The Social Economic Environmental Design Network recently recognized the 7540 Washington apartments, a project about which I am very passionate, with an honorable mention for excellence in public interest design. Receiving such an award gave me pause not only to consider how fortunate I am to have been able to participate in such an endeavor, but also to think back on the process by which 7540 Washington came into being. While collaboration, organization and creativity are all crucial pieces of the pie, here I’d like to consider the central role of loving kindness in a project such as this.
In a passage from The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky writes, “In scattering…your kind deeds, you are giving away, in one form or another, part of your personality, and taking into yourself part of another; you are in mutual communion with another…You will come at last to look upon your work as a science; it will lay hold of all your life, and may fill up your whole life. On the other hand, all your thoughts, all the seeds scattered by you, perhaps forgotten by you, will grow up and take form. He who has received them from you will hand them on to another.” Acts of kindness are not merely linear processes, whereby one with means gives while one in need receives. They are much, much greater than the sum of their parts.
I, along with the whole design/development/implementation team, did approach 7540 Washington “as a science.” Everyone worked hard, and sought forward-‐thinking solutions to the issues at hand. Although I take great pride in all that I was able to contribute to these beautiful apartments, what is most amazing about this project is what is not yet known. For all of the young adults currently living at 7540, and for those who will live there in the future, their contributions to each other and the community are only just starting to materialize. I am so excited to see how the loving kindness of the team of which I was a part, will grow and evolve as it passes through the hands of others. Happy Valentines Day.