The Man Behind the First City of Kindness

We got the inside scoop on what it takes to turn a city into a City of Kindness from the person that inspired it all. Join us for Part One of our two-part series, The Man Behind City of Kindness, a personal interview with Anaheim, California’s Mayor, Tom Tait.

During his two terms as mayor, Tom had a mission to make kindness contagious. Here are a few kind acts Tom helped initiate as Mayor:

  • Pledged to complete one million acts of kindness with the Anaheim Union School District under his kindness initiative.
  • Created the “Hi Neighbor” program, encouraging neighbors to get to know one another through acts of kindness and social infrastructure.
  • Created the “Coming Home Anaheim” program, which coordinates the work and resources of local community and religious groups to provide homes and help for the homeless.
  • Designated 2013 as Anaheim’s Year of Kindness, a yearlong effort to bring more resources and energy to neighborhoods by increasing the number of volunteers in this Orange County, California city.

These local initiatives provided the motivation to start City of Kindness and amplify the efforts of kindness organizations worldwide, initiate kind acts, and connect individuals with resources for spreading kindness in their own communities.

Read on to learn more about these initiatives and how the first City of Kindness got its start!

City of Kindness: What are you most proud of with Anaheim as a City of Kindness?

Tom: I am most proud of starting the kindness initiative which set kindness as a core value in the city. By “kindness,” we mean doing something for someone else with no expectation of return. It’s about changing the culture where kindness is central to who we are as people of Anaheim. After eight years, I believe we were successful in this effort. Imagine a city where everyone is a just a little kinder; when that happens, everything gets better. Kindness is a way of holistically healing the city from within, as opposed to simply treating the symptoms.

City of Kindness: Do you have a memorable moment from your time serving as Anaheim’s Mayor?
Tom: One of the kindness initiatives we did in Anaheim was encouraging our students in elementary schools to perform a million acts of kindness. The kids were successful, and the result was that kindness became central to our schools’ culture. Surprisingly, news of the million acts got to His Holiness The Dalai Lama, which led to my wife Julie and me meeting Him in Dharmsala, India. That meeting led to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with Lady Gaga and Billionaire philanthropist, Phil Anschutz, speaking to about 250 United States mayors at the US Conference of Mayors meeting in 2016, which inspired an event where mayors from across the country took up kindness as a core value in their city.


City of Kindness: How has kindness impacted Anaheim and beyond?
Tom: I would like to think that because of the kindness initiative, Anaheim is a kinder place now than it was before. I hope we’ve created a mindfulness; that by being from Anaheim, one is expected to be little kinder than otherwise. I believe kindness is contagious and that this will have a ripple effect for years to come.

Thank you, Mayor Tait for your years of dedicated service to the City of Anaheim and for inspiring all of us to make our homes, relationships, and cities a kinder place to live and play.

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