By Melissa Segrest
Green Right Now
The little things, we know, can make a difference. Take for example a little square of fabric clipped from something old – a T-shirt, a pillowcase, any old thing that has seen better days.
Take that patch, and let a child decorate it with a personal message about saving the Earth and stopping climate change. Get about 7,000 children around the world – the U.S., Australia, South Africa, China, the Philippines and more — to make a patch
Stitch them all together (if that's even possible) and the result is a massive message from children everywhere that the Earth's future is in your – and their — hands.
The result is the Climate Change Quilt, and part of it is in Copenhagen today, waiting to be presented to dignitaries from around the world who are gathered at an international conference trying to find global solutions to the looming threat of climate change.
Sharon Lowe of Australia — with lots of help from Lisa Kemmerer in the U.S. – came up with the idea for a Climate Change Quilt project. The two knew one another through their work on the Habitat Heroes Web site, a "social networking" site to entertain and educate kids around the world about environmental and social issues.
Actually, Lowe's daughter Jade – 6 years old at the time — had the idea for Habitat Heroes.
“When I asked my daughter what she thought we should do, she said ‘What about a blanket that we can wrap around the world to protect it?’ So that is how Habitat Heroes came up with the Climate Quilt Campaign,” said Lowe.
“Then we asked the Green Schools Alliance if they would like to join forces and get the word out.”
And so emerged the idea of piecing together a gigantic quilt with fabric messages from kids around the globe.
The project started in Australia and in the U.S. in August, tied to Global Climate Week. First a school in Australia gathered together kids' patches, then a Brooklyn school joined in and the quilt started gathering string.
Information about the project is on the Climate Change Quilt site. Now, with contributions still pouring in from everywhere, there are probably about 7,000 patches in hand, Kemmerer said on Tuesday.
Lowe recited some of the heartfelt messages from the kids' patches.
"I pledge to throw away all my rubbish. I pledge to not pollute lakes, rivers or streams. I pledge to take care of the animals and the environment.
"The amazing thing is the artwork. You really see the kids' creativity and that makes it more fun," she said.
One of her favorites: "I pledge not to hide the recycling under the couch."
The goal of the quilt project, beyond the literal messages on every patch, is to give children a voice on the topic, and to increase awareness of the environmental threats to the world. The quilt gives kids a way to lend a hand.
The Climate Change Quilt is not finished. The plan is to put the patches together for a big-time rollout for Earth Day in late April (the location is not yet determined). The deadline for all patches to be submitted is Feb. 22, 2010, Lowe said.
Right now, volunteers are making quilts, each one with 200 patches, Lowe said
Let's do the math: If each quilt is 100 square feet, and there are 7,000 patches, pieced together the big message of change from the world's kids would be 3,500 square feet – more than half a mile wide.
It's not finished yet, though. If your child or your school is interested in getting involved, directions on making patches are on the quilt Web site. Opportunities to volunteer in putting the pieces together are available, also.
It's unclear whether a quilt that size can even be made. Whatever the result, the gigantic fabric shout-out of concern about the Earth is a pretty loud message from a whole lot of kids.
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