As we cruise to the front of the massive line (to give us time to get ready to greet our visitors) waiting to gain entry to Day One of the International Quilt Festival, a security guard stops me to say, “I love your project. It is the most meaningful project here for me because my dad was a pilot in World War II and spent years in a German prison camp.”

As we get to our Special Exhibits, in comes a text from our son telling me that he’s thinking of me and loves me along with a text from our daughter saying I’m proud of you and love you. Always a grand way to start a day. 

The next person I see is Day Brightener Kathee Colman, whom you met yesterday when she stopped by with Patricia A. Montgomery. Kathee gives me my start-the-day-off hug and checked by throughout the day to give hugs of support and encouragement and offer to fetch  me water. From here, my day is filled with stories and hugs and smiles and tears from the likes of . . .

Libby Wares and Peggy Conklin from Florida (I met them when I presented
The 70273 Project to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild last July.

Cindy Cavallo (We’re standing in front of her gorgeous Middling that’s hanging in the Special Exhibit.) An active member of The 70273 Project Tribe,
Cindy also spent the day at the project’s interactive booth.

Sharron Evans

Rose

Patty Spiller

Jennifer (daughter), Susan (mother), and Belinda (daughter).
Susan works with people like Nancy who lives in group homes.
Jennifer promises to take The 70273 Project
back to her school’s art design classes.

Jennifer (niece) and Jan (aunt) – my Bathroom Girls, I call them because when I  exited the bathroom, they were waiting on me. “I saw you go in,” Jennifer said, ” and I told Jan, ‘There’s the two red X woman.’ We are captivated by what we’ve read,
and we want to know more about the project.” Of course I told them about it, and true to their word, they stopped by later for a visit with the quilts and me.

And there were the most delightful fifth grade students and teachers who came by to view the quilts and ask projects. They’re from the Pearland, TX Independent School District, and I’m very excited that they want the students to Skype with me later AND they’re going to incorporate The 70273 Project into their curriculum. It’s something they apparently do every year – have the students research something then quilt it. The students were engaged, asked the most thoughtful questions, and showed keen observation skills.
It was a little spot of heaven as I stood there talking to them, remembering
why I so enjoyed teaching fourth graders.
I’m looking forward to hearing from and talking with them more.

Quilting Rock Star Bonnie Bobman came by, and oh the outside-the-box talk we did have.

While Bonnie and I were talking, Quilter Rock Star Pauling Salzman happened by for a chat.

Meet Gilda Hamilton and 2017 IQA Award Winner Pat Connally.

All the while The Engineer and I talk with hundreds and hundreds of people in the Special Exhibit, Peggy Thomas, Cindy Cavallo, and Tari Vickery woman our Interactive Booth in aisle 100, telling more people about the project and inviting them to make Friendship Blocks that Cindy has graciously offered to turn into a Festival 2017 quilt.

Visitors commemorate.

“For the sensitivity and the love
For the memory and the knowledge
For all with two
Whoever was taken and whoever lives”

The lovely Evy Styliara penned these words in Greek in her friendship block.
More tears.

Right next door to the interactive booth, Siege Leland with
the Houston Quilt Guild teaches people how to Quilt and quilt with a purpose.

And that’s not all. Across The Pond, Wendy Daws and members of the Kent Association for the Blind and their guide dogs are making tactile blocks and quilts that will fill Rochester Cathedral come January. Photos sent by Wendy and taken by LadyBird Day.

Peggy, The Engineer, and I close out this magical day with our one meal of the day and stories. Y’all know I’m an optimist if I wear all white and drink chocolate martinis, right?

So many stories to tuck away in my heart. So much heartspeak (my name for tears). So much goodness and wonder and compassion and kindness is happening here, y’all. I didn’t get a photo of Robin Moore, but remind me to tell you that story one day because she is a treasure. And there’s so many more that I didn’t get photos of – just know that you’re now permanently a part of my heart, and I look forward to hearing from you as you become part of The 70273 Project Tribe. This is an amazing experience, y’all. There are no words, except Thank you.

~~~~~~~

Other places to gather around The 70273 Project water cooler:

Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.

Subscribe to the blog (where all information is shared).

Join the English-speaking Facebook group – our e-campfire – where you can talk to other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.

Join the French-speaking Facebook group – our other e-campfire – where you can chat with other members of The 70273 Project Tribe.

Like the Facebook page where you can check in for frequent updates.

Get folks to help celebrate your birthday by making blocks and/or donating bucks.

Follow the pinterest board for visual information.

Post using #the70273project on Instagram. (Please tag me, too, @whollyjeanne, so I don’t miss anything.)

Tell your friends what you want for your birthday.

And if you haven’t yet made some blocks, perhaps you’d like to put some cloth in your hands and join us.

Or maybe you’d like to gather friends and family, colleagues or students, club or guild members, etc. together and make a group quilt.