By Becca Morrow
November 13 saw the first appearance of the Interfaith Center’s Safe Space Dome. The Dome is a 14’ geodesic dome that can serves as a mini Interfaith Center complete with coffee & cozy conversation. It just so happened that the day it was erected was the coldest day of the year so far. It ended up working out in our favor since the dome home became an igloo-esque bubble of warmth on the Green. I was really excited over the level of participation that students engaged in within the dome. The dome positioned everyone in a circle, facing each other which allowed for a more familiar form of connection. The central talking point in the dome was based around everyone’s own personal understanding of human nature. It is always nice to be reminded how similar we all are when we hold the same values across differences in faith and culture. I found myself agreeing with many of the same philosophies with those of different faiths and nonfaiths. We also discovered how unique the dome appeared on the green when students reported hearing of the construction from conversations of passerbys on the other side of campus!
Guests of the Dome ended up staying nearly as long as I did (4 hours!) If you read the previous article on the construction of the dome home, then you would find it easy to understand my excitement over the amount of attendees in the dome home. The accompanying peace of natural conversation was the yin to the yang of the frustrations of the construction process. Many psychologists argue that the best defense against the stressors of day to day life is social support. Finding people to empathize with has such a positive impact on mental wellbeing. I was honored to get the opportunity to share in this “social self-care” with other UNF students. A closer community on campus creates a happier student body.
Future dome events will have allotted time frames for certain discussion topics to create more dutiful dialogue. Questions to ask will include things such as: What do you feel is your true essence/What is the meaning of this essence; How does your identity shape your opinion on the meaning (or absence of meaning) for life and how does this influence your life course, if any? As always, there will be coffee to fuel the contemplation and guidelines to create a non-hostile dialogue discussion.
I hope future dome appearances can be accompanied by workshops and speakers to give students an educational as well as community building experience.