Juli Heney’s reflection

Thank you so very much for inviting us to attend your recent event, The Gift of Togetherness. 

In a world where we think we appreciate the impacts of a pandemic, your exhibit offered an old adage, yet a new perspective: out of the mouths of babes. The overall visual presentation was engaging – I really loved the children’s artwork that accompanied each station and the intentional design behind some of them (i.e. the use of only the color black). Using branches as easels supported a themed approach to having this event outside and the use of qr coding was quite effective, once you got the hang of it.

I had a very strong reaction to one of the stations: the one where the solitary staff member was alone in the building. After listening to children laughing, crying, playing, screaming, supporting, and just being engaged and engaging little humans, I was profoundly struck by the absence of that in this station. The increasing loudness of the silence as you listen for any sound of children, any sound or normalcy in the environment, any sound of anyone or anything that wasn’t there but should be.  I felt very disquieted by that quietude. It was wrong. I couldn’t help but wonder how the person who was there and made that recording must have felt; especially as they also had the visual impact of the absence of others. I am sure the first little while was novel, maybe even a relief from the history of sound in that space, but for a family centre used to a melee of children and adult emotions, that novelty likely wore off very quickly and left only the empty silence we heard. 

For me, that one really drove home that togetherness is a gift. One that we should embrace. One that is made richer as demonstrated through the explored and supported emotional ranges of children. The other stations were also very impactful on how we should pay more attention to each other and this was used as a feedback loop with the children which added even more complexity and drove more understanding (i reference the one where the child was brought right back to the emotions that created a painting when looking at it later even though those emotions had passed). 

I am impressed with the group of you who saw this opportunity and brought it to the rest of us. Thank you.