Thank you for your interest in the campaign. Below you can learn more about why I am running for Congress and how I came to dedicate my life to empathy-centered culture reform, which is core to the campaign.

A Seeker: My Travels Around the World

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in sunny Sacramento, California and have now lived in El Cerrito, California for about the last 30 years. As a teenager growing up in Sacramento, I was anxious to graduate from high school and start traveling around the world. Learning by practical experience was my motto and I wanted to have adventures and seek the meaning of life. I graduated in just 3 years and started off by backpacking for several months in the Sierra Nevada's and got a job in a gold mine. I was hitchhiking with my dog, Buck, and a beat-up old pickup truck drove by. "Want a job?" the driver yelled out. "Doing what?" I asked. "Gold mining!" How could I resist.... Three months latter I hadn't made much, if any money, but it sure was an adventure.

Next, I rode a bicycle to Vancouver, Canada from Sacramento, stopping to pick apples in Hood River, Oregon. Thus started my traveling and working my way around the world. In total, I was "on the road" for about 10 years. I interacted with a wide variety of cultures and peoples from all walks of life and learned to see the common humanity of all people on the planet.

I began my travels. I flew through the South Pacific, Hawaii, Samoan Islands, Fiji and ended in New Zealand. There I worked picking fruit, (apples, peaches, apricots) and as a kitchen helper in Bluff, on the Southern tip of the South Island. In Auckland, I worked as a hospital orderly for 4 months. Off to Australia where I hitchhiked all the way around the country and down to Tasmania. I worked as a surveyor's assistant in the outback of Western Australia, picked fruit around Adelaide and worked in a cheese factory in Burnie, Tasmania. Then on to Indonesia to teach English. In the Philippines I worked as a movie extra on the movie Apocalypse Now. That's me in the back row, X marks my back. I traveled all through South and South East Asia. Middle East and Europe. In Germany I was a warehouse worker, longshoreman and ship watchman in the Hamburg harbor. I eventually went though China and took the Trans-Siberian Railroad through Mongolia and Russia.

Sailing an outrigger canoe "sampan" in Bali, Indonesia. They're made of hollowed out logs and are quite heavy. My friend Nyoman helps me drag it into the water.

Sailing a sampan and searching for dolphin's in Bali.

'Extra' On
Apocalypse Now

As an movie extra , I played the part of a soldier in Apocalypse Now. This was filled in the Philippines. That's me in the back row. X marks my back.

Computer Expert

Moving back to the Bay Area, I bought a PC and on my own I started learning about "PC clone" computers and ended up authoring three books on how to buy and use them. I also wrote articles for several computer magazines. Taking advantage of the new desktop publishing software, I wrote three books about using computers and created a small book publishing company.

MicroTimes Magazine named me one of the top one hundred most influential people in the computer industry for 2 years in a row. They said, "With his series of clone buyer's guides, Rutsch provides sound, lucid advice to the confused shopper and a valuable resource to the bewildered user. His books (themselves a testimonial to desktop publishing) make a great contribution to the industry by making it vastly easier to make an informed decision, as well as be more productive with your machine after you've bought it."

My first book edition on display at B. Daltons in San Francisco, 1986

I became interested in Windows 'NT' in 1994, and became President and founder of the Bay Area Windows NT User Group. I passed the Microsoft MCSE + Internet certification and worked as a computer systems administrator and consultant. I worked at Esalen Institute (a retreat center on the Big Sur coast and home of the human potential movement) for about a year and for three and a half years at Fuji Xerox Palo Alto Labs, a cutting edge computer research lab located on the Xerox Parc research campus in Palo Alto, California.

Documentary Filmmaker

At the end of the 1990's, I started making documentaries and explored the nature and importance of human values for the well-being of humanity.

Inspiration and
The Art of Living Black

One of my documentary projects was on the experience of inspiration called, Inspiration and The Art of Living Black (TAOLB). Here we interviewed 45 African American artists at the Richmond Art Center who shared personal stories about the source of their inspiration.

Joan Kuenz talks about how we developed and facilitated the Inspiration and The Art of Living Black project

Finding What I Had Been Seeking
Center for Building A Culture of Empathy

In my documentary work on human values, I came to see the central importance of mutual empathy. When people I interviewed shared personal stories about empathy and care, I could feel the deep meaning and power of it in their lives. The more I looked into the nature of empathy, the more I saw it was what I had been seeking. I have found this is the way we, as human beings, deeply connect, understand each other and mediate our conflicts. It is the gateway to seeing our common humanity, which gives meaning to our lives.

I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to building a more empathic and caring society. I founded, The Center For Building a Culture of Empathy. Our mission is to build a movement for creating a global worldwide culture of empathy and care. We do this through a variety of means. First is by community organizing and by collecting, curating and organizing all the material we find on the internet on the topic. A current focus is on; bridging social and political divides, designing and offering free online empathy, listening, constructive dialogue skills trainings, building an academic empathy training literature wiki, and holding public activist Empathy Tent Pop-ups where we listen to the public and offer conflict mediation.

Now we are taking the movement into the political area. The core of the campaign is to bring communities together in Empathy Circles, a very powerful way to hold constructive dialogues where people actually listen and hear each other.

Empathy Tent
Listening, Mediating, Bringing People Together

We set up the Empathy Tent in public spaces over the past 10 years offering listening, dialogue, community building and conflict mediation.

Offering listening to the public at a community event with thousands or people.


We need to train our politicians in how to listen and hear each other. I have been holding these empathy and listening skills trainings. You can join the training and help spread the skills and way of being in your families and communities. If you want the support my campaign, the first step to take is hosting some Empathy Circles with your family.

Start an Empathy Circle and ask the question, 'How might we bridge the personal, social and political divides in out communities?'

Horrors of War
Our Global Empathy Deficit.

Another reason for dedicating myself to raising the level of empathy in the world is from hearing the childhood stories of my parents. My parents were young German teenager's during World War II and were living in the Eastern part of Germany and Poland. They told me stories of the horror's of the war as the advancing Russian soldiers took their revenge on German civilians for what the German army had done to them in their homeland. On my fathers side, everyone in his family - mother, father, sister and brother were shot and killed in their house. On my mothers side, the woman were repeatedly raped by soldiers. They both then went through years of being refugees and barely surviving from day to day.

These sort of horrors continue to happen now around the world. I see the war and all its atrocity's as a human empathy defect that I have dedicated the rest of my life addressing. I'm working to head off these sort of horrors in the future. I made a documentary about each of my parents lives up to the point when they arrived as refugees in the USA, which accepted them with open arms. See them below.

Empathy Tent Mediation

This video is part of the documentary, "Trumphobia: what both sides fear." It shows our Empathy Tent Team and I mediating between the political left and right. It captures our message of how we can bring the sides together with listening to all sides and bringing the participants together in Empathy Circles to listen to each other. The Empathy Tent listening and mediation was also featured in Articles and TV News Shows.

See the Video Clip

Taking the Message to the U.S. Congress

I now want to bring the Empathy Movement to the wider community and to the centers of power. Citizens, communities and especially politicians need to sit down and talk to each other!

"Solving any problem, any issue, any challenge, any conflict, starts with mutual listening and dialogue. If this is missing, democracy cannot work."

We have held may Empathy Circle dialogues with people on the political left and right. We know that these dialogues lead to a sense of connection where people are ready to take on problems together as partners instead of adversaries, despite their disagreements. Right now, our politics are controlled by people unable to get beyond the needs of power, money, special interest, and polarization. With my campaign I intend to demonstrate how we can work together. Vote to send me to Washington to spur the kind of change in our politics that WE THE PEOPLE NEED.

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Email me: Call ‪(510) 224-4401‬
Center For Building a Culture of Empathy - Empathy Circles - Empathy Tent - Training