This year I have the honor of being part of Pangea World Theater’s Art Organizing Institute (AOI). As a member of AOI, our cohort of 15 arts organizers have been meeting since July 2017. We have had several trainings, peer led workshops and spent time interacting along Lake Street’s art and culture corridor. We also get to organize and facilitate a project on Lake Street.
On Sunday, October 22nd the magic of Sewing and Sambusas happened. In partnership with the Million Artist Movement and the Yarn Mission, community members gathered and had the opportunity to learn both hand sewing and how to use a sewing machine from some of our local fiber artists, Annie Chen and Stacey Schwebach. Community members immediately got to apply those skills to a Black Lives Matter quilted banner designed by Donald Thomas.
The joy of this multi-generational event will sustain me for a very long time.
Safari Express supplied delicious Sambusas, bean dip and tea. When I first connected with Safari we had talked about hosting the event in their restaurant on 4th Ave. S, just off of Lake Street. However, when I described what would be happening at the event, the Safari staff suggested that we have the event at the Midtown Global Market, which proved to be the BEST possible location. We had a steady stream of families and individuals attending throughout the afternoon. We had a coloring station set up, sewing machine stations and tables for hand sewing and knitting.
Applying our sewing skills to a community art project made for easy conversation and connection. We had over 75 people participate in the event, and many people who just happened to be at the Global Market asked questions and joined in.
Several of the sewers asked when we could do this again AND as luck would have it we have now moved the biweekly Yarn Mission meet ups to the Midtown Global Market. The following Sunday afternoon we had over 25 knitters joining our community from beginners to experts.
As we are finishing up the banner (which is SO beautiful) I am struck by how powerful it is when community gathers to create something so much bigger than any one of us. Million Artist Movement, Pangea AOI and the Yarn Mission all share common goals. It makes sense that we would come together to build. We believe in the role of ART in the campaign to dismantle oppressive and racist systems against Black, Brown, Indigenous and disenfranchised peoples. We believe in engaging our community and inviting in those who are not normally involved in activism. We believe in decentering whiteness.
The beautiful banner will have a life outside of this event. We hope to have the banner displayed in various locations on Lake Street, at protests and art happenings. This summer at Northern Spark the Million Artist Movement had all of the Power tree quilts displayed. So many community members came through the insulation and it was so much fun watching people find the square that they had made. They saw themselves connected to something bigger. We need more spaces and art making where we see ourselves connected to each other. We have the power to celebrate, honor, imagine and build.
“…..an individual in consort with other persons could change the world.”
– Faith Ringgold
Please join us at an upcoming event. Let’s build together.