Most of us crave clean-cut beginning and end points throughout life. Traditions guide us, or at least mark stages in our lives, helping us reflect on who we were, who we are, and who we want to become. The well-connected stories we tell about ourselves are not always so linear, as last year made abundantly clear, with our personal and communal paths being much more circular and constantly evolving.
And yet, a circle isn’t complete without all the parts that make it whole.
I know it has been a while since we’ve had the chance to welcome you into our building, so I invite you to close your eyes and imagine walking through our doors. Standing in the lobby you find yourself beneath a living art installation of 20-foot-long pink, orange, and red ribbons. Titled “Circle of Thirds,” the piece was design by the artist Anne Patterson, a Hermitage Fellow. The ribbons are organized into three parts that represent the qualities of a thriving community: giving individuals, cause-driven organizations, and a dynamic community network.
Circle of Thirds by Anne Patterson (2018).
Most special to me is that upon many of the ribbons members of our community have written their dreams, hopes, and wishes. Depending on the angle you can see various heartwarming phrases like: Lead a good life. Just believe. The world can dream better. And the three most prevalent words? Happiness, love, and peace.
During the many months our lobby has remained quiet during the pandemic, I’ve found myself gazing at Circle of Thirds and remembering Anne’s words shortly after she completed the piece in 2018: “I hope this will make people feel really powerful and in control of their own lives and destinies, which I think is the best thing you can give someone. To make people realize that they can determine who they want to be, where they want to be, and what they want to do with their lives. A piece of art really does have the power to transform lives.”
Anne Patterson guides students at Alta Vista Elementary School in writing their own hopes and dreams for the future on ribbons that will become part of the Circle of Thirds in 2018.
Circle of Thirds constantly reminds me what our community can become when all parts of the circle stand together as one.
As we leave the orbit of 2020 and enter our next rotation, let us embrace our newfound latitude to discover and reimagine what we as a community are capable of and can bring into the realm of possibility. To do so, we must turn our energy towards what is within our immediate sphere of control and gradually expand its circumference to create the conditions for healthy, productive conversations and spaces.
As always, I’d love to hear from you, but how I’ll connect with you will be somewhat different this month as we continue our remote working. Ask yourself: If you could scribble your hopes and dreams down onto a new ribbon for the Circle of Thirds, what would you share?
With wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2021,