In my other life beyond the spinning wheel and knitting needles, I teach at Ryerson University on the topic of Homelessness. Being the middle of winter, the issue of cold, hypothermia and the recent deaths of four people experiencing homelessness on the streets of Toronto comes up a lot in class. Not surprisingly, so does the need for warm clothes.
Yesterday evening a student asked me if participating in The Lennie Project would be a good activity for a final project. I was intrigued, especially since I encourage submissions that combine material work and community participation grounded in theory and research.
Here’s what I discovered about The Lennie Project.
Started by Nathalie-Roze Fisher, an independent eco-designer and upcycler in Leslieville, the project is collecting sweaters to be refashioned into hats and cowls and distributed to shelters around the city. There has been a SEWcial where craftivists came together to help Natalie-Roze make the hats and cowls and there are multiple locations around the city collecting materials.
It looks like the project has been a raging success as there is another SEWcial scheduled for Thursday, February 12th and I am encouraging my student(s) to participate.
I bet there are a few readers starting to roll their eyes at this point. Perhaps you’re feeling a case of the cynicals coming on? Are you sarcastically asking “But Sarah Jean, will upcycled hats really solve the growing problem of homelessness in Toronto?”
My answer: Absolutely Not.
The Lennie Project will not stop or prevent homelessness. It will not get the affordable housing that is desperately needed in this city built or available. Perhaps it help prevent some frostbite and hypothermia. Hopefully.
But I think there are two significant opportunities being created by The Lennie Project.
1. This is an avenue to action. The Lennie Project is a way for folks to get involved in advocating for those experiencing homelessness. It is an opportunity to act. As we have learned at Peace Flag House, sometimes all you need to do is provide the opportunity and people will dive in. Humyns want to help out other humyns.
2. This is an avenue for education. The Lennie Project is a way to spread information about the crisis of homelessness and severe shortage of affordable housing across Canada. As an educator around homelessness I am ready to leap on any opportunity to talk about why people face homelessness in our wealthy country and challenge the misinformation and stereotypes that hamper many efforts to end homelessness.
Set that cynicism aside and celebrate two great opportunities being created by The Lennie Project and a great opportunity for all the rest of us to get our community craftivism on.
Want to get involved?
The Lennie Project on Twitter @TheLennyProject for details.
SEWcial Thursday, February 12th @sewbeitstudio, 7-9pm
Sweater Drop Off Locations:
Uptown: Sew Be It Studio
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