The Industries for the Blind, INC. has a 78-year history in Greensboro. When the company first began it gave jobs to the blind to have them feel as though they had a civil service duty in society. They made mops and brooms. It was a non-profit organization.
Today they make profits, pay wages for the seeing impaired employees, have huge accounts with the United States military, and employee over 215 people. They employee people from all walks of life, and even from other nations; most with sight disabilities.
With such a long lasting relationship with North Carolina and Greensboro, it is amazing we know very little about them like we do… Well, they wish to change that.
The idea for the space is to open it up to the world, both physically and metaphorically. The space lack very few windows, a sign of former management that didn’t quite see the employees as the people they deserved to be seen as. They felt too much exposure to the world, would limit their ability to work more productively.
When entering the space we are met with the bright morning sun shinning over the building and the parking lot that we stand in. It gives the building a bright feeling, but all of this is quickly lost.
When we enter we have a small lobby, very vacant of color, and even personality. The front desk is behind a glass window, and the door that leads beyond is locked.
After being buzzed through we come to a small stairwell. Elevators are also located here. In a corner we see an indoor garden. It feels very tacky and lacking in much taste to be as honest as I can be. It is a nice touch though. It is the first real moment of the space as a whole, a true moment of “Zen” if you will. This becomes more justified the deeper I go on the journey.
Up the stairs is where offices and conference room is located. This space has much more natural light coming in from windows, but still is outdone by the ultra-violet ceiling lights.
Through the offices we enter the factory. We see storage rooms, vast rooms with crates and shipment ready to send out, work areas alive with machines and workers. This area resembles more of a beehive of activity. Everything feels alive. Through this Journey we circle back around and come out at the indoor garden once again.
And as promised… Zen.
Zen gardens are to allow for tranquility to find meditation possible. I feel the factory, as a whole, is in somewhat meditation.
The workers, many of who are seen to be disabled too much of society are allowed to work and be fully functioning members of the world. They go to work everyday, make wages, and learn skills. They are proving lack of sight does not have to be a set back in being a person in society.
Just as mediation is to teach one the way of the world, the meaning to life, so does this company. It gives these workers a chance at their own life. That is why I feel that indoor garden is such a useful tool for this space.This space should be more open. Allow the world to see into the space. It is an amazing space with great potential to not only these people’s lives that work within, but also the meaning of their work to the world.