Here is a powerful blog post from Samantha Pelayo, one of our Vision Quilt interns:
We hope everyone is doing well during these uncertain times. Since we aren’t certain whether we are going back to school this fall, Vision Quilt provided us with art kits that keep us learning and being creative. As students at one of the schools that received the art kits, we wanted to share our experience with the art kit. My name is Samantha and my brother’s name is Lorenzo, we both attend Lighthouse Community Charter Public School. I participate in the Vision Quilt Teen Council. My brother is currently participating in the project alongside his 7th grade classmates.
After completing his project, my brother reflected that the easiest part of the art kit was when he was brainstorming what his panel was going to look like. His brainstorming included what types of symbols and quotes would be best to represent the word he had chosen. The word he chose was "peace" because he thought it would be best to bring positivity to his panel, and to the idea of gun violence. The thing he enjoyed the most about this project was being able to share his message. At first, my brother was a bit confused and overwhelmed with all the papers he received, but with the help of Charlie’s video and myself, he was able to understand what he had to do in order to complete the project.
My brother also stated what his most helpful resource was: “The most helpful resource was my sister because she helped me with feedback. When I didn't understand something or I was confused she would clarify it for me. Finally, she both gave me inspiration and structure for my ideas.”
I believe the reason why I helped him so much was because he needed a reminder of his personal connection to gun violence. I was also present during the event he mentioned, where a man was shot by our home so I understand what he must have felt like, especially since I know him well. I believe every student should have a family member or teacher help out. This topic might be overwhelming or confusing but having someone else to be there with you helps -- especially if you are willing to share something personal you went through.
Overall, this experience was fun. The best part was the art kit, getting creative, and spending time with family. Although we did run into a bit of our dark past, we are still grateful that we got to share our experience.
The schools may be closed but we remain committed to working with students in Oakland. This video features Carlos Rodriguez, one of our youth interns from the Vision Quilt/Lighthouse School Teen Council. We are grateful to have Carlos working with Vision Quilt — bringing his creativity and thoughtfulness to our team.
As part of his internship, Carlos decided to create Vision Quilt panels with his sister Monserrat Morales. Carlos and Monserrat utilized the format of our Art Kits, which are designed to support socially distance at-home learning. The mini-panels from our Art Kits encourage youth to depict positive messages like hope, love, and courage.
Carlos and Monserrat created two powerful panels showing their visions of family and friendship.
We hope you enjoy this video from Carlos and Monserrat — stay tuned for more posts featuring our fantastic youth interns!
GAGV member, Gloria Hiller, uses her sheltering-in place time, not only to model our current safety measures, but also to send out an important message related to gun violence.
Vision Quilt is pleased to announce our newest partnership with Grandparents Against Gun Violence (GAGV).
A nonprofit from the Kansas City metropolitan area, GAGV focuses on reducing gun violence at home, at school, and in the community. They have enthusiastically adopted the Vision Quilt program, and GAGV members have begun making panels at home while sheltering-in-place. We invited GAGV's dynamic Executive Director, Judy Sherry, to write a guest blog post, below, which describes her organization’s work and their vision for collaborating with Vision Quilt.
I had been concerned about gun violence for many years. I responded in shock and horror to the Columbine massacre on April 20,1999, and continued to read about the rising toll of gun deaths in the following years. Shortly after the Aurora shooting in July of 2012, I was inspired after hearing a wonderful Presbyterian minister, James Atwood, who had long been outspoken about gun violence. He had just completed his first book -- America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose -- and was passionate about the issue. (Reverend Atwood died June 27, 2020 at age 85 from complications of COVID-19.)
Shortly after hearing Rev. Atwood, the tragedy of Sandy Hook occurred on December 14, 2012. I mourned with the parents and families who lost their beautiful babies, and their teachers. I believed that surely their lost lives would be honored by the passage of sensible gun regulations – starting with background checks. When the pleas of these families went unanswered, I realized it was time for me to become an activist and address the horrifying increase of firearm possession in our country. I wanted to address the position of guns as 2nd amendment “right”, but I was even more concerned about their use to resolve conflicts, settle old scores, and more.
Grandmothers Against Gun Violence was formed in 2013 by an activist friend and me in Kansas City. Our first meeting was attended by 30 people, mostly our friends and acquaintances. Our organization has since grown to include 300 dues paying members, and a database of 2,000 supporters. Today, seven years later, we remain a group of interesting, interested men and women (we changed our name in 2014 to Grandparents Against Gun Violence). We are touched by, and committed to, preventing the heartbreaking instances of gun violence.
A statistic that shocks most people is this: of the 40,000 firearm deaths annually, one-third are homicide and two-thirds are suicides or accidental deaths. Clearly, the alarming increase in incidents of homicide are tragic, and we must work to reduce them. However, they result from many systemic problems of society. Our hope is that the Black Lives Matter movement has opened the eyes of the people in our country to these inequities and we will now begin to address them.
The focus and passion of our organization is on educating the public about the various forms of gun violence and promoting gun safety. We accomplish this through our “Lock It For Love” project, which distributes high-quality gun locks and educational materials at events throughout the Kansas City metro area. Since July 2018, we have participated in over 115 community events and distributed close to 3,000 locks. By teaching people the importance of safely locking and storing their firearms, we believe we have saved at least one distraught person from taking a long-term solution to a short-term problem, as well as saved a curious toddler from accidentally discharging a firearm. We have worked with many wonderful people these past seven years and formed local partnerships with the police departments throughout the metro area, Children’s Mercy Hospital, and various suicide prevention groups. On a national level we are affiliated with States United Against Gun Violence.
I am particularly excited about our newest partnership with Vision Quilt, as we share the common goal of educating the public about gun violence. I am inspired by the passion of founder, Cathy DeForest, and excited to explore this new avenue to involve our members and reach the community.
Our goal is to add 100 new panels to the national Vision Quilt and to use the panels created by our members as part of our ongoing work in Kansas City. Like many other organizations, GAGV has been impacted by the pandemic, and the need for sheltering in place. However, we are confident that when we can safely re-open, we will reach people throughout our community to get them involved. We will follow the highly successful Vision Quilt model of hosting workshops, working in the schools and in our case, using our “Lock It For Love” events to introduce Kansas Citian to this opportunity.
We are inspired by Vision Quilt and know our partnership will enable us to move closer to achieving our vision that all people in our community are safe from gun violence.
Jodi Dinkins wears the Vision Quilt panel she created for GAGV during a recent event in Kansas City.
For her Vision Quilt panel, Rebecca Matthews honors Mike Moser,
a GAGV partner and friend who was killed while answering a domestic violence call.
Last week our partners Attitudinal Healing Connection (AHC) launched their stunning online exhibition "Planting the Seeds of Change," featuring artwork from Oakland youth and families.
Vision Quilt collaborated with ArtEsteem and the Khadafy Washington Foundation on two of the exhibition's gallery rooms.
It is powerful to see Oakland youth depicting themselves as Super Heroes; Black families honoring loved ones lost to gun violence; and West Oakland Middle School youth responding to gun violence in their communities.
The ArtEsteem Vision Quilt Gallery
Included in AHC's online exhibition "Planting the Seeds of Change" is the ArtEsteem Vision Quilt Gallery, online now through July 13th.
The ArtEsteem Vision Quilt room also features a video introduction from Kenneth Johnson, a co-teacher in the ArtEsteem Vision Quilt program. "I hope," Kenneth says to viewers, "you will be moved, transformed, and motivated as you feel the spirit of these Oakland youth. "
Double-click on videos to view their contents. The virtual exhibition is best viewed on a computer or laptop. For further instructions on viewing, click here.
Vision Quilt panels from West Oakland Middle School students: "Innocents Die" by Susana Calmo and "Stopping Killing Families" by Malaki Tubby.
The Khadafy Washington Foundation Gallery
The work in the second Vision Quilt Gallery was facilitated by Marilyn Washington Harris and the Khadafy Washington Foundation.
Vision Quilt and the Khadafay Washington Foundation received grants from Oakland Unite and the Akonadi Foundation to work with gun violence survivors in West Oakland and beyond.
Although our original plans were changed due to COVID-19, Marilyn Washington Harris was able to host a panel making workshop for twelve families who had lost their sons and daughters to gun violence.
We are honored to work with Marilyn Washington Harris. After losing her own son, Khadafy Washington, Mrs. Marilyn dedicated her life to supporting families who had lost a loved one to gun violence.
“At the time of Khadafy’s death, I realized that the city of Oakland was missing something — because I was missing something," explains Mrs. Marilyn.
"Not only was I missing my son, I was missing the fact that nobody came to my rescue... So I began to do for mothers and fathers what no one had done for me. I began to reach out to help them.”
At a time when our country is crying out for Black Lives, the Khadafy Gallery honors these families and their stories.
Vision Quilt panel created by Anita Cole to honor her daughter Anika Crane.
"Planting the Seeds of Change" exemplifies the creativity, resilience, and heartbreak that runs through Oakland. We urge you to visit the exhibition, and share it with your friends.
Vision Quilt is honored by our partnerships with AHC, the Khadafy Washington Foundation, and the youth and families creating art and telling their stories. We are grateful to our volunteers and staff supporting this work.
After the conclusion of the exhibition, Vision Quilt will continue to display the panels in workshops, galleries, exhibition spaces, and through our online Virtual Quilt. Share this newsletter with friends and make a donation to support our work. As described by Andrew Vega, one of the Youth Ambassador curating the exhibition, the gallery “showcases textile art pieces created by students that express the awareness, loss, and passion that surrounds the issue of gun violence in their homes, families, and communities.
Vision Quilt grieves the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dion Johnson, Tony McDade, and others. This outbreak of violence reveals — once again — the pervasiveness of systemic injustice, police brutality and white supremacy that Black communities are confronted with everyday.
In Southern Oregon we have been in the streets, chanting and marching alongside passionate and courageous Black, POC, and white allies while white supremacist militias lurk on every street corner, carrying firearms to threaten and intimate the peaceful protestors. They know their reign is coming to an end, and they are afraid.
We are also supporting Black leaders in the Bay Area, through our work with Oakland's Violence Prevention Coalition and the Oakland Front-line Healers. While supporting nonviolent demonstrations aimed at justice and transformation, the Violence Prevention Coalition condemns the riots and looting, and grieves the death of Patrick Underwood, who was shot and killed during the protests last week.
Whether you are in the streets or continuing to shelter-in-place at home, we urge you to stay safe.
Thank you for your dedication to ending the systemic oppression of Black communities everywhere. Together we CAN end white supremacy.
In these uncertain times, we hope you are taking care of yourself and your communities. As we struggle to find balance and keep our work moving in a positive and creative direction, the need calls for all of us to work together. Attitudinal Healing Connection (AHC), Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA), Vision Quilt (VQ), and Junior Center of Art and Science (JCAS) are teaming up to show LOVE and to inspire learning through creativity.
Since students will not return to their schools until fall, we have identified unique ways to provide alternative options for children to access arts instruction. Our students represent the most vulnerable populations. AHC, MOCHA, VQ and JCAS understand that arts equity is an essential component to belonging, developing and thriving.
We are doing an art kit drive to deliver supplies to the youth in our communities. We hope you will support our efforts.
For only $20 you can give a child art supplies to help their creativity thrive. Accompanied by instructional guides and free videos, the kits will be sent to the students we serve.
Charli demonstrates the Vision Quilt process for the new art kits.
By April 30, 2020, we aim to partner with more arts organizations and give out 2,500 kits to children and youth at partnering schools.
Select schools and survivor families will be asked to create artwork to be launched on a national stage advocating against gun violence through Vision Quilt. Students will also have the option to submit their artwork to MOCHA for a video exhibition to thank our healthcare and emergency service providers.
We know these are difficult times, and we are grateful for your donation. Please be generous – no amount is too small! Every donation is tax deductible, and deeply appreciated.
You can also send checks to this address: Vision Quilt P.O. #3192 Ashland, OR 97520.
THANK YOU for helping Vision Quilt continue to strengthen communities, empower youth, and prevent gun violence!
Dr. Cathy DeForest
Vision Quilt Executive Director
AHC Executive Director
MOCHA Executive Director
Junior Center of Art and Science Executive Director
The Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Los Angeles Holds Vision Quilt Workshop for International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
by Lauren Levitt
On December 17, 2018 a group of sex workers and their allies gathered in the conference room of the East Los Angeles Women’s Center to observe International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers. The event was organized by the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Los Angeles (SWOP LA), a local chapter for SWOP USA, a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of people involved in the sex trade and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy.
International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers was started in 2003 by sex worker, artist, and activist Annie Sprinkle and SWOP USA to memorialize the victims of the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, a prolific serial killer who preyed on sex workers and other marginalized women in Washington state during the 1980s and 90s. Today, on December 17 the sex worker community remembers all those lost to violence in the past year.
As people began to fill the room, they enjoyed a warm meal and visited with each other, appreciating the warmth and comfort of community, before musician and adult performer Petra Blair gave a presentation on the connections between gun violence and violence against sex workers. 14 of the 49 sex workers who died in the United States in 2018 were killed by gunshot, higher than any other cause of death, and over half of the women in the United States killed by intimate partner violence, which includes violence from clients, are killed with a gun.
The presentation was followed by a Vision Quilt Workshop, during which participants created panels imagining an end to gun violence against sex workers. During the workshop, Mariah Castañeda, a journalist from L.A. Taco, asked organizers and participants about the impact of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Acts (FOSTA), a federal bill package passed earlier that year which made conditions more dangerous for those in the sex trade by shutting down online advertising platforms and safety resources.
After the workshop, SWOP LA director Zooey Zara led guests in a candlelit vigil for the sex workers who were lost in 2018, during which many tears were shed. The list was longer than the year before, and in addition to the many women who had been murdered, there were a number of adult performers who had taken their own lives. Following the ceremony, everyone pitched in to help clean up the center before wishing each other goodnight.
Vision Quilt is proud to share our newest video, "Amplifying Voices: Building Partnerships to End Gun Violence." The four minute video focuses on our partnerships with schools, grassroots organizations and community leaders in places like Oakland and Chicago.
Vision Quilt empowers communities to create their own solutions to gun violence through the power of art and inclusive dialogue.
Partnerships are at the heart of our work. "Amplifying Voices" showcases some of our partners, including: Adamika Village, The Ark of St. Sabina, Catholic Charities East Bay, Lighthouse Community Charter School, MOMS Demand Action, Oakland Violence Prevention Coalition, Women in Need of Discovering Their Own Worth, Youth ALIVE!
Share this video with friends, and learn how you can support our work in 2020!
This fall has been a busy time for Vision Quilt. In addition to continuing our 2020-2021 programming with Lighthouse Charter School, we launched a new partnership with Attitudinal Healing Connection (AHC) in Oakland, California. AHC is a kindred organization doing remarkable work; their inspiring community murals, found through the Oakland, celebrate the vibrancy and resiliency of Oakland and its residents.
Together with AHC's ArtEsteem program, we launched a new project working with students at West Oakland Middle School. As described by Nan Eastep of AHC:
Vision Quilt and ArtEsteem have come together because they believe that through the act of art-making and public expression Oakland youth can both heal from the trauma of gun violence and contribute to its prevention. Daytime art sessions are taught by seasoned artists with the aid of circles, talking pieces and the Principles of Attitudinal Healing. We have chosen the collaborative quilt as the form to follow, for its association with family, comfort, community, nurture, protection and recovery.
The ArtEsteem/Vision Quilt project, which is supported by the City of Oakland's Art-In-The-Schools program, runs throughout the fall and spring terms at West Oakland Middle School and Fricke Impact Academy. To learn more about this work, check out this blog post on the AHC website.
Guns: Loaded Conversations Exhibit Travels to Michigan and England
Vision Quilt is proud to be included in Guns: Loaded Conversations, the three-year traveling exhibition from Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA).
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.”
The newest dates for the exhibition include:
Vision Quilt’s short film focused on our work at Lighthouse Community Charter School is included in the exhibition. If you are in the area, check out this incredible show!
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!
News, events and announcements from Vision Quilt