June 10, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2008

Stewart, Kay
Health, P.E. and Dance

Project Summary

Being part of the Piedmont Project opened my mind to new ideas about my role in issues of sustainability, and it also opened my eyes to the beauty that is Emory. I am committed to encouraging students to connect to Emory as place. One obvious change in my PE classes will be a commitment to getting students outside to “connect” with nature! New activities will include walking in the full presence of life, whether in Lullwater, Hahn Woods, or other interesting places of beauty on campus. The fast pace of technology often draws us toward a quick fix or instant gratification and we are increasingly disconnected from natural surroundings. Nature can be a powerful metaphor for living well and slowing down to the natural rhythm of life. Natural laws help us understand choices that lead to effective, sustainable living. I will be more intentional about raising awareness about the benefits of connecting to nature, and this will be evident in class discussions, activities, and extra credit options. One specific new activity will center on viewing "The Man Who Planted Trees" from Academy Award winning animator Frederic Back. This short film is based on a story by Jean Giono, and it serves as an inspiring testament to the power of one person. The story vividly portrays how a patient shepherd plants and nurtures thousands of trees, transforming a dry, dead place into a thriving oasis. In addition to new ideas surrounding meaningful activities and exercises for class, my intention is to invest energy in the following areas as I continue the journey of discovery inspired by the Piedmont Project:
1 "Sustainability of the Person" as an expressed strategic goal of Emory's Office of Sustainability. We need to have dialogue leading to a broadened definition of sustainability in order to truly be a model for healthy living on our campus (as expressed in the Sustainability Initiatives brochure). I believe it's a win-win to intentionally align our sustainability initiative with the intersection between personal health and health of the planet.
2 Exploring the possibility of a partnership between Student Health (Campus Life) and Health, PE, and Dance (Emory College) so that we can incubate and serve as a catalyst for visible, actionable steps regarding "Sustainability of the Person."
3 All members of the Emory community can be encouraged to engage in activities known to sustain active, healthy living. My vision is to see examples of “mindful” activities on campus as visible signs of our commitment to raising consciousness and connection to nature. (i.e. Tai Chi on the quad, walking meditation groups in Lullwater, seated meditation in front of Candler Library, a prayer/meditation labyrinth on campus) The possibilities are endless and the research supports these practices as effective tools for building compassion and balance. They also awaken us to a more sustainable lifestyle for ourselves, our community, and our world. (A catalyst for creative cooperation can be the new dialogue surrounding mindfulness meditation on campus initiated a few months ago by Shirley Banks, Student Health Services. Bobbi Patterson is also part of this conversation about a mindfulness collaborative, and I mention this because she is a past Piedmont Project participant and a creative leader for sustainability.)

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