Congratulations Appalachian State University For Grand Opening of New Health Sciences Building
Probably our smallest installation ever just occurred in ASU’s largest building. The plaques on the Levine Hall wall of appreciation are crafted from Bark House wood slabs and bark tiles – healthy materials! A central theme of the building project is written on one of the plaques: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop” As a registered nurse and business owner, I would assert that this statement encompasses the powerful driver and differentiator behind good health care and an important first step in good process and good design.
This seems an appropriate introduction and a reasonable time of year to explore the central theme of kindness. The Dalai Lama said “My religion is kindness” which is to say that his life’s practice was to practice at being kind. The intentional development of kindness has two important elements, while its authentic expression in an innate capacity of almost all humans.
The two elements include internal locus of control and external considering. Design is a natural expression of internal locus of control or the belief that we know something of ourselves, have power over our lives and can influence our outcomes as well as the world around us. External considering enhances the practice of design by taking “the other” into account. This includes people obviously but also includes nature, historical precedent and context. Understanding ourselves and others is often rigorous work.
Where does the innate capacity of kindness come from? Have you ever been surprised when you extend kindness without intention – when it seemed to come out of nowhere, like a gift to the recipient that warmed your own heart? We practice resisting, denying and covering our kindness. We practice rationalizing it away. We steep ourselves in fear and find ourselves confronted with dis-ease of blocking kindness. Kindness comes from a source that is all-giving.
Chancellor Sheri Everts emphasized the importance the facility will play in increasing the health care workforce. “Health education is a longstanding priority for Appalachian. This new facility will expand our opportunities for education and outreach, and over the course of their careers as health professionals, our graduates will have immeasurable impact on the lives of others.” Leon Levine, the for whom the building is named had this to say about his intent – I want “to ensure that as many people have access to care as possible so that individuals can lead productive lives and spend more time with their loved ones.” The building was designed to be a part of the community and borders the local hospital.
There is really nothing small about kindness as every act creates a ripple with no end. I know that I am going to see it today, over the holidays - and indeed within myself.