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December 2012


Greetings LQP People!
 
As we close out the year and head into the new, I just want to say thank you. This year has been a topsy turvy roller coaster ride in many ways. A year bursting with much growth, self-exploration, new opportunities and expanding our community connections.  And 2013 promises to be even better for The Lynch Quilts Project as we work towards wrapping up 3 of the remaining quilts, starting Quilt V and exhibiting at several important locations.
 
This past year I had the opportunity to present at the
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and the John Hope Franklin National Symposium on Racial Reconciliation. I continued learning more about conflict transformation and community healing through my Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. This year I completed the Community Leadership Certificate Program at the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center and Ivy Tech Community College, Civic Reflection Dialogue Training and Undoing Racism Community Organizing Training
 
I had the privilege of participating in a residency at
Michigan State University's Residential College of the Arts and Humanities where I spread the word of the project and connected with students and staff. The Quilting Club even contributed 8 blocks to Quilts II and IV! I traveled to Okemah, Oklahoma to visit the grave of Laura Nelson and her son LD/Lawrence. This proved to be a pivotal point in my life, changing much of my direction and focus for the better. I found a way to balance death with life in the garden which led to learning all types of urban homesteading skills. This year rounded out with a discussion about the Re-Imagining the Future of Indiana Avenue at the Walker Theatre Center and a resulting art exhibition, The Found Space Project.
 
Most importantly, I've been humbled to bear witness to the level of community support out there for The Lynch Quilts Project.  Each day new friends and supporters enter our ranks and I am grateful for them and especially for those that have walked this journey with me for years.  I am honored by those that continue to support the project by sewing quilt squares or providing research, and all those that helped make the trip to Oklahoma, In Search of Laura Nelson, become a reality. I want to thank you to those who sent words of encouragement that always seem to arrive at just the right moment. And those that work quietly behind the scenes to bring about social justice in many forms in our society.
 
I wanted to list name of each person and organization that supported me this year. But the list got sooooooooo long (smile) it seemed like it would become the entire newsletter and each would lose your much deserved specialness in such a long drawn out list. You are all deeply appreciated, all held in my heart in many special ways. And I am thankful and grateful for all that you bring to the table, large and small, all that you have provided, tangible and subtle.
 
I look forward to continue working with each and every one of you to heal our communities in 2013 and beyond. With that said, I'll see you in the New Year and whatever your reason, enjoy the season . . .Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Chinese New Year, End of the World Celebrations, Diwali, Eid, or Festivus for the rest for us.
 
With gratitude for all you do . . .
 
LaShawnda





                    
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Reflections

Thanksgivings, Past and Present

I buried my paternal grandfather two days before Thanksgiving. And while his parting was sweet sorrow, it also was a time of deep reflection. He was 93 years old and when one views the more than 34,000 days he lived on this earth and all that he has seen, what does that mean?
 
He had 9 decades of wisdom and always talked about taking ownership of your own life, being a responsible adult, standing up and standing tall. Years and years of wisdom and history witnessed during those more than 880,000 hours of life.  A survivor of the Jim Crow years in Louisiana, fought in World War II when a black man could still be lynched in the United States without reprisal, lived through the Civil Rights Era to seeing an African American elected to president in the United States, not once but twice.  He left here with more than 40 direct descendants who will honor his memory.
 
So, how does my grandfather and this project and history all relate? Simple when we look at his life. I am often asked the question, "Why is history important?" "Why do we need more historians?"
 
 In simple terms . . . so that we remember; so that we put the world that we inherited into context.
 
As so many of his generation, he fought in World War II. Given that this was a time when as black man in the United States he did not enjoy the basic right to vote without the threat of death and  lived under a system of American Apartheid known as Jim Crow while in the south. That he was asked to fight for European freedom, but upon returning to his country of birth, because of his soft brown complexion, he was denied the basic rights of all returning white soldiers to access the benefits of the GI Bill. 
 
For many, this meant instant access to better job training opportunities, schools for their children, buying and building a home in the burbs at a time when a 50% down payment with a 5-year mortgage was the norm.  Having the ability to access the equity in your home to leverage against loans to start small businesses or use for other investments. Or, even simply to send your kids to private school or college. In essence, his act of service should have catapulted him easily into the middle class as it did for so many. Opened doors and provided access to real, tangible opportunities. It did not. Any and everything he had he built from scratch.  PERIOD.
 
With that being said, he was buried with a full military funeral - flag draped coffin, honor guard, folded flag, gun salute, taps and all. And just before it was all over, sitting in the front row reserved for the family, preparing for the casket to be lowered into the ground, the honor guard read aloud his service record. And you know what we found out after more than 50 years had passed? We discovered at that moment he was a Bronze Medal Recipient in World War II.
 
Now let's be clear about this, as my brother who graduated from West Point Military Academy pointed out, in World War II they were not just handing these out like candy. And they d*mn sure weren't giving them to black soldiers.
 
Sadly, we never knew until that very moment. He never talked about it. And yes, given the horrors of War World II, maybe he needed to let it go, to forget and not remember how and why he won that medal.  But what else did we miss out on learning by not discussing his history?
 
His story instantly brought back to me the story of another grandfather that also fought in War World II. My maternal great-grandfather had married a French woman and fathered two daughters. While they lived in the United States for a short period after the war, his wife and children went back to France as soon as possible due to the horrors of racism and Jim Crow in America. So, somewhere in France there is a whole flock of Crowe's complete with great aunts and cousins that are probably wondering what happened to their relatives on the other side of the pond.
 
With that said , history is important, because we do not live in a bubble. The world we have today is built on the backs of decades, centuries of decisions, events, and choices made by the previous generations.  And there is a huge lesson here,  one that is more directly related to each of us.
 
 ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS pry into your old folks lives. There is more than meets the eye behind that smile and my grandfather had plenty.
 
Dedicated with love,
 
LaShawnda

P.S. For more in-depth exploration on why history matters, checkout these articles:
 
             

Willie Russ, Sr.
August 1919 - November 2012  
Rest in Peace 
 

QUILT PROGRESS

As is often the case, the quilting has died down this past month as we all enter into the festive holiday season. I received the remaining "H" blocks for Quilt IV from Betty Philips yesterday and they were quite beautiful. Quilt II will be heading off to get quilted in the next couple of weeks. So now, attention has turned towards piecing the top for Quilt IV together. 
 
In regards to Quilt IV a few people have signed up to help knock off these final blocks, so we are heading in the right direction to completion. We've recruited a few extra people to work on the quilt starting in the next couple of weeks. Some are novice others bring embroidery and other needle arts skills to the project. 

Again, 
Quilt IV is a 6.5 inch 9-patch block. To complete Quilt IV we will need the following blocks over the next month or so.:
  • A - 12
  • C - 3
  • D - 6
  • M - 4
  • R - 9
  • S - 12
  • T - 4
  • W - 5
  • Period - 4
  • Quote - 6
  • Comma - 4
Quilt III and Quilt V are still on hiatus until the tops for Quilt II and Quilt IV are completed. 
 
Quilt VI will pop-up again soon, while Quilt I will be on display in Indianapolis, IN January-March 2013.
 
So, far this year all in all things are moving along at a nice pace.
 
Again, thanks for all your continued dedication and hard work. The Lynch Quilts Project could not happen without you.
 
Until next month . . . keep quilting!
 
With the Utmost Thanks,
 
LaShawnda

COMMUNAL ACTIVITIES

Sewing Sessions in Indianapolis, IN
Weekly Sessions
Join us for weekly sewing sessions as we complete Quilt IV of The Lynch Quilts Project. If you are interested in participating, please contact at lcrowestorm@yahoo.com for additional information, times and locations.
 
The Lynch Quilts Project @
Meet the Artist 25th Annual Celebration
January 26- March 30, 2013
Central Library
40 E. St. Clair St.
Indianapolis, IN
 
Opening Reception 
February 9, 2013
6-10 PM
 
Collaborative Vision:
The Poetic Dialogue Project
February 5 - March 13, 2013
Christopher Art Gallery
Prairie State College
202 S. Halsted
Chicago Heights, IL


Creative Renewal Retrospection
April 12 – June 2, 2013
Indianapolis Art Center
820 East 67th Street  
Indianapolis, IN 

 

MONTHLY RESOURCES

This month's resources are simply some of the best I was able to find this past month. I had dozens, but thought these provided some forward discussion on the issues of the day.

 

PHOTOS

A candle for the children of Connecticut and their families.


COMMUNAL VOICES

I would definitely like to hear from others out there. So, please contribute your thoughts, photos and art. You can respond to this newsletter or email directly at lcrowestorm@yahoo.com. 


FINAL THOUGHTS



It takes many hands to heal the world. Continue to be the light LQP people!

 
 

www.LaShawndaCroweStorm.com

E
mail:
info@thelynchquiltsproject.com
Mailing Address:
The Lynch Quilts Project
P.O. Box 90348
Indianapolis, IN 46290