September 27, 2018

The Social Justice Sewing Academy


I must admit that the quilt repair process can get kind of boring when it gets down to the actual sewing.  Once I figure out what needs to be done and how to do it, it can be pretty repetitive.  One resource I fall back on a lot is listening to podcasts.  And one interview that really sparked my interest was with Sara Trail, founder of the Social Justice Sewing Academy, on the Just Wanna Quilt podcast.

Sara is a most amazing young woman, and her project has drawn me in totally, fulfilling my wish to find ways to do Good in the world while using the skills I have and love to do.  (In other words, I am totally not the person who likes to make political calls or knock on doors.)

Here is the short bio that's on the podcast page:
"Sara Trail is the Executive Director of Social Justice Sewing Academy.  She wrote her first book at 13, "Sew with Sara," and her own DVDs at 15.  She designed two fabric collections.  She attended UC Berkeley, where she made a quilt in memory of Trayvon Martin.  She says that it was this moment that social justice and sewing came together.  She went to Harvard for graduate school in education."

The SJSA works with teens and young adults in schools, prisons, and community centers, teaching fiber art skills as personal and social expression.  Students glue their design pieces down.  Then people like me receive a block and embroider the edges and otherwise decorate the block, creating a virtual community of artists from many backgrounds and of all ages.  Then other volunteers piece the tops, and longarm quilt.  Then the quilts travel and are exhibited, and the students who normally would not have access to gallery exhibitions can know that their voices are being heard in the wider world.

I've done two blocks so far, and am so fond of these two budding artists whose work I have embellished, even though we've never met!

Here's the first block I did.  First, as I received it, and then the finished effect.


And here's my second block.  It came with a note from the maker explaining that the topic is the great sacrifice that many parents make so that their children can get a higher education. 

Mind you, Sara pulled all this process together in under a year!  She is a "phenom" for sure, as you will hear if you listen to this ball of energy and excitement in her interview. 

You can listen to the whole podcast here.

You can join/support the project in all sorts of ways.  Visit the website to see previous projects.  There, you can sign up to be an embroiderer.  You can sign up to host a workshop in your area.  You can find the address and mail in fabric and equipment donations.  And there is a Go Fund Me also. 

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