Lately, I have had the pleasure of working with John R. Wharton, owner and founder of Glass Gardens, a Norfolk based pop up shop that sells a variety of succulent plants, terrariums, and plant related swag. John started Glass Gardens simply because of his passion for plants, and I think he truly embodies many of the ideas I promote with Small Acts Count.
I first met John in an elevator in the Downtown Norfolk YMCA either before or after a yoga class, I don't remember which it was at this point. I do remember being in awe of meeting a person who was so easy to talk to, engaging, and genuinely interested in what I had to say. After that day, John and I usually talked when we happened to be attending the same yoga class at the Y.
After leaving Norfolk, VA and moving to North Carolina in 2013, and then Charlottesville, VA in 2014, I happened to be visiting some close friends in the Norfolk area in October. Ryan and I were outside the Handsome Biscuit on our bikes waiting for Eric to come along so we could head back to his apartment. I noticed some type of plant sale going on in the corner of the lot near the intersection of Colonial and 26th street. I absolutely love plants so I went over to check it out.
I remember seeing John and thinking he looked very familiar, but after a couple years of not seeing him I couldn't quite place where I knew his face. I was kind of stumped, but I went on perusing the plants. Jade plants, air plants, other succulents and varieties I'd never seen. It was a great spread, and I enjoyed looking around.
After a few moments, John finally remembered. Yoga class, and boom! The memory came back. We chatted for a few minutes about plants and how he got started with this gig. He ended up giving me a small succulent I'd never heard of before, a Donkey Ear. He put it in a re-purposed half painted food can in a napkin on a bed of what he deemed was "some really good soil mix his friend had made."
I was ecstatic about this plant, but mostly I was once again in awe of John. I thought it was so kind of him to give me this small token. It was a Small Act, and stands out as a memory that helped nudge me in the right direction to start this blog. John's action reminded me that people are good and capable of taking small actions that contribute to the happiness or enjoyment of others. He didn't care about getting anything in return, he just wanted to share some joy.
After I started Small Acts Count he was one of the first people to encourage me and motivate me to continue expressing my passion. In the early stages of putting yourself out there, this is important. We continued to touch base, and I offered to help him revamp his website. It has been a great project so far, and SquareSpace makes the life of a web designer SO easy.
Of all the Small Acts I try to practice each day, I think fostering human connection is one of the most important, and most rewarding. The willingness to be open to others' ideas and energy, and then reciprocate constructively has helped me, as a person who has struggled with a distorted perception of humanity, immensely. Ultimately, that's why I started this adventure; to connect with others, network, help those in need, and most of all, challenge that perception. Deep down, human instinct is to cooperate. Just like plants, with a little nurturing, attention, and love, relationships with others will flourish and bloom into something beautiful. I encourage you to be mindful of that this Saturday. Be open to others, let them in, learn from them, spread the love.