Beacon Project

COLLECT/ive grief COLLECT/ive joy

As I wander thrift stores I inevitably find monuments to care; the crocheted and hand knit blankets bring me back to my mennonite grandma’s work of keeping their families warm. I picture the yarn moving through hands and evenings spent showing their love stitch by stitch. And, I remember the feeling of curling up under the blankets they made, stretching them over me, curling my toes and fingers in the holes between the stitches.

Folks of all ages are invited to join me in taking apart these found blankets as an expression of their grief, to create a picture of grief together.

Parenting is my constant reminder that joy works its way in and through grief. To honour the relationship between grief and joy the undone wool will be made into pompoms. Instructions and supplies will be on site so everyone can be part of the process. We will collectively create an ephemeral picture of our grief and our joy, and the relationship to each other.

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My Mennonite grandmas were involved in the task of keeping their family warm. As I wander thrift stores I inevitably find monuments to this care in the bedding section; crocheted and hand knit blankets bring me back to yarn moving through hands, evenings spent in active love of as the blanket grows row by row, and years of running my fingers along the crocheted edges as I cuddled up under the blankets.

I want to create an inviting and warm space in the gazebo at Dartmouth Commons. A space welcoming enough that one can rest any performance of participation, and warm enough feel grief that might be below the surface. I envision colourful piles of handmade wool blankets piled up on the benches of the gazebo. Some of them are already in the process of being taken apart. The yarn is pulled towards the picnic table in the centre of the gazebo where a few pom poms have been made from it. A small table has hot tea to share.

I have always found a sense of being seen in finding the others who feel sad, outside or a bit lost at large events. Moments of shared vulnerability are both my privilege of choice because of my identity and my access to safety, and also one of the greatest gifts I have received from others. I think the last 3 years have reminded and taught many that we are all a bit more vulnerable, more connected and carry more grief that we might previously thought.

The invitation is to grab any of the blankets and unwind as little or much as one wants as a visible expression of your grief. This quiet, repetitive action is building an ephemeral monument to the collective reality of our grief with the growing pile of yarn in the middle of the circle. In the process of undoing our hands trace over each inch of the yarn, just as the makers did as they constructed the blankets. We are invited into relationship with them, and each other, as swaths of yarn build.

In my role as a parent I am learning that joy weaves its way in and through grief. My kiddo has pushed me to dance in the living room when I wasn’t sure I could do more than lie under a blanket on the couch. I am learning to remember that joy and grief are not singular and binary experiences, but rather woven and knotted together - moving me forward.

The same, or new folks can start to gather this unwound wool and make pompoms together. With cardboard and scissors participants can make many sizes of pompoms. Kiddos as young as two can help wind the yarn. Pompoms can be taken home or hung around the gazebo. With the taking apart of blankets happening around the perimeter, and the pom pom making happening in the centre, the picture of movement from grief to joy becomes this mess of yarn that moves from form to mess and back to form - making visible the cycles between them.

The paths leading to the gazebo will have hand made signs hung or connected with wool, leading to this project. They will have words that reflect on grief, joy and the relationship between them.

This space of warmth, this messy monument to collective grief will invite in joy to live with it and to move out into the community in the form of puffy balls of yarn.

Oct 15th
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM