white cloth with two red X's on top

Where it all started: Block 1

Three years ago, I had a  big, fat, crazy idea to commemorate the 70,273 disabled people murdered between January 1940 and August 1941 under a program called Aktion T4, Knowing I’d think myself out of it if I didn’t move quickly, I got a few things done then  mashed the send button on a blog post. Here we are, three years later, with a shiny new block count update that I think is gonna’ make y’all smile real big.

When people ask me how this all got started, I tell them the truth: I planted a field of digital dreams . . . a.k.a. wrote a blog post, sent it out, and y’all came, your arms filled with love, compassion, kindness, and pairs of red X’s.

For the past three years, tens of thousands of us from 140 or more countries have come together, sharing the stories from our lives and the tears of our hearts. We have forged deep, lasting friendships that transcend cultural, geographical, and language differences and distances. We find that we have much more in common than what separates us, and we now know with absolute certainty that there is more goodness, more kindness, more compassion in every corner of the world than there is hate. We have proven that love and respect makes it possible to love and learn from those whose lives are not the same as ours. This is big, y’all. This is big.

So is our new block count.

Drum roll please . . .

I am honored to know y’all and tickled beyond words to tell you that as of today, the block count for The 70273 Project stands at . . .


You read that right: in just three years, The 70273 Project has commemorated 72,055 people. I hope you’ll take a minute to let this seep in, get your heart around it, then share your responses and reactions. I also hope you’ll know how hugely grateful I am to each and every one of you. Like I said in my first blog post about this big, fat, crazy idea: I could never do it by myself.

Here are a few pictures of the quilt that took us across the goal line:

A Middling by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers commemorating 5500 people (Better pictures to come)

Closeup of the Middling by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

I know y’all like the back of my hand by now, and I can hear you asking these good questions:

But we’ve commemorated more than 70,273 people . . .?

I know, I know. It’s rather stunning right now, isn’t it? Here’s my answer to the question that will eventually form into coherent words: Though we don’t have a firm count, we know that there were far more than 70,273 disabled people murdered during World War II. Some estimations as high as 300,000. The reality is that I cannot store an infinite number of quilts, but for now, it’s as simple as this: we keep stitching; we keep sharing; we keep honoring.

What if I still have blocks to send? What if I haven’t finished my quilt? What if our group is planning to make a quilt?

You keep stitching and send them to me just like always. (Note: I will soon be adding a Checklist for Sending Quilts to the web site, so stay tuned for that.)

Will you continue to hold Block Drives, do presentations, attend Special Exhibits?

Oh you bet I will. I have been asked to take The 70273 Project to college campuses, museums, quilt shows, and all sorts of gatherings this year and beyond, and I continue to say “Yes!” So if your group, church, school, scout troop, organization, college or university, or most any other kind of gathering would like me to visit with quilts in hand and stories in the heart,  let me know. i’m delighted to be asked and welcome the opportunity. And I’ll continue showing up with block making materials at every presentation so folks can stitch while I talk and to host block drives before and after my presentation. We’ll do just like we’ve always done: turn the blocks into a quilt bearing the name of your organization on the label.

What now? What’s next?

We’re not done yet, but today we celebrate each other, the people we commemorate, and what can happen when good people join together for a good reason. More to come, so keep your eye here on the blog so you don’t miss a thing.

Um, you promised party favors?

I sure did, and here they are. These ready-to-share-in-social-media badges were created by 70273 Project Ambassador Sarah Jespersen Lauzon, so help yourself. We have them in English, French, and German.

(On a Mac,  command key, click on image, select desired destination. On a pc, right click on the image and select your desired destination.)

Here they are in English:

In French:

And in German:

Thank y’all again for rising to this monumental challenge. On we go to the next chapter.


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