Category: 70273 project blog (Page 1 of 27)

Meet The 70273 Project Data Angels

I told you about The Missus (The 70273 Project Online Searchable Database), now allow me to introduce you to the Host of Data Angels that is bringing it to life. I recently asked them the same three questions, and here are their answers, presented in alphabetical order by first name. If you’d like to know what the Data Angels do when they’re not bent over their computers entering data into The Missus, head this way.

 

Barbara Walsh (Minnesota, USA)

Q: Why did you get involved with The 70273 Project?
A: I have several family members that would 100% have been given 2 red X’s, perhaps even myself with my poor vision and scoliosis. How can someone not want to be involved is the question I ask.

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: We were in the thick of the pandemic. My children’s school and sporting activities had all been shut down, and I got a good glimpse of what retirement will look like for me – even if it is 15+ years down the road. I have several hobbies, but not being active with any groups (my church quilting group shut down as well) was eye opening. With so much time on my hands, I needed a project, a group, a cause. I had already made some blocks, and was waiting for some block bundles to come my way, and I thought “How much data entry could there be?” I figured a few hours of data entry and I would be done. I still cannot comprehend how much is done and is still to do. Such important work, and I am so pleased to be a very small part of it.  (True confession: Jeanne, I am in your camp on the “S” (spreadsheet) word. I can barely say it! My career really isn’t a tech heavy profession, so emails and word documents are pretty much all I do . . . till now.)

Q: Why is The 70273 Project important?
A: My life’s work is dedicated to the honoring and remembering those that go before us. To have 70,273 individuals snuffed out because of someone’s idea of imperfection is unimaginable. To not have been remembered, honored, or buried properly is unthinkable to me. By participating in this project, i feel we are giving those 70,273 souls their due respect, honor, and in a strange way, a burial.

 

Gladys Loewen, Coordinator (Canada)

Q: Why did you get involved with The 70273 Project?
A: I became involved with the project because it speaks to various aspects of my identity. I identify as disabled, and I have worked for 25 years in the field of higher education and disability, so this project pulled me because of that. As well, my ancestors were German Mennonites from what used to be Prussia, and they later moved to Russia for religious freedom and pristine farmland. My grandparents and parents were born in various parts of the former USSR. In the late 1920s, after the Bolshevik Revolution when German communities were targeted for being different as outsiders, both sets of grandparents escaped Russia as Mennonite Refugees. My mother was 4 and my dad 8 when their families arrived in Canada, penniless. So this adds to my interest in The 70273 Project. And lastly, I am a quilter, and for that reason, our lives intersected at the International Quilt Festival in 2017. As a quilter, I knew I wanted to make a quilt for the project as soon as I saw the special exhibit in Houston. And of course, I have been teaching my grandkids how to sew, which made making a quilt with my 9 year old grandson an important project.

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: I became a Data Angel because I am retired; skilled at coordinating and managing details; and I wanted to be part of a community. The Data Angels have become a team, a community, even though we are spread out from Canada to Argentina and from the Pacific Coast to the East Coast. I started doing data entry work several months after Kevin Thomas, nancy Carroll, and Lori Grillo started. nancy offered to meet on a phone call and walk me through my questions on how to get started. We chatted several times after that, and eventually we met so I could pick up her two quilts to bring to the AHEAD conference. I met her again when Tari Vickery came to visit, so that is where my community began with the Dta Angels. And now my role has shifted to Coordinator, so I continue to find ways to encourage and support the community feeling, a feeling of being in a safe, supportive place.

 

Lara Ferguson (California, USA)

Q: Why did you get involved with The 70273 Project?
A: Because I passionately agree with this statement you made from the beginning, “I want this to be so big, so immense that people cannot look away, cannot say they didn’t see it.” I wanted to be part of that.

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: I work in IT, and I thought I might be useful. I love a good data entry project!

Q: Why is The 70273 Project important?
A: I don’t want any part of that history to be repeated, and I think people sometimes need help remembering and personalizing the stories of those who died.

 

Maria Conway (Argentina)

Q: Why did you get involved with The 70273 Project?
A: Once I read your first post on this project, i was completely hooked, and I couldn’t not participate! My sister in disabled. She lives with me, so it really touched my heart. This was at the very beginning of the project, and I remember thinking “this woman is completely crazy. She’s never gong to finish making and collecting 70,000+ blocks, so i’d better help1”

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: It’s something else I can do to help now that we’ve completed all the blocks. I’d love helping with putting together quilts, but I’m so far away, and the post here is to dreadful, so that’s really not feasible. And data entry is something I enjoy doing and am good at.

Q: Why is The 70273 Project important?
A: I find it very important to always speak against violence, especially against those who can’t defend themselves. I had no idea this happened. You always hear about the killings of Jews and gays, and that was absolutely terrible. The killing of disabled people is a work of pure evil, and people should know this happened so as to not let history repeat itself.

 

Patricia Taylor (Wisconsin, USA)

Q: Why did you become involved with The 70273 Project?
A: I first learned about The 70273 Project when we attended the Minnesota Quilt Show in 2018 and met you for the first time. I remember returning home, and all I could think about was the story you shared and the images of those pairs of red X’s so tenderly sewn into all the quilts on exhibit. The tiny christening dress is the one that stayed most in my heart.

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: I made blocks and quilts, and when this opportunity came along, my husband taught me the basics of working with an Excelt spreadsheet and declared me ready to join, so there was no turning back – I had to join the team! My computer skills are quite limited – especially compared with the rest of the group, but even the limited efforts I make are so rewarding, and seeing all this information come together is fabulous.

Q: Why is The 70273 Project important?
A: To think of another person being murdered for any reason is unthinkable, but to know there were 70,273 people murdered because they were deemed “imperfect” is almost unbelievable. We cannot let these people or this atrocity go unremembered.

 

Peggy Thomas, Lead Data Angel (Georgia, USA)

Q; Why did you get involved with The 70273 Project?
A: I think it was serendipity – of course it was! Two things collided: I had recently sold my business and had a vague idea  that I might want to make a quilt again after 30+ years since my first one. Second, my son is Autistic, so anything touching disabilities – especially if it raises awareness – is dear to me.

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: I knew – and said aloud – at our first hands-on work day at the Peachtree City Library that you needed help getting all this information out of your head and into a computer. You gave me a bit of back story and told me of plans for the future, then gave me crate blanche and off I merrily went.

Q: Why is The 70273 Project important?
A: The story behind The 70273 Project immediately moved me. When I thought about all the amazing people I’ve met over the years who would have received a death sentence in the form of two red X’s, I knew I would be involved for the duration of the project.

 

Roberta Pabst (California, USA)

Q: Why did you get involved with The 70273 Project?
A: Susan Bianchi made a short mention of the project during a “show and tell” session at a Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association meeting. It spoke to me, and I followed up. I can see in the database that Sue and the members of her art quilt group all made blocks and sent them in.

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: I like to use the skills I have to help whenever I can.

Q: Why is The 70273 Project important?
A: It tells a story that needs to be told. It honors those who cannot speak for themselves. It reminds us that each person is important, even – or maybe especially – those who are different or dependent or hidden from everyday awareness. We don’t believe that such an atrocity could have ever happened, but we need to believe it to help inform our every day decisions. It can make us better people to feel the magnitude of what was done.

 

Sacha Brady (Indiana, USA)

Q: Why did you get involved with The 70273 Project?
A: It was a profound idea with great visual impact, something large and educational and creative that I had the skills to be a part of. All of those aspects appeal to me.

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: Becoming a Data Angel was another way I could put my skills to use for the cause. I thought it would be busy work to pass the time during the pandemic, but it has turned into much more for me:P problem solving, troubleshooting, being part of a collaborative community. All of those aspects appeal to me, too.

Q: Why is The 70273 Project important?
A: Honoring people’s lives; grieving ourselves; facing hard truths; understanding that we are all connected and resilient even when life is fragile; and channeling our feelings into creative productivity are powerful and important. The 70273 Project is all of those things.

 

 

 

Kevin Thomas (Georgia, USA)

Kevin was our very first Data Angel, so we invited him to join us on the call, and I asked him the same questions. Here are his answers:

Q: Why did you get involved with The 70273 Project?
A: My mother has a lead role in it.

Q: Why did you become a Data Angel?
A: Because I believe in the project.

Q: Why is The 70273 Project important?
A: It brings awareness to a previously unacknowledged aspect of history.

 

We are grateful for the service and contributions of these retired Data Angels: 

Kathy Carfagno (USA)
Lori Grillo (USA)
Nancy Carroll (Canada, deceased)

A Peek Behind the Scenes at Our Online Searchable Database

9 smiling people

 

The Big, Fat, Crazy Idea

When The Big, Fat, Crazy Idea whooshed in and sat on my shoulder that day in late January 2016 – ten days before launch so I didn’t have time to think myself out of it – she showed me everything in a span of about 3 nanos. She showed me pairs of red X’s on white or slightly off-white backgrounds that stretched as far as my eyes could see (this was pre-wet macular days, so you can believe me when I say that was a lot of pairs of red x’s). She showed me the blocks; she showed me quilts stretching around the world; she showed me sorrow and smiles.

Having heard maybe three sentences about Aktion T4 in the documentary I was watching, I had no idea what the pairs of red X’s symbolized or why they were on backgrounds of shades of white. And quilts? I make art quilts, so the large quilts made from blocks puzzled me. I researched, I learned, I understood. I marveled at the thoroughness with which this Big, Fat, Crazy Idea presented herself to me.

Besdies fabric, she showed me people of all ages looking at a screen, their fingers running down and across the screen, searching. Once their fingers stopped, entire faces smiled. Sometimes bodies danced with excitement. Eventually I understood that these people were searching an online database, finding ancestors, friends, and family who are part of The 70273 Project. In the vision, this was I’m delighted to tell you, cause for great celebration. They, by blood or love, were a part of something important, something bigger than themselves. They were proud to be part of such a legacy, and they stepped away from the screen standing a little taller and vowing to keep the stories alive – the atrocity of the murders and how caring, compassionate people from around the world came together in kindness.

 

Enter Peggy Thomas & a Host of Data Angels

Though we met because of The 70273 Project, neither of us can remember the specifics about our first meeting. It’s as though we’ve known each other for a lifetime. Peggy instantly understood The 70273 Project in its entirety, (though I wish I had a nickel for every time she started a sentence with “At first I thought you were crazy” in the beginning!, and at the first hands-on workday of The 70273 Project, she announced that I needed to get all this information out of my head. With that, she quickly took over data organization and management, becoming Lead Data Angel and putting together a Host of Data Angels extraordinaire. If y’all have ever lead an organization, you know what a tremendous gift it is when somebody like Peggy and Gladys and the Data Angels keep you in the loop while strongly encouraging you to stay out! (Back story: I can’t even say the word “spreadsheet” – it catches in my mouth – so we have a Landscape Oriented Table or Database. I am fluent in neither of those lands, so the Data Angels invite me to stay out for fear I’ll knock something over.)

 

Meet The Missus

The Host of Data Angels are creating that online searchable database where people can go to find their blocks, which quilts their blocks are in, and where in the world those quilts are on any given day. Exhibit curators will be able to search for quilts by location of Makers, by quilt size, by whatever criteria they want to use in deciding which quilts to put on display. (As it is now, Curators email me, telling me how much space is available, and The Engineer and I have to look through the quilts and do the math to decide which quilts to send – though I do also search the labels to find quilts that were made in whole or in part by people in the vicinity of the exhibit. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time this online searchable database is going to save us and how easy it will be for Curators, Organizers, and Individuals to find information.) Other information you’ll be able to see which Makers have blocks in each quilt, when the quilt was finished, and where each quilt has been on exhibit. Like I said, it’s beyond phenomenal! And as if all that isn’t enough, I am assured it will can also be searched audibly, making it universally accessible.

Yes, really.

Wondering why I call it The Missus? Well, you’ll need to invite me to do a presentation for your group and ask me then.

 

Meet the Data Angels

The Data Angels and I huddled around our computers recently, and I asked them each the same questions. Come right this way to meet them and read their answers.

Happy Fifth Birthday to The 70273 Project!

white cloth embellished with pairs of red X’s that are all different sizes and shades of red

The 70273 Project Quilt 52, a Middling made by Margaret Williams

Can y’all believe it was FIVE years ago today when I mashed the publish button on the blog post launching The 70273 Project? So much has happened in our lives, in this project, in the world since then. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be unveiling several new adventures happening in The 70273 Project and introduce you to the volunteers who are carrying the torch for each adventure. If you haven’t already subscribed to the blog, perhaps you’d like to. Or maybe you’d like to join join The 70273 Project Campfire, our Facebook group or like our Facebook page

I’m sure you have questions, so I’ll celebrate our Big Day the way I began it five years ago: by posting and answering questions you may have.

Q: How many people have been commemorated to date?
A: We have issued numbers to slightly over 72,000 pairs of red X’s, though there are some gaps in the numbers that will be filled in and we still have blocks and quilts to be processed, so check back often for updates.

Q: How many quilts do we have?
A: We have given out up to Quilt #850, though again, there are some gaps in the numbers that will be filled in as new quilts come in. The Engineer still guesstimates we’ll have around 1200 when we’re done.

Q: How on earth do you track numbers and blocks and quilts?
A: I am delighted to tell you that I don’t! We have a merry band of Data Angels, and I will be introducing you to them over the next couple of weeks. They are a group of women who are creative, dedicated problem solvers, and what they are doing is nothing short of phenomenal. Just wait’ll you hear.

Q: Are you still accepting blocks and quilts?
A: We are mostly focusing on catching up with all we have going on right now, plus the pandemic makes it rather hard to host exhibits and block-making parties, but yes. If you’d like to make blocks or quilts, we won’t turn them away because we know that 70,273 is the number of murdered committed and documented by Aktion T4. Actual numbers could easily be more than 300,000. Chilling, isn’t it? There are other ways to become part of The 70273 Project, though as you’ll see in the next Q and A. And there are some new adventures opening up this year that might captivate your interest and attention.

Q: Is there anything you still need help with?
A: I love this question, and the answer is a hearty Yes! Read on, and click here if you’d like to raise your hand and offer to help. We need:
~ volunteers to take bundles of blocks and turn them into tops and/or quilts.
~ folks to quilt the tops.
~ people to create quilt labels (from information we send). This is something done on the computer using email, so it’s something that can be done from anywhere in the world.
~ We need hands-on volunteers who live in the vicinity of Fayette County, Georgia to print the labels on fabric that’s been specially treated to go through inkjet printers then sew them onto the backs of the quilts. Or you could just offer to print the labels and deliver them to whoever is going to sew them onto the quilts.
~ We need folks to add or amend hanging sleeves on some of the quilts.
~ We also need money. We keep our overhead low, but there are still expenses. There’s some annual overhead, and now we need things like the fabric for the labels and storage. Oh my goodness do we need storage! If you’re willing to make a donation, you can send a check (U.S. banks only, please) to The 70273 Project, Inc. / POB 994 / Cashiers, NC 28717. We are an official 501(c)(3) organization, so with your thank you note, we’ll tuck in a tax form you can use next year. You can also make a donation via the PayPal Giving Fund.

In closing, a question from me to you:
Q: Would you like to see where in the world The 70273 Project has touched down in one way or another?
A: Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you’ll see a world that’s revolving on its axis. See all those red dots? People from all those dots have come to visit our web site, seeking info, volunteering to participate, sharing stories, commemorating lives we honor, and/or keeping up with our progress.

We’re not done yet, y’all, so please keep showing up and sharing the project with others.

Now go treat yourself to a cupcake. Me, I’m headed to my mother’s house where she is doing what she does every Valentine’s Day for I’m not gonna’ tell you how many years – baking my birthday cake, using the pan and recipe that her mother before her used to bake my birthday cake. You can bet your sweet patooties I’ll be raising a forkful by way of toasting y’all with gratitude.

Happy Fourth Birthday to Us!

Pairs of red X’s cover a white cloth

Quilt 31

Pairs of red X’s on a white quilt

Quilt 652

Pairs of red X’s on backgrounds of white

72 Blocks made by Alida Palmisano

Four years ago today, I gave myself the best birthday present ever when I mashed the “publish” button and launched The 70273 Project. What an incredible, amazing, astonishing four years it has been.

Looking Back

Our first blocks came from Kitty Sorgen less than 2 weeks of that first post. News of the project spread like wildfire, confirming that the kind, compassionate people in the world outnumber the bad folks, something I’d long suspected. Three days later, Margaret Williams did some experimenting and tutorials. And we were off! Throughout the four years, we received blocks from quilt guilds, schools, churches, families, and communities around the world.

Our first major European exhibit – in Lacaze, France, curated by Katell Renon and Cecile Milhau – was a mere 16 months after launch.  We’ve had exhibits literally around the world –  in Munich, Celle, and Dachau Germany, Durham Cathedral (U.K.); Rochester Cathedral (U.K.); the Channel Islands, throughout America, in Canada, Scotland, at the International Quilt Festival, in Charleville, France (I can’t wait to tell you more about this one!) curated by Annie Labruyere, and many more I’ve not yet written about. But I will.

Our quilts have been on exhibit – which means our stories have been told –  literally around the world. Working together with hundreds of thousands of people, we’ve made the world smaller and become friends – often dear friends – with people on the other side of the globe from us. We’ve made the world a kinder, more compassionate place.

Now and When

I would like to be able to tell you exactly how many block and quilts we have today, but the truth of the matter is that I’m behind on the record keeping side of the project. As y’all may know, The Engineer and I were home only 4 non-consecutive weeks in 2018 while traveling for The 70273 Project (a big bouquet of gratitude to everyone who made it such an amazing, memorable year). Then in 2019 I was diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, and took what amounts to an unscheduled sabbatical as I surrendered to the depression that followed.

I am delighted to tell you that we are learning to live together, my new vision and I, and though I still have my low vision/low spirit days, I now feel ready to push up my sleeves and lead us to the finish line. And just like in the very beginning when I asked for help because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could not commemorate these 70,273 precious souls without assistance, I am going to need help to get us to the Finish Line.

When I put out the call on 14 February 2016, y’all responded immediately with great enthusiasm and dedication. In the coming weeks, I will once again be posting Help Needed opportunities. I thank you in advance for stepping up and stepping in to help complete our commemorations in ways that will allow these important stories to continue to be told throughout the land and to ensure that those we commemorate and those we celebrate are never forgotten or overlooked again.

One Thing You Can Do Today

Yesterday I opened registration for the online life story writing gathering I’m offering called Keepsake Writers. We’ll gather weekly beginning 09 March 2020 to capture and preserve our life stories. I hope you’ll join in and create something  you and future generations will treasure. If you can’t participate right now, perhaps you’d be willing to share the link with your friends and family in case they are interested. All proceeds go directly into The 70273 Project to help fund the things I’ll be telling you about soon.

Keep Your Ears on  the Track for What’s Coming

the blog

the monthly newsletter

our Facebook page

our Facebook Campfire (a.k.a. Group)

From the Archives: U.K. Quilts and Exhibits

A quilt with a white background covered in pairs of red X’s hanging high in an ancient cathedral

Durham Cathedral

White quilts covered with pairs of red X’s draped over church pews and chairs

Durham Cathedral

White quilts covered with pairs of red X’s draped over church pews and chairs and on the floor

Durham Cathedral

Two white banners covered with pairs of red X’s hang in the front of an ancient cathedral

Rochester Cathedral

White quilts covered with pairs of red X’s hang in an ancient cathedral

Rochester Cathedral

White quilts covered with pairs of red X’s on display in an ancient cathedral

Rochester Cathedral

White quilts covered with pairs of red X’s

Jersey Heritage Center and Museum, Channel Islands U.K.

White quilts covered with pairs of red X’s on display in a museum

Jersey Heritage Center and Museum, Channel Islands, U.K.

White quilts covered with pairs of red X’s on display in a museum

Jersey Heritage Center and Museum, Channel Islands, U.K.

 

Every year Europeans mark Holocaust Remembrance Day at the end of January. The Engineer, Tari Vickery, and I are honored to be in attendance and participate in January 2018. Quilts of The 70273 Project were on display in Durham Cathedral, Rochester Cathedral, and the Jersey Heritage Center and Museum in the Channel Islands. It’s been two years, and I still can’t adequately express my feelings or tell you about the people, the quilts, the stories, the connections, the tears of laughter, sorrow, and of Knowing, the immense hospitality and warm welcome. I’m still processing . . . And smiling . . . And chortling . . . And whispering gratitude. What an honor it was to meet people I knew only in social media, to bear witness to their stories, to feel the power of the quilts they made.

A big, huge, ginormous bouquet of gratitude to The 70273 Project Ambassadors – Margaret Jackson, Mary Turner, and Christine FitzGerald in Durham; Lucy Horner in Rochester; and Kim Monins and Gisele Therezien in the Channel Islands – who spent countless hours scheduling, coordinating, and staging Block Drives and these massive exhibits. And more bouquets of gratitude to the patient, supportive spouses, siblings, children, pets, grandchildren, and friends like Sharon Howell, Bev Bunn, Wendy Dawes, Edina Geering, Beryl Connelly, Annie Labruyere, Sue Harris, and countless – and I do mean countless – others in the U.K. who went above and beyond to commemorate tens of thousands of those we memorialize and create exhibits and events that will not soon be forgotten by those of us in attendance.

In case you’re wondering, The Engineer, Tari, and I paid our own way to these exhibits – as we always do – and we’re very grateful to those who gave us a bed to sleep on, fed  us, and ferried us hither and yon while we were there. Whenever we travel to an exhibit, each of us pays to take an extra large suitcase so we can bring home as many quilts as possible. We still have a few quilts in need of a ride home from Durham, however, so if you’d like to give them wings, please donate what you can and help us get them home to 70273 Project Heartquarters. When you donate through the Pay Pal Giving Fund, it only takes a few minutes to register and designate The 70273 Project – a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation – as the charity to receive your donation. There are no fees deducted when donating through The Pay Pal Giving Fund, which means The 70273 Project keeps your entire donation. Thank you in advance.

Be watching this space for what’s ahead for The 70273 Project. Subscribe to the blog, to the newsletter..

Visiting L’Albatros

Wednesday, 08 October 2019

Dark clouds may hover, but the sun always shines at Institut L’Albatros. How could it not with such happy students/residents and attentive, patient, creative teachers?

The topiary of Albatros to greet us

A stained glass Albatros greets us

Even a stainless steel bench greets us.

Annie Labruyere, who introduced L’Albatros to The 70273 Project over a year ago, unpacks the quilts She made from the blocks created by the people at L’Albatros. Students/residents form a circle with their chairs, and each person applauds, flashes a big smile, and waves to me as their name is called from the label of a quilt that contains their block. There are many quilts, and every one is beautiful, magnificent.

Betty, a now-retired teacher who continues to come and teach, shows the Middling she made. Betty knows Annie Labruyère’s mother as they once taught together.

Next is the tour of workshops where I am treated to see the fruits of the creativity that blooms at L’Albatros. There is this picture made of wire and fabric and yarns. It is an entire story in itself.

There are sequin boxes – such tedious, time-consuming effort!

Blocks made from 33 rpm vinyl records. Do you see the silhouette?

A doggie bed made from an old tire

A chair has been given festive new attire

They make jewelry, too, and when they offer, I accept with a huge smile of gratitude and delight. I take home with me 2 new pairs of earrings, a new necklace, a Christmas ornament (that makes a snow storm, as one resident showed me), a person made of a spool of thread, and the most sparkly ring you ever did see.

Holiday trees are being made from recycled wood. Preparations for the annual Christmas Bazaar are well underway, so mark your calendar and go there to do your holiday shopping. You’ll be really glad you did.

Every workshop is filled with necessary tools and ample supplies for creativity. The residents make their own choices.

I even spied a sew in machine!

After the tour, it is time for refreshments. “Do you like orange or apple juice?” I am asked. I choose apple juice, and they smile and tell me it is made from apples grown at L’Albatros. In other words, they know and I know after I taste it, that I have made the right choice.

Then I am offered an apple tart, though it doesn’t taste tarty at all. It, too, is made from apples grown at L’Albatros. When I am offered a second one, I eagerly accept and am given two more! (Yes, I ate them both.) I wish to get this recipe, though I’ll never be able to slice the apples so thinly as this.

Then it’s time for pictures! Say “frommage!”

Teachers and Administrators who are so caring and kind and creative themselves. They hold a Middling made by one of the female students of L’Albatros.

And in the wink of an eye, it is time to leave. It was a wonderful visit to a wonderful place, a place that the world needs more of. Thank you people of L’Albatros. You are now permanently in my heart. And thank you, Annie, for the work you continue to do with L’Albatros. It was a delightful visit, an afternoon I will never forget.

An Apology for the Past and a Plan for the Future

smiling woman wearing red heart-shaped glasses wearing a blue hat with a big pink flower stands in front of a waterfall

It’s me, Jeanne, waaring the hat (I haven’t been able to find a red one) I wear on Eye Treatment Days to protect my eyes from the pain of sunlight ’cause even 2 layers of those dilation glasses don’t do the trick. Plus it makes me smile, this hat with its pretend (artificial) dahlia.

Dear Members of The 70273 Project Community,

I have not been a good leader this year. I have not been a good steward of your involvement, enthusiasm, commitment. There are reasons – no excuses, just reasons . . .

A Diagnosis

In fall 2018, my vision began deteriorating.  By our third anniversary in February 2019, I could ignore it any longer. In March I went to the ophthalmologist in search of a new prescription. I did not get a new prescription, instead I got a referral to a retina specialist. In April I had a diagnosis: wet macular degeneration. I was asked to participate in a clinical trial, and after much research, I decided to give it a try. The monthly treatments started in April 2019.

Not liking to inconvenience or worry anybody, I kept my chin up and my feet in motion. By mid-May I was wising someone would offer me to a gold star if I’d  pick up the Empire State Building and move it from New York to Atlanta because that would have been ever so much easier than throwing my first leg off the side of the bed every morning. I had to face it: I was in the quagmire of depression. It wasn’t allergies, I was in mourning.

I decided to do what I encourage others to do: pull out the white flag. Knowing that fighting it is futile, I succumbed.

Transitioning

Things are better now. The depression still nibbles at me some days, and I still have the occasional vegging-out day when the most physical effort I exert is walking to the sofa then to the bathroom and back.

The eyesight is somewhat improved, and I struggle to say that aloud for fear it will jinx something, that the Eye Sight Goddess will deem me cocky and overly-confident and smite me.  In August, feeling emboldened  by seeing a few more letters on the visual acuity chart, I asked about getting a new prescription for my glasses. After much consideration, he gave a reluctant okay. September’s treatment showed not improvement but deterioration – enough to make Dr. Bridges tell me to cancel my ophthalmologist appointment and say he might suggest I pull out of the clinical trial. We’ll know more tomorrow when I go for my seventh treatment. If you’d put me on your Positive Thoughts / Healing Energy / Prayer lists, I would be oh so grateful.

Looking Forward

Because I feel adrift when I don’t journal and because I haven’t been doing that while in the blackness of grief and depression, I created a journal system that suits me just fine. I’ll write about it soon. I also bought I don’t know how many index cards and a storage case. I’ll write about that later, too. Because walking makes me feel like a different person and because I sort and solve things quicker when my feet are in motion, I’ve begun walking a minimum of 10,000 steps each day. 12,500 is my preferred minimum, but I’m careful to not set myself up to fail. And any day now, I will start yoga.

I have ideas for 2 more quilt themes, and several more creative projects under the umbrella of The 70273 Project that I think y’all will like a lot. I also want to do what I’ve longed to do for a while and really amp up the project’s podcast.

Now I am an accomplishment-oriented girl from way back, and I need the structure of a plan to help move me and The 70273 Project forward from here.  I don’t know how or where it will happen (only that it will happen soon and that things are complicated by the fact that I am not allowed to drive),  but what I really need is a retreat, time to be quiet and have space to think and plan.  That’s when I’ll assign a target date for each idea, draw up guidelines, create things that knock around in my heart. That plan will be the ladder needed to move me . . . to move us out of the quicksand and back to sunlit ground. Stay tuned for that.

Gratitude

Thank y’all for your patience and tenderness with me.  I don’t always reply to each individual comment on Facebook or here on the blog or over at Instagram, but that doesn’t mean I don’t read and appreciate them. Don’t ever think that. I read, reread, reread, and reread some more your good words. Read them before every treatment and many times in between. Your words of encouragement, support, and caring are my heart’s charm bracelet.

And thank you for not giving up on and walking away from The 70273 Project. We’re still here, and things are still percolating, and we still have a few things left to do before we turn the lights off.

Love,
Jeanne

Days 2 and 3 at University of Central Missouri

People came in.
More people came in.
Still more people came in.
And just like that, instead of empty tables, we had 80 people and few empty chairs.
Students, professors, and some leaders at the University of Central Missouri brought a brown bag lunch and gathered in the basement of the Chapel to hear more about The 70273 Project.

They didn’t leave, even when this is what greeted them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When looking at the photos taken by The 70273 Project Documentarian Alison Chambers, I discovered these photos of Dr. Clifford-Napoleone introducing me and me speaking. We already share so many traits, characteristics, beliefs, and Southernisms Amber and I do, might this be more evidence that we were separated at birth?

There were really good questions, as I’ve come to look forward to from students here at the University of Central Missouri, and I’m delighted to tell you that the goodness of the  conversations grew as the faculty joined in. It was great.

Honor Roll of Alumni Faculty and Students for whom the Chapel is dedicated

The Alumni Chapel, site of the Brown Bag Lunch, was built in honor of students, staff, and professors who lost their lives in World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Alison and I left the Chapel and went to the UCMo bookstore, where textbooks are displayed on open shelves just like in the good ole’ days before non-student textbook geeks like us weren’t allowed to poke around. Somehow I only bought three books.

Wednesday evening found us talking to folks at the Warrensburg First Presbyterian Church. It was another great group of delightful people, fantastic questions, and communal tears of joy and pain shed by women who are grandmothers, mothers, teachers, friends, siblings, and just plain ole’ caring women.

 

Miles Apart, Art Quilt by Susan Stevenson. This is the one that was in the Fissures Exhibit.

An Uneasy Chair, Art Quilt by Susan Stevenson

As I moved from pew to pew introducing myself before the program began, Susan Stevenson introduced herself to me. We both had a quilt juried into the Fissures exhibit at the Emerald Art Center in Oregon last year. AND I saw two of her amazing quilts (shown here with her permission) in the Faculty Art Gallery the day before as I was leaving the building after talking with the Fibers Class that was filled mostly with Art Education majors. Susan teaches Interior Design at University of Central Missouri, and I’m delighted to have met another talented art quilter in person!

L to R: Amber Clifford-Napoleone, Emma, and Jeanne

From the church, we went to Café Blackadder where we had the best supper. Alison got a large slab of tree that was filled with yummy fresh fruits. I’ve never been accused of being a foodie, y’all, but I sure did enjoy my grilled cheese / fig / balsamic vinegar / garlic mayonnaise sandwich with a side of sea salt chips. (It also came with pickled red onions, but I asked that they lave those off.) And just wait till you hear how Emma (shown above) spent her summer, coming soon to a blog post near you.

Thursday morning found us at the McClure Archives and University Museum enjoying unscheduled conversations with students, some of whom taped short videos telling us about how The 70273 Project impacts them.

At 2:00 Thursday afternoon I had the honor of speaking to another great group of interested folks at the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education. More good conversations, more good questions. When we arrived, we couldn’t help but notice how many armed security guards were in attendance, each wearing a bulletproof vest. Most interior office doors – even the ones with glass – were locked so we had to be buzzed in. Such security measures were necessary in the aftermath of the murders committed there several years ago. It all made me feel safe and sad at the same time.

It was still early when we left the Jewish Campus, so Alison and I took ourselves to one movie, and as we were ordering the food that would be delivered to us in the theatre, we decided that the timing worked out just fine for us to see an another movie. We saw “Angel Has Fallen” first (we were the only two in the theatre, and wouldn’t you know this is the chair I sat in.) (Yes, I moved.)  then there was just enough time to grab a drink at the theatre’s bar before going to see . . . wait for it . . .  “Downton Abbey.”

As we exited the theatre, we were greeted with the delicious sound of “That Old Time Rock and Roll”, and it was live music. Following our ears (that’s what Alison did – I danced down the sidewalk), we landed right smack dab in a street party. What a fun surprise! The sidewalk jewelry said “Dance fist. Think later,” and that’s just what we did.

Two more days at this wonderful place. Alison and I want time to slow down.

A Day of Questions and Goodness at University of Central Missouri

two women stand in front of a sign that says

Daughter Alison is with me at University of Central Missouri. a history major who is keen on such things, will now help me preserve, archive, and catalogue information is now The 70273 Project Documentarian.

It was good to get reacquainted with the quilts. I think they were as almost as glad to see me as I was to see them.

Firs stop of the day was to a Fiber Arts Class taught by Professor Mick Luehrman. Many of these students are Art Education majors, so I gave a brief overview of The 70273 Project then spent time talking about  Nancy’s work and how it has changed and evolved since June 2012 when she began drawing.

Next it was back to the McClure Archives and University Museum where I had the honor of speaking to Dr. Clifford’s Cultural Anthropology class.  Their paper about The 70273 Project is due on Thursday, 19 September 2019, and because they’d just discussed construction of cultures, I focused my talk on Aktion T4.

One student showed me photos of the Hawaiian quilts his sister makes. He’s very proud of her, and rightly so.

I even shot a short video for him to send her, inviting her to bring Hawaii into The 70273 Project.
Fingers crossed.

Several of the Cultural Anthropology students stayed after the talk, taking a closer look at the quilts and snapping photos (They asked Dr. Clifford first), perhaps for their papers. Many of them wandered over to ask me more questions or just to chat a bit about the project or history. Collin Shepherd, the man on the left (name used with his permission), says “I love the simplicity of the project and that anybody can participate. The simplicity makes it powerful.” Such good questions they asked. And how I enjoyed getting a glimpse of how their brains work, how they are using critical thinking skills (yay!) and diving deep in thoughtfulness for a blast of insightfulness.

Two reporters were there before, during, and after my presentation to the Cultural Anthropology students. Heather Berry of Rural Missouri (L) and Derek Brizendine of The Daily Star Journal (R). (Now listen, y’all. The Daily Star Journal comes out on Friday, and we’ll still be here so I can get a couple of copies of that, but I need y’all to promise me faithfully that you’ll send me a copy of Rural Missouri when it comes out with the article in it.) They, too, asked terrific questions and seemed keenly interested. Heather is working on her second quilt and using her sewing machine. Her first quilt was done by hand as she spent time with her mother who was dealing with cancer. Fortunately, Heather was able to show her mother the finished quilt before she died. And guess what: she promises to get involved with The 70273 Project and make a quilt! Derek’s burning question (delivered after the students left): “Tell me about your shirt and your glasses.” They were so much fun.

After bidding farewell to Heather, Derek and the Cultural Anthropology students, it was time for the Art and Collaboration class taught by Dr. Melanie Johnson. These students are pursuing majors in a variety of fields – sports medicine, business, music, and more that escape me right now – so after a brief overview of The 70273 Project, I focused on collaborating with Nancy and with people from around the world, and what it’s like leading a ginormous group of kind, compassionate, creative volunteers. Theses students, like the ones before them, were delightfully engaged, inquisitive, and observant. They continued the tradition of asking thoughtful, pertinent questions. Good questions seems to be the theme of the day. Do you have questions? If so, let me know because I plan to post the questions and my answers in future blog posts.

We left campus with a smile on our face and much to talk about. After a stop by the drug store and the college bookstore (where I purchased a tote bag which will be much easier to get to things we need instead of having to negotiate a suitcase), we came back to the apartment. The plan was to rest for an hour or so, then go to Amber’s house to see Tara and meet their goats. But you know what actually happened? Energized as I was, I want you to know that I sat down and went promptly to sleep. I was in such a deep sleep  that Alison couldn’t wake me up till near midnight, so we’ll meet the goats and hear all about Amber’s shiny, new Fulbright scholarship later in the week.

It was a good day, a great day, an amazing, astonishing, absolutely sublime day. Parents, if your child is considering the University of Central Missouri, put it on the short list. If they’re not considering UCMo yet, put it on the short list to visit. Professors, Museum Directors, and Accessibility Staffers on college and university campuses, consider inviting The 70273 Project for an exhibit, class visits, presentations on and around campus, and a block drive. I’ll make you look good, I promise.

If you’re in the vicinity of University of Central Missouri, here’s the schedule for the rest of this week:
Wednesday, 18 Sept 2019
12 to 1:30, students, staff, and faculty are invited to a brown bag lunch with Jeanne in the Chapel Basement
5:00 p.m. Jeanne will present “The 70273 Project: a Backstage Pass” at the Warrensburg Presbyterian Church. This even is open to the public, so y’all come on.
6:30 p.m. Community dinner with Jeanne Hewell-Chambers at Café Blackadder. By invitation only. Attendees pay for their own meal.

Thursday, 19 Sept 2019
2:00 p.m. Lecture (The 70273 Project: a Backstage Pass) at Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in Kansas City

Saturday, 21 September 2019
9 am to 12 pm Block Drive in downtown Warrensburg Courthouse Square. All ages invited. No sewing skills necessary.

Hope to see y’all at some of these events, and Dr. Amber Clifford (above l to r: Dr. Clifford, Jeanne, Dr. Melanie Johnson, who was wearing the cutest shoes you ever saw), thank you again for this week.

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