*Cheryl is an architect, designer, urban planner, educator, friend and passionate volunteer. She is one of those people that openly welcomes good conversation and shuns instant gratification in favor of the long run success that comes with thoughtful experienced reason and planning. Since the main focus of her career has been architecture and urban planning, the results of her work is realized more slowly, subtly and without the apparent ego that sometimes manifests itself in public works.
When asked if there were any dark times in her career, she talks about working for a firm that was designing prisons. Fortunately, instead of adapting a utilitarian approach to the design, they decided that if they made the prison safe, functional and pleasing to the guards that had chosen to work there, this would be better for the inmates who had lost their choice. How does one find and encourage Hope in a hopeless setting?
Cheryl explains that there is Hope in the process of planning spaces we humans will inhabit. It is not about functionality as much as it is about inspiration. While describing the process, she begins to throw latin phrases at me from a Greek architect who explains the basics of architecture with three words: Firmitas (Does it stand up?), Utilitas (Does it work?) and Venustas (Is it beautiful?). Cheryl’s eyes twinkle as she explains that her interpretation of “beautiful” would actually be “Delight”. She says that what she means by delight is similar to the childlike Hope we had discussed earlier. It’s how one feels walking through the front door of the old building she has renovated, and stepping into a living space that takes your breath away.
She tells me about an experience she had teaching and inspiring first graders with the art of making furniture and building cities out of cardboard and paper. These kids were learning about space and each other by counting floor tiles, measuring each others height and wingspan and constructing milk-carton buildings. I can sense the enthusiasm those kids felt during the four weeks Cheryl crawled on the classroom floors with them.
I think Cheryl is one of those individuals that embodies the active Hope that is contagious. Whether it is a co-worker, student, colleague on an non-profit board or a friend, all are affected by her active hopeful spirit.
Thank you for the delightful lunch Cheryl!