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“Reframing IS Social Change.” – George Lakoff

The Empathy Surplus Project Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable collective thought leadership education organization. We fulfill our mission through small communities of practice called Empathy Surplus Congresses. Every day we promote a caring society filled with stronger people, progressive markets, better futures, effective government, and mutual responsibility through Four Empathic Activities. Your recurring donations are very important.

Our Four Empathic Activities

Our Empathy Surplus Congresses are communities of practice. Every day we promote a caring society filled with stronger people, progressive markets, better futures, effective government, and mutual responsibility by practicing Four Empathic Activities. We:

Inwardly Digest

and use the latest brain insights of Dr. George Lakoff to frame daily caring conversations that promote human rights.


in weekly congressional hearings about how we apply Dr. Lakoff’s insights to advance caring policy directions.


caring policy directions through partnerships with ethical businesses, effective government task forces, and other civil society organizations.


others to join us and promote a politics of care..

Empathy is the soul of our republic and democratic institutions.

Fifteen years before the January 2021 insurrection on the US Capitol Building, Dr. Lakoff and his Rockridge Institute warned America about the growing domestic threat of authoritarianism. Moreover, he pointed to a significant authoritarian infrastructure set up under the banner of conservatism advanced by dozens of effective think tanks like A.L.E.C. and funded by unethical corporations.

In Rockridge’s “progressive handbook” called Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision, Dr. Lakoff wrote, “A dark cloud of authoritarianism looms over the nation, making it difficult to address progressive issues without major political change. Radical conservatives have taken over the reins of government and have been controlling the terms of political debate for many years. For real change to happen, progressive ideals must return to center stage in our national political discourse.

This will be neither easy nor quick—it will take years of work. But we can prevail. It is up to us—caring citizens—to articulate the progressive vision. Progressive political leaders cannot do it alone. For all of their intelligence and good intentions, they are subject to overwhelming short-term pressures. They will need the help of progressives throughout America. We must trumpet our values throughout the nation so that progressive political leaders will have the backing they need to speak out far more freely.”

Two years later, in 2008, Rockridge Institute closed its doors for lack of progressive financial support.

The Empathy Surplus idea was launched in 2009 by our founder, Charles Watts, who had served on Dr. Lakoff’s Rockrige Nation online community advisory board. And, today, through its Four Empathic Activities, the Empathy Surplus Project seeks to carry on Dr. Lakoff’s idea of a bottom-up, collective thought leadership training program. We are glad you are here. Please take a moment and look around.

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The basic idea is this: It is free and open to all. We will provide framing suggestions regularly over social media, and whoever receives them can decide how to use them, and whether to share them or retweet them.  The process is bottom up.

We also offer this framing service to activist organizations, media folks, and elected officials and their staffs.

Your Donations Strengthen Caring Thought Leadership Education

The Empathy Surplus Project Foundation is a charitable collective thought leadership education organization headquartered in Wilmington, Ohio that encourages its stakeholders to inwardly digest and use the work of Dr. George Lakoff every day to frame caring conversations that promote human rights. Donations are exempt from federal income taxation under section 501(a) and described in section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.


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