I talked to the organizer, Stacey Gross, about her event that she co-coordited with Hilary Pope. Check out what she had to say about the event which happened June 17th at Sipyard

Smile Politely: What was the purpose of the crane project?

Stacey Gross: 1,000 Cranes for Peace Paste-Up is our response to the tragic events that affected us and our community over the weekend- the shooting at Pulse in Orlando and Matt Farrell's untimely death at the hand of a gun. We both felt a sense of helplessness, frustration, and sadness that weighed on us. I went to the vigil for Orlando on Tuesday night feeling really down and left just a bit better, because of the presence of friends and community, but I still had to keep convincing myself that peace would prevail.


SP: How did you come up with the idea?

Gross: After some thought, I shared my idea with Hilary to go to Sipyard and paste-up some paper cranes, as a way to bring that notion of positivity to a wider audience and to process our emotions alongside the memorial mural of Matt. She's the one who had the idea to expand it to a group activity; she said, "That's great, but hear me out... what if we make one thousand cranes instead of a few? We can invite our friends to help out and make it a wish for peace!" So, we just spread the word the afternoon before via Facebook and began researching wheat paste recipes and creating the printed cranes.

SP: What was your inspiration?

Gross: For me, I have a strong connection with the story of A-bomb victim, Sadako Sasaki who folded attempted to fold one thousand paper cranes which, according to belief in Japan, would grant her wish to recover from radiation-related leukemia.  She became a symbol for the peace movement in Japan and abroad through the children's book, "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes". In 2013, I participated in a study tour through the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, with a focus on peace education. Eleven educators from across the U.S. visited historic locations and met with cultural leaders who teach peace, including Sadako's brother who is an advocate for peace. Following tradition, our group folded one thousand cranes to offer our wish for peace at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. I also designed the NCTA study tour t-shirts, with an image of a paper crane set above the kanji for "peace"- this crane was the image we printed out for the paste-up event.

SP: How was the turnout?

Gross: The event surpassed our expectations, with far more folks coming out to participate than we'd hoped. It was a really diverse group, some who were responding on a local level and some responding to national events. We were both particularly struck by the people we didn't know, who just happened to be at Sipyard, that wanted to join in. To look around and see friends, friends of friends, and loved ones working together for a common goal- for a wish for peace- was truly inspiring and restorative. Folks seems to have a good time, cutting and getting sticky from the wheat paste. Some sat meditatively as they cut the cranes, others laughed with friends.

The response from those at Sipyard was very positive,even those who couldn't make it out sent really nice notes on Facebook. A friend of ours even dropped off cupcakes she'd made for the group, complete with little picks depicting a crane and the word, "peace" on them!

SP: Any closing words?

Gross: We are grateful to have such amazing friends and family, and to live in a community that shares in the spirit of peace and to have a place like Sipyard where something like this can come to fruition at a moment's notice. Art is powerful. Peace will prevail.