We're Taking Soul Boxes to the National Mall

On October 17-18, 2020, we will bring up to 200,000 Soul Boxes to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This will be the largest Soul Box exhibit ever, drawing the nation’s attention to the number of people killed or injured by gunfire in the U.S. and honoring the lives torn apart by this epidemic. 

More than 30,000 Soul Boxes personalized with names, messages and compelling artwork will be exhibited in an open pavilion spanning the Mall. Visitors will be able to get up close and view these touching tributes. Hundreds of volunteers will carry tens of thousands of additional Soul Boxes, representing the unnamed victims of gunfire, onto the Mall in a solemn procession on Saturday morning. 

Would you like to be a part of this historic event? Here’s how:

Send us your Soul Boxes. The more Soul Boxes you fold, the more victims will be represented. Every Soul Box you send in before August 15 will be part of this exhibit and those that follow. Your voice will join thousands of others who are saying, "Enough!"

Join our procession. You can help bear the burden of those killed or injured by gunfire by reverently carrying Soul Boxes into the exhibit. We need hundreds of volunteers to silently bring tens of thousands of Soul Boxes onto the Mall to open the two-day exhibit. This is not a rally or a protest march. Our dramatic procession, led by a funereal drum cadence, will be an emotional memorial to victims. 

Provide financial support. We are grateful for our many generous donors and we have been awarded several grants. Still, we are short of our budgeted goal. Please donate to make this event a reality.

To stay informed, get updates via Twitter and Instagram @soulboxproject, share your plans in our private Facebook community, sign up for our newsletter and check back here for answers to the latest questions, such as those we’ve answered below.


How many Soul Boxes are you taking to the National Mall?

For maximum impact we want to display 200,000 Soul Boxes on the National Mall, representing every person killed or injured by gunfire in just three years.* Meeting that goal depends on you and other Box-makers folding and sending in as many Soul Boxes as possible before August 15. 

When do I need to send in my Soul Boxes to be included in the Washington, D.C. display?

In order to complete our display and ship it to Washington, D.C., we need you to send your Soul Boxes by August 15. That means you need to mail them or drop them off at our Portland collection points by that date. Earlier is even better for our volunteers assembling the display components. Information about shipping and drop-off locations in Portland.

I want to be in the procession! What do I need to do?

As you can imagine, this event takes a lot of planning. We expect concerned individuals like you to join us from the local D.C. Metro area and across the country. The procession will take place on Saturday morning, October 18. The display will be open both Saturday and Sunday. We'll need volunteers on Friday, October 17 and Monday, October 20 for setup and takedown of the Soul Boxes. We will also need volunteer guides and Box-making coaches throughout the weekend. Watch our website, our social media @soulboxproject and our newsletter for sign-up information. 

What about lodging and travel arrangements?

If you are even contemplating participation and would prefer to stay near the site, we strongly recommend making cancellable reservations now. The very few hotels within walking distance report that they are already as much as 90% full for October 16-19 and expect to fill up quickly due to an IMF/World Bank meeting the same weekend. Another alternative is to stay further out and take Metro to the site. The nearest Metro stop is Smithsonian Station (blue, orange and silver lines). 

The following hotels are approximately a half mile from the National Mall event site in front of the Smithsonian Castle. 

Hilton Washington D.C. National Mall, 480 L'Enfant Plaza SW   (202) 484-1000 

Holiday Inn Washington - Capitol, 550 C Street SW   (202) 479-4000

Hotel Harrington, corner of 11th St NW & E Street NW   (800) 424-8532 

Check back here and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @soulboxproject. We’ll share information as we receive it. If you are sure you want to attend, let us know now. 

Why the quiet procession? Why aren't you shouting and carrying protest signs?

There’s enough shouting – especially around gun issues. We believe the spectacle of hundreds of people respectfully carrying tens of thousands of Soul Boxes in thoughtful silence aligns with our mission. The Soul Box Project is about the victims. We are revealing the number of lives torn apart by gunfire. It is up to visitors to take actions that align with their beliefs. Read our mission.

The procession will be very dramatic, but why do you carry the Soul Boxes in plastic bags?

When we process with Soul Boxes, it is always a solemn, respectful event. Carrying  a bag of up to 500 Soul Boxes, walking silently to a funereal drumbeat and physically feeling the burden of the loss of and injury to victims, is much more than performance art -- it is an incredibly emotional experience for the hundreds of people participating. We insist that volunteers handle the bags with reverence. See an example of our 2019 procession at the Oregon State Capitol. 

We're planning to have at least 100,000 Soul Boxes in our procession. That means we need containers to be carried by about 200 people. We have found in previous processions that clear, waterproof bags not only reveal the Soul Boxes inside, but protect them from inclement weather.

Keep in mind, the bags holding the unadorned Soul Boxes represent the unknown victims. These are mostly people who have died by suicide and those injured by gunfire. We feel it’s important that they are counted in this epidemic. Even though their names are not in the news, they are the vast majority of victims. Soul Boxes with names and powerful visuals will be displayed on panels so that visitors can see each one up close.

What is the location on the National Mall and how will you display all those Soul Boxes?

Our permit has been approved for a location between Ninth Street and Twelfth Street, adjacent to the Smithsonian Castle and the Natural History Museum. Over 30,000 Soul Boxes hung on vertical panels will be displayed under a 200-foot open canopy spanning the width of the Mall. The bags of unadorned Soul Boxes will line the walkways surrounding the canopy.

What happens after Washington, DC? Is that the end of The Soul Box Project?

Even though we've been bringing Soul Boxes to communities since October 2017, our event in Washington, D.C., will mark the beginning of a new phase for The Soul Box Project. After the National Mall event, the Soul Boxes will be available for exhibits in public spaces around the country. If you would like to know more about bringing The Soul Box Project to a venue in your city, contact us and watch our website, social media @soulboxproject and newsletter for more information. 

This is a huge event. Can I help you prepare?

Yes! Are you in the Portland, Oregon area with some time to volunteer? You can help prepare the display for Washington, D.C. Sign up to help attach thousands of Soul Boxes to display panels. We'll be sharing more ways to get involved soon via social media and our newsletter. 

In the months leading up to the  event, we will be adding information as we get it. If you have a question, please contact us. In the meantime, check back here periodically, follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest information. 

How can I financially support the event?

You can donate to The Soul Box Project. A meaningful way to support the exhibit is to sponsor a panel of 98 Soul Boxes. Small or large, we appreciate your financial contributions. 


Soul Boxes at the National Mall 8.5 x 11 Poster (jpg)


National Mall Outreach Flyer 24Feb (pdf)