The Bloomington-based Lotus Education & Arts Foundation began its year-long initiative to end violence Monday. As part of the One Million Stars to End Violence movement, Lotus is setting a goal of weaving 10,000 eight-point stars with various materials throughout the year.
There were not enough chairs to seat all of the volunteers at the event Monday. Participants crafted stars seated on the floor in an empty exhibit hall at Mather’s Museum of World Cultures.
“As a previous AmeriCorps volunteer, I think it’s important to volunteer on Martin Luther King Day — a day of service,” volunteer Megan Beddow said.
Lotus has decided to work with Maryann Talia Pau, the founder of the One Million Stars movement, in a larger international goal of weaving one million stars.
“The One Million Stars to End Violence project was a response out of a violent act in Australia,” Lotus Outreach Director Loraine Martin said.
“This act actually happened around the corner of Maryann Talia Pau, the founding artist behind the project, and in the sea of flowers (for the memorial) she saw a really beautiful quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and that was her inspiration.”
Martin said Pau is of Samoan heritage and weaving is a strong cultural tradition for her. Martin said Pau was taught how to weave an eight-pointed star by her mother.
Martin said the stars represent our own personal journeys due to their navigational importance to Samoan culture.
Volunteer Austin Spier, 10, said he came to help make the one million stars and help Martin Luther King, Jr. in his dream.
Spier said his family took the day to perform acts of community service. They went through Bloomington and dropped coins on the ground to make someone’s day, he said.
Weave leaders, who knew how to construct the stars, were present to guide the volunteers. One of these weave leaders was Patty Callison.
“I’ve been volunteering with Lotus for about 12 years,” she said. “It’s a nice way to volunteer. It’s a good way to meet people of all ages.”
The world-wide project’s goal of 1 million stars will be displayed in a currently undisclosed location in 2018. The 10,000 Bloomington-made stars will be presented at the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival and in Bloomington City Hall in December.
“It was just a natural connection to start this off on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s birthday and to be part of this really city-wide, but nationally recognized event where we’re really thinking about serving others,” Martin said.
“It’s been really exciting to see some new people get connected to our work and our organization, and we look forward to cultivating those relationships with the community.”
Martin said those interested in volunteering for the project can call the Lotus office or visit the website for details on how they may still contribute. She said weaving the stars requires some dexterity, but one does not need to be an artist to weave.
“I’ve seen it come true time and time again — people are surprised at what they come up with or how their contributions really do make a difference,” Martin said.
“They’re helping people learn about our world, learn about each other and with this specific project, just committing to nonviolence.”
Martin said she is very hopeful to meet the goal of 10,000 stars, and they aim to do this by working with former partners and making new connections by doing “weave jams” throughout the community.
“It’s not really about the numbers, but it’s aspiring to this high vision and this high hope that we can make the world a better place, that we can continue to help each other and not be divisive, come together in times of crisis and work together for a better world,” Martin said.