By Leslie Lee
— As I sit in a sunny window “sheltering in” it’s hard for me to imagine the trials people all over the world are enduring as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. I want to better understand and help in some way. I sometimes think there’s nothing I can do. But that’s not true.
Isn’t The Soul Box Project uniquely positioned to offer an opportunity for healing and empowerment even when we’re social distancing?
People are stuck at home feeling isolated and anxious, with hours to fill and children needing projects. Folding Soul Boxes is a calming, meaningful activity anyone can do, anywhere. Using copy paper, old calendars, magazine covers, craft paper or maps, we can fold Soul Boxes to acknowledge and hold space for the 100+ people in the U.S. who die from bullets every day. In the process we find solace and meaning. With online platforms like Zoom we can still gather to fold and enjoy community.
The news is frightening. Gun and ammunition sales are up – dramatically. Though I truly believe most people don’t want to ever use those guns, they are still on hand and often loaded. Each one has the potential for death – from defense, but also from violence, accidents and suicides. Of the nearly 40,000 people killed by guns in the U.S. in 2019, 60 percent were suicides. History tells us there will be many more in the coming economic upheaval, along with domestic abuse and street violence. The gunfire epidemic is running rampant inside a viral pandemic, and while much is being said about telling the truth regarding the spread of COVID-19, the country remains woefully unaware of what bullets are doing to victims, their families, communities, cities and the nation.
The truth has been overlooked for decades. That is why The Soul Box Project was created – to enable people to see and feel the emotional impact of a visual accounting. Those of us who are working to raise awareness with our ARTivism need to keep going because the curve of the gunfire epidemic will go up even as the coronavirus curve flattens. We need to keep making Soul Boxes, and encouraging others to join us, so we are able to reveal those growing numbers when our exhibits open, once again.
Some of our exhibits have been postponed, for a few months at least. Even as we continue to prepare for the D.C. exhibit on the National Mall in October we are working on contingencies for a later date. Plans for exhibits in cities like Tucson and St. Louis are underway for 2021.
There are plenty of reasons to keep folding Soul Boxes and supporting the Project. Our newsletters, website and social media will have ideas and activities to keep you inspired. We invite you to share your experiences and photos of your Soul Boxes.
We will not falter. We are over 108,000 Soul Boxes strong because of your passionate support for a shift in our country’s current gun culture. Stay with us.
Be safe, be healthy, and watch for our Soul Box Project newsletter tomorrow with ideas for what we can do together – while apart.
~ Leslie Lee
Founder, The Soul Box Project