Call to Action -- Get Involved
The Vision Quilt team, like the rest of the country, is in deep mourning for the recent losses in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and elsewhere. We also know that 100 people die every day from gun violence. We invite you to become involved in violence prevention in whatever actions you are led to do. We also welcome your support of our work. We believe preventing violence is a community issue and in this newsletter we highlight some of our community work from this summer.
Highlights from Summer 2019
June was Gun Violence Awareness Month, and Vision Quilt ventured to Portland, Oregon and Oakland, California for some inspiring community events.
The month began with the “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" exhibit at the Portland City Hall. The exhibit showcased Vision Quilt panels from students at Northwest Academy in Portland. Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, visited with youth during the opening (pictured above).
Vision Quilt panels were also displayed at Oakland City Hall throughout the month of June (pictured above). The exhibition began with an opening reception on June 6th, which also served to feature Oakland’s Violence Prevention Coalition. Coalition co-chairs Melvin Cowan and Almaz Yihdego as well as Reverend Melva Fonteno spoke about the Coalition, its role in Oakland, the new Department of Violence Prevention, and the needs of the Oakland community.
On June 7th, Lighthouse Community Charter School's seventh grade class displayed the results of their three month study of gun violence. This student curated show was a fantastic success; it was so inspiring to see the students sharing such powerful work with their families. Stay tuned for more footage from the event!
On June 8th, Vision Quilt participated in the daylong SAFE Oakland Summit, organized by the City's Violence Prevention Coalition. With 300 people in attendance, the event was an opportunity for Oakland community most impacted by violence, to voice their perspectives and experiences, and to help shape the work of the newly appointed Chief of Violence Prevention, Guillermo Cespedes. Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney spoke about the importance of community solutions to gun violence. Vision Quilt is honored to be a part of the City’s Violence Prevention Coalition, and we look forward to future events with the Coalition.
Catholic Charities of the East Bay Partners with Vision Quilt
In late June, Vision Quilt led a training for the staff of Catholic Charities East Bay. We are excited to partner with Catholic Charities and are pleased that they want to integrate the Vision Quilt model into their work with the youth and families they serve.
Following this training, Vision Quilt was invited to the Peace and Justice Academy, a youth-led restorative justice-based program in Richmond. We joined the Academy for their summer program, co-leading a three-day workshop for 21 youth. The outstanding Vision Quilt panels these youth created will be used by the staff and students in their upcoming school year!
Youth ALIVE!, Moms Demand Action, Adamika Village & Vision Quilt Team up for Day of Action
On July 1, teens from Youth ALIVE! created Vision Quilt panels in preparation for their July 13th Day of Action hosted by Youth ALIVE! and Moms Demand Action. Vision Quilt worked with youth and survivors to create art dedicated to stopping the violence. It was an inspiring day, and we are grateful to stand in solidarity with such powerful community members and leaders.
Vision Quilt Prepares for Another School Year
As the summer school break continues, Vision Quilt and Lighthouse School teachers are busy preparing for the 2019-2020 school year. Together we have created an advisory Teen Council to review our previous years’ curriculum, and make improvements for next year. The youth on our council are thoughtful and caring, and we are inspired by their feedback and participation!
We also have exciting plans for work in West Oakland schools this year, so stay tuned for updates. Wishing everyone a safe and happy end of summer!
In other news, Vision Quilt was featured in an article by Pam Rocco for the April/May issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. We are thrilled to receive such support from the quilting community, and we hope many magazine readers are inspired to create their own Vision Quilts!
In the United States, 735 people die in the from gun violence each week, reports the Center for Disease Control. In March, youth from March for Our Lives created a powerful art installation and memorial to personalize this tremendous statistic. Staged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., "A Week in America" visualizes these deaths with a memorial marker for each individual.
To learn more about "A Week in America," watch this short video produced by Now This. We applaud and support the March for Our Lives youth for their courage, tenacity, and lucidity -- they are powerful leaders in a much needed movement.
Vision Quilt is excited to join artists from the Soul Box Project for "Art Revealing the Gunfire Epidemic," an upcoming exhibition at the Multnomah Arts Center Gallery in Portland, Oregon.
Soul Boxes are origami boxes commemorating lives lost to gun violence -- on February 15, 2019, the project brought 36,000 Soul Boxes to the Oregon State Capitol Building. Like Vision Quilt, Soul Boxes are a powerful way of responding to the gun violence epidemic through grassroots art.
Participants in the Soul Box Project design and create an origami box made from two 8.5 inch pieces of paper. Like Vision Quilt panels, Soul Boxes are a simple way to make a powerful statement, and anyone can participate. Over 44,000 Soul Boxes have been created since the project began in October 2017, and they plan to collect 200,000 boxes in total by 2020. In the United States, over 35,000 people are killed by gun violence each year.
Vision Quilt and Soul Box are kindred projects and we are excited to partner together for this upcoming exhibition -- we hope you will join us. Together our work provides spaces for healing while providing a clear message that this country's gun violence epidemic must be stopped.
The Multnomah Arts Center Gallery exhibition opens on April 5 with an opening reception from 7-9pm. The show will run through the month of April. The Multnomah Arts Center is located at 7688 SW Capitol Highway in Portland, Oregon. For more information, call the center at (503) 823-2787.
This 2018 midterm election season, Vision Quilt has been active in supporting youth groups in getting out the vote. The youth led Empower Coalition is shaping a new future by bringing their #PowerToThePolls. Under the umbrella of the Women’s March Youth Empower, Vision Quilt is collaborating with over 100 organizations and youth groups to address critical issues on this year’s ballot. Youth and college toolkits were offered to encourage students to launch voter registration drives on their campuses.
Working through a national online network, the Empower Coalition created teams to develop a strategic social media campaign. Our goal is to encourage young people to learn more about areas of legislation that will affect their future. Along with the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, MOMS Demand Action, Students Demand Action, Giffords Courage Campaign and the Parkland students’ #Road to Change, Vision Quilt promoted voter registration and education on legislation around gun reform. Vision Quilt is a non-partisan organization, but we are committed to preventing gun violence and youth empowerment.
Team Enough is creating an inclusive platform for young people to speak out about gun violence prevention. Visit https://www.teamenough.org/who-we-are/ to learn more about Team Enough and the work they are doing to challenge gun violence in America.
Vision Quilt urges people of all ages to go the polls to vote for Gun Sense candidates. Over 2,200 Gun Sense candidates are on the ballot on November 6.
PLEASE VOTE- we need to elect candidates who will commit to end gun violence.
On July 22nd, Vision Quilt joined over 300 other Bay Area residents and activists at the Road to Change BBQ Rally, in Oakland, CA. Cathy DeForest and our team of Bay Area volunteers displayed Vision Quilt panels on the grass in DeFremery Park. People gathered around to ask questions about the artwork and many were eager to get involved, including the Bay Area alumni from Marjory Stoneman Douglas School.
Local artists and community leaders from Youth ALIVE!, the Burns Institute, and the Urban Peace Movement spoke at the rally. Afterwards, the students on the Road to Change bus answered questions on a panel and met with people in the crowd.
Parkland survivors David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, and Ryan Deitsch were in attendance, along with Alex King from St. Sabina in Chicago. Vision Quilt offered the students a kit and materials for panel making, along with handmade journals for their trip.
Alex Caulderon, a Parkland student and member of March for Our Lives #RoadtoChange tour said, “We all experienced something that should never have happened because of gun violence and because the laws that could have prevented it weren’t in place.”
They will continue their national campaign through mid-August. Vision Quilt looks forward to meeting again with the core members of this powerful youth-led movement this September for a Brady Campaign fundraiser.
We’re pleased to announce that Vision Quilt’s short film focused on our work at Lighthouse Community Charter School was selected for inclusion in the SAQA exhibition. The students created Vision Quilt panels and then organized a community exhibition in downtown Oakland, California, as part of their three-month unit focused on gun violence.
The intention of Guns: Loaded Conversations is to spark conversation and make bridges across an often polarized conversation. “Artists have been a catalyst for difficult societal conversations throughout history,” says the exhibition website. “Guns: Loaded Conversations seeks to engage viewers of differing opinions to listen to each other and to encourage community initiatives that may inspire action in seeking solutions.”
We hope to see you at the exhibition opening later this month or at an exhibition near you!
Father Pfleger and Arne Duncan, the former US Secretary of Education, along with community activist Pam Bosley, reached out to the Parkland youth after the mass shooting there. At the invitation of Emma Gonzalez's mom, teens from Chicago's South Side visited Parkland, where the two groups formed a strong connection. The Chicago youth then invited the Parkland youth to visit Chicago; the New York Times produced a powerful short film about this meeting. Rie'Onna Holmon, who is featured in the Times video was also a participant in the ARK's recent Vision Quilt workshop.
Later this month, Cathy DeForest will travel to Portland, Oregon, where she will participate in community workshops centered around the National School Walkout on April 20th, which commemorates 19 years since the Columbine school shooting. Cathy will also present at the Cultivating Community conference, an arts therapy conference hosted by Marylhurst University in collaboration with the Portland Creative Arts Therapies Association and Returning Veterans.
Through the National Walk Out Day and the nationwide March For Our Lives events on March 24th, youth around the country are urging everyone to end gun violence. We applaud the youth for their courage, passion, and vision – this is exactly what the country needs right now!
What is #March For Our Lives?
Scheduled for March 24, March For Our Lives calls for an end to school shootings. The main march will take place along the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and there are hundreds of regional Sibling Marches taking place around the country. View the full list here. If there is no march planned for your area, consider hosting one!
Youth are the future, and they are speaking up. We urge adults to heed the message. We must end gun violence!
Vision Quilt panels will be worn by marchers in Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago, Massachusetts, Oregon and beyond. If you wish to carry this Vision Quilt sign with you as you march, click here to download the file. If you have trouble downloading, email us at email@example.com and we will send you the PDF.
As part of the Nationwide Vigil to End Gun Violence, Vision Quilt will host a local vigil at Sew Creative on December 3, 2017, from 2PM to 4PM. Beginning as a tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy, the annual vigil has become a nation-wide time of remembrance and gathering to honor all victims of gun violence. Since 2012 more than half a million Americans have been injured or killed by gun violence.
The local vigil at Sew Creative will be a time to honor, remember, and reflect all those impacted by gun violence. At 2:30PM there will be a formal reflection and discussion. The focus of the vigil is not political, but rather will provide space for anyone impacted by gun violence to reflect, grieve, and connect with others.
“The national vigil is an important way to come together in our local communities to honor those whose lives have been affected by gun violence,” says Cathy DeForest, director of Vision Quilt, the locally-based nonprofit working to prevent gun violence. “Whether you have experienced an injury or loss, or are concerned about the prevalence of gun violence across the nation, everyone is welcome to attend.”
The Nationwide Vigil to End Gun Violence is organized by the Newtown Foundation, the charitable arm of the Newtown Action Alliance, and numerous partner organization. In 2016 there were 330 related vigils and events across the country. This year the Newtown Foundation’s main vigil will be held on December 6 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
The local vigil will be held from 2PM to 4PM on Sunday, December 3rd, at Sew Creative, 115 E Main St in Ashland, Oregon. The event is free, and all are welcome. The gathering will be hosted by Vision Quilt, whose mission to empower communities nationwide to create their own solutions to gun violence through the power of art and inclusive dialogue. Questions about the local vigil can be directed to Rachel Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the key inspirations for Vision Quilt is the work of the Cure Violence, founded by epidemiologist, Dr. Gary Slutkin. According to Cure Violence, the issue of violence prevention should be treated like a contagious disease. They use a model in which they detect and interrupt violent conflicts and use outreach workers to identify those at highest risk to reach and maintain a non-violent path to conflict resolution. Furthermore, Cure Violence engages communities in rejecting the idea of violence as an acceptable behavior to resolve conflict.
Vision Quilt celebrates the international success of Cure Violence and encourages communities to adopt their model to help prevent violence.
News, events and announcements from Vision Quilt