The Red Scarf Project
Written by Marcia Bradley
“I saw the box of red scarves in Danielle’s office and wondered why do I know those scarves…”
Talitha James, AULA Nonprofit Management Student
To say that Antioch University Los Angeles is an astonishing campus overflowing with synchronicities barely does our school credit. The many service projects fostered by staff members like Kathryn Pope, MFA, Bernadette Murphy, MFA, and Sylvie Taylor, PhD, are only some of the magical examples. But this story, with its particular alignment of circumstances, is truly redolent with unexpected possibilities.
In fact, teacher and extreme knitter Bernadette Murphy’s bestselling book, Zen and the Art of Knitting, bears the prescient subtitle Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity. Yet, this story goes well beyond Bernadette teaching knitting to AULA staff like Danielle Minobe, program coordinator for the nonprofit management curriculum. In her book, Bernadette writes about “the act of faith that is found within knitting.” But it’s not likely even she would have imagined the story that ensued from the AULA wellness group, knitting, and connecting with the Foster Care to Success program that makes Valentine’s Day care packages for students in its America’s College Fund for Youth efforts.
Nor might student Talitha James have imagined it either. Years ago when Talitha was in high school in the Antelope Valley, she applied for the Orphan Foundation of American/Foster Care to Success college fund and received a partial scholarship that helped her attend California State University Fullerton. Each year, mostly around the holidays, Talitha received a box that included supplies for school, something sweet, and something warm! As a CSUF graduate with a BS in Human Services, Talitha is now a member of the first cohort of the AULA MA in Nonprofit Management program and is on track to complete her degree next spring.
Recently, during a meeting with the program’s coordinator, Talitha looked around the office and her eyes kept stopping at the box of red scarves behind Danielle’s desk. “Why do I know those scarves,” she wondered, “but then I made the connection.” As the magical synchronicities of AULA would have it, Talitha was once one of the many students who received a warm red scarf in an annual care package from the Orphan’s Foundation of America program.
Our university’s wellness group has been knitting and contributing to the Red Scarf project for some time now. These scarves are included in care packages like the ones Talitha once received. But our knitting program has grown (as things have a way of doing at AULA) and the group that learned how to knit from Bernadette has progressed to learning to crochet from Sylvie Taylor. In addition to the stacks of red scarves in Danielle’s office, and shelves upon shelves of them in Bernadette’s, there are now pink, blue, green, and yellow baby blankets that are being donated to the Children’s Institute, Los Angeles, a non-profit organization specializing in the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Bernadette explained that the Zen of knitting and crocheting is that these activities are known to lower heart rates and replicate the effects of transcendental meditation. Not oddly, these seem to be qualities of AULA as well. She added, “And, we needed to get to more colors.” Of course they did.