Polk State breaks ground on permanent labyrinth for Winter Haven Campus

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Consider construction underway for one of the most significant additions in the history of Polk State College’s Humanities Department.

Dozens of students, faculty, and staff members gathered on the lawn of the Winter Haven Campus on Wednesday as ground was broken on a new labyrinth. Named the Mindful Path Project, an 18-foot labyrinth made of paving stone will be erected between the WAD and WFA buildings.

“It’s exciting to see this coming to life,” said Mary Ann Murdoch, Humanities Professor. “Labyrinths have been used in communities and cultures around the world. We have something we hope is transformative.”

The circular maze-like structure is partially funded through a $7,500 Impact Polk grant from George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation. Prior to applying for the funding, Murdoch said she had never applied for a grant nor written a grant application.

“I’m happy to be able to celebrate this with Professor Mary Ann Murdoch,” said April Robinson, Polk State Dean of Academic Affairs. “What I love about Professor Murdoch is her vision and how she prioritizes her students.”

Used for thousands of years, labyrinths have traditionally been places for serenity and meditation. In the Middle Ages, labyrinths were centrally located in Gothic cathedrals and used by monks as places of prayer. Today, labyrinths are often found near green spaces on college campuses, gardens, or public parks.

“We thank Professor Murdoch for making this happen for our campus,” Cary Gardell, Chair for Polk State’s Humanities Department, told students during the event. “When you get stressed out or need a place to relax, you can come to the labyrinth.”

For the last several months, Murdoch has been using a portable labyrinth printed on poly-canvas fabric. She noted that students have taken an interest in the labyrinth, which was funded by the GiveWell grant. When it comes to uses for the permanent structure, Murdoch said the possibilities are endless.

“My hope is that this is a place of gratitude, contemplation, peace, and self-reflection,” Murdoch explained. “I envision a lot of events taking place here.”

The permanent structure will be able to accommodate more than 10 students at one time. Construction of the labyrinth could be completed before the end of February.

“I hope this creates opportunities for learning, for creativity, for reflection,” Murdoch closed. “Everyone’s walk is a personal journey. Let the transformation begin.”