Good afternoon and welcome to a special presentation
of News Eight at Five.
I'm Mike Thompson.
And I'm Lisa Klein.
We'll bring you the news of the day in just a few
After one year of planning and months of hard work.
thousands of pieces of local art are on display in
The exhibit you are looking at behind us.
is called the La Crosse Compassion Project.
The more than six-thousand canvas tiles are on display
at The Pump House Regional Arts Center in downtown
This exhibit opens for the first time tonight.
Each piece of art was created by almost every student
in the La Crosse School District.
Their mission was to define compassion on a six by
six inch canvas.
Organizers believe the work done by these students
could have a profound impact on the *entire* community.
I love drawing birds.
Art class is one of Sophia McGaff's favorite classes.
I'm just practicing designs for like the head and
With every pencil line.
she's getting closer to the inspiration behind this
piece of art.
I chose my firend and I.
We used to be really really similar.
We both really liked to draw a lot.
And then she sort of got into acting and i got into
ballet and we sort of got really different.
But their differences are something Sophia wants to
I'm hoping people see that to be friends you don't
have to be the exact same thing.
You can be totally different and still get along really
Sophia is planning to add this message to the 6,000
other messages being created by almost every student
in the La Crosse School District.
It's part of a mission known as The Compassion Project.
it's going to be something that could change La Crosse.
Bethany Nugent is Sophia's 6th grade art teacher at
Lincoln Middle School.
She started rolling out the Compassion Project in
her art classes this Fall.
Instead of saying don't
bully, we're saying be compassionate.
The project has students thinking, talking and creating
visual messages of kindness.
When asked to draw a concept like compassion.
It makes you pause.
How would you do it? What does compassion mean to
Tim Riley is the Executive Director of the La Crosse
Public Education Foundation.
The fundraising organization teamed up with art teachers
in the school district to create this compassion-themed
We started out with
a discussion about compassion....nats:48.
yes Not even thinking about the art side of it yet.
Not even introducing what the project was to the students.
After having a colorful discussion on what compassion
students like Sophia are turning their :30 thoughts
into a piece of art.
How am I going to take this abstract concept of kindness
and compassion and alliviate suffering and put it
into a 6 inch by 6 inch canvas.
I've been telling them that it's not just about what
you put into the art it's also about what other people
take away from it.
Words that translate into a meaningful picture for
as she trys to paint a meaningful picture for the
I just want it to turn out well.
Because Sophia knows this simple art project could
provide clarity for an entire community.
Business leaders are also picking up the question
what is compassion? How am I compassionate? How is
this community compassionate? How do we define ourslves
as a collective community as a compassionate community?
That is very important to the process.
It really is more than an art project.
The La Crosse Public Education Foundation helped fund
the La Crosse Compassion Project.
The total estimated cost of the entire project is
about 86-thousand dollars.
The idea of this project comes from a researcher at
Doctor Richard Davidson is a professor of Psychology
at the University.
Davidson has conducted scientific studies which have
found that those who practice compassion have measurably
and generally a happier outlook on life.
And even better.
compassion can be learned.
and should be practiced as a skill.
His work has been recognized by the American Psychological
and TIME Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential
people in 2006.
When you see all 6-thousand canvases under one roof.
it's hard not to be touched.
It creates a powerful message of love and compassion...
But you have to remember.
that each individual tile tells a different story.
Compassion means something different to everyone.
it's feeding the hungry...
For others...it's comfort during cancer...
What makes this project so unique is there is no right
or wrong answer.
Here's what compassion looks like through the eyes
of three students.
JOE -- "To me compassion means showing empathy for
another person and I personally believe everyone shows
I feel like some people show that in a general act
of kindness or another person might do a deliberative
action onto another person and it just varies to each
individual which I admire."
LILY -- "It's not just feeling bad for someone, it's
actually doing something about that, doing something
for them to help them out."
MURIEL -- "Compassion is something that you show
to people that you care for, sometimes it's not even
a person that you know, but you help them because
it's the right thing to do."
Once the project is done, students will be able to
pick up their tiles...
If they go unclaimed, local businesses will have the
opportunity to request a panel.
The art pieces can be displayed year-round...as a
friendly reminder to community members that compassion
can be shown everyday.
Putting this exhibit together.
took hours of planning and hard work.
About a hundred volunteers from our community pitched
in to help make the Compassion Project a success from
start to finish.
That includes the local carpenters union, who donated
hours and hours of their free time to help install
the artwork at the Pump House
News 8's Leah Linscheid caught up with the workers
and how they did their
part to start a community conversation
Nat - screwdriver
Andy Novak has the day off work - though it doesn't
look like it.
We're setting all the cleats for these panels, which
are gonna hang all the students' artwork through the
There's my inch...
He's giving up his free time today, to bring a little
compassion - NAT - to La Crosse's Pump House.
We're going through and fine-tuning it so it looks
pretty seamless, we gotta.
hang 'em like that, and maintain our one-inch margin
We've created more than a hundred of these portable
walls to be installed in every nook and cranny in
the Pump House Regional Arts Center.
Andy is just one of dozens of volunteers offering
a hand to help install the Compassion Project.
We really couldn't do a project like this without
the outpouring of volunteers and the labor that has
come forward saying, 'How can I help?'
I wish I would've been a part of it from the whole
get-go you know, the big picture deal.
look at that one
It's Kelsey Rocks, grade 12, Central High School.
Good job Kelsey.
We're being surrounded by these walls and we'll soon
be surrounded by artwork depicintg compassion.
These are just the beginning stages of the project
- ANDY NAT: Make sure they're pretty much the same
height" - building the walls to support - "and then"
- a cause - "one inch" that's much bigger.
The sheer numbers: the 6,000 students, the hundreds
of volunteers, not to mention the visitors who will
see the exhibit, either in person or virtually onthe
internet - it's really quite amazing to imagine.
In LAX, LL, N8.
Some people were able to take a sneak peek at this
exhibit last night during a special open house.
It was here.
that Mayor Tim Kabat declared La Crosse a compassionate
He joins us along with News 8's Jennifer Livingston
to talk about what his proclamation means...
Sorry, no closed captioning available.
WE ALL SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE
This project has already inspired a number of others
just like it.
At U-W La Crosse.
more than 500 tiles are on display in the Cartwright
and staff all had a hand in this.
The panels will travel to a variety of campus sites.
Aqunias Catholic Schools set up their display of compassion
at the La Crosse Public Library.
Students from throughout the system are sharing their
own take on how they define compassion.
And a number of businesses took part in special workshops
hosted at Viterbo University throughout the year.
to create tiles for their own company.
It was a chance for business leaders to talk about
how showing compassion can help a business be more
Here at the Pumphouse there are still a few blank
spots on the walls waiting to be filled.
There's a plan in the works to get some community
members displays of Compassion on these walls alongside
We'll all have to stay tuned for those plans.
We've only been able to show you a very small portion
of the beautiful artwork on display at the Pump House.
If you'd like to view the artwork online.
you can see some of the student's projects by going
to our website news8000.com.
You can also find all of the stories we've shared
tonight along with stories we've covered over the
past year on the La Crosse Compassion Project by going
to *the compassion project dot me.*
This website is also a great resource for information
It's really hard to put into words just how powerful
this art display is...
You really have to see it for yourself..
You could literally spend hours down here looking
at how the artwork on each of these 6-thousand canvases..
And you'll have plenty of time to see it for yourself...
The La Crosse Compassion Project is open to the public
at The Pump House until June 28.
The La Crosse Public Education Foundation hopes this
public exhibit will take this conversation on compassion
that's been happening in the school district and move
it into the community.
And the Foundation hopes this conversation doesn't
end when the tiles come down.
That will do it for us from the pumphouse.
When we come back.
Cory has a full look at our forecast...
Plus Mark McPherson has news of the day from the studio.