Until very recently, I was unaware of the Interdependence Project. Now, like with countless other New Yorkers, Ethan Nichtern’s Buddhist meditation and eco-activism organization is firmly planted on my radar thanks to the nonprofit group’s 24-hour meditation marathon/fundraising effort, Sit Down, Rise Up, that was staged in the windows of Manhattan's ABC Home from Friday through Saturday evening.

That said, it takes something truly special to stop harried New Yorkers in their tracks. Judging from the sidewalk scene around 19th and Broadway on Friday night, a group of people placidly perched in full meditation posture in the windows of the city’s top shopping destinations for exquisitely curated, often sustainable home goods (phew) did the trick. Quite the crowd gathered in front of ABC Home to gawk, admire, distract, encourage, and find out exactly why meditating people had replaced home furnishings in the store’s special “Hopenhagen” windows.

Essentially, the Sit Down, Rise Up meditation marathon was a fall fundraising effort for IDP where 130 members of the organization sat in the windows for one to four hour shifts while Nichtern sat for the entire 24 hours. Funds were raised to help support various IDP classes, special programs, and “integral activism” initiatives including Back to the Sack, which aims to eliminate the use of plastic bags in NYC. Senator Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan/Bronx), whom IDP is working with on the Back to the Sack initiative, helped kick-off the meditate-a-thon.  
I can’t imagine a better locale for IDP to raise funds and awareness: a corner with high foot traffic, generous-sized windows renowned for cutting-edge installations, plenty of pillows and rugs, and a sponsoring store famed for merging high-end retail with social and environmental efforts through the ABC Home & Planet Foundation. I wrote about the good, green work of ABC Carpet & Home last December as one of my first blog posts and in July Danielle V stopped by the store for a look at eco-friendly wedding registries.

Although ABC Home excels as a mission-driven business, the store is best known for its elegant, exotic, and eco-centric merchandise for all areas of the home. Since I last wrote about ABC Home, the store has expanded into e-commerce so non-New Yorkers can order a vast array of green home items ranging from organic cotton linens to LED light bulbs (pictured below) to air purifiers.  

If you weren't one of the lucky New Yorkers or out-of-towners that stumbled across the Sit Down, Rise Up event you can still keep track of IDP on the organization's website and on the One City blog. Even if Buddhism/meditation isn't exactly your cup o' tea, it doesn't hurt to learn more about the innovative undertakings of this group that has regional outposts in Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas in addition to HQ in NYC. And, of course, if you're in NYC over the next couple of months and would rather buy things than reach a higher spiritual consciousness, a socially and environmentally aware holiday shopping excursion would not be complete without a visit to ABC Home. 
Photos: Matt

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

ABC Home sits down, rises up
The Interdependence Project stages a 24 hour meditate-a-thon in the windows of NYC's ABC Home to raise funds and spark eco and social change.