Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Currency of the Heart and Power of the Hands, 15 years of Knitting4Peace by Grace Gallant


Mary Ellen Garrett at the Amiguitos School & Community Center, Veracruz Mexico, January 2020
Knitting4Peace started with one woman’s vision, and continues with the involvement of thousands of volunteers, coordinated by a small part-time staff in Denver, Colorado. At the Chautauqua Institution in New York state in 2004, Susan McKee realized peace was only attainable if women stepped forward in new and radical ways. The next summer, at a mall food court in Chautauqua, Susan outlined her idea for the organization: “It felt as if something was nudging me to create a vehicle for women to prayerfully remember other women in global areas of conflict while simultaneously engaging in intentional, nonviolent action for peace”. She wanted to create a course of action for women to support other women through their hands and hearts. Thus, Knitting4Peace was born, creating a multi-national nonprofit organization committed to providing solace for those experiencing conflict around the world.

Knitting4Peace continues with the involvement of thousands of volunteers, coordinated by a small part-time staff in Denver, Colorado. The group is housed at the Park Hill Congregational United Church of Christ in Denver, Colorado. Supporters across the U.S. make and donate requested items in their own communities, deliver them to other countries, or send them to the K4P offices to be distributed.

“We stitch for each other; we stitch for the recipients of the items we create; and we crochet, knit, quilt, and weave for hope, healing and peace in our world. The tangible items we create are personally delivered to adults, teens, children, infants, and families in local and global areas of conflict." - Knitting4Peace website
Recipients of knitwear, El Centro Humanitario in Denver.

The first knitting program was launched in June of 2006 when ‘Peace Shawls' were made for women living in conflict areas of Sudan. The recipients of the shawls then asked for items for their children, and the ‘Peace Pal’ dolls were born. They are the most popular item. This international organization spreads love to all people through collective action. Since its founding, 15 years ago, Knitting4Peace has provided blankets, mittens, hats, scarves, and unique “peace pals” to people in 82 countries. 

"We’ve delivered nearly 193,000 items, since our founding in 2006. We’ll pass 200,000 items delivered sometime this year, too, which means we’ve served many more people than that, as many items are shared among family members.” Mary Ellen Garrett, Knitting4Peace Executive Director
Peace Pals, Knitting4Peace’s small ambassadors of comfort and support, bring joy to all ages. 

The items are made on a needs-basis. Organizers find out which items are most needed and the information is relayed to the peace pods. Anyone who knows how to quilt, knit, or crochet can donate to this organization. The website provides patterns for ten requested items, including shawls, hats, mittens, or cute “Peace Pal'' dolls. The creators are asked to incorporate an element of 3 in their work; either 3 colors, a pattern of 3, or triangular shapes. The element of 3 represents the spiritual grounding of hope, healing, and peace, and the concept of the person making the item, the person receiving it, and the spirit of life which inspires compassionate service. Volunteers partner with hospitals, schools, and medical facilities. Those who deliver the items are called “delivery agents” and they give the handmade items to many U.S. community groups as well as to people in other countries.
A girl with her Peace Pal, Kenya 2019.

Mary Ellen Garret, the Executive Director of Knitting4Peace has plans to host more online events to support the organization’s volunteers, and add more high school peace pods. Knitting4Peace celebrates its 15th anniversary on June 26, 2021.

To learn more and get involved, please visit:

Follow Knitting4Peace on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Imagine a New Reality with Donna Goodman


Donna Goodman has spent her entire life learning about and advocating for the protection of our Earth and its children. She is an activist, author, and a teacher of sustainability, who has worked in over sixty countries. In our recent conversation, I asked Donna why she focused on water. She described growing up in Connecticut, exploring nature and backyard streams. Later in life, Donna co-founded a science education company teaching preschoolers about the invisible forces of nature, like gravity, magnetism and water. Through her work at a peace and sustainability NGO, Donna began to understand that: “Water is a necessary component of sustainability and peace.” 
During her years in water education, Donna was inspired by the young voices in the sustainability movement. She worked 15 years for UNICEF, and founded Earth Child Institute (ECI), an international NGO in 2002. The idea for the Earth Child Institute, which engages children with climate education, originated from a young intern at Global Education Associates (GEA). ECI has blossomed into a center of sustainability studies and collective action. Today, the climate movement continues to be led by many young voices. Donna has learned from children that they need adults to respect them, and take their projects seriously. The children of today know they have a responsibility to fight for climate justice. The environmental crisis seems like an overwhelming issue however, investing in our young people, especially girls, is an achievable step in the right direction. Donna enjoys reminding people of the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Donna considers her “apple tree” to be her sustainability-driven fictional series, Ecomasters. 

Ecomasters is a girl-led series that brings the stories of a group of young, changemakers. The characters and settings are inspired by the real people and places Donna has encountered over the course of many years. Donna wanted to make her book accessible to children all over the world, which is why Ecomasters includes stories on every continent. The series possesses elements of magic, using the natural and scientific principles of water to create a world of magical realism. Donna believes reading is a fundamental process for young people to expand their dreams. She envisions a final series of five books and multimedia adaptation.

Donna writes in Ecomasters, “Everything here, and elsewhere is connected and dependent upon everything else and, at the heart of that connection, is the Earth’s Life blood: water.” We are united now more than ever because of our shared threat of climate change and our dwindling drinking water supply. Donna imagines Ecomasters to be a vehicle for social change and education by engaging and empowering young women with stories of courageous acts towards sustainability. 

By Grace Gallant