Six-year-old children created the brightly colored stars. So did women in nursing facilities, Girls and Boys Club members, Girl Scouts, teens in after-school programs, and people incarcerated.   

For more than a year, stars took shape one by one, meticulously constructed of ribbons and recycled materials, part of a local community-wide effort joining the international One Million Stars to End Violence project.

By January, Bloomington — one of only four U.S. communities to take part in the Australian-based initiative — had exceeded its goal of making 10,000 eight-pointed stars under the leadership of the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation. More than 11,500 stars were made locally. Lotus adopted the project for its 2016 visual arts initiative.

“It’s been something people have really gravitated toward as a way to show our individual commitment to peace and more love in this world we live in,” says Loraine Martin, foundation outreach director.

Martin estimates that more than 3,000 people made the multi-colored stars during nearly 50 community workshops, school programs, local organization meetings, and private gatherings, beginning at the 2015 Lotus World Music & Arts Festival and culminating at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event on January 16.  “We’re excited to fulfill our commitment as a star-weaving partner,” Martin says. “It’s been quite an honor to be part of this project, along with more than 150 communities internationally.”

An exhibit of 8,000 stars was displayed in the Bloomington City Hall atrium from December 2016 through January 2017. “We’ve always been very supportive of Lotus and its efforts,” says Sean Starowitz, city assistant director of the arts. “This was a very beautiful installation and an imaginative use of the space.”

The idea originated in 2012 in response to a violent crime in the Brunswick suburb of Melbourne, Australia, that occurred near the studio of textile artist Maryann Talia Pau, the project’s founder. Pau was inspired by Dr. King’s quote: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

Pau visited Bloomington during the 2016 Lotus Festival and participated in community weaving at high schools and Indiana University classes. The project will culminate with the one-million-star installation at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Queensland, Australia.

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