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Episode 054: Wendy Williams-Watt -- Activist / Artist / Designer
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However, thanks to artistic visionaries and thought leaders like Wendy Williams-Watt who sees opportunity for beauty and self-expression all around her, the quantity of love shown and received and felt is growing exponentially around the world. Love for oneself, love for community, love for country, love for the planet. In fact, her most talked about project to date Big Love Ball now has a home on every continent globally. If you’re not familiar with Big Love Ball, it is the incarnation of the glue that holds societies, countries, and families together – the most powerful single-word in any language, love – written in simple type across the width of a ginormous 5-foot in diameter to be exact, inflatable ball. It’s been called inflatable sculpture; an enormous beach ball that says the one thing we most want to say and hear and feel. Love.
Wendy Williams-Watt is a neat person, and the reason this conversation is so important is two-fold. One, we talk about love. Why we’re so afraid to show it. What it feels like when we’re missing it. What it feels like when we’re in it. But, we also talk about what it means to not just have ideas – which, when you’re as creative a person as Wendy is, is kind of like breathing – but actually doing something about them. I say it all the time: “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but most of all, the world needs dreamers who do.” Wendy is a dreamer who does, and this episode is an invitation to you too, to be a dreamer who does. Small admin note: I typically credit that quote as having come from Eleanor Roosevelt, but alas, I went to verify it the other day and I learned it was Sarah Ban Breathnach, writer of Simple Abundance.
For years, Wendy was respected in the city of Vancouver for her role concepting and operating the go-to lifestyle destination shop called Liberty – it was a place to go and just lose yourself in the awe of the finely curated pieces. The energy in that space for me, nearly 20 years ago, as a junior copywriter just starting out and living across the street from it, was the feeling of “one day…” It was like walking into a dream. When Wendy transitioned from being the décor expert, the entrepreneur with the thriving enterprise, she experienced an epiphany one day when the battery of her mouse died and she saw the words: “connection lost” across her screen. Her daughter had just moved out, a relationship had come to an end, and Wendy realized she had too much stuff and not enough love and people. She let herself walk through the pain and the loneliness and when she came out on the other side, a whole new articulation of love waited for her on the other side. If you have not seen Big Love Ball, and Wendy’s other love-enhancing, love-expressing projects like Pink Ring and Writing on Ribs, please – no, really, please – check out MJDionne.com and check out the podcaster tab. You need to see this work.
I hate to say it, but I’m going to anyway. There is perhaps an underlying feeling that to talk about love is a "female" thing to do. That it’s somehow not cool for guys to engage in dialogue this potentially vulnerable in nature. Which is why, I invite you all to tune in – love is as universal as it gets. And this is a talk for us all. In this time of a particular president talking about walls, and travel bans, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and we have fear in London in light of last week’s London Bridge attack, and in Manchester after the Ariana Grande concert terror attack, what the world needs now, is love sweet love. Wendy talks about what it was like touring the Fire Halls around ground zero on the anniversary of 9/11 last year, and the reaction of these big, burly men – as soon as they saw Big Love Ball, it became an invitation to talk and connect and share. When they brought Big Love Ball to ground zero and invited people to pen a loving note on the ball itself, Wendy describes this feeling of eutopia – love doesn’t see religion, gender, nationality.
She was back in New York this week, with her latest project, Big Love Button as seen on Good Morning America – congrats to you on that, sister.