Last week, the children in the Arts & Smarts Program paused for a Thanksgiving meal together and reflected on all the reasons why they are thankful for Patchwork. Their thoughts were a wonderful reminder of what’s special about what we do here.
Notes from 40 Years at Patchwork:
Early on Saturday morning, July 5, 1997, Patchwork community and board members, friends, neighbors, and I came together to clean up the streets in the neighborhood around the Meetinghouse. This activity began a series of events celebrating Patchwork’s twenty years of presence in Evansville. Nelia Kimbrough led my clean-up group down Adams Avenue where, as we stooped to gather up others’ waste, we learned how the neighborhood has changed in the twenty years she has been a resident. Nelia pointed to empty lots where shops and small businesses once stood. She noted that much community spirit and togetherness moved away with those shops.
Afterward, a water balloon toss and a watermelon seed spitting contest took place in the alley and gardens behind the Meetinghouse. Surely some wayward watermelon seeds have found their way into the garden and have started new lives in the fertile neighborhood ground.
At 5:30 p.m. Jane Vickers, Nelia, and garden wall builders and decorators gathered in the Meditation Garden for the formal dedication of the garden wall. The garden wall represents the work and inspiration of many people–kids from the Summer Arts Program, local artist Chet Geiselman, master gardener Bill Hemminger, Patchwork community members, and passerby. As Nelia worked in the garden, one neighborhood resident asked if he could contribute to the decoration of the wall. “Of course,” Nelia answered. The man reached into his pocket and produced a quarter that he stuck to the wall with a bit of concrete mix. “I’ve just come from my cousin’s funeral,” he announced, “and I wanted to share something of him with you all.” The quarter now shines on the wall, neighbor to cast-off plastic toys and broken bits of glass and thrown-away objects found in the alleys and spaces of the neighborhood.
The Garden Feast followed at 6:00 p.m. Much of the menu came from the garden–cooked beets, tomatoes in basil, potato salad, stuffed zucchini, sweet potatoes with summer apples, greens, black-eyed peas, cabbage au gratin–though the equally popular brownies (pans and pans of them!) did not…Paul McAuliffe introduced speakers and musicians in the evening’s program of reminiscence and hope. Nelia Kimbrough, Becky Coble, Jean Beckman, Alan Winslow, Judi Jacobson, and Sandy Farmer talked about their involvement with Patchwork over its twenty years of growth and change. In addition to the spoken words, Calvin Kimbrough, Tracy Lee, Billy Joe Shelton, and the singers of the Mennonite Connection, Angie Dyck, Jill Hemminger, Helen Reed, Helen Templeton, Daniel Shinkle, Bill Hemminger, made musical offerings of song, a fitting tribute to twenty years of work and spiritual activity in this space.
Sunday continued the celebration, and great bowls of fruit cobbler greeted visitors to the Meetinghouse. Jill Kinkade kept the kitchen ovens going as guests stopped to sit, chat, and eat cobbler. Later, Judi Jacobson offered prayers for the next twenty years of Patchwork community. Her prayers became a prelude to the Sunday evening worship led by Judi and Nelia.
Our worship celebrated the wisdom learned in our twenty years, and the children at worship lit a new candle to symbolize the wisdom to be learned in the next twenty years.
–Bill Hemminger, Stitches newsletter, August 1997