Commentary: Join the Rainbow Scarf Project!
Written by the Rev. Marja Coons-Torn
November 23, 2012

There's a very interesting project that is taking on a life of its own in the United Church of Christ. We're calling it the UCC [or Rainbow] Scarf Project and it is a way to raise awareness about violence, especially bullying [and especially against LGBT youth and young adults], and to engage people in action. The knitters, crochet artists, and weavers who are involved are hoping we will have 3000 scarves by the time General Synod rolls around next summer. They will all be very brightly rainbow colored, so that they really make an impact.

The idea, in a nutshell, is that if you take a scarf, you'll make a commitment to take an action against violence [such as talking with your school superintendent about bullying, or volunteering at a women's shelter, or writing to your Senators]. When someone walks up and asks you about your scarf---they should get a lot of attention in Long Beach in July -- you offer to give it to them if they, too, will agree to take an action against violence. Then you can return to the display hall and pick out a new scarf. We hope to have scarves in several locations around the display hall.

Of course there's just one "problem." Our knitters and other fiber artists are getting so much attention from knitting in public that some of the scarves are going out into communities right now! And community knitters as well as UCC folk are getting on board. We have a Facebook page that is called The Rainbow Scarf Project. "Like" us to stay up with all the current information. On the page, you'll get all kinds of good ideas from other knitters, along with the suggested "specs" for the scarves and the address where to send them. We're looking for scarves that are 4 to 6 inches wide and about 60 inches long.

I have every confidence that no matter how many scarves we give away in our communities, we will still have 3000 scarves for General Synod. UCC folk know when they see a good thing. So, plan on it being a very colorful Synod. But also jump on board and help us to work against violence in all of our communities, especially for vulnerable LGBT teenagers who are often the victims of teasing, taunting and harassment. And when you see someone knitting a very colorful scarf in public, you might just want to walk up to them and say "Are part of the UCC Rainbow Scarf Project?"

How will we get 3000 scarves to Synod? Well, I'm planning to take a dozen or so in my suitcase. And I hope every Synod delegate here in Penn Central Conference will take some too. But we will also have a central receiving point in California, thanks to the Southern California-Nevada Conference, where fiber artists can send their scarves. You can send your scarves to SCNC UCC, The UCC Rainbow Scarf Project, 2401 N. Lake Avenue, Altadena, CA 91001-2418. There's a short form to fill out on the Scarf Project facebook page, just so we know where your scarves came from. And in the meantime, get out your needles!

The Rev. Marja L. Coons-Torn is the Conference Minister of the UCC's Penn Central Conference

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