Yesterday morning I dressed a 10′ x 10′ space with rolls of burlap and displayed hand rolled BeadforLife recycled paper jewelry in preparation for a juried art festival called Art in the Park. This fundraising event, boasting over 350 unique artisans, is hosted in the quaint town of Boulder City, about a 20 minute drive outside of the town of Las Vegas. It is the 54th annual and serves as the town’s largest fundraiser for the local hospital, opened in the fall of 1931 during construction of the Hoover Dam. Over the course of 32 years the hospital changed hands of ownership, and endured several closings and re-openings. In 1963, a group of local women had an idea to raise funds to keep the town hospital running. What started as a 50 artist fundraiser held in the downtown park area of Boulder City has grown into one of the largest art festivals in the southwest, bringing over 100,000 people to a town whose population is estimated at 15,000.
This will be the 3rd year I have attended as an exhibitor and volunteer for BeadforLife. As I sit here sipping a coffee in the dark, early hours of the morning, I think about the many Ugandans that travel before sunrise for many hours by foot into Kampala hoping for a day of work. I think about the story of hope and opportunity that is rolled into each and every bead hanging in my little space that I will proudly and passionately share with as many people as I can today and tomorrow. I also think about the reality behind the jewelry I sell. The faces and the families of the women I’ve met, their journeys, hardships, and triumphs rolled into each paper bead. This is the significance of the BeadforLife journey. Sharing in that story. Overcoming the odds of generational poverty by simply receiving an opportunity to change, to interrupt the pattern.
There is a beautiful connection to the start of Art in the Park, and to BeadforLife. Both began with a small group of women who saw a need, and decided to do something to change the landscape of the reality they witnessed. In 2004, three women made a journey through a slum in Kampala, Uganda and returned home with an intention to change and impact one person’s reality. Millie, the woman in the slum whom they encountered that fateful day, hoped for an opportunity to sell her handmade jewelry in order to provide basic needs for herself and for her family. I hope to share this story with the folks attending this weekend so they may inspire hope in those with whom they share the jewelry. Each time BeadforLife jewelry is created, worn, and gifted, the circle of hope expands exponentially. I am honored to be part of this circle of hope.
If you live in the area, please come and say hello! I’ll be at my home, space #310 all day today and tomorrow sharing the story of hope. If we lived in Uganda, you would be greeted in the most hospitable way, “You are most welcome into my home. Please, come inside and let us talk.” When you step foot inside this 10 x 10 foot space, imagine you are entering the home of a typical Ugandan family. Allow the experience to create a small pattern interrupt in your own life. Perspective is a beautiful thing.
Stand in Love,