Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

& her barefoot heart

Tag: the 70273 project

Impact

Block made by Andy Urbach

 

28 blocks made by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

 

Made by members of a quilting club in Gers, France

 

Blocks by Patsi Brletich

 

Quilt #23 is made by Maïté Findeling

Visual impact.
Emotional impact.
Physical impact.
Mental impact.
Visceral impact.
Social impact.
Qualitative impact.
Quantitative impact.
Historical impact.
Cultural impact.

Today I think about all forms of impact.

~~~~~~~

Thank you for helping The 70273 Project grow and make a positive, worldwide impact:
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.
Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.
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.

A Cold Molasses Kind of Day

Two nights with little (last night) or no (the night before last) sleep caught up with me today. The reason for the sleepless night is that my bedtime reading was a first-person account of the Holocaust, and her stories were even more horrifying than anything I’ve seen, read, or heard to date. By the time I gave myself permission to close the book, it was too late. The images and feelings were stirred and refused to be quieted. 48 hours later, they are still with me – especially imagining how The 70273 we commemorate must have been treated. I am not one to play ostrich and bury my head in the sand, finding that a dangerous act that paves way for atrocities, but I can now understand better than ever why some people make such choices.

Though there’s much to do, I decided there was nothing to do but move slowly through today and punctuate the afternoon with a nap.

70273Ironing

So I first ironed the red fabric that Tami Kemberling donated to The 70273 Project.
Ironing flat pieces is much easier than ironing clothes.

BackSideStitching

Then I stitched a bit on a tenured Work In Progress,
a piece in The Rinse Cycle: Pivotal Epiphanies in a Woman’s Life series,
and marveled at how much I like the wrong side of pieces
sometimes more than I like the right side.
In high school, I made my dress for the senior prom
(Yes, I had that much personality)
and I horrified my mother and her friends
by choosing to make the wrong side of the fabric
the right side.
Only Ms Johnson thought it a daring and brilliant move
on my part.
In return, I found her a daring and brilliant woman.

StormAtSea30May16

Then I stitched a bit on the Storm at Sea quilt
I’m making for my boy, Kipp.
It is the never-ending quilt, to be sure
because I did the Jeanne thing
and opted to hand stitch each block individually
instead of quilting straight rows across.
I tried the straight across approach and felt it disrupted the magic
of this pattern, so I ripped it all out,
took a deep breath
and started again.
It takes about 12 hours to quilt an entire block.
Every now and then I count the blocks waiting to be quilted
and formulate a plan for reaching the finish line –
1 block finished on Monday and Tuesday;
2 blocks finished on  Wednesday and Thursday;
3 blocks finished on Friday and Saturday:
and so on till I know what day I will be finished.
Then I take a day (or ten) off
and must devise a new plan.
My current targeted deadline is Christmas.
I might make that.
Might.

The Engineer, who refuses to take naps
and sometimes (thought not today, thankfully)
it seems he decides that nobody else will nap either,
busied himself rearranging the deck furniture,
bringing some furniture up from the lower deck
to find a new home on the upper deck
and presumably carting other pieces
down to the lower deck.
Both decks are rather small,
so I dread going outside tomorrow
to find (yet another) space that has that
just-moved-in look.
The Engineer doesn’t nap
and I don’t tolerate clutter well (at all).
Even after all these years, though,
we find a way to compromise
and live together with respect for
each other without completely abdicating our own selves.
We’ve become experts at choosing
which hills we’re willing to die on
and which hills to let go.
Some days that’s  easer than others.
Every day it’s at the top of the list of things love must do.

Pop Quiz (but You Get to Check Your Own Paper)

KittySorgenBlocks

More blocks created by Kitty Sorgen

The bad news: Today we’re having a pop quiz on The 70273 Project. Even if you’re already making blocks, even if you’ve already sent blocks, even if you’re already scheduled to speak to a group – however involved you are with this project, you need to take this test. It’s really important to the success of this project.
The good news: You get to check your own paper.

Q: True or False: This is a project with only a few rules/guidelines.
A: True, and here are the few Very Important guidelines.
~ White – just white, though it can be white-on-white fabric, but nothing else – blocks of fabric cut in one of 3 sizes: 3.5×6.5″ or 6.5 x 9.5″ or 9.5 x 12.5″
~ Two – and only two, no more and no less – red X’s laid down on the white fabric
~ Download, print, complete, and use a safety pin to attach the Provenance Form to the blocks, then mail.
~ Email photos (at least 300 dpi resolution, please) and a short bio or a story about why you’ve become a part of this project.

Q: Why does the base have to be white?
A: The white (and it can be white on white prints, it just can’t have anything else on it) represents the paper – the medical records – of the physically and mentally disabled people. The German Nazi doctors were not required to ever so much as lay eyes on the people, just to read their medical records. This is significant.

Q: Why two red X’s?
A: When two of the three German Nazi doctors placed a red X at the bottom of any medical record, the disabled person was rounded up and murdered, often within a few hours. The two red X’s represent the death sentence. This, too, is significant.

Q: I want to stitch more than two red X’s – maybe lay down one big red X then fill the white block with lots of smaller red X’s. Is that okay? It’d be so much cuter, really.
A: Well, um, no. The white needs to remain white – just white – and each white block needs to bear two red X’s. That’s all.
Q: Why?
A: Because when the idea initially came to whisper in my ear, this is the image it brought to show me: 70,273 white blocks with 2 red X’s. The visual impact of 70,273 quilt blocks made of a white base with 2 red X’s is nothing short of powerful – powerful, I tell you – because each block commemorates one of the 70,273 disabled people who were murdered.

Q: How can I be creative with such limitations?
A: Actually, creativity blossoms within boundaries. Get as creative as you want with the two red X’s – that’s wonderful, actually, because no two blocks will be exactly the same, just as no two of these murdered people were exactly the same. And while the two red X’s vary, the white background remains the same  – just white – and that’s significant, too, because these people were not seen as human beings, just a piece of paper bearing their name. You might want to click right this way to get some kindling by looking over the shoulder of some very creative folks to see how they’re making their two red X’s.

Q: I’m gonna’ stitch the name of a student or a friend or a family member who has physical or mental disabilities. M’kay?
A: Well, remember: we want to maximize the visual impact of an unadorned white base with 2 red X’s. Stitching names or words, to use a theatre phrase, pulls focus. I really don’t want people getting distracted by trying to read what the stitching says. Susan Graham and I did hatch a way to include the names of loved ones and remain true to the initial vision. Susan taught special needs children, and several of them claimed a spot on her heart, and she wanted to honor them somehow, so she cut the white base, laid down the two red X’s, then, using a fabric marker, wrote the student’s name behind the red X so that it’s a permanent part of the block but not visible from the front.

There’s also a place on the Provenance Form to tell me that you made the block in honor or in memory of someone. You can give their name, and if you want me to send them a note alerting them to your block, you can give me their address. Provided you don’t request that they remain anonymous, these names will be mentioned on the quilt blocks that will forever accompany each quilt, and to the extend possible, they will be mentioned in exhibit literature that will accompany the quilts. If anonymity isn’t request, they will also be celebrated on the blog.

Me, I’m availing myself of all those options to celebrate my disabled sister-in-love Nancy.

Q: Look, I’m just gonna’ send you a block and you can cut it down to the size you want. How ’bout that?
A: I’m begging you to cut blocks to one of the three sizes – 3.5×6.5: or 6.5×9.5″ or 9.5×12.5″ – before sending. Imagine one woman coordinating this on project top of an already full life. Blocks come in, and I catalogue them in the database, feature them on the blog, keep the facebook page humming, respond to the numerous emails and comments and tweets that come in throughout the day, find ways to get the word out, and look ahead to other things that will need tending. Then think of one woman doing all that PLUS cutting 70,273 blocks to size. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask of me when you think that you’re just one person sending a few blocks that need cutting, but remember that there are actually going to be 70,273 blocks, and imagine doing everything that has to be done and cutting that many blocks to size.

Q: How ’bout I put one red X on each of my blocks and you can stitch them together?
A: I refer you to the above answer and beg you to think how much time it might take to stitch 70,273 blocks together. Remember, there 70,273 of you and one of me. That’s the kind of math that can break a person’s back;)

Q: Why do you want us to mail you our basic info and email you the photo and bio?
A: It already takes several minutes to enter all the basic information into the computer for each block. Imagine, if you will, me scanning 70,273 photos and retyping 70,273 bios. Then there’s the whole handwriting thing to consider.

Q: Why do I have to use a safety pin? Why can’t I just staple my Provenance Form to my block?
A: I ask for the safety pin for several reasons. For one, a safety pin is much quicker and easier to remove than a staple. (Let’s review: one minute times 70,273 equals a lot of time.) Then there’s the fact that I have to find safety pins to replace each staple.

Q: Why are there only three sizes?
A: One: visual impact. Two: It’s the way The Idea wants it. Three: These sizes will fit together nicely to make quilt tops.

Q: How many quilts will there be?
A: It’s hard to say at this point because we don’t know how many blocks of each size we will have, so we don’t have all the info we need to do the math. But The Engineer (my husband) calculates we’ll wind up with at least 700 quilts.

Q: Are you going to quilt them all yourself?
A: Bahahahahaha, no. Pretty soon, I’m gonna’ be asking folks to raise their hand if their their quilt guild are willing to do the quilting. And know this: it’s never too soon to raise your hand for that. Just sayin’.

Q: What will you do with the quilts?
A: The quilts will be sent around and to the far corners of the world to commemorate the 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people who were murdered and to celebrate the countless numbers of physically and mentally challenged people who live among us today.

Q: There’s a lot going on with this good project. Do you post the same thing everywhere? How can I keep up?
A: My brain now jiggles more than it juggles, so no, I don’t post the same thing everywhere cause I can’t remember what I posted where. To keep up, you might want to like the Facebook page, send me a friend request on Facebook, follow The 70273 Project pinterest board, subscribe to the blog, follow me on twitter and/or look for #The70273Project or #70273.

Q: Why do you always put a link to the introductory post somewhere in each blog post about The 70273 Project? I’m kinda’ tired of reading it, myself.
A: I do it because (a) my son tells me I need to and (b) new people are stopping by all the time, and because they’re kinda’ starting in the middle, I like to let them know what we’re doing here. As for re-reading it, try this: let your cursor hover over the words The 70273 Project when you can tell there’s a link there, and if you see a link with the word “introducing” in it, you’ve already read the post. Better?

Q: What if I have another question or an idea?
A: You just holler.

Thank y’all for being a part of this project, for following the guidelines, and for helping spread the word. And pretty please keep those blocks and stories coming.

 

Talking Points for Speaking to Groups About The 70273 Project

xx4

So many of you – I’m thinking about you, Pam Yates, Ann Grasso, Tanya Weising-Pike –  are talking up The 70273 Project to your quilt guilds, your church groups, your hobby clubs, art and history teachers, special ed classes – spreading the word and even providing the materials for folks to make blocks on the spot. Cass Hale is hosting a block-making party, open house style. Laurie Dunn and Pam Yates are getting their entire families involved. Others (think Lori East and Hilke Kurzke) are having me over for a guest blog post or, like Terri Belford, are interviewing me for a podcast. Then there’s Kimberly Brock who’s invited me to chat at her Tinderbox Writers’ Workshop one day next week.

I know there are many others I don’t know about, so please  let me know cause I want to give you and your block makers some love here on the blog and in other e-spots like Facebook and Twitter if you’re buzzing around out in the community on behalf of The 70273 Project, will ya’?

This is a project with only a few rules, but the few rules are there for a reason and quite really VERY important, so since y’all are stepping out, I thought it might be helpful if I put together a shiny new When You Speak to Groups Handbook When You Speak to Groups Handbook so you don’t have to worry about missing the few key points  when you’re standing up in front of a group. We’ll talk about it here in this post, but there’s even more info in the Handbook, so do be sure to  download, print, and pack it.

TAKE

~ There are flyers available to download and print.
~ You can download and print info cards on paper that’s perforated for business card printing.
~ The When You Speak to Groups Handbook
~ Maybe you want to print out some photos of blocks or take blocks that you’ve made.
~ If you’re providing materials for the audience members to make blocks, you want to take:
* Provenance Forms – enough for each Maker
* White fabric, precut into the three block sizes
* Red scraps of fabric, ribbon, yarn, etc.
* Red thread and needles
* Glue (see sidebar – if you click and purchase from our site, it doesn’t cost you any more and we get a few pennies in the coffer to cover expenses)
* Wax paper for pouring some glue out because sometimes the bottles are hard to squeeze
* Toothpicks for spreading the glue
* Writing pens
* Wax paper or a vinyl tablecloth to protect working surfaces
* Paper towels (for cleaning up messes)
* Your camera
* Safety pins
* Scissors
* The Handout that’s included in the Handbook  giving the following info about where folks can keep up with what’s happening:

SAY
(from the introductory post, rewritten so you can just read if you want)

In anticipation of the new year, Jeanne Hewell-Chambers cleared her space – her physical, mental, emotional, and digital space – making way for something new, for possibility. After much pondering, journaling, and meditation, she knew what you want her 2016 to look like. She knew what she would do: she would lose weight, finish books, make 3 quilts for personal use. She made her plans and was prepared to stick to them. She felt in control of your life for the first time in I don’t know how long, and it felt good. Real good.

Then one night in mid-January, she sat stitch Nancy’s drawings (Jeanne stitches the drawings of her mentally disabled sister-in-love, Nancy) while watching a documentary on World War II with her husband and their daughter, and just like that – within a space of 4-7 minutes – out went the best laid plans, the slate was cleared, her life changed . . . 

Between January 1940 and August 1941, some 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls – were murdered by the Nazis. The Nazi doctors never even laid eyes on the disabled person they were evaluating, they only read the medical files and, if from the words on the page, the person was deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctor placed a red X at the bottom of the form. Three doctors were to read each medical file, and when two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed. Most were murdered within 1-2 hours.

On February 14, 2016, Jeanne launched The 70273 Project – a project dedicated to commemorating those 70,273 disabled, voiceless, powerless people who were so callously and casually murdered. How will they be commemorated?  By gathering 70,273 blocks of white fabric (representing innocence and the paper the doctors read), each bearing two red X’s (representing one person) then stitching them into quilts that will travel the world.

Is she crazy?  Maybe. But Jeanne’s Bones say she can’t not do this. She knows she can’t change history – can’t unring that bell – but she can – with your help – commemorate the lives of these 70,273 disabled people in this small way.

[Then tell a little bit about why and how you got involved.]

(NOTE: The Handbook contains this information in a bullet point format in case you’re one who prefers to work form an outline.)

DO

THE BASICS

~ The base must be white fabric (representing the paper medical records), and on the base, two red X’s are placed (representing the death sentence).
~ Blocks must be one of these sizes: 3.5″ x 6.5″ (9 cm x 16.5 cm) or 6.5″ x 9.5″ (16.5 cm x 24.2 cm) or 9.5″ x 12.5″ (24.2 cm x 31.8 cm).
~ Makers are free to unleash their creativity in creating the blocks – all I ask is that the blocks be a white base with two red X’s and be one of the sizes mentioned above.
~ Please don’t sign the blocks or place other names on the blocks – no visible writing or words . ‘Why? Because I want to keep the focus on the 70,273 souls we commemorate. The Makers’ names will appear on a label that is permanently attached to the back of the quilt, and a copy of the label will be printed on paper and exhibited near each quilt. Or the paper copies of the quilt labels might appear in notebooks that accompany the exhibit. There’s a place on the form to dedicate blocks in honor or in memory of someone in particular, and unless the maker wishes to remain anonymous, these names will be given alongside the maker’s name on labels and exhibition materials. Provided the forms are submitted and emails containing photos and bios are sent as requested, makers will also be recognized on the blog, on twitter, on facebook, and in any books that eventually come.
~ Send photos of individuals with their blocks, as well as groups as they make their blocks. (An important note about photos and names: Thank you for keeping me out of hot water by making sure you have permission to send me names and photos of block makers. If a block maker has a guardian, please have the guardian complete and sign the Provenance Form giving permission. If faces cannot be shown, perhaps you can snap and  photos of hands and blocks.

AFTER MAKING BLOCKS 

1. Download, print, complete, and use safety pints to attach The Provenance Form to the blocks. Each maker must submit a Provenance Form, and multiple blocks made by the same maker can be attached to the form. PLEASE remember this form ’cause if I get a bunch of blocks with no form, I’ll have no way of identifying who made what, and we’ll both be in the doghouse.
2. Mail blocks and page one of the form to the address given at the top of the page.
3. Email me the photos and bios (see form for details and bio kindling).

 ~~~~~~~

Here’s the downloadable version of the When Speaking to Groups Handbook.
Have I forgotten something? Please let me know.
Do you have experiences to share? Do tell, please.

There are all sorts of ways to stay in touch, and like I said, I don’t post the same things in all the places ’cause that would be boring, so be sure that:
~ we’re friends on Facebook
~ that you’ve liked the Facebook page
~ that you’re following the pinterest board
~ and subscribed to the blog

However you’re getting the word out, thank y’all. This is truly a grassroots effort – my favorite kind.

 

The 70273 Project: Off and Running

The 31-Blocks-in-31-Days Event for The 70273 Project is off and running . . .

BarbaraAtwell24Feb16

Barbara Atwell is off and making,
and spreading the word, getting others involved, too.

FranSaperstein18Feb16

I met Fran Saperstein around the end of 2009, and let me tell you:
she’s one of those people whose heart shines through immediately.
And look – she’s keeping things interesting for the quilters
by making some vertical blocks!

~~~~~~~

Having been gone for a week and a half,
we should be able to get by the post office
tomorrow when it’s open,
so stay tuned for more blocks and makers
as the week unfolds.
(I probably won’t sleep a wink tonight in anticipation!)

~~~~~~~

Having spent most of today tinkering under the hood here at the blog.
I direct your attention to the lower right sidebar
where I’ve added a cute-as-all-get-out
working-on-the-goal graphic.
As the blocks come in,
the tube will fill till we get to the magic number:
70,273.
And oh what a celebration that will be.

I also added a directory in the sidebar
for The 70273 Project
to make it quicker and easier
to find specific posts
that might be helpful.

Thank y’all for the blocks I know you’re making.
I can’t wait to see them on Facebook.
Post on your timeline and tag me
or on my timeline
or on The 70273 Project campfire page.

Now I’m gonna’ be on the go
over the next few months,
so if you have a group you’d like me to speak to
or if you’d just like to meet for
a Krispy Kreme doughnut,
let me know.

Wanna’ get free daily delivery? Subscribe right here.

Nancy Does Her Part for The 70273 Project Blocks

Nancy does her part: makes a drawing that will become her block for The 70273 Project.
(Lighting was a little on the dark side on account of it was post-lunch nap time.)

And here Nancy and Jeanne (mostly Jeanne, actually) talk about
what it’s like to be a mother and an artist.

NancyChambers25Feb16a

NancyChambers25Feb16b

Here are Nancy’s finished drawings for her 70273 blocks.
Just wait till you see what I have planned for
my part of the collaboration.
Stay tuned.

Today we picked up the 563 (or so) drawings that will become
In Our Own Language 19.
Here are some of my favorites:

IOOL19a

IOOL19b

IOOL19c

IOOL19d

Tonight I was tickled to be invited to talk about The 70273 Project
with other writers over on Twitter
in #storydam,
a chat moderated tonight by Meredith Shadwill.

Don’t forget to help get the word out by mentioning The 70273 Project on
Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media outlet you hang out in.

and

Remember to subscribe so you stay up to date.

and

Let me know when you get your block finished
and let me know if you’re gonna’ participate in the
Make-a-Block-a-Day-in-March Event.

and, as always:

Thank you.

Turning the Tables

NancyAndAndy23Feb16

Nancy and The Engineer

Nancy Talks About her Baby Doll

When I was a teenager, too young to drive myself to the shopping mall and too old to want to be seen with my mother, I would sit on a bench in the middle of the mall and watch people. Sometimes I would pretend I was handicapped just to see how people reacted to me, then I’d switch back to me, then back to handicapped. On and on it would go, this private social inquiry, with me observing and noting the differences in people’s responses to me.

Though some were quite gentle, most pretended they didn’t see me when I donned the disabled persona.

(And yes, it’s true: I was an odd kid.)

(Some would argue that I still am.)

Some block makers have expressed reluctance to make a block fearing they will not do it right. Now I’ve known a lot of disabled people in my life (and my regular readers know how much I adore my sister-in-law, Nancy), and never – not once – have I ever heard a single one of them fret about getting something wrong. Right and wrong just doesn’t exist for them. Making isn’t about how they do it, it’s about doing it, period. The making is all that matters.

So I’m thinking that maybe, when we’re making these blocks for The 70273 Project, we could let Nancy and her friends be our teachers and just make for the sheer joy of making. And who knows? We might find it so freeing, we’ll decide to say “Good riddance” and leave judgement on the side of the road and never, ever look back.

\\\

Want to raise your hand and become part of the Make-A-Block-A-Day-In-March Tribe? Leave a comment here or send me an email or find me on Facebook and let me know ’cause I’m thinking about setting us up a Facebook page to call our own.

Want to subscribe? Click right this way.

And hey, if you’re on twitter, you’re cordially invited to join Meredith Shadwill (facebook /  twitter) and me (@whollyjeanne) in a twitter chat about The 70273 Project and writing. Look for (and use when you chime in) #storydam to join the conversation. It’s gonna’ be fun.

Any Day Now . . .

BlockJHC

Every day before heading to the post office, The Engineer says, “I’ll bet today’s the day.” He is so excited about The 70273 Project. I just can’t tell you. So far he’s come out empty handed (well, unless you count the bills), but I understand that several blocks are winging their way to me and others will be soon, so let’s review Operation: Send Me the Blocks . . .

When your blocks are ready to mail, you download, print, and fill out the Provenance Form then attach it to your block(s) with a safety pin. Why a safety pin, you ask? Because just like a staple holds papers together better than a gem clip, a safety pin holds blocks together better than a straight pin. (Plus it’s not as likely to cause pain.)

Mail your blocks and form to the address on the form, then scoot on back to your computer and send me an email containing the following: a photo (or several) of you (you making the blocks would be terrific) and a short bio. Why do I have you email that instead of writing it out on the form and sticking a photo inside the envelope? Imagine me scanning 70273 photos and typing in 70273 bios, that’s why;) If you email them to me, it’s much quicker and easier for me to copy and paste . . . and with the exception of maybe dropping off the first letter of the first word when highlighting before copying, I’m much more likely to get it just the way you sent it without typos.

If you’re sending multiple blocks (Thank you!), feel free to pin all of them to one Provenance Form. If you host or attend a block making party and volunteer to mail everybody’s blocks, be sure each maker completes a Provenance Form and attaches it to their blocks before you put them in the envelope. In other words, each maker must complete a Provenance Form. You’ll also need to get each maker to send me their bio and photo via email.

And what if you want to remain anonymous? There’s a place on the form to tell me that, but I’d still like your name and contact info so I can let you know when your blocks are received and send you a thank you note. If you wish to remain anonymous, know that I will honor your request and your info will go no further than me, and all you need send is your name and contact info. You can leave all else blank and there’s no need to send a photo and bio. The photos and bios are for use when posting your blocks to Facebook or including them in a blog post.

Is there anything I’m forgetting? Anything you still have questions about? Just holler.

\\\

Won’t be long till the Make-a-Block-a-Day March Event begins, so let me know you are in so I can get us all set up. I’m creating a special Facebook page just for us. If we can rally 100 people making a block a day for 31 days, that’s . . . let’s see . . . where’s my Engineer calculator . . . 3100 blocks. Significant.

And hey, be sure to subscribe (if you haven’t already) cause it’s the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of The 70273 Project.

Introducing The 70273 Project

the 70273 project card for instagram

You’ve cleared your space – your physical, mental, emotional, and digital space – making way for something new, for possibility. You’ve pondered, journaled, and meditated . . . you know what you want your 2016 to look like. You know what you will do. You will lose weight, finish books, make 3 quilts. You’ve made your plans and are prepared to stick to them. You are in control of your life for the first time in I don’t know how long, and it feels good. Real good.

Then one night in mid-January, you stitch Nancy’s drawings while watching a multi-part documentary with your husband and your daughter, and just like that – within a space of 4-7 minutes – out go the best laid plans, the slate is cleared, your life is changed . . . 

Between January 1940 and August 1941 (before the Holocaust began), 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls – were murdered by the Nazis. Though they never even laid eyes on the disabled person they were evaluating, the Nazi doctors read the medical files and, if from the words on the page, the person was deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctor placed a red X at the bottom of the form. Three doctors were to read each medical file, and when two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed. Most were murdered within 1-2 hours.

I will commemorate these 70,273 voiceless, powerless people who were so callously and casually murdered by gathering 70,273 blocks of white fabric (representing innocence and the paper the doctors read), each bearing two red X’s (representing one person), and I will stitch them together into quilts. 

The Engineer’s first comment? “I don’t think you realize how big that is.”

My response? Oh yes I do. I want this to be so big, so immense that people cannot look away, cannot say they didn’t see it.

Am I crazy? Maybe. But Bones say I can’t not do this. I can’t change history – can’t unring that bell – but I can commemorate the lives of these 70,273 disabled people in this small way.

Now I’ve done the math, and there’s no way I can do this by myself, so I’m asking for your help. You don’t have to have ever held a piece of fabric except to button or zip it. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting instructional posts and videos to show you different techniques you can use to make a block.

There are all sorts of other ways to get involved besides making blocks. Head here to read and get idea kindling. If something else comes to mind, please let me know.

This is a project that will unfold as it unfolds, and it will unfold here, at this digital address. I’ll be adding ideas, instructions, and inspiration. I’ll be profiling people who’ve stepped up to collaborate. I’ll run into something and ask for help. I’ll be showing the blocks as they come in and the quilts as they are stitched. If you don’t want to miss anything (and trust me: you don’t), subscribe to receive the 70273 project updates (note: if you’ve already subscribed to the blog, there’s no need to subscribe to receive project updates because you already receive anything that’s posted here, so you’ll get them.)

How can you jump in and get started?

  1. Share this post in all your social media outlets. (And please don’t just share it once. Share it as often as you will.)
  2. Make a block and send it to me.
  3. Subscribe so you don’t miss a single thing.

And hey, see those social media buttons in the upper right sidebar? Click on them to find me around e-town and keep up with project updates there, too.