The inspiration for the Council of Kindness came from my previous project, now a not-for-profit organization, The Carousel of Happiness.
Early in its existence, a local TV news reporter visited the carousel with his camera crew. They spent a good part of the day there, watching people ride and the joy that seemed to soak into everyone in the building. The reporter noticed a woman who was sitting for a long time, alone, and quietly watching the carousel turn. She had an oxygen tank with her. He went over and interviewed her to find that she was a regular visitor from another town. She would come up on the bus every few weeks as she was going through brutal chemotherapy sessions for her cancer. She told him that she just needed these visits to bring her spirits up and help her to find her own happiness despite what the future might hold for her.
I began to notice others enjoying the carousel in similar ways. At the same time, I was part of a group of military combat veterans dealing with PTSD issues. This convergence of experiences led me to think of creating another place, quieter than the carousel environment, a sanctuary of sorts, where folks who have had trauma in their lives could come to enjoy a peaceful hour or so, and even perhaps to heal.
Over several months in 2015, I designed a circular bench with kind-looking, large animals occupying it, and looking in the direction of a spot that was designated for a visitor. One hundred small wooden song birds would be perched on a large ring of brass above the bench.
The space would be silent and secure for visitors to find their thoughts, perhaps hear themselves breath, and enjoy a brief separation from the rest of their lives.
The idea of the Council of Kindness is to find a place that is inside a building, secure, free for the visitor, and accessible to all. There is much left to do, but the carvings are almost all done.
I have been helped with two grants to pay for supplies from the Boulder County Arts Alliance. Russ Karasch, from Minnesota, after learning of the project, donated much of the basswood used in the carvings and bench. Others have provided temporary shelter for the sculptures. Several folks are contributing their expertise: psychologists, a movie set designer, and a set builder will be helping to design a soothing environment for visitors, and appropriate for those who may be using the space to heal. My friend, Spafford Ackerly, has designed this website.
I appreciate the help of everyone who have or will help to make the Council of Kindness a reality.
-Scott Harrison, Nederland, Colorado, June 22, 2018