16 squares = 16 ways to get involved

In my previous blog post, I talked about 16 ways to spread the word. Welcome Blanket is successful because of our collective energy. Today, I honor our 16-squared “Come Together Blanket” sample pattern with 16 ways to take part in the project:

DETERMINE YOUR SUPERPOWER

1. "Do I have special skills that could benefit Welcome Blanket?"
You probably have a superpower. We all do.  Maybe you are fantastic with logistics, a writer, a photographer, a social media guru, a teacher, an incredible cook, a translator, someone who finds things super inexpensively and can bargain like crazy, a psychotherapist, a videographer,  a documentarian, a story teller, a web designer, a graphic designer or illustrator, an attorney,  a connector, an incredible thinker, etc. Whatever skills you have, we can find a place for you on this project. Welcome Blanket is about inclusion, and that includes you.

MAKE A WELCOME BLANKET 

2. "Am I an okay to expert knitter, crocheter, weaver, quilter, sewer?" 
Offer up your talents. You can give advice in person or over social media. Let people know you are ready to share your knowledge if they are involved with Welcome Blanket. Being a beginner knitter myself, I love asking for advice in person and appreciate all the help I can get!

3. "Am I interested in learning a new skill?"
Welcome Blanket is the perfect opportunity to begin knitting, crocheting, weaving, sewing or quilting. Try it out! It’s okay to make mistakes.

So many different blankets! All are welcome!

So many different blankets! All are welcome!

This blanket from @lovelyarns is a wonderful group effort. Can you imagine how wonderful it will be to receive this gem and its accompanying stories and words of welcome?

This blanket from @lovelyarns is a wonderful group effort. Can you imagine how wonderful it will be to receive this gem and its accompanying stories and words of welcome?

HELP WITH THE WELCOME BLANKET SHOW (no crafty skills necessary)

4. "Am I, or will I be in Chicago?"
We would love your help with unpacking parties. Currently, we have over 700 blanket packages in the Smart Museum storage area that are ready for freezing, cataloging and install, and more arrive every day! We love the enthusiasm of our Welcome Blanket makers and we have committed to showing all the blankets sent by November 4 (We will happily take them after, too). There is something particularly special about opening up the deliveries, touching this beautiful work, reading welcome notes, and being a part of the installation team. We have a standing unpacking party 1-4 on Saturdays, and we are creating more. No prior experience is necessary. Groups and individuals are welcome. Get in touch with jharness@uchicago.edu for more details.

Here's a peak at the incredible piles of packages ready for unpacking!

Here's a peak at the incredible piles of packages ready for unpacking!

Welcome Blanket Unpacking Party in Progress!

Welcome Blanket Unpacking Party in Progress!

MAKE SPACE

5. "Do I have an organization, business, or home with space for people to gather?"
You can host a knitting circle in other places aside from your home. You don’t even have to be a knitter! Dance studios, coffee shops, bookstores, boutiques, art galleries, ski lodges)– all could be potential “knit in public” places. You can also invite people to gather in your home to make Welcome Blankets and talk about immigration. As with any other situation, always be sure to be safe.

6. “Do I know how to host a party?”
If you can host a party, you can host a Welcome Blanket gathering. Host a knitting party and invite friends to knit, talk about immigration, and learn more about the project. Take photos and post them on social media using #welcomeblanket.  You can host a meetup in your own home or perhaps at a local coffee shop. Remember to post about it on our Gatherings page if you want more people to be able to know.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 6.10.32 PM.png

USE WELCOME BLANKET AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BETTER KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS

7. "Do I know of a retirement home, assisted living facility, rehab facility, dialysis clinic, hospital or another place where there may be knitters who are not on social media?"
Contact the social coordinator of the facility. Let them know that this type of project is therapeutic and can give purpose to people who may feel powerless. Really! Maybe you could even visit and knit together!

 8. “Do I know people in Chicago?”
Let them know about the Welcome Blanket installation at the Smart Museum Encourage them to go and share their experience (#welcomeblanket). Because the show is constantly evolving, they can go multiple times and the experience will be different. You can also encourage them to participate in unpacking parties!

Here's what the Welcome Blanket show looked like on September 27. We are so grateful for all of the incredible creativity, work and kindness of those involved in the project.

Here's what the Welcome Blanket show looked like on September 27. We are so grateful for all of the incredible creativity, work and kindness of those involved in the project.

CONNECT AND BE WITH OTHERS

9. "Is there a knitter/crafter in my life?" 
Talk with her, or him! Share information about the project. If she/he is physically nearby, go and be with her as she works on her #welcomeblanket.

10. “Do I know someone who is stressed out (about politics, immigration, personal experiences, mental health, life in general) and would benefit from participating in this project?”
This goes for all of us;  we are living in stressful times. Self-care is essential. One way to manage stress is through knitting, or crafting. "Might crafts such as knitting offer long-term health benefits?" from the Washington Post and "Should you knit?" from Psychology today bring up multiple studies and possible explanations for why crafting in general and the repetitive approach of knitting in particular are good for one's mind and mental state.

Here's an image from the Olneyville Library. Welcome Blanket is a great opportunity to get together with neighbors.

Here's an image from the Olneyville Library. Welcome Blanket is a great opportunity to get together with neighbors.

LISTEN AND SHARE STORIES AND IDEAS

11. “How well do I know my family’s immigration story?”
Start thinking about your accompanying note to the immigrant who will receive your blanket. Talk with your family or do some research around your family's arrival to the United States. Share your story using #welcomeblanket. We are working on creating a way for people to share their stories widely (even if they are not creating a welcome blanket). 

 12. "What concerns me about current immigration policy? How do I start the conversation?"
This is a big topic, and one that evokes big emotions. Here’s a list  of possible questions to start off the conversation while you knit your blanket. Feel free to use our guide whether or not you are crafting. A large part of Welcome Blanket is creating a space for dialogue. 

We have binders and binders of welcome notes and stories. All are being recorded and numbered to match with their blankets. Come on in and read some.

We have binders and binders of welcome notes and stories. All are being recorded and numbered to match with their blankets. Come on in and read some.

SHARE MATERIALS AND RESOURCES 

13. “Do I have a yarn stash?”
You do? What a wonderful reason to put together different yarns! You can make a blanket from the yarn you have, or share!

14. “Do I have extra funds that I want to contribute to this project?”
There are a few ways you can contribute financially. Check out our locations page and see which local yarn stores have “Donations Welcome.” Call them and talk with them about donating funds (or supplies) for making Welcome Blankets. The Smart Museum of Art is also fundraising  (contributions are tax-deductable) to help cover costs of shipping, programming, etc. 

HELP DEVELOP PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS 

15. "Am I part of, or do I know a group that should partner with Welcome Blanket?" 
We love to collaborate and partner. This project’s power lies in part in how we all connect and help one another. Perhaps you are part of a group that is in crafts, refugee resettlement, immigration rights, etc. From encouraging your local crafts store to sign up to be a visible partner to connecting us with refugee resettlement groups to introducing us to artist and civil rights organizations, you can be that incredible connector that helps us build a network of inclusion and support. 

Welcome Blanket is all about collaboration and inclusion. Here's a pic from Politicon.

Welcome Blanket is all about collaboration and inclusion. Here's a pic from Politicon.

SPREAD THE WORD

16. “Do I want to let everyone know about Welcome Blanket?”
Of course you do! Check out my previous blog post for ways to spread the word. You may have some additional ideas.  

Chicken the Dog recommends taking some printouts about Welcome Blanket to take to the dog park. She's great with PR.

Chicken the Dog recommends taking some printouts about Welcome Blanket to take to the dog park. She's great with PR.

As always, thank you for being a part of Welcome Blanket. It's our collective action that makes this project resonate. Let's keep it up! 

In Solidarity,

Jayna