By Richard Rourk
Spring is around the corner and the streets of downtown Erwin will once again be covered with vibrant colors.
According to RISE Erwin representative Jamie Rice, this year’s Yarn Bomb will be a collaboration between RISE Erwin, the Town of Erwin and the Unicoi County Library.
“This will be our third year,” Rice said. “Our first year started with about 30 submitted pieces, and it has grown to around 90. This year we will be partnering with the Imagination Library to bring awareness to the Read Across America Campaign.”
Rice added that the new librarian, Selena Harmon, is working with her staff to create some fun displays for the main street storefronts.
“She is amazing and so full of energy,” Rice said. “Read Across America is something that all our school children enjoy and all the elementary schools embrace Dr. Seuss Week. Most elementary schools read Dr. Seuss books, have themed days, and decorate their classrooms, or have special events. It is so wonderful that Main Street can reinforce those principles to our young citizens.”
According to Rice, the Yarn Bomb is taking on a more important meaning this year.
“Bright colors are scientifically proven to improve our moods,” Rice said. “This little yarn bomb was originally intended to help us with the winter blues but going into our second year of Covid restrictions, it has become even more critical to our mental health. We all need a reason to smile and be hopeful for the future.”
Rice, who also serves as the Town of Erwin’s Communications Specialist, explained that events like the third annual Yarn Bomb bring a diverse crowd to downtown Erwin.
“These low cost-promotional events and art projects help make Erwin a destination and give people a reason to come downtown to see what is new,” Rice said. “The perception of Erwin is changing, for the good. This positivity has caught the attention of the Appalachian Regional Commission, National Public Radio, Strong Towns, and the Singleton Foundation for Literacy.
Rice noted that many other municipalities have called to ask for advice and best practices, such as the Great Lakes Community Partnership of Fremont, Ohio.
“This national attention means that we are on the right track and it is so flattering to be recognized by our peers,” Rice said.
According to Rice, it takes a community as close-knit as Erwin to pull off such an event. “We are so thankful to our army of volunteers who have created these exhibits and also helped us install them,” Rice said. “Hundreds of hours have gone into this stitch work and there are many frozen hands trying to stitch them onto the poles and trees in February.”
Volunteers are still being sought to create and distribute the art for this year’s Yarn Bomb.
“We love the fact that this is essentially a free public art display, with multi-generational effort,” Rice said. “From Girl Scout troops to the Senior Citizens Center. All yarn pieces should be turned in by Feb. 22. Installation will be completed by Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, March 1, and will stay up the entire month of March.
“We need lots of volunteers to help us stitch items to the poles,” Rice added.
The volunteer work can be done at the volunteer’s convenience when weather is permitting. “We are giving ourselves an entire week to get them all up,” Rice said.
Anyone interested can call Rice at Erwin Town Hall at 423-743-6231 or email [email protected]