interact with their neighbors, homeless or not, in an informal setting.
Lovingkindness is a quality of friendship. Lovingkindness meditation is the cultivation of a steady, unconditional sense of connection
that touches all beings without exception, including ourselves. The quality of lovingkindness is associated with three other qualities: Compassion,
Sympathetic Joy & Equanimity.
Compassion is our caring human response to suffering.
A compassionate heart is non-judgmental and recognizes all suffering—our own and that of others—as deserving of tenderness.
Sympathetic Joy is the realization that others’ happiness is inseparable from our own. We rejoice in the joy of others and are not threatened by
Equanimity is the spacious stillness of mind that provides the ground for the boundless nature of the other three qualities. This radiant calm enables
us to ride the waves of our experience without getting lost in our reactions.
#OpSafeWinter is different from traditional relief organizations in that it’s a horizontal, decentralized network. Anyone who
thinks up a mission that might help the homeless can feel empowered to do so, and the network is a tool to connect those in need with those who can
There are people working to document and skill-share online in major cities across not only the US but across the globe as well. It’s also different
from a consciousness raising campaign that merely increases awareness of a problem and possibly inspires people to donate money.
#OpSafeWinter takes awareness and builds on it with action.
The movement makes use of direct aid to the homeless rather than relying on intermediaries, a technique we saw in the days after Hurricane Sandy when
people refused to wait for the lagging and incomplete support of the Red Cross or FEMA.
The process does one better than merely highlighting the homeless problem across the globe, but also builds a resource network of donated food,
blankets, and clothing, thus stepping in with a safety net where the city and federal government has dropped the ball.
This horizontal network emerged not only from the practical on-the-ground experience of the Occupy community and decentralized online tactics like
Anonymous, but also drew inspiration from teachers like IDP
Lineage Mentor Sharon Salzberg and Buddhist scholar
Generosity is the heart of #OpSafeWinter, and it hopes to “inspire or incite people to look at their relationship with
others through service to those on the streets.”
The open set of tools provided
by the #OpSafeWinter hashtag
succeed in amplifying compassionate intentions.
This method breaks down the self/other boundary so often seen in relief organizations where I, a person of means, can give my time or money to help
the amorphous suffering other. By breaking down this binary, #OpSafeWinter exposes the interdependence of suffering and provides tools for mutual
We are, in effect, helping each other.
If you’re interested in being involved in #OpSafeWinter, we recommend finding out if people are already active in your city and following them on
Facebook and Twitter.
For New Yorkers, @opsafewinternyc is the twitter handle where you can find out about actions, donations, and suggested tools and missions in
alleviating the suffering of those most vulnerable during the winter months. You are encouraged to act on your compassion with your unique skills and
forms of contribution.
Links to find out more about #OpSafeWinter & keep up with local actions:
Read more: www.theidproject.org...