I had no idea I that was in this photo when Christina took it. I wouldn't have let her take it if I had known, but Christina can be sneaky about such things. She has a way at getting at the essence of people. Plus, her mixture of matter of fact honesty and genuine caring have always made me trust and respect her.
I am glad she took it. This whole project has been a challenge for me and I am glad she took a photo that acknowledges this challenge. I had to do something besides be introverted and privately making over the weekends after my long teaching days and 3 hour daily commute. I had to engage with my friends and community.
And, it was my friends and community that made this project happen. I'm not sure when the idea came to mind. I remember talking to my friend Kathy about it at an ESL conference. I probably also took advantage of my colleague Geoff's ear upon more than one occasion during the commute to think the idea through. And E, my partner. She may be grumpy, but she always listens. My good friend Sarah introduced me to suction cup hooks and helped propel the visual idea into motion. Liz Moore, the Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Action League has always been open to my crazy ideas. Let's also not forget the scary times that we live in. I/we had to do something.
And so the we helped the I create a project that was centered on the we. It was the we that stitched the very individualistic I statements onto baby onesies to create a collective we statement.
Krista, Joni, Charise, Erica, Erin, Diana, Geri, Susan, Christina, Ayuko, Linda, Jeanne, Sue, Gail, Jeannie, Sharon, Sarahi, Ami, Jodi, Nikki, Tay, Saraina, Adam, Abra, Tom, Helena, Mary, ... please help me with any names that I am missing. I know more onesies are on their way.
It was also the we of Kim at Kizuri who helped me finally solidify a date for a first showing and the we of Allison at Boots Bakery who was open to all my stitch sessions.
And so, I want to acknowledge my dream and constant efforts that made this first installation happen, but also want to be cognizant that this whole project needed a we that responded full force.
I asked a few friends the other day if the project now should be called "we are the future" or "i am the future." Because of the pace of life, we settled on i; however, we agreed that the onesies are a we. Perfect metaphor for a country that itself struggles between the two.
As of today, there are 63 finished onesies. We are still hoping for 100 by installation day on September 9. There will be sticth-a-longs aka open times to come and comment, talk, and perhaps and hopefully stitch every Saturday in September from 12:00 - 2:00 in the Community Building, 35 W Main, Spokane, WA
After September, I would like the onesies to continue to grow and travel around our Inland Northwest community and perhaps even further to spark conversations. I/We are open to suggestions as to locations. Eventually, perhaps the onesies could be auctioned off for a legal fund for immigrants. These are still developing ideas.
"The United States has always been a figment of some white folks' imagination." - Chip Livingston
When I first started this project, I would share it with the world in passionate spurts between my usual introverted and insecure moments of slowness. When I was pulling myself out of one of these moments to share this onesey project, I happened to see a former classmate, who is Native, post on Facebook a beautiful photo of a beaded project she had finished for her husband. I awkwardly asked her if she knew Salish and if she was interested in beading the message "I am the future of the United States" onto one of them. She responded with a terse message about how she didn't have time and accused me of appropriation. I didn't know how to respond. I was defensive. I try to do so much for others including those who are "marginalized" and this is how I am treated? After I heard that question come out of me, I knew that she had a point. I was hurt and fragile, but she had a point. I wrote back and said that the last thing that I wanted to do was appropriate and that if she was willing, I would like to know what in my message made her think that that was my intention. You can't expect a person to respond when you ask. Just because you are a hurt white heteronormative person does not mean anyone has to respond.
She did respond and we started a short conversation that has had a lasting effect on me. As I explained the project, she understood it more and in turn shared with me how she did not recognize the current borders within our region and that her people also considered parts of Canada home. She said all of this much more eloquently, but it is very important that I try to repeat it in my own words. I had also made the assumption that she might know Salish when in fact, she does not and does not identify as part of a group that would. I fumbled around just as much as someone with little knowledge of LGBTQ normenclature would. But let's face it. I struggle with "him," and "her," and "they" too.
I have been struggling with the worry of appropriation ever since.
It is nearing time for the first installation to get organized and I realized that there still wasn't a onesy stitched in Salish. Considering the fact that this language has been a part of the place where I live much longer than English or any other language has, I finally reached out to the Salish School of Spokane and asked them for a translation. I went on in my email about how the original message was "I am the future of the United States" but that it may not be suitable and that "I am the future" would be fine too.
Within an hour, I received "in̓cá kn̓ kscaw̓tət I am our future (way of being)."
Loving language, I can note and appreciate the use of the first person plural "our" and the fact that the future involves "our" whole way of existing with it.
I have nothing that isn't sappy and trite to say in response and so I will work on stitching the words. Loving my type and onesy color. It is blue but the photo is much warmer. Now I just have to decide on the color of the thread.
Hello. This is my first post. I'm starting this reflection in mid process and so I may jump around chronologically in posts. Ever since I finally turned my dream of starting a Craftivist group into a reality earlier this year of 2017, I have felt a need to also share my reflections on the process along with the many learning experiences that have occurred along the way.
Friday was Craftivists of the Inland Northwest's (CINW) third event. We have been averaging one a month. Since CINW is pretty much made up of me so far and I am an introvert who exhausts herself as a teacher during the week who just wants to retreat and stitch alone on the weekends, progress has been slow. I need to do a formal count but I have at least 20 onesies out in the world being stitched by others and have 20 that are finished and in my possession, ready for the Fall.
Two of those 20 were finished yesterday. Christina is one of CINW's super stitchers. Her wife finished two at our first event and Christina came last night to make her #2. She picked an Arabic script to stitch that was written by my friend Alia's coworker. I loved her script. I can write Arabic, but my script looks like a child wrote it. I was glad my friend and former coworker chose to stitch it.
The other finished piece has its own story. Tom is a regular at Boots Bakery and Lounge where we met to stitch. The last time we stitched there he told me that he wanted to stitch a onesy in German because his mother is German. After he chose his thread and onesy last night, he subtly asked if I was going to stitch it for him. We made a deal that he would write it out and I would stitch it in red thread. The resulting onesy is drying after I stayed up late last night to finish stitching it. Here is Tom with his initial script.
My friend April, a social worker just like Christina and I, showed up too and started one in French. A little later her super cool daughter, Sydney, stopped by to work on Italian. April struggled a bit with her stitching and my partner E, who successfully completed her first onesy last week was there to help her. Some people stopped by and asked us what we were up to. I shared flyers I made and explained that they were welcome to contribute now or at a later date if they chose to. No pressure. Craftivism, in my opinion, is not about pressure. It's about time spent in community with others engaging in open and noncorrosive conversation. I also popped out that I did "home visits." It made us all laugh due to its social work references. I just mean that I am open to passing by people's homes and dropping off supplies if that works better for them.
The community of get togethers such as these and the individual thoughts and energies imparted into the onesies as people stitch them together, alone, on a plane, and in many other circumstances is what gives this project strength. We are all the future of this country and this world.