Our guest blogger today is Jenny Gordy from Wiksten Made.
My husband and I have moved across country due to his job more times than I care to recount. Moving often can make it hard to connect to places, but some towns have such a lovely sense of community that reels you right in. The last place in which I left my heart was Brooklyn, and I never thought I’d find a place I felt so at home in ever again. Fast forward a year, and I am living and established in Iowa.
A year ago I only knew two people in Iowa, but now I feel like I’m part of a community. I’ve come to learn that community is not something that just happens — it’s something that is built out of courage, hard work, enthusiasm, and creativity.
Rarely have I felt such a sense of community as I did recently at the Tree Huggers event in downtown Iowa City, when the residents of my town came together to create a public art installation. Over 200 volunteers knitted colorful “tree huggers” to cover 135 downtown trees, bringing cheer to an otherwise drab season. The downtown businesses donated the yarn, and Home Ec. Workshop — my favorite yarn shop — helped to organize the event and offered free knitting lessons to the non-knitters eager to participate.
Volunteers had one month to design and knit their tree huggers. Although they were all given the same yarn and color palette for an overall cohesive effect, the creativity and individuality of each design was quite evident.
On the day of the installation, everyone was giddy with excitement. Materials were distributed, and families, friends and strangers joined together to sew their work around assigned trees. People pitched in and helped each other. I felt honored to be included as passersby stopped to admire, chatting and asking questions. We were not only creating a thing of beauty, but also celebrating our town, each other, nature, and our favorite craft. I marveled at the strength and ingenuity of the creators of this project as I felt a part of something for the first time in quite a while. It was pure joy.