New Group...We do everything but quilt!
Last week I started a New Quilt Group at Mamie George Community Center in Fort Bend County. I was eager to gather a different group of seniors around the quilt to share theme related stories, music, ideas and art. The center offers numerous classes for Seniors and I was excited to be a part of this bright, welcoming atmosphere. But if I call it "The Quilt Group" how do I really expect folks to understand we don't make quilts?
What's all this stuff?
I introduced myself casually as individuals wandered in and looked at the books, photos and props scattered on the table. This would be fun! I'm so used to dealing with the mental and physical limitations of my Alzheimer's group, this would be a treat. But nearly every person who entered the room asked the same question. "Will we be making a quilt!" And each time I answered, I saw disappointment. "Today, we'll start with a theme of Quilts!" I said and as I rattled on with enthusiasm, I saw their expressions change...to confusion. "Each week we'll have a new theme! I'll bring all sorts of things, instruments, art materials, props, books! We'll share stories about that theme. We can pick ideas that you all are interested in!" "Hmm?" faces seemed to reconsider, "But, do you think we could do some quilting?"
A Language Barrier
So we talked about quilting in history and why the craft was popular in different times. I encouraged them to think about what other things quilters did together. Sing, tell stories, share... And then I began to tell the story of how this Magic Quilt began...with children. But it became clear that my babble was not being absorbed. As it turns out, there are a number of folks who speak no English. But there are also a few, very kind and helpful friends who offered to interpret for them!
Ahh. This will be a learning experince for me, I thought. I love to tell stories, but I may have to find better ways to share stories.
Okay...then we'll make a quilt!
Towards the end of our 90 minutes, I pulled out a poster board and pre-cut squares of interesting paper. "Okay, we can sort of make a quilt," I laughed. I handed over a glue stick and stood back to watch them go at the simple, quick project. There was a lot of leaning and reaching and discussion about which colors look good near each other. There were changing expressions. A frown and a head shake. Raised eyebrows of satisfaction. And then we were done.
What I learned...
Even a tiny cooperative project is satisfying! Groups who gather for months to work on one quilt, may enjoy a bigger reward at the end, but both groups enjoy the fun of working together...talking, laughing, discussing, deciding...
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.