I am drawn to simple vessels that do not pull attention away, but rather create a frame that draws out the beauty of the flowers within. I was initially drawn to Haand’s Ripple Vases collection for this reason, but the more I work with these thoughtfully-designed pieces, I find that this collection speaks to me on multiple levels. As a flower farmer and floral designer, I am always looking for creative and beautiful ways to showcase our flowers.
I grow flowers with my adult son, Raimee, who has a diagnosis of autism, at the farm we own together: Blawesome. Over the years, we have come face to face with all the challenging aspects of starting an agriculturally-based business, which includes extreme weather, faulty infrastructure, nutrient deficiencies in our soil, plant disease, pest control, and slow markets. In addition to all of the above, our greatest challenge lay in the way our operation was perceived by those on the outside of it. Blawesome is often not regarded as a “real” farm, because the idea that a young man with autism could work hard and overcome all of the traditional demands of farming (and even thrive) is not something we typically get to witness in our culture.
Our society does not provide support systems that allow special populations to showcase their gifts; Blawesome supports and celebrates these real and valuable abilities. Each time Raimee delivers a pay-it-forward Good Karma flower bouquet to a member of our local community, this value is on display in the smile of the recipient.
Like Raimee, flowers need external support in order for the world to be able to see all their possibilities. They need a foundation that will hold them up and elevate their potential to amaze and inspire joy. Haand’s vases offer a bold and creative stage for our arrangements. They provide a unique invitation to contemplate and experience art from all angles, to reconsider any notion that symmetry or “sameness” has anything to do with beauty, and they support our creations in a way that compliments their natural form. Each vase features round, smooth curves that lead us to believe that a transformation is taking place in a silent and perpetual process; one that is barely visible but always happening. Haand’s designs are informed by the natural rhythms around us--the slow growth of plants; the ripples in a still pond.
In society, a ripple effect is the notion that even the slightest alteration of the environment can generate a series of shifts and influence the way we perceive and interpret an idea, person, or cultural movement.
How we show up in the world is important. Our style, our body language, our manners, and our movements are representations of how we want to be seen and understood by those around us. We put ourselves out there in ways that reflect the image that we want our community to associate with us, with our being, and we align with others who compliment that statement. Most of us have the unacknowledged gift of having agency over our presentation.
For many individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), there is an unspoken vulnerability that happens every time they show up in a public space, where attitudes of what is “normal,” “appropriate,” and “beautiful” are often not in alignment with their way of moving through the world.
Positive visibility and representation matter. Many individuals living with I/DD have to rely on others to be their voice and make a statement on their behalf. Doing it thoughtfully, respectfully, and beautifully is the single action that can initiate a ripple of positive responses that could have life-changing impacts on special populations, and transform our culture into one that is inclusive, supportive, and affirming of folks who are differently abled.
It starts with something simple: a young man living with autism, growing flowers, and sharing his work with the local community. He meets an artist with vessels to hold and share this story. The story is shared again. And again. It is a quiet, subtle whisper of an idea that, over time, smooths out the sharp, linear edges of our preconceived ideas and ushers in a new way of seeing, experiencing, and celebrating. It is the ripple effect, and we are excited to be a part of it.If you are interested in supporting the work of Blawesome, a social care farm spreading joy and opportunity in Chapel Hill, NC, they are currently raising funds for a delivery van through this Kickstarter campaign.