One of the main motivations for sharing and growing the One Billion Stars project is the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life.
Participating in collaborative weaving projects like One Billion Stars, can help us to connect with our local communities. Weaving, teaching, and inviting others to participate helps to create a sense of belonging and meaning to everyday life and can be enjoyed solo or as a fun social activity to meet new people.
If you’ve read our article on the benefits of weaving on our mental health, then you’ll know that one of the beautiful benefits of weaving with others is building new relationships and growing a diverse community of stories and action for positive change.
Finding ways to connect with your community can sound daunting, especially if you’re an introvert like me, but thanks to One Billion Stars, star weaving for violence free communities is something that many communities want to participate in.
In fact, most people get really excited about learning to weave a star without even realising that they’re helping to build community connections through meaningful gatherings and purpose.
How does weaving create a sense of community?
Weaving is a creative process that One Billion Stars promotes as a powerful tool for bringing people together.
While a one million woven star installation can bring people in to marvel at its beauty, public art alone can’t build a community. The art has to provide a purpose to gather and inspire a call to action that is aligned with their needs.
We love that people were drawn to visit the stars that were displayed in King George Square, not just because they saw it online via a friend’s social media feed, but because they understood WHY each star was woven.
The purpose of our woven star installations is to demonstrate to our communities that thousands of people just like us, believe that the work to end violence is long term and that our daily actions and personal leadership matters.
We share the load when we weave with others. We create a common purpose without having to be the same. We can share stories and not impose our opinions on others. We can create a space that is focussed on making and through making we can prioritise listening and feeling peace.
There is no one-size-fits-all kind of community. It’s really up to each of us to be proactive in finding communities online, through word of mouth or by visiting our local libraries or councils.
Our idea of ‘belonging’ means that people feel like they can be who they are and that the community around them respects this. The foundation of our star weaving circles/spaces is respect and if we can model that through our star weaving teachers and Star Weave Communities, then it becomes the pathway forward.
We’ve seen children, adults, families, and diverse community members inspired to participate.
One, because it’s a craft activity that is fun and two, because the purpose for weaving a star is to say that you believe that can each do our little bit to end violence and three, because One Billion Stars actively welcomes people regardless of their background, circumstances, gender or culture.
The power of the stars to activate conversation and community participation in a difficult conversation makes these installations even more amazing.
We have seen star weaving workshops where local support services are invited to participate and promote their services.
The activity and purpose of star weaving helps bring people together, and it’s a wonderful way to engage services in a non-threatening way without singling people out or who may be suffering and need help.
Weaving stars for One Billion Stars also helps to open up conversations and regular community participation. Even the smallest contributions, like cutting ribbon or making cups of tea for star weavers, play an important role in the final work, the weaving process and building a more connected community.
We love that we can nurture community-building when we weave with others.
Role of Community in mental health
Before you consider introducing star weaving to the communities you care about, we encourage you to read:
This will help you to understand what the One Billion Stars project is about, why it continues today and why everyone is welcome to participate.
We’ve also created some other resources like:
- 8 reasons why weaving is good for our mental health
- what impact does star weaving have on ending violence?
- 3 cool techniques to finish your woven star and
- 5 ways to integrate star weaving into primary schools
Role of community in mental health
When we feel included and represented in our local communities, our capacity to thrive and participate increases.
This can be a work, sport or art community, anywhere where you feel confident to get involved and learn to be part of.
As well as community connections, other things that impact our mental health are:
- meaningful employment and education
- safe and affordable
- valued social positions
- regular activities that focus on maintaining wholistic health
- safer families, schools, workplaces and communities
We’re social beings, so any opportunity to gather and meet with others to talk or to do an activity together contributes to our overall wellbeing.
As a society, we’re getting better at talking about mental health and why we need to focus on wellness, hope and recovery as well as the realities of violence, trauma and exclusion.
We don’t always have to agree
It is possible to be part of communities that embrace difference and even opposing political or religious views without ridicule and degradation.
Often, our mental health is impacted by misunderstanding and tension in our community. There could be a lack of leadership and facilitation that specialises in diversity, conflict resolution and deep collaboration.
Finding a way to share stories and experiences that shape our opinions and why can help us to live with difference.
One Billion Stars isn’t about making everyone want the same thing or have the same values.
It’s about connecting with personal stories of resilience, healing and hope.
Whether we like it or not, we’re in this together.
PLEASE NOTE: If your life is at risk and you require urgent help, please call 000 (Australia) or your emergency number in your country.
The goal of star weaving is to share it with others and to help raise awareness.
Star weaving for the One Billion Stars project helps us to build community connections and continue safe and respectful conversations.
Workshop organisers are encouraged invite local professionals who work in Domestic Violence recovery, suicide and racism awareness.
Star weaving is a wonderful way to connect local needs to support services in your area.
5 Ways to stay connected to your community while social distancing
Feeling connected to others is good for us all the time, not just during times of crisis. Here are 5 ways to help stay connected to your community:
- Good old letter writing – write letters to friends or neighbours in your community or send a postcard to check in on them and share what you’ve been up to. If you’re someone who receives bills in the mail, a written, or printed letter is a treat.
- Online classes – this could be a great time to learn a new skill, practice that recipe from way back or jump online to a workshop with others.
- Stay connected online – there are lots of online communities that share everything from DIY projects, budget tips, gardening tips and how to stay active while at home. I found that I was messaging girlfriends a lot more with short videos, photos from my work station and even short workouts!
- Sit out the front of your house and start a conversation with your neighbours. Chances are they’re feeling the strains of being confined to their homes. We never know what’s truly going on for people but sharing a smile and a genuine “hello” is free and can make a small difference to someone’s day.
- Schedule a video call – If you’ve been meaning to check in with a friend or colleague who you haven’t see for ages, now is a good time. I’ve had a dinner and coffee catch up online with some friends and often, it’s gone for a few hours.
Staying connected and prioritising your mental health is critical for our individual and community wellbeing.
When we are well, we can help create communities that prioritises wellness, connections and resilience during any season.