Tag: the 70273 project (Page 1 of 2)


World War II veteran

Woman in 1940s attire shows the quilt block she made, a pair of red X's on a white base

A mother and her 3 children smile after they've made blocks for The 70273 Project

woman with long brown hair wearing a red shirt makes a quilt block of 2 red X's on a white base

a man wearing a blue shirt with yellow stripes cuts paper
It is her pocketbook that first catches my eye. I like ’em big, self reliant (willing and able to stand on their own when put down), and open at the top so I can reach and retrieve efficiently. Hers meets all my criteria, and I don’t mind telling you that I covet it.

“Is that your grandson?” she asks, stopping about 8′ away from us where The Engineer stands holding our grandson, Calder Ray.

I nod.

“He’s adorable,” she says.

“I know,” I tell her. “And if I didn’t say that, I’d have to turn in my grandparents’ card. Do you have grandchildren?”

“Not yet,” she says then asks, “but would you like to see what I’m doing for my future grandchildren?”

I follow her to a nearby bench and sit beside her. From her magic bag, she pulls out a large sketchbook. It’s the sixth one she’s created for her future grandchild, each filled with stories sketched around a central theme. This book is a treasure hunt to all her favorite places on Hilton Head Island where she lives. She shows me the sketch she’s working on now, a map to the place she goes to see the best sunsets on the island. (A place I’ve never heard of. A place we will visit the following night.)

After asking if I can copy her idea that, as a personal and family historian, I am now totally smitten with and committed to despite my woeful lack of drawing skills, I ask about the theme of the other 5 journals. She tells me that the first one was about her family history. She tells me about how during World War II her ancestors did what so many families in Holland did at that time: delivered their young boys to a cruise ship and left them there, knowing that their sons would be fed, clothed, and trained for a career. Her uncle spent the rest of his life with that cruise line.

“I didn’t know how much to write about that particular period of time,” she confesses, “because while I want to tell the truth, I don’t want these books to be dark. My family hid in the attic of their house and slaughtered goats up there for food. It was not an easy or pretty life back then.”

“So true. Would you like to hear what I’m working on?” I ask, then I tell her the thumbnail version of The 70273 Project. She listens intently then asks, “What would you do if I told you that Nazis are live and well today – even right here on Hilton Head Island?”

“I don’t know exactly what I’d do,” I answer, “but I’d do something.”

I regret my answer the second the period at the end of the sentence falls out of my mouth, and I tell her so. “You ask a very good question, and it begs a better, more thoughtful answer – especially since one of the 3 purposes of The 70273 Project is to educate all who will listen not just about the atrocity, but about things like respecting differences, protecting those who can’t protect themselves, and about taking a stand against bullying. Thank you for the good question. You’ve given me something to think about, sort out, and articulate.”

She tells me that Nazis are alive and well today, and that some are stalking and persecuting her because she calls them out publicly. Some, she assures me, are well-placed elected officials. She encourages me to go to the local courthouse and pay them $10 for a cd version of the transcript of her latest trip to court that happened just the week before. She tells me more about what’s happening in her life and who these well-placed people are, and when I notice the family looking at me and tapping their watches, I tell her it’s time for me to go. “Remember to get that transcript if you have time,” she implores me, “and at the very least, remember that they still exist.”

Though she cautions me to ponder all she told me for three days before telling my family and friends, I start telling the minute the last car door closes. Most of my family thinks she’s probably lined her walls with aluminum foil, too, and maybe they’re right. But I wonder . . . could that kind of ostrich thinking – that head-in-the-sand mode – have propelled the Nazis forward through their agenda? Did people back in 1940 think the rumors they were hearing were too outlandish, too awful, too extreme to be true? Was it too inconceivable that people were being murdered because of disabilities, so folks continued with life as usual, swatting such a notion away as though it were a fly?

At the very least, it is a good question – a very good question that all of us involved in The 70273 Project should be asking ourselves.

This weekend (Saturday, 4/21/18 and Sunday, 4/22/18), a mere 30-minute drive from where I will be attending the  World War II Heritage Days in Peachtree City, GA, spreading news of The 70273 Project and thanking World War II veterans for their service,  a Neo-Nazi rally will be taking place.

Think about that: only about 20 miles separates World War II veterans from people who follow the ideology they fought.

What to do?
Do I wrap myself in quilts of The 70273 Project and stand on the sidelines of their rally as a way of saying, “Oh no you don’t. We remember and will not let it happen again on our watch.”?
Do I attend World War II Heritage Days as planned and thank the veterans for their service and tell others about the atrocity known as Aktion T4?

I want to do both of the above.

If we attend – even in silent, peaceful protest – will this fuel their fires?
If we attend with placards of protest, will that fuel their fires?
If we stay home and say/do nothing, will they misread that as something akin to  implied consent?

Am I making too much of this? Am I making assumptions and falling prey to stereotypical thinking because the word “Nazi” is a word that triggers me into visions of unspeakable acts of oppression, physical altercations, and slurs of every kind imaginable towards those who are different? Are they even really Nazis, or is that the term being used because, let’s face it: it is the insult of choice used by many to label those who think differently. If so, aren’t I guilty of putting negative energy into the world?

So many questions.

Conventional mother wisdom would urge me not to stoop to their levels, to not become what they are, to not give them the attention they want. Were he here, my daddy would tell me that when you wrestle with pigs, you both get muddy and the pig likes it. Y’all, I just don’t know. I feel like such a simpleton when I tell you that for the life of me, I cannot understand why each breathing person doesn’t focus on being the best person they can be and leave the rest of us to do the same; why people set about to feel better about themselves or more powerful or who knows what by diminishing or eliminating those who differ from them in any way. It baffles me.

One thing I am absolutely sure of falls out of the mouth of my son: “You gain nothing when you fight hate with hate.” (Who is this young man, and how did he get to be so wise?)

While the questions swirl, a thought rises to the surface:  what if we, each one of us,  wherever we are in the world,  practice the power of the needle and send a message by stitching blocks, by commemorating people the Nazis of the 1940s murdered, and posting photos in social media using #70273standsforpeace or #70273neveragain or #70273practicescompassion. (If you have a better one, use it.)

So I have written  myself into a decision: I will go to World War II Heritage Days and shake the hand of every veteran and their family members in attendance, look them in the eye, and thank them for putting their lives on the line to keep people around the world safe. I will tell every person who pauses at our table about what we’re doing, how we commemorate these 70,273 people who were murdered for the crime of being born with different abilities. It is not be the decision I will make every time I am confronted with such a choice, but for today, for this weekend, this is the choice I make.

a pile of quilt blocks, pairs of red x's sewn to a white base



It’s Sunday, 05 November 2017.
Nobody applauds when the announcer declares the 2017 International Quilt Festival over.

Queen Becky gives us a lesson in how to fold the quilts,
how to roll and twist the tissue paper,
and where to place it to prevent creases when the quilts are folded.
She is an excellent teacher from whom I learn an awful lot.

The quilts and all who had a hand in creating them are treated with respect.
A clean sheet is placed between the quilts and the floor,

and everyone who touches the quilts wears clean, white gloves.

Sean and David Rusidill (Caroline’s amazingly polite and fun to be with sons), Judy Jochen,
and Shannon Timberlake join in the take down and store effort.

The Engineer (Andy) takes quilts off the walls, and
Linda Moore and Peggy Thomas (sisters) fold and box quilts as they come down.

Caroline Rudisill checks quilts off the inventory list

as they go into the boxes.

It would not have happened with out Peggy Thomas

and Tari Vickery,
both seen here in The 70273 Project Interactive Booth
where people took home 1000 block kits,
left financial donations, and made Friendship Blocks.

Peggy Thomas and Tari Vickery (The 70273 Project Ambassadors)
– what would I . . . what would The 70273 Project . . . do without them?

Mary Green, Ambassador for The 70273 Project
(seen here in front of her beautiful Middling made with beads)
worked in the Interactive Booth, as did . . .

Cindy Cavallo, Ambassador

Caroline Rudisill, Ambassador

Frances Alford, Ambassador
and folks whose photos must be on somebody else’s phone:
Elaine Smith, Ambassador
Linda Moore, Ambassador
Judy Jochen, Ambassador,
Shannon Timberlake.

Thank you all for making the effort not just to get to the Festival,
but to share your time with The 70273 Project. I am grateful beyond description.

Thank you to Queen Becky, who hung The 70273 Project quilts
in the Special Exhibit, making us look so good . . .

to Rose (she teaches special education) who helped hang quilts in the Interactive Booth . . .

to Becky who, because of health issues, wasn’t able to be at the Festival,
but for months and months before the Festival,  donned her best patience and wit
to guide me through the process,
even taking the time to call me on the phone
with the good news that The 70273 Project had been selected
as a Special Exhibit when she could’ve just sent an email.

to Deann who was on-site, always calm and patient and thorough in her answers and instructions,

to Terri, whose laugh never faded throughout the entire five days

to the people back home who assembled The Go Block Bags
(all 1000 bags were taken!) . . .

 to all y’all who weren’t there in person,
but were most definitely there in spirit – sharing posts,
telling others, sending encouraging, appreciative message, emails, and comments –

and to The Engineer . . .  Andy
the man who has unwaveringly honored
our vision and vow of togetherness
for 44 years now . . .


It definitely takes a village, and we have a village made of the  kindest,
most compassionate, smiling, big-hearted people I ever dreamed existed.

All good things must come to an end, and the International Quilt Festival is no exception.
Looking at the photos of empty walls now, I see visual foreshadowing . . .

We get home and take our elder Corgi Phoebe up the mountain on Wednesday,
cooking all her favorite foods and putting them in front of her,
sitting on the floor with her, petting her, talking to her, loving her.
She wants to go outside every 2 minutes or so as though she can’t make up her mind.
She stands over her water bowl as though it’s familiar,
but she’s forgotten what she’s supposed to do with it.

A business trip on Thursday, and on Friday, it’s time to make The Hard Decision.

As we wait on Jeff (our vet, friend, and well, extended family member),
a man comes in and walks right over to Phoebe who would ordinarily
be glad to see him because she has always known that everybody wants to pet her.
This man does want to pet her,
but today Phoebe doesn’t even raise her head
or look up at him.

We are ushered not into the usual exam room,
but into a more spacious room with colorful padded chairs.
There’s even a doggie bed . . . pink.
I know why we are here
– shoot, I’m the one who called Jeff and told him why we wanted to come –
and yet I am unable to let go of the hope,
that Jeff will enter to announce that an IV of fluids
and maybe 2 weeks of antibiotics and our Phoebe will be good as new.

That’s not what happens.

I sit on the floor with Phoebe.
She stands near the door,
and I ask her to move
for fear someone will smack her hard
when they don’t see her standing there.

She makes laps around the room,
walking in circles that take her
in front of the examining table,
in front of Andy,
in front of me,
then back by the examining table.
Around and around and around she goes.

Jeff takes her out to put the catheter in,
and when he brings her back,
she’s content to lay on the bed she’s been avoiding.

We all sit on the floor now.
As Jeff administers the sedative/anti-anxiety drug,
I tell stories that start with “Remember when . . . “.

As Jeff administers the narcotic,
we each lay a hand on Phoebe
and send steady streams of love to her
through our touch.

The precious four-legged soul called Phoebe
who gifted us with her presence
breathes her last breath
to the sound of laughter and love.

From the high of the Special Exhibit at IQF
to the lows of witnessing the life of a member of our family come to a close,
life is a roller coaster, and we have been in the front seat.


Block made by Andy Urbach


28 blocks made by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers


Made by members of a quilting club in Gers, France


Blocks by Patsi Brletich


Quilt #23 is made by Maïté Findeling

Visual impact.
Emotional impact.
Physical impact.
Mental impact.
Visceral impact.
Social impact.
Qualitative impact.
Quantitative impact.
Historical impact.
Cultural impact.

Today I think about all forms of impact.


Thank you for helping The 70273 Project grow and make a positive, worldwide impact:
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.
Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.
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.

A Cold Molasses Kind of Day

Two nights with little (last night) or no (the night before last) sleep caught up with me today. The reason for the sleepless night is that my bedtime reading was a first-person account of the Holocaust, and her stories were even more horrifying than anything I’ve seen, read, or heard to date. By the time I gave myself permission to close the book, it was too late. The images and feelings were stirred and refused to be quieted. 48 hours later, they are still with me – especially imagining how The 70273 we commemorate must have been treated. I am not one to play ostrich and bury my head in the sand, finding that a dangerous act that paves way for atrocities, but I can now understand better than ever why some people make such choices.

Though there’s much to do, I decided there was nothing to do but move slowly through today and punctuate the afternoon with a nap.


So I first ironed the red fabric that Tami Kemberling donated to The 70273 Project.
Ironing flat pieces is much easier than ironing clothes.


Then I stitched a bit on a tenured Work In Progress,
a piece in The Rinse Cycle: Pivotal Epiphanies in a Woman’s Life series,
and marveled at how much I like the wrong side of pieces
sometimes more than I like the right side.
In high school, I made my dress for the senior prom
(Yes, I had that much personality)
and I horrified my mother and her friends
by choosing to make the wrong side of the fabric
the right side.
Only Ms Johnson thought it a daring and brilliant move
on my part.
In return, I found her a daring and brilliant woman.


Then I stitched a bit on the Storm at Sea quilt
I’m making for my boy, Kipp.
It is the never-ending quilt, to be sure
because I did the Jeanne thing
and opted to hand stitch each block individually
instead of quilting straight rows across.
I tried the straight across approach and felt it disrupted the magic
of this pattern, so I ripped it all out,
took a deep breath
and started again.
It takes about 12 hours to quilt an entire block.
Every now and then I count the blocks waiting to be quilted
and formulate a plan for reaching the finish line –
1 block finished on Monday and Tuesday;
2 blocks finished on  Wednesday and Thursday;
3 blocks finished on Friday and Saturday:
and so on till I know what day I will be finished.
Then I take a day (or ten) off
and must devise a new plan.
My current targeted deadline is Christmas.
I might make that.

The Engineer, who refuses to take naps
and sometimes (thought not today, thankfully)
it seems he decides that nobody else will nap either,
busied himself rearranging the deck furniture,
bringing some furniture up from the lower deck
to find a new home on the upper deck
and presumably carting other pieces
down to the lower deck.
Both decks are rather small,
so I dread going outside tomorrow
to find (yet another) space that has that
just-moved-in look.
The Engineer doesn’t nap
and I don’t tolerate clutter well (at all).
Even after all these years, though,
we find a way to compromise
and live together with respect for
each other without completely abdicating our own selves.
We’ve become experts at choosing
which hills we’re willing to die on
and which hills to let go.
Some days that’s  easer than others.
Every day it’s at the top of the list of things love must do.

Pop Quiz (but You Get to Check Your Own Paper)


More blocks created by Kitty Sorgen

The bad news: Today we’re having a pop quiz on The 70273 Project. Even if you’re already making blocks, even if you’ve already sent blocks, even if you’re already scheduled to speak to a group – however involved you are with this project, you need to take this test. It’s really important to the success of this project.
The good news: You get to check your own paper.

Q: True or False: This is a project with only a few rules/guidelines.
A: True, and here are the few Very Important guidelines.
~ White – just white, though it can be white-on-white fabric, but nothing else – blocks of fabric cut in one of 3 sizes: 3.5×6.5″ or 6.5 x 9.5″ or 9.5 x 12.5″
~ Two – and only two, no more and no less – red X’s laid down on the white fabric
~ Download, print, complete, and use a safety pin to attach the Provenance Form to the blocks, then mail.
~ Email photos (at least 300 dpi resolution, please) and a short bio or a story about why you’ve become a part of this project.

Q: Why does the base have to be white?
A: The white (and it can be white on white prints, it just can’t have anything else on it) represents the paper – the medical records – of the physically and mentally disabled people. The German Nazi doctors were not required to ever so much as lay eyes on the people, just to read their medical records. This is significant.

Q: Why two red X’s?
A: When two of the three German Nazi doctors placed a red X at the bottom of any medical record, the disabled person was rounded up and murdered, often within a few hours. The two red X’s represent the death sentence. This, too, is significant.

Q: I want to stitch more than two red X’s – maybe lay down one big red X then fill the white block with lots of smaller red X’s. Is that okay? It’d be so much cuter, really.
A: Well, um, no. The white needs to remain white – just white – and each white block needs to bear two red X’s. That’s all.
Q: Why?
A: Because when the idea initially came to whisper in my ear, this is the image it brought to show me: 70,273 white blocks with 2 red X’s. The visual impact of 70,273 quilt blocks made of a white base with 2 red X’s is nothing short of powerful – powerful, I tell you – because each block commemorates one of the 70,273 disabled people who were murdered.

Q: How can I be creative with such limitations?
A: Actually, creativity blossoms within boundaries. Get as creative as you want with the two red X’s – that’s wonderful, actually, because no two blocks will be exactly the same, just as no two of these murdered people were exactly the same. And while the two red X’s vary, the white background remains the same  – just white – and that’s significant, too, because these people were not seen as human beings, just a piece of paper bearing their name. You might want to click right this way to get some kindling by looking over the shoulder of some very creative folks to see how they’re making their two red X’s.

Q: I’m gonna’ stitch the name of a student or a friend or a family member who has physical or mental disabilities. M’kay?
A: Well, remember: we want to maximize the visual impact of an unadorned white base with 2 red X’s. Stitching names, initials, words, numbers or any other kind of text, to use a theatre phrase, pulls focus. I really don’t want people getting distracted by trying to read what the stitching says. Susan Graham and I did hatch a way to include the names of loved ones and remain true to the initial vision. Susan taught special needs children, and several of them claimed a spot on her heart, and she wanted to honor them somehow, so she cut the white base, laid down the two red X’s, then, using a fabric marker, wrote the student’s name behind the red X so that it’s a permanent part of the block but not visible from the front.

There’s also a place on the Provenance Form to tell me that you made the block in honor or in memory of someone. You can give their name, and if you want me to send them a note alerting them to your block, you can give me their address. Provided you don’t request that they remain anonymous, these names will be mentioned on the quilt blocks that will forever accompany each quilt, and to the extend possible, they will be mentioned in exhibit literature that will accompany the quilts. If anonymity isn’t request, they will also be celebrated on the blog.

Me, I’m availing myself of all those options to celebrate my disabled sister-in-love Nancy.

Q: Look, I’m just gonna’ send you a block and you can cut it down to the size you want. How ’bout that?
A: I’m begging you to cut blocks to one of the three sizes – 3.5×6.5: or 6.5×9.5″ or 9.5×12.5″ – before sending. Imagine one woman coordinating this on project top of an already full life. Blocks come in, and I catalogue them in the database, feature them on the blog, keep the facebook page humming, respond to the numerous emails and comments and tweets that come in throughout the day, find ways to get the word out, and look ahead to other things that will need tending. Then think of one woman doing all that PLUS cutting 70,273 blocks to size. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask of me when you think that you’re just one person sending a few blocks that need cutting, but remember that there are actually going to be 70,273 blocks, and imagine doing everything that has to be done and cutting that many blocks to size.

Q: How ’bout I put one red X on each of my blocks and you can stitch them together?
A: I refer you to the above answer and beg you to think how much time it might take to stitch 70,273 blocks together. Remember, there 70,273 of you and one of me. That’s the kind of math that can break a person’s back;)

Q: Why do you want us to mail you our basic info and email you the photo and bio?
A: It already takes several minutes to enter all the basic information into the computer for each block. Imagine, if you will, me scanning 70,273 photos and retyping 70,273 bios. Then there’s the whole handwriting thing to consider.

Q: Why do I have to use a safety pin? Why can’t I just staple my Provenance Form to my block?
A: I ask for the safety pin for several reasons. For one, a safety pin is much quicker and easier to remove than a staple. (Let’s review: one minute times 70,273 equals a lot of time.) Then there’s the fact that I have to find safety pins to replace each staple.

Q: Why are there only three sizes?
A: One: visual impact. Two: It’s the way The Idea wants it. Three: These sizes will fit together nicely to make quilt tops.

Q: How many quilts will there be?
A: It’s hard to say at this point because we don’t know how many blocks of each size we will have, so we don’t have all the info we need to do the math. But The Engineer (my husband) calculates we’ll wind up with at least 700 quilts.

Q: Are you going to quilt them all yourself?
A: Bahahahahaha, no. Pretty soon, I’m gonna’ be asking folks to raise their hand if their their quilt guild are willing to do the quilting. And know this: it’s never too soon to raise your hand for that. Just sayin’.

Q: What will you do with the quilts?
A: The quilts will be sent around and to the far corners of the world to commemorate the 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people who were murdered and to celebrate the countless numbers of physically and mentally challenged people who live among us today.

Q: There’s a lot going on with this good project. Do you post the same thing everywhere? How can I keep up?
A: My brain now jiggles more than it juggles, so no, I don’t post the same thing everywhere cause I can’t remember what I posted where. To keep up, you might want to like the Facebook page, send me a friend request on Facebook, follow The 70273 Project pinterest board, subscribe to the blog, follow me on twitter and/or look for #The70273Project or #70273.

Q: Why do you always put a link to the introductory post somewhere in each blog post about The 70273 Project? I’m kinda’ tired of reading it, myself.
A: I do it because (a) my son tells me I need to and (b) new people are stopping by all the time, and because they’re kinda’ starting in the middle, I like to let them know what we’re doing here. As for re-reading it, try this: let your cursor hover over the words The 70273 Project when you can tell there’s a link there, and if you see a link with the word “introducing” in it, you’ve already read the post. Better?

Q: What if I have another question or an idea?
A: You just holler.

Thank y’all for being a part of this project, for following the guidelines, and for helping spread the word. And pretty please keep those blocks and stories coming.




Talking Points for Speaking to Groups About The 70273 Project


So many of you – I’m thinking about you, Pam Yates, Ann Grasso, Tanya Weising-Pike –  are talking up The 70273 Project to your quilt guilds, your church groups, your hobby clubs, art and history teachers, special ed classes – spreading the word and even providing the materials for folks to make blocks on the spot. Cass Hale is hosting a block-making party, open house style. Laurie Dunn and Pam Yates are getting their entire families involved. Others (think Lori East and Hilke Kurzke) are having me over for a guest blog post or, like Terri Belford, are interviewing me for a podcast. Then there’s Kimberly Brock who’s invited me to chat at her Tinderbox Writers’ Workshop one day next week.

I know there are many others I don’t know about, so please  let me know cause I want to give you and your block makers some love here on the blog and in other e-spots like Facebook and Twitter if you’re buzzing around out in the community on behalf of The 70273 Project, will ya’?

This is a project with only a few rules, but the few rules are there for a reason and quite really VERY important, so since y’all are stepping out, I thought it might be helpful if I put together a shiny new When You Speak to Groups Handbook When You Speak to Groups Handbook so you don’t have to worry about missing the few key points  when you’re standing up in front of a group. We’ll talk about it here in this post, but there’s even more info in the Handbook, so do be sure to  download, print, and pack it.


~ There are flyers available to download and print.
~ You can download and print info cards on paper that’s perforated for business card printing.
~ The When You Speak to Groups Handbook
~ Maybe you want to print out some photos of blocks or take blocks that you’ve made.
~ If you’re providing materials for the audience members to make blocks, you want to take:
* Provenance Forms – enough for each Maker
* White fabric, precut into the three block sizes
* Red scraps of fabric, ribbon, yarn, etc.
* Red thread and needles
* Glue (see sidebar – if you click and purchase from our site, it doesn’t cost you any more and we get a few pennies in the coffer to cover expenses)
* Wax paper for pouring some glue out because sometimes the bottles are hard to squeeze
* Toothpicks for spreading the glue
* Writing pens
* Wax paper or a vinyl tablecloth to protect working surfaces
* Paper towels (for cleaning up messes)
* Your camera
* Safety pins
* Scissors
* The Handout that’s included in the Handbook  giving the following info about where folks can keep up with what’s happening:

(from the introductory post, rewritten so you can just read if you want)

In anticipation of the new year, Jeanne Hewell-Chambers cleared her space – her physical, mental, emotional, and digital space – making way for something new, for possibility. After much pondering, journaling, and meditation, she knew what you want her 2016 to look like. She knew what she would do: she would lose weight, finish books, make 3 quilts for personal use. She made her plans and was prepared to stick to them. She felt in control of your life for the first time in I don’t know how long, and it felt good. Real good.

Then one night in mid-January, she sat stitch Nancy’s drawings (Jeanne stitches the drawings of her mentally disabled sister-in-love, Nancy) while watching a documentary on World War II with her husband and their daughter, and just like that – within a space of 4-7 minutes – out went the best laid plans, the slate was cleared, her life changed . . . 

Between January 1940 and August 1941, some 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls – were murdered by the Nazis. The Nazi doctors never even laid eyes on the disabled person they were evaluating, they only read the medical files and, if from the words on the page, the person was deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctor placed a red X at the bottom of the form. Three doctors were to read each medical file, and when two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed. Most were murdered within 1-2 hours.

On February 14, 2016, Jeanne launched The 70273 Project – a project dedicated to commemorating those 70,273 disabled, voiceless, powerless people who were so callously and casually murdered. How will they be commemorated?  By gathering 70,273 blocks of white fabric (representing innocence and the paper the doctors read), each bearing two red X’s (representing one person) then stitching them into quilts that will travel the world.

Is she crazy?  Maybe. But Jeanne’s Bones say she can’t not do this. She knows she can’t change history – can’t unring that bell – but she can – with your help – commemorate the lives of these 70,273 disabled people in this small way.

[Then tell a little bit about why and how you got involved.]

(NOTE: The Handbook contains this information in a bullet point format in case you’re one who prefers to work form an outline.)



~ The base must be white fabric (representing the paper medical records), and on the base, two red X’s are placed (representing the death sentence).
~ Blocks must be one of these sizes: 3.5″ x 6.5″ (9 cm x 16.5 cm) or 6.5″ x 9.5″ (16.5 cm x 24.2 cm) or 9.5″ x 12.5″ (24.2 cm x 31.8 cm).
~ Makers are free to unleash their creativity in creating the blocks – all I ask is that the blocks be a white base with two red X’s and be one of the sizes mentioned above.
~ Please don’t sign the blocks or place other names on the blocks – no visible writing or words . ‘Why? Because I want to keep the focus on the 70,273 souls we commemorate. The Makers’ names will appear on a label that is permanently attached to the back of the quilt, and a copy of the label will be printed on paper and exhibited near each quilt. Or the paper copies of the quilt labels might appear in notebooks that accompany the exhibit. There’s a place on the form to dedicate blocks in honor or in memory of someone in particular, and unless the maker wishes to remain anonymous, these names will be given alongside the maker’s name on labels and exhibition materials. Provided the forms are submitted and emails containing photos and bios are sent as requested, makers will also be recognized on the blog, on twitter, on facebook, and in any books that eventually come.
~ Send photos of individuals with their blocks, as well as groups as they make their blocks. (An important note about photos and names: Thank you for keeping me out of hot water by making sure you have permission to send me names and photos of block makers. If a block maker has a guardian, please have the guardian complete and sign the Provenance Form giving permission. If faces cannot be shown, perhaps you can snap and  photos of hands and blocks.


1. Download, print, complete, and use safety pints to attach The Provenance Form to the blocks. Each maker must submit a Provenance Form, and multiple blocks made by the same maker can be attached to the form. PLEASE remember this form ’cause if I get a bunch of blocks with no form, I’ll have no way of identifying who made what, and we’ll both be in the doghouse.
2. Mail blocks and page one of the form to the address given at the top of the page.
3. Email me the photos and bios (see form for details and bio kindling).


Here’s the downloadable version of the When Speaking to Groups Handbook.
Have I forgotten something? Please let me know.
Do you have experiences to share? Do tell, please.

There are all sorts of ways to stay in touch, and like I said, I don’t post the same things in all the places ’cause that would be boring, so be sure that:
~ we’re friends on Facebook
~ that you’ve liked the Facebook page
~ that you’re following the pinterest board
~ and subscribed to the blog

However you’re getting the word out, thank y’all. This is truly a grassroots effort – my favorite kind.



The 70273 Project: Off and Running

The 31-Blocks-in-31-Days Event for The 70273 Project is off and running . . .


Barbara Atwell is off and making,
and spreading the word, getting others involved, too.


I met Fran Saperstein around the end of 2009, and let me tell you:
she’s one of those people whose heart shines through immediately.
And look – she’s keeping things interesting for the quilters
by making some vertical blocks!


Having been gone for a week and a half,
we should be able to get by the post office
tomorrow when it’s open,
so stay tuned for more blocks and makers
as the week unfolds.
(I probably won’t sleep a wink tonight in anticipation!)


Having spent most of today tinkering under the hood here at the blog.
I direct your attention to the lower right sidebar
where I’ve added a cute-as-all-get-out
working-on-the-goal graphic.
As the blocks come in,
the tube will fill till we get to the magic number:
And oh what a celebration that will be.

I also added a directory in the sidebar
for The 70273 Project
to make it quicker and easier
to find specific posts
that might be helpful.

Thank y’all for the blocks I know you’re making.
I can’t wait to see them on Facebook.
Post on your timeline and tag me
or on my timeline
or on The 70273 Project campfire page.

Now I’m gonna’ be on the go
over the next few months,
so if you have a group you’d like me to speak to
or if you’d just like to meet for
a Krispy Kreme doughnut,
let me know.

Wanna’ get free daily delivery? Subscribe right here.

Nancy Does Her Part for The 70273 Project Blocks

Nancy does her part: makes a drawing that will become her block for The 70273 Project.
(Lighting was a little on the dark side on account of it was post-lunch nap time.)

And here Nancy and Jeanne (mostly Jeanne, actually) talk about
what it’s like to be a mother and an artist.



Here are Nancy’s finished drawings for her 70273 blocks.
Just wait till you see what I have planned for
my part of the collaboration.
Stay tuned.

Today we picked up the 563 (or so) drawings that will become
In Our Own Language 19.
Here are some of my favorites:





Tonight I was tickled to be invited to talk about The 70273 Project
with other writers over on Twitter
in #storydam,
a chat moderated tonight by Meredith Shadwill.

Don’t forget to help get the word out by mentioning The 70273 Project on
Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media outlet you hang out in.


Remember to subscribe so you stay up to date.


Let me know when you get your block finished
and let me know if you’re gonna’ participate in the
Make-a-Block-a-Day-in-March Event.

and, as always:

Thank you.

Turning the Tables


Nancy and The Engineer

Nancy Talks About her Baby Doll

When I was a teenager, too young to drive myself to the shopping mall and too old to want to be seen with my mother, I would sit on a bench in the middle of the mall and watch people. Sometimes I would pretend I was handicapped just to see how people reacted to me, then I’d switch back to me, then back to handicapped. On and on it would go, this private social inquiry, with me observing and noting the differences in people’s responses to me.

Though some were quite gentle, most pretended they didn’t see me when I donned the disabled persona.

(And yes, it’s true: I was an odd kid.)

(Some would argue that I still am.)

Some block makers have expressed reluctance to make a block fearing they will not do it right. Now I’ve known a lot of disabled people in my life (and my regular readers know how much I adore my sister-in-law, Nancy), and never – not once – have I ever heard a single one of them fret about getting something wrong. Right and wrong just doesn’t exist for them. Making isn’t about how they do it, it’s about doing it, period. The making is all that matters.

So I’m thinking that maybe, when we’re making these blocks for The 70273 Project, we could let Nancy and her friends be our teachers and just make for the sheer joy of making. And who knows? We might find it so freeing, we’ll decide to say “Good riddance” and leave judgement on the side of the road and never, ever look back.


Want to raise your hand and become part of the Make-A-Block-A-Day-In-March Tribe? Leave a comment here or send me an email or find me on Facebook and let me know ’cause I’m thinking about setting us up a Facebook page to call our own.

Want to subscribe? Click right this way.

And hey, if you’re on twitter, you’re cordially invited to join Meredith Shadwill (facebook /  twitter) and me (@whollyjeanne) in a twitter chat about The 70273 Project and writing. Look for (and use when you chime in) #storydam to join the conversation. It’s gonna’ be fun.

Any Day Now . . .


Every day before heading to the post office, The Engineer says, “I’ll bet today’s the day.” He is so excited about The 70273 Project. I just can’t tell you. So far he’s come out empty handed (well, unless you count the bills), but I understand that several blocks are winging their way to me and others will be soon, so let’s review Operation: Send Me the Blocks . . .

When your blocks are ready to mail, you download, print, and fill out the Provenance Form then attach it to your block(s) with a safety pin. Why a safety pin, you ask? Because just like a staple holds papers together better than a gem clip, a safety pin holds blocks together better than a straight pin. (Plus it’s not as likely to cause pain.)

Mail your blocks and form to the address on the form, then scoot on back to your computer and send me an email containing the following: a photo (or several) of you (you making the blocks would be terrific) and a short bio. Why do I have you email that instead of writing it out on the form and sticking a photo inside the envelope? Imagine me scanning 70273 photos and typing in 70273 bios, that’s why;) If you email them to me, it’s much quicker and easier for me to copy and paste . . . and with the exception of maybe dropping off the first letter of the first word when highlighting before copying, I’m much more likely to get it just the way you sent it without typos.

If you’re sending multiple blocks (Thank you!), feel free to pin all of them to one Provenance Form. If you host or attend a block making party and volunteer to mail everybody’s blocks, be sure each maker completes a Provenance Form and attaches it to their blocks before you put them in the envelope. In other words, each maker must complete a Provenance Form. You’ll also need to get each maker to send me their bio and photo via email.

And what if you want to remain anonymous? There’s a place on the form to tell me that, but I’d still like your name and contact info so I can let you know when your blocks are received and send you a thank you note. If you wish to remain anonymous, know that I will honor your request and your info will go no further than me, and all you need send is your name and contact info. You can leave all else blank and there’s no need to send a photo and bio. The photos and bios are for use when posting your blocks to Facebook or including them in a blog post.

Is there anything I’m forgetting? Anything you still have questions about? Just holler.


Won’t be long till the Make-a-Block-a-Day March Event begins, so let me know you are in so I can get us all set up. I’m creating a special Facebook page just for us. If we can rally 100 people making a block a day for 31 days, that’s . . . let’s see . . . where’s my Engineer calculator . . . 3100 blocks. Significant.

And hey, be sure to subscribe (if you haven’t already) cause it’s the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of The 70273 Project.


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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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