Revelstoke students sewing giant quilt for climate action

For a group of kids, the library at Columbia Park Elementary is relatively quiet as they try to loop thread through needles. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Piper Leonard threads her needle. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
During LUNA, the quilt will “flow” from the steps of city hall, mimicking a river. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
A.J. Berardncci said his patch is inspired by Thunberg. On his square, he’s printed “the answer is trees.” (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
For many students, it’s the first time they’ve used a needle and thread. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Jackie Pendergast, a local fabric artist, is another organizer on the quilt project. On top of teaching technique and helping kids bring their idea to cloth, she also assists in tying knots so their thread stays secure. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Victoria Stange is one of the founders of LUNA and one of the organizers behind the climate action quilt. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Between stacks of books elementary students sew vibrant patches of cloth. For a group of kids, the room is relatively quiet as they try to loop thread through needles.

The patches they sew are brightly painted with messages like reduce, reuse, recycle and we only have one earth. The crafting is for a giant climate action quilt to be displayed at the next LUNA Art Festival

“The quilt will be the youth’s call to action for the environment,” said Victoria Stange, one of the founders of LUNA and one of the organizers behind the climate action quilt.

“If a community is to thrive, it needs to involve kids,” said Strange.

It’s hoped each student from the four schools in Revelstoke will make a square, resulting in roughly 1,000 patches. Today, it’s the Grade Twos and Threes turn at Columbia Park Elementary.

“It’s exciting to give a voice to younger people,” Strange said.

She continued the quilt was inspired by the climate rallies on the steps of city hall last summer. In one, more than 400 students took part. The rallies were part of a global strike held by youths demanding world leaders to address climate change. The strikes were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

READ MORE: ‘We want change’: hundreds of Revelstoke students protest climate change

READ MORE: PHOTO GALLERY: Re-live the magic

Another inspiration was the AIDS Quilt. In 1986, gay rights activist Cleve Jones created a quilted panel in memory of a friend who had died from AIDS. Over the years, people have continued to add panels. Today, the quilt weights 54 tons and is the largest piece of community folk art in the world.

Piper Leonard threads her needle. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

“Art summarizes the times we’re in,” said Miriam Manly, another founder of LUNA and organizer of the quilt project.

“This quilt will be a message from every youth in Revelstoke to the world.”

As an art form, Manly said quilting is an accessible craft.

“Historically, it was something people would make from home. It’s from the heart.”

In the school library, the image on each student’s patch varies. Some have plastic bags with crosses over them and others have flowers. Karter Beare’s square has a planet on fire.

“Some places in the world are burning,” he said.

Another, A.J. Berardncci said his patch is inspired by Thunberg. On his square, he’s printed “the answer is trees.”

According to study by the Nature Conservancy, trees reduce up to 24 per cent of particulate matters in the air. Particulate matter are microscopic particles that become trapped in the lungs of people breathing polluted air. It’s estimated the particles kill 6.2 million people annually.

“Trees take in pollution,” said Berardncci.

Karter Beare’s square has a planet on fire. “Some places in the world are burning,” he said. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Jackie Pendergast, a local fabric artist, is another organizer on the quilt project. On top of teaching technique and helping kids bring their idea to cloth, she also assists in tying knots so their thread stays secure.

“Could you put a bigger knot on? It keeps coming out,” asks Piper Leonard, another student. It’s the first time she’s used a needle and thread.

“It’s a bit hard,” she said. The kid beside her pipes up that he can use a sewing machine.

Part of the funding for the project is a $10,000 grant from Artstart, a charity that expands the role of art in education.

All the squares will be sewn together by Pendergast, volunteers and the Revelstoke Quilters’ Guild.

The art piece will be displayed this summer at the art galley, where members of the public can also add a patch. During LUNA, the quilt will “flow” from the steps of city hall, mimicking a river. Pendergast said there will even be “rock-like-things” for the quilt to flow around and perhaps a sound component.

“Lets see how far down Mackenzie Ave we can go,” she said.

After LUNA, each school will get a section of the climate quilt.

“For a lasting legacy,” said Pendergast.

It’s expected more than 7,000 people will attend the festival in September.


 

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liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

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