Good Neighbors

Crafters Spread Love Across City, One Heart at a Time

One woman's grief over the Tree of Life Synagogue murders turned into a campaign to combat hate by spreading love in the form of small handmade hearts all over town.

The heart is the ultimate symbol of love. And Barbara Grossman of Monroeville is hoping to spread love throughout the Pittsburgh region, one little handmade heart at a time.

Grossman, the founder of the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival, came up with a grassroots effort called Pgh HandMade Hearts as a way to deal with her's and the city's grief after the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre last October. After the shooting, she knew she had to do something positive, and her thoughts automatically turned to using something hand crafted. That's how she and her family (including husband, former Steeler Randy Grossman) started the campaign to make and place hand crafted hearts in public places as "vivid reminders of the power of kindness," according to the organization's Facebook page .

The idea has caught on. Knitted hearts, quilted hearts, hand-stitched, embroidered, even wood-carved and molded-clay hearts are showing up all over town, from library stacks to grocery store shelves, even bus stops. Each 2-3 inch heart has a small tag attached: "If you find this (heart) it's yours to keep, or you can pass it on."

Students at Pittsburgh CAPA (the city's Creative and Performing Arts High School) are among those joining in, using a technique called "wet felting" to make hearts for the campaign (that's student Corey Cottrell, below).

Pgh HandMade Hearts and other groups have also organized workshops where groups of crafters can make hearts together. The group below made their hearts at an event Saturday at The Pittsburgh Yarn Company .

There's another workshop 2/14 at RaggZ Fiber Art at 11am, 2/27 at Repair the World in East Liberty from 6-8pm, and a really big one at this year's Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival at the DoubleTree by Hilton Greentree in March 15-17. Click here to go to "events," then scroll down for details, plus a list of 17 places where you can drop off your hearts for distribution if you choose not to distribute them yourself. One of those drop-offs is Yarns by Design in Oakmont, the store behind the Tree of Life Afghan Project story we recently produced.

"Our mission is to foster compassion for those impacted by acts of violence and hatred, as well as to discourage future acts of this nature." Barbara Grossman, Pgh HandMade Hearts

Grossman is asking everyone to spread the word. If you happen to find a little heart in a public space, take a picture, note where you found it and post it to social media with the following hashtags: #ShareAHeartPgh, #PghHandMadeHearts, #LOVE>hate, #Lovegreaterthanhate.

(Photographs: Pgh HandMade Hearts, Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival, Pittsburgh Yarn Company Facebook pages)

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