Welcome Blanket: An Act of Inclusion and Welcome

In the United States of America in 2017, a woman should not be killed by a white supremacist domestic terrorist because she protests Nazis. With our outrage, let’s work together to craft the kind of society in which we wish to live.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a thorough guide about 10 ways to fight hate. For the guide, click here.

Participating in Welcome Blanket is one way to take our country by warmth, kindness, and inclusion. It celebrates our diversity, provides a way to talk about complex issues surrounding immigration, and supports our newest neighbors. The skills we use in this project to demonstrate our ideas and ideals. And at this crucial time of localized demonstrations, Welcome Blanket allows us to connect locally and build positive community— and share this connection nationally and globally.

(IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Welcome Blanket no. 00008  is a 5X5 gray and red repeated half square triangle pattern comes from Atlanta, GA with a note of welcome:  "My family, and your family, is 100% American. If you feel like the USA is home, it is home. Never let anyone tell you that you do not belong here. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. I am excited you are here, and I am excited to learn more about your culture.” )

(IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Welcome Blanket no. 00008  is a 5X5 gray and red repeated half square triangle pattern comes from Atlanta, GA with a note of welcome: "My family, and your family, is 100% American. If you feel like the USA is home, it is home. Never let anyone tell you that you do not belong here. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. I am excited you are here, and I am excited to learn more about your culture.”)

The United States is a large and complicated place. We may not solve our immigration issues or stamp out white nationalism by sharing stories and making blankets. However, I hope that our collective action will remind ourselves and demonstrate the humanity of the idea that “all men are created equal.”

The Smart Museum provides a public platform or an extended, deep discussion around immigration issues. But it’s not the only forum. Your craft circle may also be a great space to process where we have been, where we are, and where we are going as country in terms of immigration.

Sitting with multiple Welcome Blanket groups, I have gotten to know people on an entirely different level because we shared our families’ histories and talked about the refugee crisis. I feel I have become a part of more communities from this project. I am so thankful.

Notions of white supremacy and white nationalism have driven the border wall, the travel ban, the proposed language requirement.

Your participation in Welcome Blanket is one way to take opposite action and prove the necessity of pluralism.

Keep crafting, learning, talking, and spreading the word.

-Jayna

Deadline is extended to November 4!!!

You wanted more time, you've got it! Start a blanket, finish a blanket, start another blanket, spread the word! Create in quiet contemplation, or as part of a community group.

The enthusiasm and dedication for Welcome Blanket have been amazing so far. We want the momentum to keep going. So, we are making time and space to include more work and more voices in this project. That includes YOUR work and YOUR voice.

Please send your blanket/note as soon as you can to help build the installation that is already underway. The Smart Museum of Art will make every effort to include blankets sent by the November 4 deadline in the exhibition. Blankets received between November 4 and December 17 will not be exhibited but will still be distributed to resettlement programs.

Thank you to our wonderful partners at the Smart Museum of Art who are making this extension possible.

(IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A gigantic pile of blankets of various kinds: knit, crochet, quilted, and maybe woven. Different patterns represented. Different colors present.)

(IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A gigantic pile of blankets of various kinds: knit, crochet, quilted, and maybe woven. Different patterns represented. Different colors present.)

 

 

Thoughts on the Fourth of July

The 4th of July is often celebrated with good food, parades, fireworks, and family and friends. It is also a time to reflect on the history of the United States and how to craft what our future can be. This year, in honor of Independence Day, I am adding a new tradition. I will also be working on a Welcome Blanket.

THE AMERICAN FLAG IS A CRAFT PROJECT

"Stars and Stripes" flag adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 

"Stars and Stripes" flag adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 


Whenever anyone asks whether a craft project can have power, I am a little taken aback. The American flag was a craft project.  Let that digest: the most powerful symbol in our country is a craft project!

As a kid, I grew up with the story of Betsy Ross who stitched the flag together for some battle. She was the only woman in the story, and though she did not go to the front lines, she created the symbol that united us. The Betsy Ross story has been debunked, and it is now thought that a team of people created the flag together. For me, this part of the story is even more powerful.

Upon just a little more searching (thank you Wikipedia), I learned the first US flag was flown at the Siege of Fort Stanwix. “Soldiers cut up their shirts to make the white stripes; scarlet material to form the red was secured from red flannel petticoats of officers' wives, while material for the blue union was secured from Capt. Abraham Swartwout's blue cloth coat.” In the creation of a physical symbol people gave pieces of their own clothing to create something together. 

The symbol of the American flag is both incredibly powerful and personal. What each of us sees is different based on our experience and outlook. As we have learned from today’s political climate, many people have different visions of what the United States is and should be.

When I see images of the flag, I think of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. “ For me, “All men” includes everyone of all faiths (and non-faiths), and especially includes immigrants.  

All of my grandparents immigrated to the United States and I am a product of their American Dream. My grandparents sought opportunity, safety, and religious freedom here in the United States. They laid the foundation for my family in this country through hard work, integrity, and kindness. I see my grandparents in the people who, at this very moment, are trying to come to the United States. I want to welcome them with the same opportunity, safety, and freedom my grandparents hoped for.

WELCOME BLANKET AS A NEW AMERICAN SYMBOL

A work in process, my first welcome blanket uses the "Come Together" pattern

A work in process, my first welcome blanket uses the "Come Together" pattern

Welcome Blanket is bigger than any one of us. It is a platform for participation and connection. It is about crafting a United States that we envision, a United States with many voices.

I hope these welcome blankets become powerful symbols for the people who will be receiving them. I hope that the ideas and ideals of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” are transmitted.

I hope that the people who will receive these blankets will feel that they are welcomed and a part of our country’s fabric, and that maybe one day they will pass these welcome blankets down to their children and grandchildren and share that when they arrived in the United States, they were welcomed.

I hope making a welcome blanket will become a new tradition every year, sharing our love of this country, and all that the freedoms of our country have meant to us (and our families) with newcomers to the country.

In solidarity,

Jayna