Tag: 70273 project

Happy One Year Anniversary

Enjoy a digital cupcake while you read.

One year ago today, I launched The 70273 Project, and thanks to you, it’s been a wonderful, glorious, magnificent year, and I have a few ideas of how we can celebrate . . .

~ Make a block or start a Middling today and post photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and on your blog (using #the70273project and tagging me so I don’t miss it), and when you’re ready to send it to me, be sure to note “One Year Special Edition” on the Provenance Form because special quilts will be made and special exhibits will be staged.

~ Make a donation to help cover shipping materials shipping and postage costs, office supplies, and a host of other necessities by mashing the “donate” button in the sidebar or by writing a check made payable to The 70273 Project, Inc and mailing it to me at POB 994 / Cashiers, NC / 28717.

~ Make it known. Tell people about The 70273 Project. Share posts on Facebook. Post photos in social media. Participate in The 70273 Project Monthly Mixers. Invite people to join the English-speaking Facebook Campfire group. or The French-speaking Facebook group. In fact, what say we get 70,273 people to like The 70273 Project Facebook page and 70,273 photos on Instagram using #the70273project?

Today I’ll be posting here on the blog throughout the day, each post bearing highlights of the past 5 weeks, each a stepping leading us up to the official current block count. (Hint: buckle up!)

If you’re already part of The 70273 Project tribe, thank you.
If you’re not, join us today and help commemorate 70,273 special people.

I’ll see you in about 3 hours with the first update.


Copy and paste the short link to share this post: http://bit.ly/2lFeEjx
And here are the other posts on  today’s catch-up marathon:
Week 48
Week 49
Week 50

Kindness, a Cornerstone of The 70273 Project


Blocks made by Chloe Grice and her sister, Kat Andrews. Photo by Chloe Grice

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters
and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

~~ excerpt of a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

It Touched a Tender Spot In Me

Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes things help us clarify and articulate what matters and what we – what our life – is all about . . . 

“Last year we had 12 volunteers, this year we have only 9,” she was saying as I walked in. “I asked for 12, but I only got you, so people will just have to wait because we are NOT going to rush. Hey, you can’t be in here,” she barks when she sees me slip quietly into the room.

“But I signed up to help,” I tell her.

“What’s your name?”

“Jeanne Hewell-Chambers.”

“Who ARE you?” she asks loudly.

And with that, the 6-8 other women around her begin to giggle.

“I’m Jeanne Hewell-Chambers,” I tell her again.

“And YOU volunteered to HELP?”

The women don’t know whether to look at me or her, but they all know how to laugh in either direction.

“Yes,” I say, my voice now almost at a whisper.

More laughter, then she says with a sigh and rolling eyes, “Okay then” and joins in the laughter with them, shrugging her shoulders as if to say “whatever”.

Though it certainly feels like it, this is not the 7th grade playground. This is a quilt show just a few days ago. I officially belong to this organization (even though I’ve never been able to attend a meeting because the drive is 1.5 hours each way), but because part of the membership requirements are to work at the annual quilt show, I raise my hand and show up at the appointed time.

Staying in the back of the room by myself near the exit door, I work the entire shift, frequently fantasizing about walking right on out the door and never looking back, but I have two quilts to pick up, and besides, I gave my word and, as we now know,  they are short-handed, so I stay and work. Three hours later on the walk to the car, I physically brush myself off and do a little shimmy – my way of slipping out of the negativity and leave it there.

We stop for a nice supper, The Engineer and I, and when we get home, I remove the quilt show tags and open two envelopes that my novice brain thinks contain a renewal notice and a thank-you-for-helping note.

But no.


The 70273 Project, Quilt 1 is one of the quilts I entered, explaining in my artist statement that people from around the world are making 70,273 quilt blocks to commemorate the 70,273 disabled people who were murdered in Germany between 1940-41. White bases represent the medical records on which evaluations were made, and the two red X’s represent the death sentences. The judges’ feedback is that the blocks are not the same size, causing the quilting lines to be askew.


The other quilt I entered is Communion 2, a visual interpretation of a conversation with my mentally disabled sister-in-law, Nancy. The judges’ feedback is that while the hand stitching is okay, the quilt should be square, sides straight, and there should be no exposed raw edges on the fabric used in the quilt.

Though I’ve attended many quilt shows, this is the first time I’ve participated, and the judging is a surprise to me. I feel quite sure that the judges are expert quilters – as expertly talented and knowledgeable as every person who had a hand in creating The 70273 Project, Quilt 1. I am also keen on believing that the judges weren’t privy to information about each quilt before judging . . . but still. Had there been an option on the submission form giving me a choice of having my quilts be judged or not, I could have saved the judges some time and me some angst. Their words sting. It hurts to be misunderstood, to be told you’re less than . . . and the thing is that though I do admittedly feel a tiny bit bruised, my ire comes from the disrespect shown – intentionally or no – to Nancy, to Kitty, to MJ (the Piecer and Quilter for Quilt 1), to those who made and continue to make blocks for The 70273 Project, and always, always, always for those we commemorate and celebrate. It’s this setting aside, this overlooking, this dismissive behavior we are standing up to here in this project.

Now I’m not saying that it’s what The Woman In Charge Of Volunteers or The Judges were doing – in fact, I feel pretty sure that the judges have to adhere to a set of quantifiable, measurable rules and standards (and I still maintain that it would’ve been nice to be able to opt out) – but I am saying that I will never understand why some people make themselves feel better and bigger (as in more powerful) by stomping on and squishing others.

And let’s be honest: we all know people who people like this.

Such behavior seems to me a shallow, temporary way to fill your Self . . . like a sugar rush that brings a burst of energy followed quickly by lethargy. On the other hand, people who fill themselves by doing good work – who spend every day spilling caring, kindness, and compassion everywhere they go – these people have no need to belittle or begrudge others because they fill themselves up with Things That Count. It’s easy for people who know how to fill themselves in lasting ways to accept differences in personalities, in preferences, in creations, to see value in every human and every creation.

I hope that makes sense.

I’m not saying we have to like every single quilter, but how hard is it to be pleasant and appreciative (even when tired at the end of a quilt show)? And I’m not saying we need to like every single quilt, but how hard is it to be encouraging, to find something good to say (or at least ask a question to show interest and willingness to See), even if it’s not our preferred style of quilt?

Before long, I’ll open an envelope with a form requesting my renewal dues. I think I’ll spend that money buying fabric for a new piece in the Communion Series  and takingThe Engineer out for a good dinner – complete with a glass of wine – on our way home after attending next year’s quilt show as spectators who love marveling at and being in the presence of quilts (and each other).

Big News, Y’all



Some of you may remember that I launched The 70273 Project on 2/14/2016 . . . Valentine’s Day . . . my birthday . . . Love Day. It seemed Right to me because this is a project about kindness, caring, respect, and compassion – all feeding into the river called Love.

Since Launch Day, we’ve been floating along, allowing the project to unfold and evolve as it will. Many people along the way have asked me to point them to the finish line, wondering what’s my deadline. It’s a fine line I walk, navigating between the numbers and the commemorating. I don’t want to do anything to distract us from the reason we’re gathered here around The 70273 Project campfire, don’t want to do anything to get between us and our commemorating those who died, celebrating those who live, and educating all who will listen.

There I was, about 10 days ago, writing in my journal when The Crazy Idea paid me another visit, landing on my shoulder and dictating this to my fingertips:

It shouldn’t take longer to love than it takes to hate.

Not giving me time to catch my breath, The Crazy Idea explained . . . the German Nazis took 20 months to murder 70,273 disabled people. Can we . . . shouldn’t we . . . commemorate those 70,273 people in the same length of time? Should it take us longer to commemorate than it took them to kill? Launch occurred on 2/14/16. Twenty months later is October 2017, so y’all, we have ourselves a goal. A target date. A finish line.

Now I don’t want us to get so focused on numbers – quantities, and dates – that we crank the blocks out like machines. That’s who they were, not who we are. That’s what they were about, not what we are about. But it does seem Right and Good to my Bones that we strive to have the blocks finished in 20 months. Does it feel Right and Good to you, too?

The world will not stop spinning if we don’t have all the blocks by October 31, 2017. The moon will not pack up and move to another galaxy far, far away. Cloth and thread will not dry up, disappear, cease to exist. If we don’t have all 70,273 blocks by the end of October 2017, we will simply continue stitching until we do have them all – one block for each disabled person murdered. (Important note: I’m talking having all the blocks completed by the end of next October, not the quilts, though we will continue to work on them, too. I expect they’ll take a bit longer, though.)

So it will be a soft deadline.

I will not crack a whip or purchase a bull horn or declare you must work overtime. Your pay will not be docked should we not meet our goal. But we will try, right? We will galvanize with renewed enthusiasm and dedication, right? (Please say yes.)

How will we do it? By continuing to do what we’re doing now: Creating an eternal grape vine by telling at least three people every week about The 70273 Project. Being breathing billboards by stitching blocks wherever we are. Sharing links to blog posts, tweets on Twitter, posts on Facebook. Inviting friends over to sit and stitch a spell. Getting on the agenda of our clubs and guilds. Making blocks with our siblings, encouraging our children to make blocks with their siblings, inviting our friends to join the English-speaking Facebook group or the French-speaking Facebook group, liking the Facebook page, subscribing to the blog. We’ll continue posting photos on Instagram, following the Pinterest board, and encouraging friends and family to do the same.

And always, always, always we’ll remember, honor, and commemorate.

Will we do it? Will we create another 66,129 blocks in a year? Can we do this big thing? I’m pretty darn sure we can because when we join together, when we bring our hearts and our hands together, when we believe deeply and wholeheartedly in what we’re doing, we do Big Things.

Thank you for being part of The 70273 Project Tribe. ‘Tis a good thing y’all are doing.

A very good thing.

What happens to the quilts once they’re made?

quilt1kittysorgenmjkinmanQuilt 1: Pieced by Kitty Sorgen (l), Quilted by MJ Kinman (r)

I am frequently asked, “What will happen to the quilts when they’re all finished?”

Quilt 1 is already going out into the world, and once they get their labels, Quilts 3 and 5 will find their way out of The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug (my studio), too. And as they are completed and sent back to me, other quilts will be packed up and find their way out into the world. And so on and so on and so on.

quilt3margaretwilliamsQuilt 3: Pieced and Quilted by Margaret Williams

I created The 70273 Project, Inc. (a 501(c)3 organization) as a vessel to hold every quilt that’s part of The 70273 Project. I don’t own the quilts, the organization owns them . . .  though I must admit that it’s hard to think of them as being owned at all. The 70273 Project, Inc. is more of a caretaker, a guardian for The 70273 Project quilts.

The plan is that these quilts – all 1100-1200 of them – will travel the world, sometimes going solo, sometimes in small groups, and occasionally – whenever possible – all traveling together. They’ll rack up frequent flyer miles, finding their way into any exhibit space that will invite them in to hang out for a spell. And everywhere they go, they will commemorate the 70,273 disabled people who died, celebrate the countless numbers of people with special needs who live among us today, and educate everybody who will pause long enough to read about Aktion T4 and take it all in.

quilt18inprogresslorettaforestandfriendsQuilt 18: Created by Loretta Forest and Friends at a Recent Retreat

Yes, we will make sure the 70,273 people are not forgotten.
Yes, we will raise awareness of special needs and move us forward to a time when we talk not of disabled people, but simply of people.
Yes, we will do everything we can to make sure that an atrocity like T4 never, ever, ever happens again.

quilt11janethartjeQuilt 11: Pieced and Quilted by Janet Hartje

The quilts will do that. They are up to the task. And they will do it as far as the calendar can see.

Oh yes, you know they will.


How can you help get The Quilts out into the world?
~ Let me know if you’re willing to consider becoming The 70273 Project Travel Agent (a.k.a. Exhibit Coordinator).
~ Donate to the needs of the quilts: storage, shipping, mending and tending, etc.
~ Let me know whenever you think of a place that might be willing to put a quilt or two up on exhibit.


Other hangouts for The 70273 Project (be sure to tell your friends and family, y’all):
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.
Follow the pinterest board for visual information.
Post using #the70273project on Instagram. (Please tag me, too, @whollyjeanne, so I don’t miss anything.)
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 together and make a group quilt.

What’s Behind the Design of the Quilt Blocks

LucyIlesHorner(blocks created by Lucy Iles Horner)

The Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Diseases oversaw the preparation of a registration form designed to elicit the information it regarded useful in determining which persons were “worthy of help” and which were “useless lives” and thus candidates for “final medical assistance.”

Thousands of copies were printed and distributed to long-term hospitals, sanitariums, and asylums. A cover letter from Dr. Leonardo Conti, chancellor of sanitariums and nursing homes, directed attending physicians to complete the forms immediately and return by January 1, 1940. The purpose of the form was explained as “the necessity for a systematized economic plan for hospitals and nursing institutions.”


To the Head of the Hospital for Mental Cases,
Or his deputy in Kaufbeuren.

With regard to the necessity for a systemized economic plan for hospitals and nursing institutions, I request that you complete the attached registration forms immediately in accordance with the attached instruction leaflet and return them to me. If you yourself are not a doctor, the registration forms for the individual patients are to be completed by the supervising doctor. The completion of the questionnaire is, if possible, to be done on a typewriter. In the column “Diagnosis” I request a statement, as exact as possible, as well as a short description of the condition, if feasible.

In order to expedite the work, the registration forms for the individual patients can be dispatched here in several parts. The last consignment, however, must arrive in any case at this ministry at the latest by 1 January 1940. I reserve for myself the right, should occasion arise, to institute further official inquires on the spot, through my representative.

Per proxy: Dr. Conti


To be noted in completing questionnaire:

All patients are to be reported who –

1. Suffer from the following maladies and can only be employed on work of a mechanical character, such as sweeping, etc., at the institution:
Epilepsy (if not organic, state war service injury or other cause),
Senile maladies,
Paralysis and other syphilitic disabilities refractory to therapy, Imbecility, however caused,
Huntington’s chorea and other chronic diseases of the nervous system; or

2. Have been continuously confined in institutions for at least five years, or

3. Are in custody as criminally insane, or

4. Are not Germany citizens or not of German or unrelated stock according to their records of race and nationally.

The separate questionnaires to be completed for each patient must be given consecutive numbers.
Answers should be typewritten if possible.
Latest date for return:


Diagnosis should be as precise as possible. In the case of traumatically induced conditions, the nature of the trauma in question, e.g., war wounds or accidents at work, must be indicated.

Under the heading “exact description of employment” the work actually done by the patients in the institution is to be stated. If a patient’s work is described as “good” or “very good” reasons must be given why his release has not been considered. If patients on the higher categories of diet, etc., do no work, though they are physically capable of employment, the fact must be specially noted.

The names of patients brought to the institution from evacuation areas are to be followed by the letter (V).

If the number of Forms I sent herewith does not suffice, the additional number required should be demanded.

Forms are also to be completed for patients arriving at the institution after the latest date for return, in which case all such forms are to be sent in together exactly one month after the date in question, in every year.

[DOC 825.]

Registration Form 1
To be Typewritten
Current No.

Name of the institutions:


Surname and Christian name of the patient:

At Birth:

Date of Birth:



Later place of residence:


Unmarried, married, widow, widower, divorced:



Previous profession:


Army service when? 1914-18 or from 1/9/39

War injury (even if no connection with mental disorder): Yes/No

How does war injury show itself and of what does it consist?

Address of next of kin:

Regular visits and by whom (address):

Guardian or nurse (name, address):

Responsible for payment:

Since when in institution:

Whence and when handed over:

Since when ill:

If has been in other institutions, where and how long:

Twin? Yes/No

Blood relations of unsound mind:


Clinical description (previous history, course, condition: in any case ample data regarding mental conditions):

Very restless? Yes/No

Bedridden? Yes/No

Incurable physical illness? Yes/No

Schizophrenia: Fresh attack:

Final condition:

Good recovery:

Mental debility:

Epilepsy: Psychological alteration:
Average frequency of the attacks:

Therapeutics (insulin, cardiazol, malaria, permanent result Salvarsan, etc., when?) Yes/No

Admitted by reason of par. 51, par. 42b German Penal Code, etc., through:


Former punishable offenses:

Manner of employment (detailed description of work):

Permanent/temporary employment, independent worker? Yes/No

Value of work (if possible compared with average performance of healthy person)

This space to be left blank





The Aktion T4 was conjured, administered, and maintained by a small number of physicians. To prevent resistance, secrecy was of utmost importance, and the penalty for leaking information about Aktion T4 was death.

Military information was requested because leaders of Aktion T4 felt strongly that veterans should be exempt from the program . . .  not in appreciation for their military service, but because of their belief that military morale would plummet were word to ever get out that veterans who were disabled as a result of their military service were  murdered because of the loss of limbs or sanity. Turns out they were right to fear retaliation. When news that amputees and shell-shocked veterans of World War I were being murdered, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel complained to Hitler, and in the way of the major furor that ensued, murders of veterans ceased.

It was unclear – especially at the time these forms were sent out – how the information requested on this form was to be used. A commonly heard rumor held that the state was looking for additional laborers and planned to take people from the institutions and put them to work. Based on this rumor, some physicians exaggerated the condition of their patients in hopes of avoiding work recruitment and instead keeping them in the institution that could provide the care they needed. What they actually did, as we now know, was seal the fate of their patients.

With information gleaned from these forms, the 10-15 assessing physicians ran what was little more than a kangaroo court. Without benefit of law or precedent, the assessing doctors decided who would live and who would die. Two red X’s at the bottom of a patient’s form was a sure and swift death sentence.

Notice anything missing from the process? Besides the elements of compassion and humanity, I mean. The assessing physicians did not solicit further information from the attending physicians, from loved ones, or from the patient. They were only required to read the forms and make an evaluation on what they read. Words on paper. That’s all that was required to determine who lives and who dies. It’s unthinkable, unfathomable, isn’t it?

The base of our quilt blocks is white (to represent the paper, the forms) bearing  two red X’s (representing the death sentence).


i’ve begun digging into research about the Aktion T4 – the euthanasia program through which the 70,273 physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled people we commemorate in The 70273 Program were murdered – and I’ve decided that I’m not willing to wait the eons it might very well take me to complete my research and pull it together in term paper form, so I’ll be sharing bits and pieces here on the blog as we go along, even as I continue to dig around for information in the background. (Who wants to read a term paper anyway, right?) I’ll categorize the information, and I’m sure some organizational structure will appear eventually. For now, though, bitesize bits and pieces.

Stay in the know:
Subscribe to the blog
Join the Facebook group
Like the Facebook page

Become a part of The 70273 Project:
Make blocks


Information about the assessment form gleaned from transcripts from the Nuremberg trials

Where in the world is The 70273 Project? Please add a pin to show us where you are in the world. (1) Click the + sign in upper righthand corner of map. (2) Enter your first name only. (3) Enter your city/state. (4) Using the pins at the bottom of the map, select a marker based on how you are involved. (5) Select preview to see before posting. (6) Select submit to post. Please add a marker for each role you serve in The 70273 Project.

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Allow me to introduce myself . . .

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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