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Start the Year with Kindness

Several years ago I had the privilege of working for Puget Sound Community School in Seattle, WA. At that time, the school was only a few years old and had no fixed address. Classes were held in different places on each day of the week (from a retirement home to a community centre to a church to a frat house). Mondays we had field trips and/or community service and on Fridays students had mentorships in the community. There were no grades. Discipline happened democratically. The kids were amazing. I was having so much fun I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to work for them.

The founder and director, Andy Smallman, is a visionary educator, although I don’t know if his down-to-earth nature would call it anything other than passion. And his passion is contageous.

While I was working there, Andy facilitated an online “Kindness Class” – a way for the larger community to be involved with the school’s program. The assignments involved committing random acts of kindness and then sharing and discussing them.

He hasn’t run the class in several years and was inspired to bring it back last fall. Little did he know that when he did, the idea would spread around the globe!

We promoted [the Kindness Class] here and on the PSCS Facebook page. The idea spread and 250 people signed up. Steve sent a press packet about it to The Seattle Times. Their education reporter, Linda Shaw… came out and did a story (http://tinyurl.com/yct838d) that appeared in last Sunday’s paper. Local TV station channel 13 then did a quick news story on it last Sunday night (http://tinyurl.com/kindnessQ13 & http://tinyurl.com/KindnessQ13-Take2).
…I have been made aware by people interested in joining future classes that the Times article has been featured in newspapers in Raleigh, NC (http://tinyurl.com/y9o8n45), Greensboro, NC, Jasper, AL, Dayton, OH, Springfield, OH, Ontario, Canada, and likely others. It’s also making the rounds on Twitter, most notably having been “retweeted” by Deepak Chopra. And today it became the “Idea of the Day” on bestselling author Dan Pink’s blog (http://tinyurl.com/y8goczb). I’ve had people from as far away as Australia ask to join.

He had such a great response that he decided to run it again this term. I was so thrilled for Andy and PSCS that I signed up for the class, too. And, it’s not too late. YOU can sign up, too. It’s completely free:

…the idea is pretty simple. Each Sunday night I’ll post that week’s kindness theme via email and on a special blog set up for our class. Your job is to consider the theme and, in a way that is meaningful to you, act on it. After completing your act, you go to the blog and post what you’ve done so the rest of us get to learn about it. Imagine each of us interpreting the same theme each week in our own way and spreading ripples of positive action out in the world. It’s a revolution of kindness…


…As a virus, your acts will impact (some might say inspire) others, even people outside of the class. Being mindful, you’ll start noticing more of the kind things happening around you. You’ll become happier, more peaceful. You’ll sleep better. You’ll exercise and eat better. You’ll feel great. You’ll infect others with optimism.
How’s that sound for a way to start off the year?  Interested? E-mail Andy at pscs@pscs.org.

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
-Scott Adams

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