Mindful Cities

It’s been an exciting year for the Mindful Cities initiative, working in three pilot cities helping visionary civic leaders engage in mindfulness training to foster flourishing communities.

As the year comes to a close, I’d like to update everyone on our Mindful Cities Initiative.

You haven’t heard much from me for a while, but the Initiative continues to grow and move forward in many ways.

Just last week I returned home from my second trip to Broward County FL, where much great work is underway to support the whole community following the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. This trip included a day long training session led by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Sharon Salzberg (who, by the way, I introduced to the 500 people attending as the “James Brown and Aretha Franklin of the mindfulness world,” to rousing laughter!). 

Our friends at the Holistic Life Foundation also contributed to the day-long training session with lead trainer Ross Robinson working with fifty young students. And, while we were there, we also met with the Superintendent of Schools who enthusiastically backs the mindfulness programs in their schools.

I’ve told many of you who’ve reached out to me to join our Mindful Cities Initiative that we aren’t adding cities because we just don’t have the staff resources, but for obvious reasons I just couldn’t say no to the good folks of Broward County.

The Mindful Cities Initiative: Pilot Phase One

Activities in our pilot cities continue to move forward, and we’re learning more about how best to support the local champions doing important work in Jackson WY, Flint MI, and Boston MA. 

1) Mindful Cities, Jackson, WY: Sara Flitner and our friends at Becoming Jackson Whole are planning their second Summit for May 2020 which will include two days of SIYLI training for local leaders. And they’re following up their first summit with 50 people taking Amishi Jha’s M-BAT training to be taught in January by our friend Scott Rogers.

2) Mindful Cities, Flint, MI: The amazing Crim Fitness Foundation continues their daily work on Mindful Flint overseen by Sarah Sullivan and her team, working throughout the community and in the schools on a daily basis. They are also prepping for some big events early in the year and some important funder meetings to greatly expand their mindfulness-related services in Flint.

3) Mindful Cities, Boston, MA: The Ivy Child team continues teaching mindfulness programs to Boston city staff, as well as their ongoing work in schools throughout the region. (And congratulations to Ivy Child Founder and ED Rose Pavlov on the birth of her child in October!)

Mindful Cities Initiative: Pilot Phase Two

As word spreads of the work being accomplished in Pilot Programs, I’m hearing from an increasing number of civic leaders from across the country who want to move forward with their Mindful Cities plans. Exciting work is happening so many places across the country, in cities big and small. I’ve found time to speak to many of you and have been inspired by the rising energy out there.

One of the folks who reached out to me made me laugh when they said, “I looked at your website and couldn’t find very much about the Mindful Cities Initiative.” I replied, “That’s right! I’m doing my best to keep it a secret. I don’t want to put anything more on our site because I don’t have the time or staff to respond to all the calls I’m getting now.” 

It’s an unusual message to send, that with something as inspiring and popular as our Mindful Cities Initiative, that we don’t want any more promotion just yet. As soon as we’re able to find the right philanthropic partner for this important work, we’ve got the plans and people ready to support the growth of mindfulness in each of your great cities. 

In the meantime, we’ll continue to do all we can to support the great work and momentum you’re all creating. We love to hear about the many creative ways mindfulness is helping reshape civic life. Please, keep reaching out and sharing your stories.

Mindful Cities is an initiative whose time has come. If you know of a philanthropic partner who’d like to help us connect more cities to the growing Mindful Cities network, please get in touch with me at [email protected]. And you can also make a donation here that will go directly to support the Mindful Cities Initiative.

What is the Mindful Cities Initiative?

Mindful Cities is a social innovation initiative designed to help each city achieve success with their unique plan to bring mindfulness-based programs into their community.

Ways we are helping include:

  • Connecting city leaders to the best experts, partners and programs for their community
  • Developing resources and databases for aspiring Mindful Cities
  • Providing material, programs and campaigns for community education about mindfulness and its benefits
  • Consulting with civic leaders about their plans and collaborations to bring in mindfulness training programs
  • Creating networks, conferences, and webinars.

The Mindful Cities projects herald a new phase in the development of mindfulness in society. People are now increasingly talking about the benefits of mindfulness practice in holistic terms, about personal wellness and public health, about mindfulness in the classroom and its role in public education.

Civic leaders are at the forefront of this development.

More About the Mindful Cities Pilot Phase

Mindful Cities is working in three areas: Flint, MI, Jackson Hole, WY, and Boston, MA. We’ve launched in communities where we can support local champions who are already doing this work, and who have support networks in the community that are ready to build upon.

There are two specific projects under way:

1) Flint, MI

PHOTO Rich Fernandez, CEO of SIYLI, Michelle Maldonado, SIYLI teacher, Gerry Myers, CEO of the Crim Fitness Foundation, and Jim Gimian, Executive Director, Foundation for a Mindful Society, at the launch of “Collective Wisdom” in May 2019.

In Flint, over 100 civic leaders from across all sectors have recently taken part in Collective Wisdom, a two-day gathering featuring the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute  mindfulness training program, the first program of its kind anywhere.

“Flint is the first city to be piloting the Mindful Cities Initiative so it’s an honor to be the first but it’s not like there’s a set path that we need to go on because we co-create with the community,”says Crim Program Director Sarah Sullivan.

The Mindful Society helped connect Crim with leaders of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute—a mindfulness training program born at Google brought locally starting this year.

Read local media coverage of this event.

2) Jackson Hole, WY

In Jackson Hole, city leaders and leading neuroscientists are coming together at the Becoming Jackson Whole Summit, where they will fashion a unique mindfulness-based training program for fostering collaborative leadership and a flourishing city.

How Can I Get Involved in the Mindful Cities Initiative?

If you are interested in joining the Mindful Cities Initiative, please e-mail [email protected] with the following information:

About me:

  • Name, email, telephone number, and current work or project

About my organization:

  • Name, key leader, contact information and website

My city:

  • Name, short description of current mindfulness projects by sector (e.g., education, health, first responders) (100-200 words), and resources and funding possibilities for Mindful Cities activities

The “Inside Mindful” Blog


Not Your Standard Media Projects 

How mindfulness can engage whole systems within our communities and spur social innovation, from James Gimian, the Executive Director of the Foundation for a Mindful Society. Read More 

  • James Gimian
  • March 12, 2018

Poised for A Fresh Start 

How we’ll support mindfulness momentum with energy and vision in the new year, from James Gimian, the Executive Director of the Foundation for a Mindful Society. Read More 

  • James Gimian
  • January 22, 2018