It’s quite amazing how adaptable and innovative we humans are when faced with new problems. Innovation and the spirit of generosity is exploding all over the world. Creative minds and generous hearts surround us here in the valley and it’s no surprise we are rising to the call of art.
I suppose generosity and art are what sets up apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. I mention art because we are the only species in the modern world to create art, at least visual art (there is talk in the scientific world about animal songs). In the acts of creation and giving, we find purpose.
Finding purpose in a time of uncertainty is perhaps the best survival skill we need. Social and physical isolation, economic insecurity and concern for those at risk can lead to anxiety or even despair. Art helps. Giving helps.
Notwithstanding the frontline health care workers and other critical infrastructure workers making sure the lights stay on or the store shelves are stocked, many people are creating purpose in artistic endeavors through repurposing. People have begun repurposing — or at least shifting — their lives by honing in on projects or goals they’ve put off for too long, taking time to be present with family more intimately, and they’ve literally found ways to repurpose old items and create beauty and utility.
Each year, Sun Mountain Lodge discards its used bed linens and donates them to the Methow Valley Senior Center. Instead, this year, Methow Arts acquired the sheets for a project it intended to do at the schools. With school closures, the sheet project was a no-go. This is where the small-town story really gets small and the repurposing has a purpose.
Heather Rivard from the Quilting Hive was notified that Aero Methow Rescue Service was asking for 24 homemade medical gowns as additional personal protection equipment (PPE) for first responders. She knew the Sun Mountain donated its sheets each year and tried to locate them, but the Senior Center was closed.
She quickly heard the sheets had been gifted to Methow Arts, where she picked them up and took them to her shop. She and a small army of sewers deep into mask production are now also producing gowns as PPE. The sheets along with donated fabric from quilters far and wide is available for free on the front steps of the Quilting Hive in Twisp. It can be used for masks or gowns. If you’d like the pattern for the gown, you can email Heather at email@example.com.
While busy fingers have guided miles of fabric through feet, others have headed to the garden. Anticipating the demand for gardening supplies, Anaka Mines, who owns and operates Twisp River Seeds, a wholesale vegetable and flower seed company, wanted to find a way to give during this unique time. Together with her wife Laura Gunnip from Fireweed Print Shop (formerly Door No. 3), they had a two-day seed giveaway on the porch of the print shop at TwispWorks.
Laura’s son, Carson Gunnip-Hunter, designed a logo and the family printed packets, packed and labeled seed, and advertised the seed give away via email and social media. The first day, the cart emptied. They re-stocked what seed they had left the second day and it emptied again. By Wednesday, when the stay-at-home order was issued by Gov. Inslee, they decided not to restock or come to town unless it was essential. Still, thousands of seeds will now be growing thanks to their spirit of giving.
Finally, there’s a free gift of joyful sound making its way into the airways from Seattle. Just like the virus, only nicer, it has spread east over the mountains. At 8 p.m. each night, sounds of joy in the form of song, instruments or celebratory pots and pans should be heard filling the night air in Twisp. The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture called upon their citizens to make noise each night, record it, and send it to health care workers a statement of support and encouragement. I am happy to report the songs of support are traveling faster than the virus. Still, the chorus could use more voices. So, at 8 p.m., join in. Make a point to make some noise.