I’ve invited a crew of brilliant artists and thinkers, including representatives from Parson’s School
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Wow. What an extraordinary week! My time was dedicated to opening the Connecting the Dots exhibition (which is now open to the public at the Urban Zen Center, so come visit us!).
You know, preparing for this opening has been deeply personal for many reasons. It’s not just because it’s my husband Stephan’s art, and it’s not just that we’re showing it at Urban Zen. For me, this week was so special because of the people who came together. Stephan always had a powerful kind of magnetism - a presence – and I know so many people felt that this week. I spent hours and hours walking through Urban Zen, sharing with family, friends and press the passion and energy of Stephan and his art. From my children and grandchildren, to filming for the Today Show and talking to Ralph from the Wall Street Journal (did you see that article by the way? I love, love, loved it!), to the many, many friends who stopped by to show their support, to the “Connecting the Dots” event we threw to celebrate Stephan and honor the city that he loved so much (read more about that here) – it was amazing!
Many of you may not know why Urban Zen is so important to me, so I thought I would take some time to tell you the story here. In a way, Stephan and I created Urban Zen together, although he never lived to see it. Stephan lived with lung cancer for seven years before he passed away eleven years ago. When Stephan was battling cancer I made sure he had the best possible care using the integrative therapies that Stephan always referred to as my “Woo-woos,” until he needed them - yoga, aromatherapy, Reiki, massage, body work and proper nutrition. This experience showed me that there was a missing link in healthcare: doctors were treating the disease, but nobody was caring for the patient. Stephan’s last request of me was, “Donna, whatever you do, please take care of the nurses.” Urban Zen does that and so much more, taking care of the nurses and doctors and most of all treating the patients with the same care and commitment with which we treat the disease.
Stephan inspired the launch of Urban Zen, a place and a space where we bring likeminded people together to create, connect and collaborate to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children in mind, body and spirit. At Urban Zen we design forums, partner with existing organizations and bring together experts to define solutions and implement action.
My visions, dreams and passions for Urban Zen are endless and I am excited to share that we’ve made great progress. Our UZIT program is growing rapidly with new partnerships and opportunities. Our work in Haiti with the Clinton Global Initiative is beyond exciting (in fact, as I write this I am in Haiti! Make sure you check back next week as I’ll have many exciting stories to share with you!). And now, the Urban Zen Center has been transformed into a truly stunning exhibition filled with the passion and creativity of the man who continues to fuel everything I do.
It was Stephan who taught me to dream big – from business to love to family – and he remains my guiding light, past, present and future. I feel Stephan with me everyday, pushing me forward and cheering me on. Urban Zen is Stephan’s legacy; it’s the calm in the chaos, a place and a space that is truly making a difference in the world.