Local Refugee Welcome Mat group makes appearance at Gates Discovery Center

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Group members and visitors visit and work at the Gates Center
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

By Luanne Brown

On Wednesday, June 19, 2019 several members of our Refugee Welcome Mat group spent time at the Gates Discovery Center at 440 5th Ave N in Seattle where we were asked to demonstrate how we make our rag rugs. This event was the first of three After Hours@DiscoverGates events planned for the summer.

Group members from Kenmore, Mountlake Terrace, Kirkland, Redmond, Shoreline, and Lake Forest Park brought mats that they had already crocheted, woven, and knitted as samples to display. We also demonstrated these various techniques and showed visitors how we prepare our ‘yarn’ by ripping strips of fabric.

People of all ages from places such as Singapore, South Africa, Florida, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Seattle stopped by our table to participate.

Brian Beaton on left, and Brian Kinnee on right, both of South Lake Union
get a lesson from Elsa Husted.
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

Our project has been featured at the Gates Discovery Center for the past two months at the end of the visitors’ tour. Center staff have set up a ‘station’ where people can see one of our mats, learn more about our project, make tags welcoming refugees to our area, and practice tearing upcycled fabric into strips. The Gates Discovery Center has contributed these strips to our group to use in making more welcome mats. This activity will continue at the center through August.

Group members Marcie, Jean Stevens, Elsa Husted, Christy Bear
demonstrating their craft.
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

Our group, Welcome Mats for Refugees, was formed two and a half years ago to demonstrate in a tangible way that refugees are welcome to our area. 

Once our artists finish their mats, we tag them with a card that says, “Welcome Home”, signed by the artist who makes the mat. Then, we contribute the mats to the International Rescue Committee (IRC). 

The mats are made from strips of cloth
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
The IRC places our mats in the apartments they prepare for new refugee families. Often, these mats are the first things they see when they open the door to their new home. 

If you’d like to join us in our efforts, we meet the first Saturday of every month throughout the year, from 10am to 1pm at Third Place Commons which is located on the upper level of the Town Center at 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park 98155

We have supplies to get you started and we can teach you to crochet and/or knit. Our next meeting is July 6, 2019.

Our group will also be participating in a similar event at the Gates Discovery Center in late August. 

The center itself is well worth the journey to downtown Seattle. 

There are many interesting exhibits that “encourage visitors to investigate some of the world’s tough challenges and learn how to act on their own ideas and solutions,” according to their Facebook page.

For more information about our group, please visit our website.


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