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The Lynch Quilts Project

This issue dedicated to the people of Flint, MI. What was done to you was not only criminal, but a crime against humanity.
January / February 2016

Greetings All!

I've been off the grid working a little too hard lately, but am back in the saddle and will have a more fully developed newsletter for you soon.  Unfortunately, the art life presently has my knickers in a twist as we need to bang out 4 more grant and exhibition proposals by the first of February. This after having completed 3 in the last two weeks!   

In the meantime, Quilt VIII, All My Relations (tentative title) is moving ahead with its first sewing workshop this weekend, January 23, 2016 in Albuquerque, NM.  See the flyer below for more information. If you are in the area, please do support.

If you cannot make it or are separated by too many miles, send your virtual good vibes and know you can still participate. Please take a minute and pass along your thoughts and ideas exploring how these issues around race, power and the interconnected oppression between African, Native and Latino\a communities can be explored.

Questions to consider: How can it be healed? What elements, symbols or subjective manifestations should be incorporated into the quilt? Rituals, spiritual practices, etc. How should the quilt be constructed? Do you want to donate fabric? Red, black, red, golds and blues are being used. I think cowrie shells and beads are calling to me too, as well as embroidery thread. If you have a group that would also like to sew directly on the quilt, keep in mind we ship them as well, or pieces can be made from afar and incorporated in.


UPDATES
  • Quilt I, Her Name was Laura Nelson will appear in the book, Quilts for Social Justice, which comes out this August 2016 from the University of Nebraska Press.
     
  • Quilt VI, To Be Determined, has had its final addition settled on by the youth. We should be ready to go with finishing sewing the final blocks together after grant season passes. So look for this quilt to be finished by summer 2016.
     
  • An article appeared in the January / February 2016 edition of Arts and Cultural Strategies Magazine about The Lynch Quilts Project. Click here to review.
     
  • Stephanie Robertson rocks! She hand-dyed the background fabric for Quilt V, The Making Quilt / Pinky's Legacy. See photos below. And now that he has recovered from surgery, master quilter Otis Grove and the Chi-town crew will start breaking this design down into chunks to be sewn. Let me know if you have thoughts or want to contribute - sewing and fabric.
     
  • Viola M. Ratcliff hit it out the ballpark when she presented her thesis, "Lynching and Postmemory in LaShawnda Crowe Storm's Her Name Was Laura Nelson." I can't wait to see this phenomenon young lady flower into an academic powerhouse. They are presently looking for a publication venue for the work. So, if you know of any, send word. But in the words of her graduate thesis advisor, "Viola was a rock star!" Thank you for taking the work into new directions.
     
  • Playstation is in constant transformation at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. So, if you are in town, stop-by and take a look, build some stuff. See photos below.
     
  • The House Poem Project is in full swing. We are simply waiting on right-of-entrance from the city of Indianapolis. We've already connected to two area schools that we'll be working with the project. Check out the new website at www.housepoem.com.
Thank you all for your continued support. We are definitely on the verge of moving the project to a new level, as well as expanding our work about community healing into new territories such as The House Poem Project. By the end of Summer 2016, we will have Quilt I, II, IV and VI completed for travel and will have Quilts III, V and VIII in production mode.

This work isn't easy, but it is because of all of you that we are and it is possible. It's been a rough year for me personally, and definitely for our country as the veneer that has always covered the ugliness of American racism has been pulled back for all the world to see. I've been asked several times how I feel about this. Personally, I am recharged, activated . . . and hopeful. 

The present climate reveals much about the state of race in America and makes our work more important than ever now to ensure space is created for the necessary and difficult dialogues that are not only needed, but overdue. Our work is a possibility to  move the needle of our country's future in a more conscientious and healed direction. Call me crazy, but I do believe it is possible as I have had the opportunity and privilege to bear witness to these transformations at both interpersonal and institutional levels. I'll discuss that more in the long newsletter that will appear after the proposals are completed.

Thank you again for all those that continue to send words of encouragement that seem to miraculously arrive the moment I want to give up. Must be kismet, divine intervention or some cosmic joke at play here. Or, maybe all the above? 

With the utmost gratitude,

LaShawnda

                                       

    
                                             

                                        
     
                                     
 Stephanie Robertson with background for Quilt V, The Making Quilt / Pinky's Legacy. She rocks and is a bad ass textile artist in her own right. Look her up.
The picture above includes choral master Pam Blevins Hinkle.


REMIX: Agapic Love in the Age of Tyranny - February 2012

Reflections in 2016: The original post is from February 2012 newsletter. Sadly enough, it is as relevant today as it was when I wrote this nearly 3 years ago, when Diana Nash lived this history nearly 50 years ago.

Much of this reflection comes on the heals of the intensive community work that I have been engaged with for the past 3 years as a community builder and
organizer. Needless to say, that work influenced The Lynch Quilts Project as I found myself yet again on the frontlines of community change, but just on a different beach front. To say that waking up and walking in to the community to kick ass for your elders, the young ones who can't stand up for themselves, on a daily basis is exhausting is an understatement. But just as with LQP, that work mirrored this work as we tried each and every day to show there could be another way, a different future to our present reality.

What is true is that whatever form of injustice that is out there rather racism, gentrification, or out-right criminal acts as we've seen in Flint, these prinicipals of non-violent warfare or an Agapic Engery campaign can be a guiding road to get you started.


“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana

Over the years of working on LQP, I found that this project is more than just simply a history lesson on women, lynching, violence, terrorism and America. But at its core is an attempt to create space for those much needed and painful dialogues necessary to turn this country onto the path towards a more just and tolerant society. Inspired by a recent lecture at Michigan State University by civil rights activist and shero, the honorable Diane Nash, I thought it prudent to explore the ideas she translated about how to develop an Agapic Energy Campaign, or Non-Violent Warfare. I am not sure all of the principles here can be directly applied to The Lynch Quilts Project, but I feel our efforts are in the spirit of this process from an artistic viewpoint and can definitely be beneficial in our daily lives.  As Ms. Nash so eloquently pointed out, even in a marital dispute these principles can be used.

 
PRINCIPLES OF AGAPIC LOVE
So, what is Agapic Love? At the root of this philosophy is the Greek word Agape, which means unconditional love for mankind. It is a type of love that one has for another human being, even when they don't love you back. The guiding principles of Agapic Love are as follows: 
 
No. 1: People are NEVER your enemy!
The enemies are the unjust political systems, unjust economic systems, attitudes of sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. Once you believe that people are never your enemy, you can love and respect the person while at the same time attack the attitude and system!
 
No. 2: Oppression ALWAYS requires the cooperation of the oppressed.
If you are oppressed, you must understand the oppression and then withdrawal your participation and co-operation in the system of oppression. When you do this, the oppression will fall.
 
No. 3: I never said this would be easy.
While this is not an official cornerstone of the Agapic Love principles it is an aspect of this process that must be remembered and that Ms. Nash reinforced.

 
HOW TO STAGE AN AGAPIC ENERGY CAMPAIGN
At the root of the Agapic Energy Campaign is an objective to get you from where you are to where you want to be. In essence, this is Non-Violent Warfare.  A protestor says “I do not like what you are doing” to the oppressor.  However, often the oppressors already know that you don’t like what they’re doing and they don't care. To stage Non-Violent Warfare, you must do more than simply protest, but take action (not arms). The 6 primary steps to staging an Agapic Energy Campaign are as follows:
 
Step 1: INVESTIGATION
Identify the goal and objective of your campaign. Identify and understand how the oppressed are participating in the system of oppression. Document your discoveries so that everyone involved with the campaign must understand this and support the campaigns goals and missions.
 
Step 2: EDUCATION
All participants and supporters of the campaign must be educated about the goals and the information gained from your investigation. No one involved should blindly follow the campaign and all should have a clear understanding of what the ultimate goals are.
 

Step 3: NEGOTIATION
Come face-to-face with your opponent.
  • Find out what their fears are and address them head-on. Keep in mind they may actually have valid concerns.
  • Engage in a dialogue and clearly state your goals, that you will no longer tolerate the oppression. [Note: See the November 2011 newsletter to examine what constitutes a debate vs. a dialogue.]
Step 4: DEMONSTRATION
Focus the attention on the problem to the community. For example, Ms. Nash organized sit-ins, marches, freedom rides in the 1960’s. We make art.

Step 5: RESISTANCE
The oppressed must withdraw from the system of oppression. For example, think in terms of the bus boycotts where stop riding buses and in some cases created their own systems of public transportation.

Step 6: TAKE STEPS TO ENSURE THE PROBLEM DOESN’T HAPPEN AGAIN
So how do you ensure people never forget a tragic part event or particular history?
Develop an educational component
Preserve the stories and history of this struggle in museums (memorabilia, oral histories, etc.)
Make a film, write a book, a PBS special, etc.
Do anything you can to keep the problem in the collective memory to prevent it from happening again.

Ms. Nash suggests the following books to further explore these topics:
  • Power of Non-Violence by Richard Gregg
  • My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
  • Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict by Joan Valerie Bondurant
 
I would also add several more from the Little Book Series developed by Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding
(http://www.emu.edu/cjp/publications/little-books/):
  • Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subjects
  • Little Book of Conflict Transformation
  • Little Book of Restorative Justice
  • Little Book of Strategic Peacebuilding
 
So, where does The Lynch Quilts Project fit within all of this?
 
  • Step 1: Investigate the history of this unique form of American racial terrorism and its contemporary ramifications.
     
  • Step 2: Educate everyone involved with LQP about the history of lynching. Make sure all involved and that connect with LQP understand our goal is to use the Project as a vehicle to create public discussions that generate opportunities for communal healing.
     
  • Step 3: Raise our voice and stand up against those that try to doubt, ignore, negate and outright lie about this history and its impact.
     
  • Step 4: 'Occupy America' coast-to-coast. Continue to educate the community from public presentations to academia and everywhere in between about lynching and its ramifications at home and abroad.
     
  • Step 5: Organize and educate the public to fight against efforts to whitewash America's racial past. The Texas School board's recent changes to the K-12 curriculum and text books are a prime example of this type of revisionist history. Not only did the school board try to down play the importance of the civil rights movement in American history, but recast the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade as the Triangular Trade, citing that it was just too controversial to keep that name. Really!?! Too controversial to deal with the truth?
     
  • Step 6: Create art projects to ensure this history is remembered and will never happen again. Make websites, t-shirts, brochures, flyers . . . you get the picture. 



 
I had to opportunity to meet master quilter Carolyn Mazloomi at the Spirit and Place FestivalMazloomi will be inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame in Summer 2016 and is
good friend to master quilter, Trish Williams who has been with The Lynch Quilts Project since day. In fact, she's the individual that I connected with and introduced me to Needles and Threads Quilters Quilt Guild in Chicago, ground zero for the launch of LQP. 


REMIX: January 2012           
As we move into what is turning out to be a revealing and nasty presidential election cycle, I think it is fair to say we need to be reminded of the necessity of dialogue in our communities. Debate seems to be at an all time high as we try to force our opinions down others throats without seeing the merit in their opinions in order to find common ground to move our communities forward. From talks around gentrification to the raging spetical that is our government,

Tips from Difficult Dialogues
This book definitely offered a practical approach to speaking about difficult subjects, which for me primarily focuses on addressing the history and ramifications of lynching and racial violence.  Over the few months as I read through the stack of Little Books of this and that from Eastern Mennonite University, I'll share a few tips and pointers that I have discovered. This month, the discussion revolves around the book The Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subject.
 
One of the core principle of this book is to the need to understand the difference between a dialogue and other forms of communication, especially debate. As we all know when the topic gets heated it is easy to find yourself drawing a line in the sand and defending your ideological territory vs. actually having a meaningful exchange that allows all parties to grow, learn and create opportunities for healing. So, here are seven points to help you define how to have a dialogue:
 
 
DEBATE
DIALOGUE
 

 The goal is to 'win' the argument by  affirming one's own views and  discrediting other views.
 
 The goal is to understand different  perspective and learn about other views.
 
 People listen to others to find flaws in  their arguments.  
People listen to others to understand how  their experiences shape their beliefs.
 
 People critique the experiences of other  as distorted and invalid.
 People accept the experiences of others  as real and valid.
 

 People appear to be determined not to  change their own views on the issue.
 
 People appear to be somewhat open to  expanding their understanding of the  issue.

 People speak based on assumptions  made about others' positions and  motivations.
 
 People speak primarily from their own  understanding and experience.
 
 People oppose each other and attempt to  prove each other wrong.
 People work together toward common  understanding.
 
 Strong emotions like anger are often  used to intimidate the other side.
 Strong emotions like anger and sadness  are appropriate when they convey the i  intensity of an experience or belief.
 





 
                                  



Playstation began as a desire to create a portable reading station for homeless children in a day shelter. Because this day shelter turns no one away, even sex offenders, when women and children have spaces away from the general population. As such, there is a need for portable play station. This project reminded me of one thing, even when looking to solve difficult social paradigms there are spaces for play and fun.
 

      Yeah, I guess we are crazy! And I'm okay with that!

 

   PROJECT UPDATE


Quilt I, Her Name was Laura Nelson,resting and gearing up to travel again.

Quilt II, RedRum Summer 1919, resting and gearing up to travel again.

Quilt III, A Partial Listing, has been reactivated. The final pieces of how this quilt should be completed have unfortunately come into play with the recent police shootings. We will start working on this by Summer 2016. It is in a bit of a remix, as new ways of having this discussion connection past with history are necessary.

Quilt IV, To Be Determined, is very, very close to completion. All the pieces are in and early 2015 will finished being assembled. Still getting settled in, but ready to go by May 2015. Will only take a couple of weeks to complete once I can get back to the sewing room.

Quilt V, The Making Quilt, we took a trip to the Cincinnati Museum of Art this summer to view a quilt quilted by a slave women simply known as Aunt Peggy. Her work will be incorporated into this quilt now.

Quilt VI, Memoria: In Progress, is always looking for a place to go up for a few days, weeks or months. Let me know if you have a place in your community where we can place the boards for a period of time, no matter how short or long.

Quilt VII, All Around the World the Same Song, still forming and making itself in my mind. As soon as pen hits paper and the community interacts with the idea, it will birth itself.

Quilt VIII, All My Relations, its launched and moving.


 

 

PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGY

I apologize if you are receiving this newsletter in error. A recent technical glitch required me to rebuild the database, which meant combining multiple email accounts, listserves and handwritten sign-in sheets. I have multiple emails without names attached.  As such, I am sure I missed a few as I tried to delete as many as possible, before it became kinda exhausting given there are hundreds upon hundreds of supporters. So if you are here and not by choice, I apologize. Please simply unsubscribe. 

ARTICLES ABOUT LQP

WTHR-13
Indy Reacts to the Quilt
Indianapolis Recorder
Clutch Mag On-Line
Madame Noire
Maybe Someone Should Write that Down
Beautiful Horror of History

TEDx INDIANPOLIS

 

Creative Power for Social Change!

 

Fighting for a racially healed and just future, since 2002.
 

Copyright © 2016 The Lynch Quilts Project, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
LaShawnda Crowe Storm
The Lynch Quilts Project
P.O. Box 90348
Indianapolis, IN 46290

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