To the casual pedestrian walking by, the stately facade of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures seemed silent and dignified during the rainy afternoon of Jan. 16, despite the colorful hustle and bustle going on inside. Among the exhibits of treasured historical artifacts, children laughed and chattered as they held fistfuls of bright streamers ready to fold into stars.
The star-weaving event was one of many service projects organized around Bloomington for citizens to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, although this one has a more international focus. The “One Million Stars to End Violence” project is sponsored by the Lotus Education & Arts Foundation, but it is inspired by King himself. Colorful ribbons are woven into stars, which symbolize light and solidarity against violence, and the finished stars will be displayed in Australia as part of a monument for peace.
The initiative is more than just an art project to get kids out of the house, however. Parents flocked to this event in order to teach their children about giving back to the community and appreciating the message for which King stood.
“It reminds us of how important it is to stay involved in your community and to stay abreast of certain social issues,” Cara Bergschneider, mother and member of local home-school collective, said. “He [King] was an amazing person and example of how to interact in our communities, even when it’s not convenient or easy.”
According to the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network’s website, Lotus has partnered with several other cities for this project, and each has promised to contribute 10,000 stars to make up the million needed for the monument.
Keegan Deemer, a young citizen volunteer, helped the younger children weave the stars and understand why they were doing so.
“I think what he [King] did was inspiring,” Deemer said. “It’s important to help the community and get out there.”
The “One Million Stars” project has been a year-long initiative that had its kickoff last year on the same day, according to museum staff volunteer Allyson Gergely, and over 100 organizations across the globe have participated.
“It’s important for parents to show their kids how to give back and how you don’t have to necessarily do the stereotypical things that you think about when volunteering,” Gergely said. “This is something really different, and I think it helps people look at community service a little bit differently.”
For more information on the “One Million Stars to End Violence” project, visit http://www.lotusfest.org/stars-launch/.