By Jawn McKinley
Sedona AZ (October 30, 2018) – At this time of year, with the elections almost behind us (whew!) and Thanksgiving just around the corner, SedonaKind is happy to tell you a story to make your heart sing. During a meeting last spring, members thought about ways to spread our message to everyone in town. Some thought how marvelous it would be to create a “Kindness Wall” in Sedona to be seen by everyone driving through town.
After we caught our breath, we realized that might be a long-term project involving many other community groups. But the impulse remained, and so we thought “what about a bench?” The idea would be to create a permanent mosaic bench with tiles and hearts, where residents and visitors alike could rest, relax, and contemplate kindness.
Well, the concept quickly grew from one bench into 13. Lucy Paradise and Lenore Hemingway, two beloved Sedona artists and SedonaKind members jumped up to turn this dream into reality. The project must have had fairy dust on it, because everything we needed just fell into place. Excalibur, a local artisan, found the perfect concrete benches in multiple sizes. Each would be finished with different themes and designs. As the word spread, each bench was eagerly sponsored by individuals, businesses and groups. They were so sought after that we had to add a few more. Now we are up to 16 benches. Everyone who sponsors a bench knows the bench will be donated to the community and put in a public place. All the benches will have a kindness message in the design, and many will be in memory of loved ones.
This summer, SedonaKind used the “Wish List” in the Red Rock News to ask for donations of natural or ceramic tiles, and the community stepped up. People donated funds to help with the growing costs. Artist friends of Lucy and Lenore gave tiles and helped create the fused glass to be used in the designs. SedonaKind member, Judith Fogarty, stored all 16 benches for us during the summer. What a gift! It seems Kindness does have a life of its own.
We are also grateful that the City of Sedona was thrilled with the project, and has helped us find public homes for several of the benches.
As of the week of November 5th, Lucy, Lenore and SedonaKind worker bee members will gather to assemble the benches at the studio of another of our “bench angels,” Carol Gandolfo. How did 16 heavy concrete benches get to the studio? Sir Moves A Lot, another angel, saved the day (and our backs!). Photographer extraordinaire, Larry Kane, will be taking pictures all week to document the creation of each bench. Thank you Larry!
By the end of the week, all 16 benches should be ready to move to their new homes around Sedona and the Village. There, they will wait for all to find them, to sit and take a quiet moment to hold the idea of kindness close to their hearts, and then take that magic with them as they go about their day.
SedonaKind is always thrilled when we develop a project that spreads our message, and even happier when we can engage the community in the process. The phrase “it takes a village” may be overworked, but this has truly been a joyful community project. Our beautiful benches will be a permanent testament to the lasting power of kindness.