“Open Your Eyes”

Written by Mark Brunetz, National Spokesperson, DFAD

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

After years of escorting people into made over spaces and saying “open your eyes”’ then witnessing their reactions to a space that was designed specifically for them, I’ve learned that rapid change can be uncomfortable. In an effort to express their gratitude, I’ve seen people jump and down uncontrollably, cry buckets of tears, and then exclaim the three most overused words in makeover history…. “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”

When people are overwhelmed and in the presence of something completely unexpected, they can get a little tongue-tied. So, saying “Oh my God,” for example, makes the moment somehow palatable. I have no doubt that at many times during the pandemic (even now), we all have said, “Oh my god” on at least one or two occasions. Therefore, it would behoove us to take note.

The pandemic has been (and still is) a reset, a period of reexamination.

From our homes to the workplace, we’re asking questions that we likely would have asked 5-6 years from now. But somehow, the pandemic has propelled us forward in time, both from a technological and humanistic standpoint. And along the way, whether done intentionally or not, we have been mentally journaling the process. More specifically, taking note of all the new things we added to our daily lifestyles.

The end result brings us two lists:

  • Things that changed during the pandemic that we will keep doing.
  • Things that changed during the pandemic that we will not keep doing; resorting back to the way it was before.

So, what changed during the pandemic that we are now unwilling to have return to the way it was before? If we are able to bring our awareness to answering that question, some of us might be able to say, the pandemic was a catalyst for change.

The good work of all of the people behind Design For A Difference and any other initiative that brings people together for a higher cause centers on two primary things: contribution and service. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that these human qualities dominated the headlines. But so did selfishness and myopia.

Over the past year, the core team with DFAD knew we had to respond to what was happening in the world, and in our own backyards. To do so, we launched the DFAD Community Heroes initiative, sharing the stories of countless front line workers and responders, and giving free flooring to five deserving heroes from various parts of the country. Still in progress, stay tuned for more on the outcome of this campaign.

Let’s face it! Launching an initiative like the Community Heroes campaign during a pandemic was not easy. People were distracted, rightfully so. But the team was unstoppable. We created all the promotional assets, launched a nomination platform, organized a team of judges, voted for the winners, and now DFAD Ambassadors are designing rooms and looking to install. The point?

We made a choice. To do more when it seemed we were already doing a lot.

Just when we thought we knew how to contribute and be in service to people and their communities, the pandemic taught us we could do more. Simple everyday efforts to be part to swing the pendulum in the direction of good. And like a fork in the road that disappears behind us once we take the first step, “doing more” is now a part of us.

As you ponder the list of things that changed during the pandemic that you would like to keep doing, consider this. As individuals, there is no limit to what we can do. As a member of the human race, there is no limit to what can be done when it’s done together.

Together is better.

If the quote from Margaret Mead at the top of this blog reminds us of anything, let it be that life is full of surprises. And we may get stopped in our tracks when that happens uttering “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” But make no mistake about it, everything happens for a reason. And in the end, we are left with either a list of reasons or list of results. It’s up to us.

About Mark Brunetz

Mark Brunetz is the National Spokesperson for Design for a Difference.

He is a well-known interior designer who is dedicated and passionate about not only creating stunning designs that suit his client’s needs, but also giving back to the community.