Cincinnati storytelling group Bespoken Live launches international kindness campaign: #BeKind2016

Storytelling event: 8 p.m. Oct. 14 in Walnut Hills

CINCINNATI -- With four weeks to go until the United States finally chooses President Obama's successor, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization hopes to change the negative climate we saw fully on display during Sunday's second presidential debate.

Bespoken Live's #BeKind2016 campaign is “a movement of people collecting and sharing stories of active human kindness in the midst of unprecedented cultural divide,” according to Executive Director Brad Wise.

The goal of the web-based campaign is to create space online where people can experience stories of hope, sacrifice and the goodness of humanity. Wise said dozens of people from as far away as the U.K. and Australia posted kindness-themed videos on the group's website in the first 48 hours after the campaign’s launch the last week of September.

Allen Woods of Mortar Cincinnati shares his story from the Bespoken Live show in May. Photo by Darrin Ballman.

Bespoken Live launched a series of monthly storytelling shows in January in Over-the-Rhine and Walnut Hills to create positive dialogue in the Queen City.

"We have only one goal for our storytelling shows: to spark hope and understanding in the world," Wise said. "Nothing does that better than storytelling.”

The organization held a free "Be Kind" storytelling gathering at 8 p.m. Friday at the Monastery Studio in Walnut Hills (766 William Howard Taft Road). A mix of storytellers took the stage to share their eight-minute stories of experiencing active human kindness.

Bespoken Live Producer Ryan Eten said the living room-like setting played host to a packed house as a few seasoned storytellers shared life experiences around the theme of “KIND.” Afterward, Wise led the audience through a meditation period and discussion that recalled their lives from childhood to the present day. Audience members shared the kindness stories that arose from the meditation.

“I have to have nights like this; I need them,” said audience member Harmony Hensley after sharing details of the difficult year she is currently going through.

Eten capped off the night with these words from Mother Theresa: "If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway."

That is what Bespoken Live plans to do as the #BeKind2016 movement continues until the next show on Nov. 11, with the theme “HOME." 

The organization is also placing free #BeKind2016 stickers throughout Cincinnati with the hope that more people will share their kindness stories on the Bespoken Live website. New stories get posted to the group’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Watch the #BeKind2016 campaign video in the player below.

#BeKind2016 from Bespoken Live on Vimeo.