The Council of Kindness

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The Council of Kindness is a silent sanctuary for visitors to have an opportunity to heal in the company of life-size animal and bird sculptures.

On the bench are six wooden animals in different poses. They take up all of the bench surface except for a few areas where a visitor can sit with them, gazing into the center of the circle. Five of the animals are looking at the visitor. They include a rhinoceros, a grey wolf, a donkey, a bear, and a dolphin who is resting on her flippers on the side of a tank filled with water. The water in the tank ripples from a fountain that gives the circle a soft, soothing water sound.

The sixth animal, a giraffe, is looking up at one hundred small songbirds who are perched along a circular steel tube. Many of the birds are bunched in small groups apparently enjoying each other’s company. Some are looking down at the visitor. Two have found a place on the back of the rhinoceros.

The animals welcome the visitor. They make up a quiet council of sorts.

This is the Council of Kindness. Folks come here to sit within the quiet of the space. It is a temporary sanctuary from other places and other people. It is a place still enough to feel one’s own heartbeat and by doing so reestablish the rightfulness of life.

Learn more about the animals

From Scott Harrison, creator of the Council of Kindness:

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 songbirds 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.

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 the initial website.

I appreciate the help of everyone who have helped to make the Council of Kindness a reality. It is now a part of Medicine Horse, a not-for-profit organization located in eastern Boulder County, where it is a part of their excellent therapy programs. It is a perfect home for the Council of Kindness.

-Scott Harrison, Nederland, Colorado, June 30, 2019