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.
We at Vision Quilt are deeply concerned by the recent emboldening of white nationalism, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and other hate groups in the United States. In the wake of Charlottesville, awareness of such extremism has been a topic of national conversation, but racial violence has long played a shameful yet significant role in U.S. history.
Our country was born from a vision of freedom and equality for all, but this vision has fallen short of its promise for too many people. This vision stops short amidst the country’s legacies of slavery, displacement and genocide of native peoples, years of hostility toward a host of ethnic, religious, and migrant communities, the ever growing disparity between the prosperous and the poor, and more. As the poet Langston Hughes wrote, “America never was America to me.”
Vision Quilt received great feedback about our spring 2017 exhibition at The Prevention Institute:
"Prevention Institute and Vision Quilt formed a partnership at an opportune time. We were thrilled to be able to display a Vision Quilt during the 2017 meeting of our UNITY Network, a network of cities and counties around the US all working to prevent and reduce violence using a collaborative, multi-sector, public health approach. The display helped to ground us in hope, our shared purpose, and our vision during a particularly challenging and uncertain time for many of us who focus on violence as a public health issue. It brought a sense of community strength and connection into the meeting space, and created an ideal backdrop to inspire further collective action from the network.” - Injury and Trauma Prevention Team at Prevention Institute
Stay tuned for Vision Quilt news from Chicago and New York City!
By creating beautiful handmade journals, Albie, Barbara, Bridget, Suzanne and Mary provide Vision Quilt participants with a means of reflection and introspection, a place where the youth can document their impressions, thoughts and feelings evoked by the Vision Quilt workshops. The bookmaking team has created journals for our youth in Chicago, at the Lighthouse Charter School in Oakland, and for the incarcerated youth at Camp Sweeney.
Note: This blog is the second of two entries about Vision Quilt’s experiences in working with students at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California. In the first entry, Founder Cathy DeForest shared her thoughts on working with students in the classroom. In this blog, Board Member Jack Harbaugh shares what it was like at the student exhibition.
By Jack Harbaugh,
Vision Quilt Board Member
What an inspiring day. The eighth graders from Lighthouse Community Charter School were hosting an exhibition at E 14, a cool, new art gallery in Oakland. You could see and hear their excitement as they set up for the event that evening. The exhibition was the culmination of their three-month learning expedition on gun violence. Vision Quilt had been an important part of this journey, and many of the panels created by the students would be on display.
Families and friends of the students were invited to attend so there was a lot of pride and energy as they went about their tasks of getting the various booths constructed, the musical instruments set up and tuned, and the information tables organized.
The students were curating the exhibition themselves, and while the teachers were there to give direction and lend a hand, the eighth graders were responsible for getting everything ready for the event.
They also prepared themselves to be docents for that evening, rehearsing what they would say to each guest as they viewed each exhibit.
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