So, how does weaving stars end violence?
If you’re a star weaver for the One Million Stars project, chances are you’ve been asked this question or are wondering the answer to this yourself.
With stars due tomorrow, and the target of one million woven stars in sight, questions like these are becoming more frequent and the courage to speak plainly and honestly about the impact of star weaving is important. It can be a tricky one to explain because the One Million Stars project has so many layers and values and even though they’re simple ones, it’s helpful to know how to break it down plainly so that people can catch it.
I’ve tried to explain it as best as I can, with the help of Louise Doble at OCG on the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page on the website. FAQs www.onemillionstars.net:
“How can we end violence by weaving stars?
If we all practise kindness in our personal relationships, our workplaces, neighbourhoods and communities we can create a more peaceful world and in turn, end violence.
Star weaving is a mindful, joyful and creative practice which allows us to come together, chat or be still; make new friends or just have some time out; and learn something new and create something beautiful. These things can make us happy, are important for our wellbeing and can help us cope and feel part of a community and something bigger.
Lots of people around the world want peace, acceptance and support. Weaving is a beautiful analogy of how our different experiences can help us come together for a common, bigger purpose to practise and nurture love, light and peace in our communities.”
The Townsville Catholic Education community, weaving 11,030 stars. Queensland Australia.
Most people I come across in my travels and workshops ask this question with genuine interest. I find these face to face conversations so much easier, especially when there are different opinions. It’s so much better to look someone in the eye and discuss your passions and vision and to hear where they’re coming from as well. A lot of the time, people just need a bit more clarity or they just want to be heard. I’ve also found that people are just yearning for someone to give them some time.
Star weaving is a practical activity that you have to do with your hands. You have to stop, focus and wait to be given instructions by a teaching adult or child. You have to listen, watch, loop, fold and patiently practise weaving the square body of the star first, and then fold the points after that. The activity of weaving draws people in, the purpose of star weaving to end violence is also appealing, the satisfaction of weaving one star helps people to feel capable. When people feel capable, they feel positive. When people feel positive, they open up and want to do more. I see this all the time in my star weaving workshops. Most humans want to feel part of a community that is working to end ALL violence, but not just that, they want to be part of communities actively working to create peace, inclusion and prosperity for all.
So, who wants to have a go at trying to end all forms of violence in their communities, their state or country? You? Me? Sure, I’ll give it a go and I’ll see what happens.
Here’s some thoughts and a few stories that I’ve encountered over the last 5 years that demonstrates how star weaving can end violence and create peace in our communities.
Star weaving brings people together and gives us an opportunity to talk and get help. The nature of this project means that people have to gather and spend time together learning, listening and practising. In an age where people can connect through phones, computers and other hand held devices, the One Million Stars project offers one on one time with other human beings, which is a premium experience. Through star weaving, we get to meet new people, have conversations and learn in the safety of these spaces. Those who work supporting women and children experiencing violent relationships like The Alice Springs Women’s Shelter or the Wagga Women’s Health Centre, know the importance of creating safe spaces. People might not open up straight away, but if women know they have a safe space to come to, can do something like weave a star, then that’s an important start. Staff at Wagga Women’s Health have woven stars with their local scout group and found this to be a great way to help talk about how violence affects their communities and how they can prevent violence. Lots of children and adults are learning that it’s ok to talk about these really difficult experiences and that there are people and resources in their communities to help them find support.
More star weavers from the Townsville Catholic Education community. Queensland Australia.
Star weaving is therapeutic and fun. I’ve had the pleasure of weaving a star with Minister Kate Jones (Minister for Education, Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games) a few times, and each time we talk about how relaxing and fun it is. I loved how Minister Kate spoke about how important it is to do things that make you feel happy, and that this shouldn’t be less important or valuable when it comes to community development. Visiting the Parole and Probations office in Kingaroy earlier this year confirmed for me that support for the workers and clients in this space is equally important. Workers at the Parole office not only told of how amazed they were of how peaceful the lady offenders were when weaving stars, but they were enjoying working together, they weren’t fighting, they were helping each other to weave these stars. Some women started talking and opening up almost straight away, after months of working with them. I often hear of how this activity is great for staff morale and team building. For a lot of people, many want to move beyond hearing the statistics and news of violence in their communities, and are actively weaving with the intention of meeting and talking to local organisations and councillors to get involved in community in other ways.
Weaving has helped me to find healing. Maybe someone else has experienced or wants to experience the same. I was so sad and angry when a young woman in a community that I love, was raped and murdered by a man who would not take no for an answer. I felt heartbroken for her husband and parents. I was ashamed that we failed her and could not be there to help her. Lots of people felt like this. Lots of questions and feelings about why, how, when and what happened. “Is this who we are, a community that allows women to suffer violence,” “What can we do to stop this?” “How can we make sure that everyone feels safe and can live a life free from violence?” I chose to do something that I knew very well, which was to weave. I didn’t want to forget the actions that our community took, marching down Sydney Road, creating a vigil of flowers and candles outside of our church, coming together in solidarity to say that this is not acceptable. Some people will always argue that star weaving isn’t doing anything to help end violence, that 20,000 people marching down the road in protest won’t change anything either. What I know, and what people who have woven stars know, is that it is helping. Weaving stars reminds us that we have to keep working to end violence on our streets, in our homes and work places. Weaving stars reminds us there are hundreds of thousands of people working on the front line of racism, domestic violence, workplace or school bullying, trying to make a difference. We need to remember that. We need to feel like people are working together, that people are getting informed about services to support and get involved with. The work of ending violence won’t end after one million stars is woven, but if we can do something like star weaving that helps us to find healing in our own lives and relationships, then it is worth pursuing.
Jo Thitchener and the Aboriginal Housing Victoria community, weaving over 10,000 stars. Jo and AHV have collected stars from Melbourne Polytechnic (Preston), U3A and the Creative Knitting group in Banyule, MacRoberstons Girls High School, Bendigo District Aboriginal Co op, Holden St Neighbourhood Centre and North Fitzroy Library.
Weaving stars reminds us that we have to CREATE safe communities. Safe spaces don’t just happen. One of the things I love about star weaving, is that it presents a positive and gentle opportunity for us to think about our own behaviour and how our actions are contributing to or preventing the creation of safe spaces in our daily life. My hope is that we don’t need a tragedy, like the rape and murder of a woman or child to actively engage community in creative and productive conversations about ending violence. There is evidence through people’s stories that support star weaving as key to creating these spaces. Women, children, men who felt isolated, misunderstood, depressed now feel ok. It’s not just about standing against something, but actively showing what we are standing ‘for.’ In this case star weaving is giving communities an opportunity to stand together, in solidarity to say we want peace, safety and happiness for everyone. Star weaving makes conversation so much easier. It’s not forced and the distraction of making something beautiful, as part of a bigger conversation gives people permission to share and care for others in their community. The One Million Stars project values love, kindness, support and peace, which should be seen as a strength and asset, not a weakness or lesser value than policy development or physical strength.
Reaching around the world and finding support and solidarity in Canada. Photo: Andrea Lynn. Calgary Star Weavers weave over 10,000 stars. Canada.
My hope and prayer for this project is that it keeps the discussions going, the ideas flowing, the inspiration growing to do more than weave stars, just like Juelz who was part of the Ballarat Star Weave Community. Juelz contacted us to share a story of how she is weaving stars with women in Bolivia who are experiencing domestic violence. “The women LOVE it because there is nothing like that here.” They love star weaving so much that they were inspired to raise funds to start a café called “Estrellas Café” Estrellas meaning ‘star’ in Spanish. They want to learn the skills necessary to run a café and to employ women affected by domestic violence so that they can build a new life for themselves through education and business. How brilliant is that! From one star, a single light is cast on what needs to change AND on positive possibilities. When our stars shine during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year, we will be shining alongside hundreds of thousands of women, children, men from across the world who want peace, safety and happiness for everyone. That’s got to count for something.
Students at St Thomas More College, Sunny Bank Queensland Australia. Weaving an impressive 1412 stars!