September 21-23, 2021
Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX

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The Leaflet Article

Featured Article:


by Dr. Wayne Ruga, FAIA, FIIDA, Hon. FASID

Residential doormats have traditionally greeted visitors into our homes with a warm and familiar ‘welcome’. The Cambridge English Dictionary definition of ‘welcome’ is: ‘to meet and speak to someone in a friendly way when they arrive’. As the founder of the Symposium, and its Special Advisor, I extend to you my most sincere and heartfelt ‘welcome’ for you to attend this year’s program.

If you will be a returning attendee to this year’s 32nd annual Symposium, most likely, you have been met and spoken to in this ‘friendly way’ – not only by the Symposium staff, but by fellow attendees as well. As a returning attendee, you know from your experience that you can expect this ‘friendly way’ to be normal – not just a performance, but, rather - the natural way that this like-minded community engages in its distinctive work of welcoming new attendees, collaborating, and sharing.

If you have never attended the Symposium, this is an ideal opportunity to actively participate in a community of friendly like-minded colleagues – who, like you, are contributing what we each do best to improve the quality of healthcare. In fact, the Symposium was founded upon being a place where a like-minded community of multi-disciplinary stakeholders in health, healthcare, and design can learn from each other, share resources, be supportive and collaborative throughout the entire year, and work towards creating places that actively improve human health through the design of the environment

Since the Symposium is intentionally not a membership organization, it actively welcomes everyone – first timers, old timers, disciplinary novices, entrepreneurs – anyone who is interested in learning, and improving healthcare. There is no preferential treatment – each one of us is valued as a contributor in sharing our resources and being a potential collaborator in our collective enterprise of building a better world.

One of the notable characteristics that gives richness and vitality to the like-minded community of the Symposium, is its disciplinary diversity – there is a dynamic mix of stakeholders, each with an expertise in a different part of the full spectrum of environmental, health, and healthcare interests that constitute the world of designing more life-enhancing healthcare experiences.

Also, significantly, this like-minded community is not of any single ideology – rather – it is made up of so many different mindsets, beliefs, practices, knowledges, and traditions that meeting new colleagues and discussing ideas is one of the many ways that engagement and collaboration find expression.

Friendliness begets friendliness. It is precisely this mutual respect that makes it so effortless – and enjoyable – for all attendees to seek those resources that support the realization of their particular aspirations. Since, by its design, the Symposium is a dynamic mix of stakeholders from a multitude of varying backgrounds, the likelihood of identifying and securing resources is easily accomplished – not just once, not even twice – but many times over.

The Symposium is not static – it is not a one-size-fits-all program – it constantly evolves, morphs, and reinvents itself. Occasionally, I hear the Symposium being referred to as a ‘conference’ – it is absolutely not a ‘conference’. Indeed, the Symposium program can look like a ‘conference’, since it provides the learning, discovering, and networking opportunities that a conventional conference would – however, in addition, it also uniquely prioritizes opportunities for meeting new colleagues, sharing resources, relationship building, and the development of building its extended ‘community’ – both in time and in place.

The Symposium community experience is developed through the creation of a broad range of engagement opportunities that enable an attendee to have a feeling that ‘I belong, here’. For those who have experienced the Symposium, and for those who will be experiencing it for the first time – it is similar to the experience of a neighborhood pot luck picnic…everyone is welcome, valued, and the dish that we contribute brings a greater richness to the overall experience – a collective, collaborative experience that is appreciated by everyone in the group.

For me, besides being very excited about the Symposium returning to Boston (again), I am thrilled to see the richness of this year’s offerings, and many new names and organizations in the program – each contributing towards its ever-expanding richness. And, this year, in Boston, I feel honored to have the opportunity – for the second year – to be presenting my own ‘potluck dish’: ‘The Healthcare Executive Leaders’ Program’ (ELP). This is a 4-day long program about the ‘Generative Space’ method – an innovative and highly practical approach designed to improve your performance. I welcome you to join me in this exclusive, small group, learning opportunity. Additional information about the ELP is available on: .

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