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They had been toiling for weeks in the hazy humidity of an Erie summer, transforming the steep, wild, overgrown area near the creek and wooden footbridge into something more than a tangled mess of vegetation.

You already know that I’m a big fan of wild spaces, and I’ll admit that, at first, I was a little disappointed to see them turn the natural area lining Trout Run into a “blank canvas” of soil.

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But, then, they started planting and the bank beds began to take shape. The flowers began to bloom and the footbridge, once hidden by the weeds around it, now stood out. It’s sure to see more traffic when students return to campus later this month. They’ll probably wonder where it came from, when it had been there all along, obscured by unruly weeds and bushes.

As I was walking back to my office one afternoon, the guys working on the project were taking a break. I smiled, pointed at the bank, and told them it was looking really nice.

We chatted for a bit. They thanked me and told me what a big job it had turned out to be and what they’d chosen to plant there (native plants) and why (soil and water maintenance).

I walked away, happy that I’d take the time to compliment them because if there is one thing world needs today it’s more kind words, more understanding, more compassion, more empathy, and more appreciation for one another.

Then, I realized I could do better. I turned around, went back and told them:

“You know, I interview a lot of people—professors, alumni, students—and I ask every single one of them why they chose this college. Almost all of them mention the beauty of our campus. So, you should know that you guys have as much of an influence on admissions and recruitment as the people in the offices and classrooms here. What you do here matters and it is appreciated.”

Consider this: What if we all used our own unique gifts to make the world a better, more beautiful place?

They did it with tools, plants, creativity, and a lot of sweat.

I try to do it with words.

What can you do?

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.

“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”