Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sprouts of Hope:Sustainability Quilt Project

Our Quilt Is Finished

By Kaya

After Maya carefully fit and wrote the letters of our sustainability message around the border of our quilt — A City Thrives When Its People Replenish What They Use — and Risa put glasses on Bill McKibben,  our sustainability quilt was finished.

After many Sunday afternoons spent quilting with Clara Wainwright, by the end of this day we could stand back and look at what we'd created — a quilt decorated with ‘green’ buildings, bike paths, rooftop gardens, a peace dove, a chimpanzee, and a compost dump.  On its big border we have portraits of us and three people whose life work inspires us — Jane Goodall, Bill McKibben, and Wangari Maathai.

Our quilt embodies our vision of what a more sustainable way of living might look like — in Cambridge, and other places — one day soon. At the top is the title we gave our quilt: “Imagine a Sustainable Life.” 

We set out to make this quilt with the hope that its visual message will inspire others to imagine what our world could be like if we thought and acted in ways that are more environmentally friendly.

Parts of our quilt hold special meaning for us: the chimpanzee swinging from the tree speaks to our five years of involvement (as the Sprouts of Hope) with Roots and Shoots, an organization founded by Dr. Jane Goodall; the greenhouses on buildings'  rooftops give us hope that one day organic gardens, watered by rainwater, will give us more access to locally grown vegetables and fruits.

Our plan is to lend our quilt to different organizations and projects related to sustainability issues. (We are going to create a website so people who want to borrow it can make such a request.) We want our quilt to inspire others and teach others of what it means to be green — and do so in an urban environment.

We hope when people look at the quilt, they will see what we hope to see in the future—a sustainable city.

Our beautiful quilt would never have been created without the amazing Clara Wainwright. Thank you Clara, for everything you’ve done for us!

Building Our Quilt's Border

By Risa

When we started working on our quilt again, the center of it and the portraits were almost finished, so we spent the time focusing on the quilt’s bigger border. We decided to have a fairly simple design, which incorporates the ideas of the quilt.

 Edible plants embody our idea of a sustainable world because plants are good for the environment and they help feed people in healthy ways. So tomato and sunflower plants now surround our sustainable city. 

Portraits we'd made of Dr. Jane Goodall, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, and environmental activist Bill McKibben appear across the bottom border of our quilt. They can be identified by their faces, we hope, but if not, then by their names that we will put under them. We still need to put glasses on Bill McKibben.

We want our quilt to get people thinking, but not because they are trying to figure out who is on it! What we hope they will think about is about what it means to imagine a sustainable life.

Maya made an adorable chimpanzee who swings from a tree in the center of the quilt.

The chimpanzee is a symbol of Roots & Shoots because of the devotion that its founder, Dr. Jane Goodall, has to helping chimpanzees with whom she studied and lived for so many years. The chimpanzee is on Roots & Shoots emblem. We also want to make the city an animal friendly place. 


The quilt’s title—Imagining a Sustainable Life — is written across the top of our quilt. Its letters are cut out of a cool, red flowery fabric. The title grabs the eye's attention, but doesn't distract from other intricacies of the quilt. This time we added a few small details, such as clothes hanging on the clothesline, so most of the time we were either cutting fabric or gluing what we'd cut to the quilt. 

In what seems like a very short time, we’ve created this quilt — with the step-by-step gentle guidance of Clara Wainwright. A few weeks ago we were playing with the fabric, trying to come up with a vision for the quilt. Now we’ve added a border to our central design on the quilt and that is giving it new dimensions we had not even imagined a few weeks ago.

Next time we go to Clara’s studio, we will put the finishing touches on our quilt. Then we need to figure out how to share it with people in Cambridge, which was our goal from the start.

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