• Tell Your Friends

Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service website, and you’ll see this: “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?” Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.” In researching this post, I learned about some awesome ways those with a passion for interior design or crafts are volunteering their skills and talents to make a difference in other people’s lives. I share two of them with you.

  • Bhutanese Kudzu Basket Project – Atlanta: A call to help Bhutanese refugees, victims of ethnic cleansing new to the Atlanta area, led to a repurposing of “the vine that ate the South.” With the support of volunteers, the refugees have been empowered to harvest kudzu growing near their apartment complexes, use traditional techniques to weave baskets and sell them at local shops, festivals and farmer’s markets. That’s how I learned about the Bhutanese Refugee Support Group Atlanta. The work of these refugee artisans help pay for rent and other essentials. I hope they open an Etsy shop someday!

  • Blissful Bedrooms – NYC: NPR recently reported about this nonprofit “committed to transforming the bedrooms of young people living with disabilities.” These stellar bedroom makeovers are all the work of volunteers. And the transformations make a tremendous difference in the lives of these differently-abled young people who are frequently confined to their bedrooms. The reveals when they first enter their new Blissful Bedrooms are joyful times a zillion!

Do you felt toy animals for an orphanage or knit blankets for a domestic violence shelter? Have you donated your interior design talents to renovate a chapel or your handiness with tools to help winterize a senior citizen’s home?

Let us know. We’d love to hear from you on this MLK Day.

11 Responses

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  3. Tamar says:

    Thank you for featuring two magnificent projects emblematic of Dr. King's attempt to forge a "beloved community" of believers who identify with the poor and dispossessed and seek justice for them.

    This week, among ten recipients of Emory University's 2011 Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award, Atlanta Bhutanese Refugee Support Group volunteer Craig Gilbert will be honored for his accomplishments in the early days of the organic food movement, and for lifting up people in the refugee community (to earn fair wages for honest work, to access educational opportunities, and to preserve and transmit along the generations human dignity, cultural heritage, and ethnic identity). Craig initiated, champions, and gives to the Bhutanese Kudzu Basket Project and the Gardening Project with energy, imagination, and love!

    To see Bhutanese weavers and their delighted customers at a local farmer's market, watch Bhutanese Atlantans repurpose "the vine that ate the south" (4:31 minutes).

  4. Modern Enviro says:

    These are 2 wonderful examples of what a huge impact design can have on the world around us. And as a former Atlanta resident, it's especially cool to see Kudzu being used as a raw material! Here's to using good design as a tool for making the world just a little bit better.

    • Anna says:

      Oh yes! As an Atlanta native, there is so much that can be done with kudzu. And it's cool that the harvesting of the kudzu for the basket making also allows the refugees space for urban gardening.

  5. Tamar says:

    This is Tamar again. I see that the link from this comments section to the video of Bhutanese kudzu weavers is broken. To watch "Bhutanese Atlantans repurpose "the vine that ate the south" (4:31 minutes), please paste this address in your browser:

  6. Bhutan Baskets says:

    We do not have a web presence yet, but our baskets are available at HomeGrown in downtown Decatur, GA 412 Church St, Decatur, GA 30030 404.373.1147 Open Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday noon-8pm and At the Collective in the Inman Park neighborhood of Atlanta. 280 Elizabeth Street Atlanta, GA 30307 770-696-5845 Open Tuesday – Saturday 11-6, Sunday 12-6 Closed Mondays. We may be contacted directly at BhutanBaskets@Gmail.com

  7. pixelecho69 says:

    Very interesting something to look forward to, also I would like to thank all the volunteers across America no matter what cause or who their helping thank you.

  8. Door panels says:

    I love those inspirational design ideas and a colorful room still looks attractive and I think these is a perfect concept for my room.

  9. Sandy Rowley says:

    Love what my fellow Americans are doing on their free time. ;) Great post.

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