We just had our first meeting in 2012 where we sat down and asked ourselves, “What should 2012 look like for us?” I know most of us (and you) make new year’s resolutions, and by mid-January they can already seem like fargone goals that you’ve managed to talk yourself out of. Instead of making an immediate to-do list and have those things fall to the wayside, the point of this meeting was to develop a bigger picture, and allow that to influence our short-term planning. That way, we’re staying focused (or at least hoping it’ll be easier to stay focused), and allowing our goals influence decisions we make about future endeavors, rather than the other way around.
One thing we discussed is getting more involved in outreach programs, visiting populations that could really benefit from learning how to make things, let alone making things from reused materials. A story that stuck out in my mind, from an article I read just before the holidays, was a woman in Maryland who is teaching prisoners how to knit. (I know, I know: violent offenders with knitting needles?! What?! But it’s not really so uncommon. When visiting Alcatraz, I strolled by a cell with yarn and needles on the small desk, and, sure enough, inmates knitted on Alcatraz!)
So I’m just going to strongly encourage you to read the full article here, because it will make your day so much better. Seriously, I got teary eyed reading it. It tells the story of Lynn Zwerling, who started a knitting group in her retirement and, like us, realized the benefits of crafting and creating need to be shown to those who don’t have access to them. It took her five years of steadfast determination until the Pre-Release Unit in Jessup, Maryland gave her access to teach the class, and, after two years, she has taught over 100 prisoners to knit, with more on a waiting list! I swear, if Oprah were still around, she’d be all over this.
If that didn’t make you all warm and fuzzy–the image of a woman in her sixties doggedly pursing wardens just so she can teach criminals to knit–just wait till you read it from the prisoners’ perspective. Inmates mention how at first they were reluctant to learn knitting, of all things, but really got into it once they realized how focused and zen-like it made them. Also, in these knitting sessions, they were being treated like normal human beings, not being shouted at all the time about where to go and when to go. And the best part? They knitted dolls for children displaced by domestic situations and hats for kids in inner-city schools that many of the inmates attended themselves. It’s like a full circle of people just trying to be better people, all through knitting.
We can only dream of implementing programs this stellar and successful, but we’re going to try. If you know of a group of people that could benefit and prosper from learning a craft, let us know. We’re here to help!