Winter Warmth

My friend Frances and I have been collaborators for several years. She doesn't mind helping me bring to fruition my crazy ideas, and I don't mind helping her. I would like to think we both rather enjoy it and our ideas are usually a great release from the confines of daily working life.
In 2001 we started work on one of Frances' ideas: an installation of small-scale tents to represent the displaced people affected by urbanization and gentrification. Even before the Mary Installation, Frances and I began work on a small-scale tent installation, which Frances conceptualized. These tents have had several names, depending on the place of installation and subject broached, but they consistently represent affordable living for all people. Over the years I have floated in and out of participation, but along the way there has been an installation on the front lawn of the State House with regards to the State drastically cutting funds for mental health facilities, installations of gentrification in historically black neighborhoods, installations of the extreme cutting of subsidized housing, and so on.
We live in a city that is growing vastly and quickly, affecting the low-income population in drastic ways. It's a hard topic to approach, it's not easy to think about the choices of growth when even I gain something from the choices of the city and state. The displaced people that result are our responsibility, though. Not every person on the street has a drug problem, or collects money to spend on liquor. We'll never know all the stories behind the individuals.
Not every person can get to a shelter. Not every person has another family member on the other side of the country they're trying to get to.

I'm getting preachy, I know.

That was 2001, this is 2006. Even better, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving break, lots of time with my family, wonderful time spent with my husband, and incredible friends to remember and be thankful for throughout all of the celebration. Friday was the traditional tree decorating day, and our tree is still bare. Frances and I did, however, decorate trees, living up to the tradition. She and I, along with her (and now my) friends Meredith and Tart, went out to some campsites and paths on Friday. We took new hats, scarves, gloves, socks, and the first 10 emergency blankets and hung them from branches. We hung tinsel and garlands, bananas and apples, and tags that read "Free, please take only what you need."

Where am I going with this? I'm so thankful for all of your contributions to help us have the privilege of doing this. Every last cent was put to good use. I have 24 more blankets on their way to my house as I type this, and we'll get to decorate trees all winter long!


Anonymous said...

This post has given me much food for thought. After taking in a young foster child removed from her home in an emergency situation and having her arrive at my home with her earthly goods (not much) in a green garbage bag, I had a Christmas talk with my family.
We decided to do something about this and so our gifts to each other will be in the form of duffle bags filled with essentials and non-essentials (a toy, colouring items etc.). When I've gathered the duffles from everyone involved, I plan to take them to the Ministry office so they can be used in future emergency situations. My sister and her family have joined in, too!

lisa solomon said...

yay! you rule!

Wolfie and the Sneak said...

barb, that's awesome! good for you and your family. changes can be made in such meaningful gestures. Your thought will make a huge difference in someone's life, by providing them with necessities and by giving them something that is theirs throughout transition.

lisa--it was great fun and you've helped tremendously! so many people have pitched in help with donations and support.

it's a great feeling to know there are other, like minded people in the world. both of you ladies are wonderful!