This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It's at the north end of the "Filene's Basement" store on the corner, and it's a place where I've often seen homeless people holding up a sign that asks for assistance...

With very rare exceptions, I haven't photographed these homeless people; it seems to me that they're in a very defensive situation, and I don't want to take advantage of their situation. But something unusual was happening here: the two women (who were actually cooperating, and acting in tandem, despite the rather negative demeanor of the woman on the left) were giving several parcels of food to the young homeless man on the right.

I don't know if the women were bringing food from their own kitchen, or whether they had brought it from a nearby restaurant. But it was obviously a conscious, deliberate activity, and one they had thousght about for some time...

What was particularly interesting was that they didn't dwell, didn't try to have a conversation with the young man;they gave him they food they had brought, and promptly walked away. As they left, I noticed the young man peering into his bag (the one you see on the ground beside him in this picture) to get a better sense of the delicious meal these two kind women had brought him...


This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

I don't like to intrude on people's privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they're still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what's right in front of me.

I've also learned that, in many c

The Kindness Ripple: Insights from my 30-Day Kindness Challenge

On November 2nd, 2014 I began a 30-day kindness challenge in service of strengthening my kindness practice while also trying something new to celebrate Thanksgiving. While my insights aren’t revolutionary or even necessarily new, I’m reminded that acts of kindness really do have a ripple effect and the ripple happens when giving and receiving kindness.

Act of Kindness Quote

Kindness is a source of joy and fulfillment. Whether or not an acknowledgement followed, engaging in acts of kindness just feels good. The internal sense of satisfaction that comes from intentionally practicing kindness on a daily basis creates something more than happiness. This kindness practice generated a sense of purpose and contribution. A resonance that can only be described as joy and fulfillment.

Kindness fosters connection. In preparing for my kindness challenge, I included mostly the names of specific people but also a few slips of paper entitled “Random Person.” Engaging in random acts of kindness with my spouse, friends, and family members fosters gratitude for others and for our relationship. For random people, even if we never spoke or made eye contact, those moments reminded me of our similarities rather than our differences.

Kindness comes in many forms. Part of this challenge was about learning and practicing different forms of kindness. A simple Google search and Pinterest connected me with lots of creative, inexpensive, and fun ways to be kind. One of my favorites was leaving encouraging words on someone’s mirror.

Look for and acknowledge acts of kindness from others. While an act of kindness isn’t about recognition or acknowledgement, it still feels good when it happens. When someone offered a smile, said “thank you”, or some other form of acknowledgement time stood still for a brief moment. I find myself being more intentional about acknowledging kindness in others because observing moments of kindness is part of the ripple effect. When I see it, I want to do it too. When I experience it, I want to pay it forward.

Be willing and ready to accept kindness from others. Our culture of hyper independence sometimes gets in the way of people being able to receive kindness from others. It felt amazing when people willingly received acts of kindness without pushback or hesitation. Observing this behavior in others reminds me to be open and ready to receive. I think giving is sometimes easier than receiving, but I think receiving can be a form of a kindness too!

What about you. What insights or intentions emerged from participating in the 30-day kindness challenge?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *