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Project Spreads A Warm Message In Hartford

One Man's Idea To Decorate A Place With Quilts Ends Up Covering The Community

Helen Ubiņas

December 27, 2009

About two years ago, Dr. Sedrick Rawlins looked around Hartford's Community Health Services on Garden Street and thought the place could use a bit more art.

He wasn't sure what kind at first. But the honorary board member finally settled on quilts. They sent, Rawlins said recently, the kind of message he thought perfect for the health center and the North End neighborhood in which it's located: patience, love and warmth.

Wouldn't it be great, the self-proclaimed dreamer said, if quilts hung across the state as a representation of the patchwork of community?

He floated the idea at various events and cocktail parties and people responded so enthusiastically that the project took on a life of its own.

Soon it had a name Community Threads. A coordinator, Sharon Steinle, a Hartford-based event planner. More than a little star power, with the support of renowned quilt artist Ed Johnettea Miller. And a timely hook, with Hartford Stage's upcoming production of "Gee's Bend," a play by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder about a group of Alabama women whose stunning quilts are created while singing evocative gospel music.

The citywide arts project involves local quilting circles and exhibits of quilts made by artists from Hartford to Baltimore. The quilts will be displayed at numerous cultural and civic locations from Hartford's city hall to Farmington's Hill-Stead Museum.

Rawlins is thrilled with the progress. But he's not done dreaming yet. He'd like to see towns and cities all over the state take on the project. But for now, it looks as though his Community Threads dream is taking hold.

Organizers say about 80 quilts should be up at various community organizations in and around Hartford by the end of the month. A kickoff ceremony is planned for Jan. 7.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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