Signature Quilt Project and Community Booths Will Spotlight Local Values, Visions

“I support our local businesses.”... “Let’s keep seeking ways to show compassion—locally & globally.” ...”We value our Sisters schools”...

East of the Cascades Quilters (EOCQ) member Janet Storton guides fabric through her vintage Singer Featherweight to prepare a blank square for the Sisters Country signature quilt. “My love for quilting and this community drew me to the project,” Storton says. Several EOCQ members have generously volunteered their time to help C4C bring the quilt to life. All area residents are invited to join that effort by writing sentiments on quilt squares during Values & Visioning Days booths, set for March 9, 10, 16 and 17.

On March 9, Sisters Country will begin bringing to life an interactive piece of public art that will showcase the hopes of local residents—in their own words.

The Community Values & Visioning signature quilt project invites residents to ink short- to medium- length values statements onto pre-made fabric squares. This spring, those squares will be assembled into a finished quilt, which will be unveiled during the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS).

Residents can sign the squares during a series of upcoming Values & Visioning booths to be presented by Citizens4Community in concert with the Sisters Country Visioning effort. Sentiments collected on the quilt will help inform and guide the Visioning effort as that process looks to help shape the community’s future. There is no cost to sign a quilt square, but the number of squares is limited.

Several local nonprofit, business and municipal partners are collaborating on the booths and quilt project, including: C4C, East of the Cascades Quilters, Kathy Deggendorfer Designs, SOQS, Stitchin’ Post, Ray’s Food Place, Suttle Tea, Sisters Library, and City and County leaders.

The Values & Visioning booths also will feature surveys, information-sharing by County and City visioning representatives, giveaways for participants and more. Area residents will be encouraged to answer questions like: “Why would you live here and nowhere else?” and “What is your vision for Sisters Country?”—for example: What initiatives or actions might further strengthen the community? Organizers also hope to launch a youth essay contest as part of the Visioning effort.

Four Values & Visioning booths are planned:

2:30 to 6 p.m. Fri., March 9 at Ray’s Food Place
10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sat., March 10 at Ray’s
2 to 5:30 p.m. Fri., March 16 at the Sisters Library
10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sat., March 17 at Suttle Tea

The idea is: ‘Let’s Talk, Sisters.’ We want as many people as possible to join the conversation as we envision our future.”
— Amy Burgstahler

“The idea is: ‘Let’s Talk, Sisters.’ We want as many people as possible to join the conversation as we envision our future,” said Amy Burgstahler, a C4C board member and a lead coordinator for the quilt project and booths. She also is a Visioning project team member.

the quilt as a local legacy piece

Given Sisters’ rich textile arts heritage, a community signature quilt seemed like a natural way to “share and commemorate the essential qualities that make Sisters Country, Sisters Country,” Burgstahler said. The project also fit well with C4C’s mission to encourage civic engagement, collaboration and respectful communication, she noted.

“But it was just an idea until the amazing ladies from our quilting community offered their help— on top of all the other great things they already do,” she said. “When they joined in, that’s when we really started doing our happy dance.”

“I hope our community never loses that quality—that sort of apathy-busting willingness to be a resource for one another,” Burgstahler said. “It’s an attitude that says: ‘Maybe I can help; but even if I can’t, then perhaps I can help you find someone who can.’”

The East of the Cascades Quilters—led by Diane Tolzman and Gilda Hunt—are shepherding production of the quilt. The project also has drawn encouragement and vital support from others, including: Kathy Deggendorfer, Jill Miller, Jeanette Pilak, Jean Wells, Jeff McDonald, Zoe Schumacher and Judy Trego. Quilters involved include: Tolzman and Hunt, Janet Storton, Janet Roshak, Sue Olsen, Cece Montgomery, Nancy Frazeur, June Jaeger, Susan Cobb, Joan Santoro and Jerry Lindstrom.

Tolzman says she’s “thrilled” to help produce the visioning-inspired piece. “As people write on the quilt, it will reinforce what a special community we live in, and it will lead us into the future,” she said. “I hope this process helps ensure our current values continue and our goals become a reality.”

Neither Tolzman nor Burgstahler are aware of Sisters Country engaging in a community signature quilt project prior to this one. And they believe the metaphor of a quilt adds extra significance. “The idea of it being comprised of many different pieces of fabric, coming together and bound by a common thread...It’s a perfect way to memorialize the Sisters visioning process,” Tolzman said.

The idea of it being comprised of many different pieces of fabric, coming together and bound by a common thread...It’s a perfect way to memorialize the Sisters visioning process.”
— Diane Tolzman

Burgstahler agreed. “We hope the quilt serves as a lasting symbol for the community—a legacy piece.”

The East of the Cascades quilters’ “common thread”—a sincere love of community—inspires several efforts that bring joy and comfort to area residents. In addition to making several quilt show pieces, they sew “Quilts for Kids” for local preschoolers.They also create quilts for distribution by Family Access Network and area police and fire departments. Tolzman figures the quilters donated 160 quilts last year. And this year they will represent Sisters nationally by quilting 15 Christmas tree skirts for trees from Sweet Home, Ore. that will be displayed at the White House.

The Values & Visioning quilt will feature space for about 170 sentiments and will measure 80 inches square. “We made it big to fit as many comments as possible,” Burgstahler said. In addition to being used to guide the Visioning process, the sentiments will appear on a project web page, which also will become home to any extra sentiments that couldn’t make it onto the quilt.

There is no cost to write a sentiment. “We didn’t want barriers to participation,” Burgstahler said. Specialty fabric markers will be provided at the booths; and the 5"x5" squares are pre-backed with freezer paper to make them easier to sign.

After its debut at the quilt show, the quilt will be displayed locally. “We’re looking to have it in a few local spaces—like the library—and then give it a visible, permanent home,” Burgstahler said. There’s also precedent for community quilts to be “auctioned” each year, she said. Instead of owning the quilt, the winning bidder would be recognized on a piece displayed with the quilt; and the bid money would go toward a local need.

“It would be a great way to raise money for good causes and keep the visioning process alive for many years to come,” Burgstahler said.

People react very positively when they hear about the quilt or see an early sketch of it, Burgstahler said. Hesitant to reveal too much before the quilt’s official unveiling, she will say the design is “perfect,” because it “says Sisters” while keeping the focus on the comments. “That’s where the lasting impact will be—in the words people write. So we’re hoping for good participation from the community to really bring the quilt to life.”

That’s where the lasting impact will be—in the words people write. So we’re hoping for good participation from the community to really bring the quilt to life.”
— Amy Burgstahler

Note: The information above was published in the Feb. 28, 2018 edition of the Nugget News.