One Thousand Cranes For Love A.K.A. 1000CRANES4LOVE started as a project to send love and ended in a creative community collaboration…
I simply wanted to show appreciation for the wonderful people in my life. I liked the idea of making and sending each person a crane, because it meant that I had to dedicate a few minutes to make each one, aquire the persons mailing address, package it up, put a stamp on it and bring it to the post office. It wasn’t just something that I could mass manufacture on my printer. I had also always been quite fond of the tragic story that was the basis for the childrens book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr.
The Book illustrates the story of Sadako Sasaki a japanese girl who was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped about one mile from her home in Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. Shortly after she was diagnosed with luekemia and was only expected to live one year. She lived to be 12 and in the last two years of her life she started folding paper cranes, being prompted after her best friend had visited her in the hospital and folded a gold paper crane for her.
The Japanese legend states that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish. Traditionally the 1000 cranes are strung together in 25 strings of 40 cranes. This group of cranes is known as a Senbazuru in Japanese. Senbazuru are often donated to Japanese temples to add to the prayer for peace. When they are donated they are left outside the temples and become tattered and eventually disolve as result of the elements they are exposed to. Because of this they are often related to the prayer flags of India and Tibet.
While I was in the process of folding the cranes a friend showed me photos from an exhibit at the Denver International Airport. Brianna Martray displayed 10,000 cranes in a piece called “Shadow Happy” made from folded pages of a novel that she had written years before.
A NY literary agent had requested a copy of Martray’s novel. She didn’t think it was “good enough” and never submitted the manuscript. The pages sat on a shelf untouched for some time before she started folding them into paper cranes. It was after the project began to emerge and hundreds maybe thousands of cranes were already folded that her computer and backup copy of the novel were stolen and the only remaining copy of the novel existed in these cranes.
Also around the same time I was working on the project my brother and I hosted a friend of a friend of a friend in our home…aka a stranger who was from Japan. As a token of gratitude for our hospitality he gave us each a small blessed charm that consisted of a pebble from a japanese temple hand sewn into a small pouch with a tiny gold bell attatched. I thought it to be quite a coincidence that a man all the way from Japan would stumble upon my couch and give me a gift strikingly similar to the charms I was making for my dear friends. I always take these coincidences as signs that I’m on the right track.
The cranes were sent out as a New Years Wish, partly because I couldn’t get it together in time to be christmas cards, but more importantly because New Years Day is a more substantial event in my eyes. A day marking an entire revolution of the earth around the sun. It’s an arbitrary day none the less but it marks an aniversary for a perpetual action of the universe.
In return I requested that each recipient send me a photo of the crane. I wanted it to be a line of communication, I wanted to see how each person would interpret the task in their own way. I wanted to keep in touch with my dear friends not it the way of recounting recent events of our lives to one another. I wanted to see their creative response. Our friendships are nothing more than ongoing collaborations of our evolving selves. If we are not creating in some way shape or form we are not growing. If we are not constantly strengthening our friendships they no longer exist in the present. It is perpetual work.
There were a few mishaps in the start of the project, many of the bells and gold threads were lost or destroyed in transit and I’m finding out that some of the envelopes have not arrived most likely due to the suspicious jingling of the contents. There was also the arduous task of aquiring mailing addresses which is on a temporary hiatus. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked someone for their “mailing address” and they’ve given me an email address instead…a sign of the changing times.) If you are reading this and would like to contribute a photo to the project please send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will receive your crane in the mail. That goes for friends and strangers alike. Strangers are only friends of friends we haven’t met yet 😉
P.S. On my recent trip around the world, I was delighted to stumble upon the cranes in their new homes…peaking out of a wallet in Australia, hanging on a computer screen in England, or dangling from a house plant in Germany.