In the years that followed the giant loom, we were to create a ‘Circus’ on a parking lot mural to draw attention to and awareness of mental health issues. This was done in a worldwide art competition called Art Prize and thousands came to see the art, but many stayed to hold candle light vigils for those who were self harming and committing suicide. Years after the competition, young people were still coming to that parking lot to write the names of loved ones and to tell the stories surrounding our distinctive ‘Love’ Ambigram. To this day, we still meet people who have tattooed that same symbol over the place where they once used to self harm. One of the blessings of this project was the collaboration with many local and nationally known artists that was the basis for our own collaboration to become a community.
Still, most of our efforts were small and both Kate and Ted could be seen visiting local ladies auxiliaries talking about the relation of witchcraft to the making of Absinthe or speaking to university classes about slavery and the history of music through stories, song and art or going to musical festivals and helping link African and Indigenous music to Americana and even rock and Roll as they do teaching and performing at Wheatland every year.
Sometimes, the projects were events to benefit local causes like ‘Paws For A Cause’ or ‘National Night Out’ or even helping an individual by uniting artists to help. Sometimes it was by using our art at events to have our sudden (and popular) ‘pop-up’ comedy auctions that raised money for the charity favored by the gathering. More often than not, however, the community collaborated in small ways such as food collections, or driving our neighbors, who did not have cars, to food distribution sites. Often our ‘art’ was to create stories that captured the imagination which allowed us to help us bless our neighbors, such as our ‘Basketballs for Baxter’ campaign.
Working at local schools or teaching disabled adults by using art, music and storytelling or going to classrooms during ‘Black History Month’ to drum, sing and tell stories was important to us and is still a favorite thing to do but the need to teach, heal and bless ever larger communities and reach larger audiences began to coalesce into what we now think of as ‘that thing we do’. Doing Good needed to get bigger and better. We began to write more, do more and travel to gatherings, conventions and events to share who we were and what we did.
In 2015, however, our more local efforts became global as we decided to call attention to modern day slavery and trafficking. Using the symbol of a ‘blue bead’ to represent, both, the price of slavery and the price of freedom, cemented the idea of what became our ‘mission statement’. Telling the stories of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Tituba and the African Diasporan ‘Yemoja’ we created ‘The Blue Bead Project’ again for ArtPrize and thousands were moved by the stories and imagery. Even more were reached on Social Media and the exhibit went on to be displayed in St. Catherine’s BME, Harriet Tubman’s home church and the end of the Underground Railroad. Today, the exhibit has found permanent homes with Yemoja and Tituba in El Indio Botanica in Buffalo New York, the Bead and Star at the Niagara Voodoo Shrine and Harriet and Sojourner at Cat and Monkey in downtown Niagara Falls where the stories of the Underground Railroad are told and taught everyday.
This one project set the template of what became a non-profit, a more organized community and a mission that allowed the public to contribute, collaborate and capture the spirit of what and who we are. Since that humble beginning as a non-profit that operated under the Exemptions clause for educational orgs, we are now a full blown 501(c)3 registered and incorporated in the State of Michigan. The Blue Bead ‘Project’ has now become an organization to teach, heal and bless in exponential ways that modern technology, sustainable resources and a wider deeper community make possible.
In November, we travelled to Madison Wisconsin to share the hidden history behind some of your favorite cocktails. Teaching how voodoo, witchcraft and women influenced what, and how we drink some of our iconic liquors of today.
Global Water Fest
We created a ceremonial Dragon Boat and brought a living Kwan Yin to the festival along with Buddhist Monks who blessed the boats before the races, highlighting water conservation issues and cultural awareness.
Pagan Pride Day
The creation of a giant cornicopia and ceremony to raise funds for Pagans in Need food pantry.
We love visiting classrooms and schools to teach through art, music and storytelling.
Wheatland Music Festival
One of our favorite places to teach is on Kids Hill at Wheatland Music festival. Sharing music, instruments and stories is always the best!