Back in 2001 shortly after 9-11 The Thread Project’s founder, Terry Helwig had the vision to collect and weave together threads for panels representing the seven continents of the world. Her vision was quickly turned into reality when a weaver friend offered to weave one of the first panels and help her to get the word out to find other weavers. I was introduced to Terry through a friend and fellow Thread Project weaver. Shortly after, I met Terry at a Peace Conference in Atlanta, GA, where I was inspired and saw more fully the impact of the project. We heard stories and made them personal connections as we demonstrated and invited attendees to contribute threads and weave sections of one panel for the project. I am grateful I was invited in 2002 to be one of the first of over forty weavers from fourteen countries to contribute to this inspiring global peace-keeping project. I wove one of seven purple warp panels that became the first cloth, “Hope Materializing” (each woven by a different weaver). I was also a “thread ambassador” and coordinated with a local social studies teacher to collect threads from his students. The project was used as a teaching aide for Dave’s class. I then wove these students’ threads along with other threads collected from contributors around the world.
The weft threads came from across the globe. Each thread was a unique and personal contribution which was often sent with personal notes explaining the history of the person’s contribution. There were stories of weddings, lost loved ones, special garments, family tartans, stories that made me laugh, cry and connect with fellow human beings. These ‘yarns’ consisted of just about every imaginable material such as pieces of deadlock, fabric, ribbon, yarn, zippers, rubber tire, lace, and more. As you might imagine, a cloth with a range of materials begins to create a sense of diversity which was one of the beautiful messages of the project.
Each cloth was a different color, with a different title, representing a different message —together all seven signifying the overall message that there can be unity in diversity.
“This fabric of humanity, woven from the bits and pieces of people’s lives, offers a rich and textured experience. The cloths, imbued with a resonance analogous to the great tapestry of life, identify the common thread running through humanity: All people love, hope, dream and hurt.
Some people say our world is hanging by a thread. I say—a thread is all we need.” -Terry Helwig, Founder
I am sharing this now because this year marks the ten-year anniversary of 9-11 and I hope that this project will continue to be a symbol of how such global communities can unite in diversity to encourage tolerance and compassionate communities. Please share stories or follow us on the Facebook page, set up to archive and connect with the many weavers, thread ambassadors, contributors, and supporters of this powerful project. Please share this project with others and help us to keep the threads connected.
In 2014 Terry’s wish to find a permanent home for the project with an organization that promotes peace was granted. “The Thread Project tapestries were gifted to the World Headquarters of the Community of Christ (WHCC) in Independence, MO. The tapestries have been displayed at WHCC since 2008. Thousands of people viewed the tapestries while touring WHCC’s grounds and Temple of Peace. Persons of all faiths are welcome to the Temple which was dedicated in 1994 to the “pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit.”