Is your witness effective? Caring citizens are the solution.
Our Board and Mission Focuses on Empathy to Promote Human Rights
“Everyone has duties to the community in which the free and full development of his personality is possible.”
—Article 29, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Why Four Empathic Activities for Collective Thought Leader Training?
Elisabeth Wehling, cognitive scientist and linguist, and her mentor, George Lakoff, in their newest bestseller, Your Brain’s Politics, writes: “The experiences we make as we live in this world result in physical changes to our brains. (That’s because) all reasoning is physical. We understand the world via our brains, which are part of our bodies. Any reasoning process is always a PHYSICAL process. In the cognitive sciences, this mechanism is called Hebbian learning. Experiential correlations lead to strong neural and cognitive connections. And so our cognitive apparatuses are heavily influenced by the experiences we make (emphasis ESP) in our lives.”
Four Empathic Activities
The Four Empathic Activities focus Empathy Surplus Congress thought leadership training on human well-being, the subject of progressive morality and politics. Empathy is the soul of our republic and its democratic institutions. In an effective government caring citizens and their representatives collaborate to protect and empower one another equally. Cognitive linguists now know that this American ideal in government can be expanded through its on-going, repetitive, and consistent narrative. True patriots never compromise their duty to care that protects and empowers all Americans equally.
Our Board and Mission Advances the Application of Dr. George Lakoff’s Brain Insights
Cognitive scientist Dr. George Lakoff identified two Nation-as-Family metaphors that currently dominate American thought – the nation as nurturant parents or the nation as a strict father. And the language of metaphors is also used unconsciously in ethical business, government task forces, and civil society organizations. Consequently, people are morally complex and, for the most part, unconscious of their core governing values. Caring citizens are solutions ONLY if our witness is effective thought leadership. Join us.
L-R: Dr. George Lakoff hosts our founder, Charles Watts, at Dr. Lakoff’s home in Berkeley, California, in 2013.
Meet Our Board
Charles M. Watts
Founder and CEO
“Chuck” embraced collective thought leadership training through cognitive scientist Dr. George Lakoff’s bestselling book Don’t Think of an Elephant in 2004. And he served on Lakoff’s Rockridge Nation online community board of advisors from 2005 to 2008 when it closed. Moreover, Chuck founded the Empathy Surplus Campaign in 2009 – now Empathy Surplus Project Foundation – to continue collective, caring thought leadership training efforts started by Dr. Lakoff. He earned his business degree from Mississippi State University in 1972, and his MDiv degree from Sewanee in 1977. A social entrepreneur at heart and active in the public square, Chuck established an Episcopal Church in Mississippi, and a clothing bank and Rotary club in Ohio. A financial advisor with Edward Jones for 30 years and a limited partner, he helped launch more than 20 branches. He lives with his wife in Wilmington, Ohio. Email him at email@example.com.
Co-founder and secretary
Anita Lewis, RN, BSN, is President and CEO of I AM CLEAN ENERGY, INC. She supports a resource-based, caring, circular economy filled with ethical businesses and poison-free communities. Anita’s energies address CDG, Circular Development Goal #6 – WASH, water, sanitation, and hygiene – especially in Guyana’s wetlands and the Guiana Shield Rainforest and Rupununi savannah, as well as Malawi and the Miami Valley in Southwest Ohio, where she lives. A graduate of Julienne HS and Wright State University, School of Nursing, Anita is an Affiliate Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. A Greene County, Ohio, resident since 1977, she established Roaring Brook Farm, A Demonstration Farm For Clean Energy, in 1986. Anita has served on the Greene Soil & Water Conservation Board as an Associate Supervisor since 2000. Her current favorite read is The Third Industrial Revolution by Jeremy Rifkin. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-founder and treasurer
A businesswoman and farmer in Wilmington, Ohio, for more than 20 years, Miriam is also a recorded pastor in the Quaker tradition, as well as a Reiki master. Email her at email@example.com
Ambassador, 1st Empathy Surplus Congress
A Letter from the Board
The duty to care is more important than ever. We are humbled by the collaborative witness of our parents and grandparents after World War II to enshrine the duty to care in the UN Charter. In the UN Charter Preamble in 1945, they wrote in part,
“We the peoples of the United Nations determined… to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedoms… have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.”
THE NEED FOR EMPATHY
The duty to care is more important than ever. Empathy is the soul of our democratic institutions and the foundation of any effective republic. And you have to have empathy to collaborate well. Moreover, the empathy deficit we currently have in society, government, and the global economy was created over the last fifty years by those who reject empathy as a core governing value.
Despite a groundswell of empathic voices emerging, we must have all hands on deck for empathy building. And the human rights to life and freedom in the context of our climate emergency are the strategic reasons the world’s people and governments need more empathy. Consequently, we hope you will consider joining us in on-going collective thought leadership training to build the empathy surplus needed in our local centers of influence.
ONLINE COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
The duty to care is more important than ever. Yes. We did say ongoing collective thought leadership training. In fact, in 2004 our founder read Dr. George Lakoff’s 1st edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, which came with a 25 minute DVD. Moreover, Dr. Lakoff directed his readers to check out his think tank, The Rockridge Institute. And, the next year the Rockridge Institute launched Rockridge Nation, an online collective training community of practice. Furthermore, participants could read and discuss the material to practice how to govern their particular sphere of influence with strength, empathy for, and responsibility to others. Our founder served on that online community’s board of advisors. We are determined to continue that collective training.
Fast forward to 2021 and the Empathy Surplus Project Foundation (ESPF), with Dr. Lakoff’s mentorship and encouragement, is in its 12th year. In the tradition of the Rockridge Nation, ESPF continues to offer a much-needed online community of practice in the community section of its Facebook page. We hope you will consider joining us online and embrace our Four Empathic Activities and start reading and inwardly digesting and discussing Dr. Lakoff’s insights into the brain on applying empathy and responsibility to the public square.
REFRAMING IS SOCIAL CHANGE
The duty to care is more important than ever. Yes. We do need to be involved in the electoral process. Every election at every level is a choice between a more empathic government versus an authoritarian government trying to dismantle it. Yet, more importantly, we need to unite behind both cognitive science and linguistics. Now is the time, to know and understand our empathic values and reframe the debate around empathy. Dr. Lakoff’s Introduction to his bestselling Don’t Think of an Elephant is entitled “Reframing IS Social Change.” If we are going to change the world, we must change our language, and repeat our language, to describe the empathic world we want.
WE NEED COGNITIVE PROGRESSIVE EXPANSION – THE DUTY TO CARE
The duty to care is more important than ever. Yes. We have the science to make our “Duty to Care” stronger. For too long the science has been used by extreme conservatives to inhibit our duty to care about effective government and progressive markets. And the most important thing we must do is to talk continuously about the empathy surplus to care for our world. We can use cognitive science for good. I hope you will consider how you can help. We have two needs for donations.
The first need is for help for us to physically engage in dialogue with our partners in the Global Compact and in Rotary to promote human rights. Ironically, most people, Rotarians included, are unaware of Rotary’s contribution to the UN’s establishment, and the potential for partnerships. We have no employees – yet – and none of our board receives a salary. Consider a monthly donation at this link. Or consider a monthly ad sponsorship in our pocketbook version of the Illustrated Universal Declaration of Human Rights – email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our second need is for distribution partners in our Human Rights Pocketbook Venture, a positive peace initiative, launched in 2018. We want to distribute a personal pocketbook copy of the UDHR described above to every teacher and student in kindergarten, 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th-grader in our member spheres of influence, as well as to 1st-year college students.
The first Human Rights Pocketbook Venture was in Clinton County, Ohio, where we have invited county commissioners to join the UN Global Compact every year since 2015. You can help fund that venture or start one of your own by using the GET IN TOUCH function below. Thank you for your consideration.
Caring citizens are the solution,
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Your Donations Support Caring Thought Leadership Training
Caring Thought Leadership Core Values
- Responsibility (personal & mutual)
- Strength (to act responsibly on one's empathy)
Ten-Word Caring Philosophy
- Stronger Americans
- Progressive Markets
- Better Futures
- Effective Government
- Mutual Responsibility
The Empathy Surplus Project Foundation is a charitable collective thought leadership training federation headquartered in Wilmington, Ohio. It fulfills its Four Empathic Activities through member communities of practice called Empathy Surplus Congresses and its working groups. Donations are exempt from federal income taxation under section 501(a) and described in section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Please consider using our free framing guide - Words to Use to Frame Our Solution.
George Lakoff's Resources
The basic idea is this: Dr. Lakoff's resources are free and open to all. He 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. Dr. Lakoff's process is bottom-up.
Dr. Lakoff also offers this framing service to activist organizations, media folks, and elected officials and their staff.