Sept. 16, 2016: Writing on the Wall: What is kindness? by Kathleen Norman

September 16, 2016 by

Kathleen Norman

Kathleen Norman

With Fall Fest right around the corner, I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on the public art piece that was on display last year. You might have seen it tucked off the main drag by the Chamber of Commerce or that night at Music Fest.

We had two giant plywood sandwich boards, coated with chalkboard paint and placed side by side to create the 8-foot-by-6-foot “wall.” Then we stenciled in a two-part fill-in-the-blank prompt: “I want to live in a world where…” and “To create this world, I will…”

This piece was part of a larger global movement called The World We Want, which focuses on creating public art pieces where individuals and communities express themselves.

There was a decent amount of participation. By noon, most of the squares had been filled in and people continued writing their visions wherever there was space. While not everyone chose to write on the wall, many people stopped and just read what others had written. The responses were both humorous and serious.

The chalkboard wall will be back this year and again people are invited to share their thoughts. This year’s prompt will be “Kindness is…”

According to the Oxford Dictionary, kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. But, what does that mean to you individually?

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the comic “Love is…” by Kim Casali. The single image with a caption: “Love is… having someone to hug,” “Love is… when someone remembers,” “Love is… facing the unknown together,” etc.

From the simplest gesture to an elaborate demonstration, love is manifested in many ways and so too is kindness. Maybe for you “Kindness is someone holding the door for me.” Or perhaps “Kindness is a friend listening to my troubles.” Or simply it could be that “Kindness is 13 points in scrabble.”

Take some time to think about it. And, I encourage you to find the wall at Fall Fest and share what “Kindness is…” to you.

 

— Kathleen Norman is director of Neighborhood Initiatives Inc., an office of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, and teaches the Sew Creative sewing classes

 

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