I recently read a post over on the Streetcolor blog about a great yarnbombing project that happened this summer in Italy. It was designed to help the community heal from the devastating impact of the 2011 earthquake that happened there. This reminded me of another crochet story from another Italian earthquake, so it caught my attention. It turns out it is a great example of how yarnbombing, whatever you may think of it, can be a great service to some communities.
The 2011 Earthquake/ 2012 Yarnbombing
In 2011 the old Roman Village of Brienno was struck by an earthquake. A news report after the event starts:
“Summer 2011, in two hours a huge quantity of water invades the mountain surrounding the area of a little village on the coast of Lake Como, Brienno. An immense quantity of debris destroyed the village, Brienno is now a ghost town.”
Streetcolor explains that a textile artist called Elleta Handmade wanted to help bring renewed celebration to the town with a yarnbombing on the one year anniversary of the event. Requests were made for knit and crochet pieces to be sent to cover the wreckage still remaining in Brienno – a yarn-y rebirth of sorts, a handcrafted Phoenix for the ashes.
The night before the installation was supposed to take place there was a huge storm that threatened another landslide but shortly thereafter the installation did go up. Even the mayor of the town helped in the yarnboming.
The 2009 Earthquake in Aquila
This yarnbombing event was actually inspired by another similar event that happened after the Aquila earthquake in 2009. Elleta Handmade had heard about that and wanted to do something similar for the people in Brienno.
I was familiar with the Aquila earthquake for another reason. In my research for my book, Crochet Saved My Life, I learned about a woman named Maria D’Antuono who crocheted to stay calm while she was buried in the rubble of that earthquake. The 98-year-old woman was stuck for 30 hours before being rescued! In the book I discuss how some people theorize that crochet may have helped her avoid panic attacks and even prevent PTSD from this traumatic event.
Yarnbombing to Heal Communities
Crochet Saved My Life is all about how crafting helps individuals but these acts of yarnbombing show how public displays of craft and art can help heal communities. When a place is devastated by a natural disaster, these things can help. Of course in the early stages of a disaster these people need tangible help – food, shelter, medical care – but a year or two later the world has moved on to the next disaster and these communities are still struggling to rebuild. Sometimes this can lead to prolonged and widespread depression during stages of the process.
Yarnbombing brings beautiful, colorful, fresh new life and energy to an area. People from around the globe come together to create the crochet and knit items to be installed. This lets the people of the community know that they are not forgotten. And it brings a sense of comfort and hope to the area in a time when they still need it.
What great fiber art projects! Photos via Crochet Circus