Today, Force launched a Kickstarter to fund a tour of The Monument Quilt. The 2014 tour will give cities and towns the opportunity to witness the quilt, engage in the project and transform their local response to rape.
The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. Created by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, the quilt creates public space for survivors to heal.
“By stitching our stories together, survivors are creating and demanding public space to heal.” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE Co-director. “The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but to work together to forever change how people in the US respond to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported rather than publicly shamed.”
At their first display in DC, visitors gather at the quilt to support survivors.
The tour will make 10 stops in cities, towns and communities across the Eastern half of the United States this August. Tour stops are determined by local interest and partner organizations. If you are interested in bringing the Monument Quilt to your town, contact FORCE at email@example.com.
“We are going to work with schools, churches, advocacy groups, crisis centers and community organizations in each city to plan their display,” says Brancato. “At each display attendees will be able to witness survivor’s stories, write their own reflections, enjoy cookies, listen to music and speeches, and join in community. The tour will strengthen and deepen the impact of the monument quilt by engaging communities on the ground.”
Last May, FORCE raised nearly $27,000 to kickstart the Monument Quilt. Since then, they have also leveraged more than $300,000 in in-kind donations. With these resources they have moved into a studio, held two public displays, launched a new website, and are continuing to collect and stitch together squares from across the country.
“After holding displays in Baltimore and DC, we realized more people in more places need to see and experience the quilt,” said Rebecca Nagle, one of the project organizers. “That’s why we are taking the quilt on the road across the US, and we’re looking to you to help make this tour happen.”
Witnesses to the Baltimore and DC display had much to say about being with the quilt:
“I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude that FORCE started this project, because it means that my experience matters,” said Melanie. “It means that what happened to me and others like me shouldn’t be kept hush-hush and shouldn’t be ignored because it’s part of a larger system of gender-based violence. Until now, no one has prioritized survivors of rape enough to create a public space for us to heal, be safe and for others to reflect on its place in our society.”
“If I had to sum up my experience of the quilt in one word, I would say the quilt was ‘safe,’” said one visitor to the DC display. “As a survivor, my biggest struggle in life has been to feel safe. It’s been a struggle to feel safe in intimate relationships, and it’s been a struggle to feel safe in the presence of co-workers, or just walking down the street— I have never, in my entire life, felt it was “safe” to publicly express my grief, pain, anger, or sorrow related to the trauma that I have survived. For the first time in my life, I walked into a public space where it was safe to be a Survivor. It’s a life-altering experience that all Survivors deserve.”
To support the Monument Quilt tour you can donate to the Kickstarter and share the link with friends and family. If you are interested in engaging your local community in the tour contact Force at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many other ways to get involved in the quilt project. Survivors and allies can make their own quilt square. People across the country are invited to host quilt-making workshops in their school, community center, place of worship, or town. You can also volunteer. All the different ways to engage, resources for survivors, information about upcoming events, and more can be found at themonumentquilt.org.