Seeing Red

There is a long storied history to community/ group quilts. Quilting bees brought many a church group together to create a quilt to help someone, to raise funds, or to build a communal experience. We all remember seeing the quilts that our children may have made in school, each square lovingly made, and sewn together by a teacher or parent. Or helped with quilts for cancer patients or a wounded warrior.

Experiencing the Aids Quilt on the nation's Mall was something that I will never forget. I remember searching out three squares that were made from friends who had lost a son, a husband, and a lover. And each square captured the essence of Matthew, Ziggy, and Bernie. They were all different since each person was different. The impact seeing the quilt on the mall was profound.
I have been doing some research for a client on non-profit disease-related marketing and identifying those groups that are doing a wonderful job promoting their cause and their brand. I looked at many sites and got really immersed looking at Red joinred.org- the organization that has so effectively helped raise money to end Aids and HIV-related disease at the global level. As I was looking at their site I saw a link that invited viewers to contribute to Quilt 2015. And that is when I started seeing red, so to speak.

Navigating to the site  you are invited to help add to the quilt. In a few easy clicks you can choose your own color, a pattern, add stitching, and your panel is done and can be added to the thousands of squares already on the site. What an easy way to make a quilt- avoids the time it takes to think of something that would be appropriate, no muss or fuss dealing with other people in a room, no need to sew or paste anything to fabric- it makes is all so simple.
And that precisely is where I have a problem. No thought. No time. No energy. Little love. Those who made squares for the Aids quilts were not skilled quilters or seamstresses. Many of the squares were crude, with Teddy bears, or favorite t-shirts, or photos pasted on. But they were authentic and were full of love. To see some examples of some wonderful panels check out http://quilt2012.org/stories-behind-the-panels/http://quilt2012.org/stories-behind-the-panels/.

Sure the Quilt 2015 will have mass participation- anybody can add a panel. But will it mean as much? Will it have any significance other than there is a really good developer out there who figured out how to make the software work? Will it really stop and touch anyone and make a personal connection?

Red does wonderful work. They have helped stem the tide of Aids worldwide. And I am sure someone thought this was a good way to involve people in the digital age. But not everything should be crowdsourced. Some things need and demand a personal touch. For me, the Aids quilt is just one of those things.