Quilt #5: Blanchard Valley Center, part 1

If I’ve ever called you “Sugar” to your face, you may have noticed this bracelet adorning my wrist. The symbol is called Sankofa, and it means “go back and retrieve”.  Because my calendar has been consumed with illness and travel, and most importantly because I am now feeling better, I thought we’d spend the next few days looking back and retrieving the stories I didn’t have energy to tell you about till now, beginning with delivering The 70273 Project, Quilt #5 to Blanchard Valley Center in Findlay, Ohio in early March . . .

MARCH 4, 2017

Boone Tavern and Inn

The doctor assures us we aren’t contagious, though she urges us to stay in bed at least another week – and though, in hindsight, that might’ve been a really good idea, there is no way we will miss seeing our daughter off to Italy on Friday or delivering Quilt #5 to the Blanchard Valley School. So Friday, we peel ourselves off the sofa, grab our barrel full of cough drops, rake the meds into a suitcase and head on down the road. On Saturday, March 4, we sleep as late as coughing will allow then make our way to Berea, Kentucky where we spend the night in the Boone Tavern Inn, one of our favorite places. (Oh, I just thought about this: I bought the sankofa bracelet from some artists in Berea many, many years ago.)

MARCH 5, 2017

barns: architecture’s workhorses

After a breakfast that includes spoon bread – a staple at Boone’s Tavern – we hit the road again, admiring the countryside and Ohio’s barns, structures I call architecture’s workhorses.

Tanya Weisling-Pyke and her adorable son, Silas

We make it into Findlay, Ohio late afternoon/early evening, where Tanya and Silas meet us for supper. Tanya says Silas acted his age (2) all day, making her a wee little bit nervous about him going to supper with us.

Silas charms Jeanne right off her feet

Now I don’t know what she did with The Daytime Silas and I’m not calling her a liar (I would never), but The Evening Silas I sup with is charming, hospitable, and adorable. Absolutely adorable.


MARCH 6, 2017

Tanya Weising-Pike, who’s Director of Childrens Services, kicks the day off by taking The Engineer and me on a tour of Blanchard Valley Center.  Notice anything about the classrooms? Ignore the walkers you see in the second photo, and the children, the teachers, and the classrooms look like any other classroom, any other students, and any other teachers, don’t they? (A note: all photos are taken by me and used with permission.)

This room is set up like a home, and all classes have access to it daily to practice living skills. Which reminds me, how many of y’all think we ought to bring back Home Ec and Shop classes . . . without the dreaded stigma, of course.

Within walking distance is housing for those who can live like Nancy does – independently, but with round-the-clock assistance.

As we walk to the car for the next stop on our tour, we pass the Blanchard Valley Center’s Free Library, painted by Jordan. You’ll hear more about him later.

Next stop is the Kan Du Studio, where local artists – I don’t even know how to say this, y’all. Let’s start over . . . the Kan Du Studio where artists with disabilities work and sell their art right alongside other artists from the community.  Maybe this: The Kan Du Studio where artists with all sorts of different abilities come together to create and sell their art. See what I mean? We need to get to a place where we talk not of abilities and disabilities but of people.

The artists at Kan Du Studio are well-known for stars – for being stars and for making stars.

The local newspaper donated these sheets of metal, and the Kan Du artists turn them into stars that you see everywhere . . .

. . . even in the women’s restroom in the gym.

Oh – and for those of you who sit with me around the The 70273 Project’s digital campfire (a.k.a. the Facebook group) where digital s’mores are served regularly, I want y’all to lookahere what they sell at Kan Du. If you’d like a place around The 70273 Project Campfire, come on over. We’ll make room for you, and I’ll try to steer you to a seat next to somebody who doesn’t tend to hoard their (digital) chocolate or steal yours.

One of the Kan Du artists creates his own world, making towns and everything you’d find in a town, including hamburger joints. He makes the towns by layering piece after piece after piece of paper, gluing the pieces together, and when he’s satisfied, he paints and positions it. He was absent the day we visited . . .  which is the only reason I got a “tour” of his towns cause he kinda’ keeps the proverbial gate around these towns, posting no trespassing signs everywhere by way of snatching pieces away from curious onlookers, and well, trespassers like me.

Tiles at the front door of the Main Street Deli in Findlay, Ohio

The Main Street Deli

Ceiling tiles at the Main Street Deli.

After Kan Du, it’s time for lunch at the Main Street Deli where the owner hires folks who’ve just been released from prison and those who are homeless. Not only do we get some of the best food ever, but the folks who cook it for us and those who serve it to us provide some of the friendliest customer service I’ve had in a long time. There was a good spirit in that little place, and Tanya says that the owner has never been disappointed by the people she hires.

Our stomachs full and our faces smiling, it’s time to head back to campus for the great unveiling of Quilt #5. Come back by tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it. Click right this way for part 2 of our time with the folks at Blanchard Valley Cnter.


Other places to gather around The 70273 Project water cooler:

Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.

Subscribe to the blog (where all information is shared).

Join the English-speaking Facebook group – our e-campfire – where you can talk to other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.

Join the French-speaking Facebook group – our other e-campfire – where you can chat with other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.

Like the Facebook page where you can check in for frequent updates.

Get folks to help celebrate your birthday by making blocks and/or donating bucks.

Follow the pinterest board for visual information.

Post using #the70273project on Instagram. (Please tag me, too, @whollyjeanne, so I don’t miss anything.)

Tell your friends what you want for your birthday.

And if you haven’t yet made some blocks, perhaps you’d like to put some cloth in your hands and join us.

Or maybe you’d like to gather friends and family, colleagues or students, club or guild members, etc. together and make a group quilt.


  1. Chloe

    LOVE this school!!!! What an inspiring place Findlay is – Kandu? Complete genius. I find it impossible to understand why this is not a fundamental human truth: everyone is an artist. Given the right encouragement and some basic tools, every person can and should create art. Great stuff!

    • whollyjeanne

      I knew you’d fall in love with Findlay and Blanchard Valley Center right alongside me.

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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