Almost there…

I have 122 squares in my sticky little hands–so only 22 squares to go until we reach our target! It’s so exciting!

We had an impromptu knit-in today–I was contacted last week by the Kentucky Kernel who are planning to run a huge feature on the Project in this Thursday’s edition of the Kernel and they wanted to send a photographer to get some pictures of the knitting in action, and of the squares themselves. We were small in number, but it was an incredibly productive meeting and we’ve decided a few crucial things. Mary-Beth and Margie have very kindly agreed to start work on finding a venue for displaying the finished blanket. Top contenders right now are The Kentucky Theater, Central Library, and the empty space in Lexington Green shopping area. I’ve left this in their very capable hands and will keep everyone updated with progress.

We also talked about how best to go about raising money from the completed blanket. Initially, I had thought that a charity auction would be the best way to raise funds but I admit I’ve had some concerns about whether or not anyone would actually bid for the blanket. Today, Kerri came up with a superb idea–sponsorship. She suggested that we could offer the squares for sponsorship–either by individuals or businesses–with a set minimum donation. That would remove some of the uncertainty about raising funds and would be a much more viable proposition. Sponsors would have their name listed next to the square that they have sponsored. We’re thinking of a minimum donation of $15-$20 (can’t decide–opinions would be welcome on this point) but, naturally, we would be happy for sponsors to donate more, if they chose to. I’m so grateful to Kerri for this gem of an idea–seems far more workable to me than a charity auction. And it removes the deadline of June–although I’m still planning on getting the blanket finished by the end of March and getting the funds in by the end of June so that we can start with scholarship applications.

Finally, we’re going to have one last knit-in before I close the door to squares. Next Wednesday, 18th January at Coffee Times on Regency Road, 6.30pm start. I’ll continue to accept squares until the end of January, though, so carry on knitting–if we get more than 144 squares we’ll just make a bigger blanket!

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Sunday Brunch Knit-In Planned

Our next Knit-In is planned!

It’s going to take place on Sunday 20th November, 11.00am, at Great Bagel, 396 Woodland Avenue, Lexington, 40508. They’re relatively new to the Lexington area, situated on the corner of Woodland and Euclid (the same block as Lynagh’s and Cosmic Charlie’s).

They’re happy for us to sit, knit, and hang-out with them for as long as we like–I’ll get there around 11am but if anyone wants to show up earlier, then please do so. Their bagels are out of the oven at 6am, 9am, and noon, which you might want to bear in mind–can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday than with a warm, oven-fresh bagel, a mug of coffee, and knitting? Oh, and for anyone with food allergy issues they also make a gluten free bagel (I had the cinnamon raisin last weekend, which was delicious) and I’m almost certain that I heard they have lactose-free milk products for their drinks.

Anyway, make sure you put the date in your diary, come along and join us!

Homecoming

I have two exams tomorrow which means, naturally, that a great deal of today will be spent procrastinating–and what better way to procrastinate than with facebook. Browsing the status updates I came across a post on Nicky’s wall, linking to a story that ran in yesterday’s Daily Mail–a British newspaper for those of you not in the know. The story was about a young lesbian couple–Rebeca Arellano and Haileigh Adams, seniors at Patrick High School in San Diego–who were crowned as Homecoming King and Queen over the weekend. Rebeca was crowned Homecoming King at Friday’s pep rally, and Haileigh crowned Homecoming Queen as Saturday’s dance.

To say that this makes my heart glow is an understatement–in fact, as my friend and Writing Center colleague Ashley will attest to, it actually made me cry. So many of the stories that we hear are so desperately tragic that to hear such positive news is wonderful–and proof that although we still have SUCH a long way to go, we’re making tiny, tiny baby steps. These girls were chosen from their peers–what more affirmation do we need that at least in some parts of the world (and I know, it’s not happening in enough parts of the world, not by a long chalk) being LGBT is accepted–not simply tolerated–and that love among two people, whoever they happen to be and however they identify themselves, is celebrated.

There’s more of the story here, on the Daily Mail’s website, and it’s worth looking at for the lovely photographs and the video clip of Rebeca speaking about the weekend’s events.

Among other things, this story is a reminder to me that the Diversity Project is as much about celebrating life as it is about remembering the lives that have been lost. And so, there WILL be a square in the blanket in celebration of Rebeca and Haileigh (I’m thinking it has to have embroidered crowns on it…) and their story will be told alongside everyone else’s–their relationship, their love, and the hope that their story brings will be shared with other people who need to hear the positive stories and the changes that are happening, albeit slowly.

So, before I head back to studying for these flippin’ exams, I’d like to raise a metaphorical glass to Rebeca and Haileigh, and offer my congratulations and love to them both. Cheers, girls.

GREAT Bagels!

Several people have mentioned to me recently that they’d love to come to a Knit-In but for one reason or another can’t get to the evening events. With that in mind, I’ve been pondering over the last couple of weeks about the possibility of a Sunday brunch event, but hit upon a stumbling block regarding potential venues. We need somewhere that’s willing to let a bunch of knitters and crocheters eat a little food, drink a little coffee (or tea), talk a lot, knit a lot, and hang out for a couple of hours without causing problems for other diners. Last week, the lovely Jenna made the suggestion of having a Knit-In at Great Bagel, and I charged her with the task of finding out if they’d be willing to let us congregate there.

I’m delighted to say that they’re more than happy to let us come in and clog up their tables with yarn, needles, hooks, and bagels. In fact, their email said:

“What a great project to be a part of – you all can eat, drink, and knit as much as you’d like on whichever day you’d like.  I will say that it does get pretty crazy here on the weekends…we have alot of families on the weekends, as well as a very large volume of customers so a quiet spot this is not, ha!  If that doesn’t bother you folks, you’re more than welcome to come here and create that wonderful blanket!”

So, it looks like a Great Bagel Knit-In is on the cards–all I need to do now is figure out a date and send out notifications–I’ll be finalizing this by the end of the week so bear with me.

Just so that I could be certain that it was a good place to eat (*wink wink*) I popped in with the family on Saturday to sample their fare. I’m happy to report that the bagels are wonderful–and they even do a gluten free bagel which more than made my day. If anyone needs a bagel fix before the Knit-In, they’re located at the corner of Euclid and Woodland, open until 4pm every day.

And, whilst we’re talking about Knit-Ins, don’t forget this weeks event at Coffee Times on Regency Road–let’s get those squares turned out! Looking forward to seeing you all there, do you think we can beat the 20-person turn out that we had at 6 Friends? I challenge you to make this happen!

A Face For Radio…

I get to campus around 7.45 most mornings, usually only half-awake and in need of a gentle start to the day. Tuesday mornings are my favourite though; I work in the Writing Center on Tuesdays and don’t start until 10.00am which means only one thing: Starbucks Chai latte. Yes, I admit, I’m a fan of the Evil Coffee Empire. Chai latte is my vice; I could drink gallons of the stuff but instead I limit myself to a grande non-fat on Tuesday mornings whilst I get some class reading done before my Writing Center shift starts. And, of course, that’s exactly where I found myself this morning when my cellphone rang.

I’d been reading “A Christmas Carol”, as folks do in October. Actually, I’m reading it for an English class, but it’s always such a jolly romp of a story; the ending never fails to make me cry (even in public) and it’s always a pleasure to have an excuse to pick it up again. I’d just discreetly wiped away the tears and was moving on to “Cranford” when my annoying ringtone burst through Starbucks morning jazz. I must have sounded like an idiot when I answered it and couldn’t tell who it was, but after several requests for them to repeat themselves I managed to ascertain that it was someone from a television network who had a free slot on their lunchtime show and wanted to feature the Diversity Project.

After I finished internally squealing, I realized that I had a slight problem. I was scheduled to work until 3.30pm and they wanted me at the studio by noon. Thankfully, I have the most supportive and wonderful boss at the Writing Center and after a quick conversation with Ashley, an email to Judy, and a little wiggling of the schedule I was freed up to go, Cue a mad 11am gallop (actually, it was more like a hectic walk) to pick up the car from the other end of town, followed by a nerve-wracking drive across Lexington to the studio. The drive shouldn’t have been nerve-wracking, and to anyone else it probably wouldn’t have been but the car was low on petrol (that cute little orange light flashed at me all the way there) and I have a track record of getting hopelessly lost every time I try to go somewhere new. The universe was smiling today, though, as I arrived safely at ABC 36’s studio with ten minutes to spare.

I was ushered into the studio where Kristi Runyon was busy delivering the lunchtime news and Geoff Cornish was working on the weather report, and was more than excited to see the interview couch all set up and ready to go.

Yes, I am the sort of geek that takes a picture of this kind of thing. See the camera? And do you see what’s on the screen behind the couch? It’s our yarn picture! And there were screens and autocues everywhere I looked. The cameraman got me set up with a microphone and by 12.20pm we were ready to go.

Kristi, I have to say, was absolutely lovely–and really pretty, she did a great job of putting me at my ease and making it sound like I knew what I was talking about. In reality, though, I was nervous as heck and found myself babbling a great deal. Typically, I was just starting to get into my stride when my three and a half minutes of fame was up and it was all over. Check out the video here, and see what you think.

This wasn’t my only television appearance this week, though. Last week, Emily from UK’s Student News Network interviewed me for their broadcast which was aired on Monday evening on Channel 16. You can view that interview here, my part starts at 2 minutes and 56 seconds. Huge kudos to Emily and the rest of the journalism majors responsible for this broadcast–they did a very professional job.

So, how do we top this? Ellen…?

About Last Night…

The first Knit-In for the Diversity Project was a great success and thanks so much to everyone who made the effort to attend. It was lovely to see new faces–some I’ve already got to know “virtually” through the facebook page but some were completely new to me. I’m grateful to everyone that came, brought yarn, ate cookies, and knitted. We even had three completely novice knitters–Jenna, Brandi, and Mary–all of whom picked up needles and yarn for the very first time and all of whom were knitting by the end of the night. That’s real effort, ladies, and thank you. Thanks too, to Bea and Tonya for helping out with the knitting lessons. And to the other ladies–Dani, Melissa, Margie–thanks for adding to the fun and I can’t wait to get your finished squares.

We also had press coverage–the Kentucky Kernel sent both a reporter and a photographer to cover the event. The article itself hasn’t been run in their print edition but it is available online. Click here to read it.

WRFL, who have been massively supportive of the Diversity Project, also sent a reporter. DeBraun was busy taking soundbites for his upcoming “Campus Voices” show, which I’ll also be part of. Campus Voices goes out live from the WRFL studio on Wednesday 12th October at 5.30pm. Listen in, it should be a great show.

So, after the excitment of last night it’s on to the next thing and I got home last night to discover that two other local news sources want to run stories about the Project. I’ve been contacted by the UK Student News Network who want to conduct an interview with me and a contributor this coming Monday evening. The UK Student News Network is run by broadcast journalism majors which leads me to believe that it’s a television thing. Scary, huh? I need someone who is participating in the project to be interviewed with me so just let me know if you’d like to come–I’ll buy you coffee!

And it seems that the Diversity project is also on the radar of the PR department here at UK. They’ve been talking to the editor of the Chevy Chaser and Southsider who is also keen to run a story about the Project. Hopefully we can get a meeting set up soon and spread the word to more people.

Finally, a date for your diaries. The next Diversity Project Knit-In has been booked. It will be on Wednesday 19th October at the 6 Friends Cafe on Kentucky Avenue, Lexington, between 5.30pm and 8.00pm. This is a great opportunity not only to work on the Project but also to support a great local business. If you haven’t been before, 6 Friends serves wonderful crepes and paninis, and their gelato is simply amazing. Kentucky Avenue is in the Woodland Park Triangle area and 6 Friends is directly opposite Woodland Park itself. Mark this is your diaries–it’s going to be fun!

Increasing Visibility

It’s been long overdue but tonight I sent out a huge stack of emails about the Project and my list was nothing short of ambitious. Top of the list was, of course our Mayor, Jim Gray. He’s been a wonderful supporter of the Gaines Center for several years no so it seemed natural to email him about the project. What I’m hoping for, perhaps naively, is some space (maybe in the Town Hall?) to display the finished blanket and possibly even a meeting with Mayor Gray himself to talk about the project. I know, he’s a hugely busy man, but my grandmother taught me nothing ventured, nothing gained (when she wasn’t teaching me about financial etiquette, that is) so I put my anxieties aside and set my goals high.

So who else was on this list? The Advocate, naturally, and then several local media outlets and organizations–the Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky Kernel, WEKU, PFLAG Lexington, and Lexington Fairness to name but a few. I thought it would only take a few minutes to send off a couple of emails but several hours later I’ve only just finished. PR is both time consuming and exhausting. I haven’t heard back from any of the television stations I contacted a few weeks ago–I’ll give it another week and then contact them again. Hopefully, though, some of the organizations I’ve emailed tonight will contact me over the next few days.

What else? Oh yes, something VERY exciting. Actually, there are several very exciting things but I’ll focus on just the one for now. KJ, my faculty juror, contacted UK’s Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments about the project, and it seems they might be interested in working with us to create some kind of “virtual” display for the blanket! Actually, the reply mentioned a “multitouch” system and whilst I have no real idea what that is, it sounds terribly high-tech and wonderful. I’m imagining some kind of interactive touchscreen which would make it possible to click on an image of a blanket square and retrieve information about who knitted the square, who donated the yarn, and who it’s dedicated to. Of course, I may be getting far head of myself here and there’s no guarantee yet that they will be able to work with us, but I can’t help but think that it would be an amazing complement to the blanket and would really take this project to a new level of fabulousness. I’m hoping we can set up a meeting later this month and I will, of course, keep everyone posted with developments.