By Morgan Stephens
Special to the Observer 

Kindness Takes the Lead in Culver City


February 15, 2018

Culver City is making kindness a priority.

“Living in a large urban center, it’s easy to forget that we’re all human beings,” said Culver City Mayor Jeffrey Cooper. “In everybody’s everyday hustle and bustle and in the rush to get from point A to point B, it gets lost in translation.”

City officials have recently taken steps to get its 39,000 residents involved in making their city a kinder place to live through its “City of Kindness” campaign.

First Lady Rafia Cooper created a Facebook group “Culver City Kind #CCKind” where more than 1,800 members post acts of kindness they have witnessed or completed.

Signs reading “Everyone is Welcome in Culver City,” and “Culver City Stands United Against Hate,” have been posted in businesses and along city streets to encourage altruism among residents.

“That’s been one of my goals more than anything else is to keep the conversation going, and what being kind means to somebody,” said Cooper.

The initiative started in 2016 when then-mayor Jim B. Clarke heard a lecture on kindness while attending the U.S. Mayors Conference.

The movement is based on the work of the national non-profit organization City of Kindness, a body of organizations that work collectively to boost kindness on a global scale.

The national City of Kindness website has received more than 500 million “Acts of Kindness” submissions to date, ranging from kindness flash mobs, to establishing an animal sanctuary for shelter animals.

Lisa Schultz, art gallery owner of The Whole 9 Gallery in Culver City, embraces kindness through her business model and project ventures. Inside, the gallery walls are lined with artwork promoting peace.

Schultz has also incorporated art pieces from local residents- including students from Culver City High and spearheaded The Peace Project in 2010, a non-profit aiding underprivileged recipients locally, and as far as Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

“The idea is, if we work together we can create great change really quickly,” said Schultz. “Our projects are meant to empower people, so they can not only survive, but thrive and pay it forward.”

However, it isn’t just warm and fuzzy feelings which give kindness its esteemed reputation- it also has various health benefits.

Witnessing or participating in acts of kindness can lower blood pressure, which in turn improves overall heart health, and lessen anxiety and depression by decreasing cortisol, the “stress hormone,” by 23 percent, according to a University of Columbia Study.

Ashley Guerrero, a two-generation Culver City resident, recently bought a cup of coffee for a stranger at Starbucks when she saw he was unable to pay for his purchase.

“I would’ve loved if someone did that for me, so why not to that for other people- especially if it’s such a small cost to you,” said Guerrero.

Guerrero was inspired to participate in the City of Kindness initiative due to her work as an independent living services instructor for adults with developmental disabilities. By seeing her client’s daily struggles, Guerrero said she has become aware of the things people often taken for granted.

Culver City plans to continue promoting kindness by developing a measurement index of resident’s attitudes, and having an annual kindness recognition ceremony, according to the city’s 2016-2020 strategic plan.

“We all need to be committed to trying to use [kindness] as a touchstone for everything we do,” said Schultz. “I think if we do that, we can really promote a spirit of kindness, compassion and collaboration.”


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