Tapestry for Peace goes global

By C. Ruthy Wexler

The Denver Branch wants to share an amazing outreach project. It’s about a dream that never died … and people who took turns holding up that dream. The dream was about world peace. Soon, ideas for Peace Projects from all over the world will be flooding in and we will be choosing the most creative, most…

Well, maybe we should start at the beginning.

Go back 39 years. A woman named Eve Mackintosh wanted to start a school for gifted and creative children. In 1977, she founded Mackintosh Academy, in Littleton, Colorado. Today, Mackintosh is a thriving IB (International Baccalaureate) school.

Fast forward 20 years. Eve is driving on a highway when suddenly she sees: an enormous angel holding two planet earths. “There’s a place in space for peace,” Eve’s inner voice whispers.

In the years ahead, that sentence remains in her head. She recalls seeing tapestries with bloody battle scenes. Eve wonders: Why not a Tapestry for Peace? And a dream begins.

tapestry-1

In 2005, Eve presented her vision so vividly to the Denver Branch that members dedicated themselves to this project. They asked other branches for panels… and one by one, panels appeared, each speaking of peace in their own unique way. Colors glowed. Embroidery enriched. Images inspired.

Joyce Fairchild presenting the Tapestry for Peace.

Joyce Fairchild presenting the Tapestry for Peace.

A few days before Eve died, late in 2005, she asked Joice Fairchild, then President of the Denver Branch, to make sure her dream happened. Soon, the Denver Branch was sewing together 66 panels. The Tapestry for Peace was displayed in the Rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol building. It was exhibited at the NLAPW Biennial in Denver. Everyone agreed it was amazing.

A panel in the Tapestry for Peace.

A panel in the Tapestry for Peace.

But no one knew what to do with it.

First, where to store it? A friend of a friend generously offered her home.

Joice’s energy had carried the project. Now she was moving to Florida! So Marie Kriss stepped in … and began a three-year odyssey of writing to museums and institutions across the country. Initially interested, each ultimately decided that the tapestry was too large, or they couldn’t permanently display it. Mary Wooling, an NLAPW member in Indianapolis, joined the effort, tirelessly contacting other institutions. Kriss never gave up. In 2014, she wrote, for this same magazine, an article, “Tapestry for Peace Needs Permanent Home,” hoping that a Pen Woman somewhere would know of an option. The Tapestry sitting in storage forever was antithetical to its very creation.

And then, Kriss contacted the Mackintosh Academy (remember, the International Baccalaureate school Even started?). By then, we had decided to divide up the Tapestry, understanding that there should be many places in space for peace. Diane Dunne, Mackintosh’s Head, said they would take one section. Kriss and Diane felt a spark in their conversation. The dream was coming full circle.

In the fall of 2015, Kriss, along with Ruthy Wexler, President of the Denver Branch and Kelly Ann Compton, Secretary and Treasurer met with Diane, along with Eve’s son, Andrew Mackintosh. We sat and talked …. about Eve, about Mackintosh, which is part of an international network of IB schools.  One of us asked, “What exactly is an IB school?”

Diane explained the International Baccalaureate high standards and wide visions. How, in the IB mission, they mention “stitching together” a peaceful society.

Joyce Fairchild talking with conference attendees.

Joyce Fairchild talking with conference attendees.

Suddenly, Diane’s face lit up. “You know, there’s an IB World Conference coming to Denver in July. Maybe other IB schools would be interested”

A month later, we met with Jan Lotter, in charge of the International Baccalaureate World Conference. Enthusiastically, we planned: there would be a contest! IB students would win a section of the Tapestry for their school, based on a Peace Project they designed. Everything fell into place.

On July 18, 2016, Joice Farichild (up from Florida to attend!), Ruthy Wexler and Marie Kriss sat in the front row of a Denver University auditorium, while eager young faces filled the seats. A Peace Tapestry section with six panels hung on the stage. Joice was introduced. She told the story of the Tapestry. The dream that she’d carried for so many years lit her face and voice. Students asked such heartfelt questions — “How do you know you’re making a difference in the world?” “What if no one listens?” — and Joice answered them so passionately, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop.

It was at that moment that we knew: the dream was happening.

It had been held up by so many.

Our next job is making sure the word gets out to all the IB schools about our contest. Is there an IB school in your town? If so, will you help carry the dream and make sure to tell them about our contest?

Jump into Eve’s dream with us. The Peace Projects these students design just might … change the world.

Left to right: Marie Kriss; Jessica French, Joice Fairchild’s grand- daughter; Ruthy Wexler; Diane Dunne; and Joice Fairchild meeting before the International Baccalaureate World Conference at Denver University.

Left to right: Marie Kriss; Jessica French, Joice Fairchild’s grand- daughter; Ruthy Wexler; Diane Dunne; and Joice Fairchild meeting before the International Baccalaureate World Conference at Denver University.