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Standing with Ukraine

Kathryn Pannepacker, Tieshka Smith
Julia “Mama Julia” Antonyuk, a Ukraine native and longtime educator, entertained the crowd by singing.
Young people sing the Ukrainian national anthem.
Max Lozynskyj

The Stand with Ukraine Listening Loom Project culminated on Saturday with a community celebration at Gifford Playground, 575 Tomlinson Road.

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Textile artist Kathryn Pannepacker and documentary/street photographer Tieshka Smith launched the six-week project at Gifford in September. It was made possible with a grant and in-kind support from Networks for Training and Development Inc., #ARTisPHL, the city Department of Parks and Recreation and Zieger & Sons Inc. Wholesale Florists.

The project was meant to create a safe and welcoming space for Ukrainians in Philadelphia who have been displaced by or affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The idea, in part, built upon Pannepacker’s original Listening Loom project, created in 2019 when she took a loom, materials, two stools and signage to busy street corners in Germantown and Kensington to connect with everyday Philadelphians and listen to their concerns, hopes and dreams.

The day included a performance by the Ferko String Band, food, a DJ, live music, a display of artwork and photography and a chance to write messages on a shag.

Visitors were welcome to place a healing blanket on their shoulders as Pannepacker tied a blue or yellow string on their wrist and recited the words, “When you find sorrow in your heart, may faith, hope and love comfort you. When you are afraid and overwhelmed, may you find courage and support. Let this string I tie on your wrist remind you of the precious dear one you are. Your life is a blessing with your resolve for peace.”

While the project is over, Pannepacker and Smith said a mural might be added to the wall of the Gifford building.

Pannepacker and Smith encourage donations to the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, 1206 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19111 or Razom Inc., 140 2nd Ave., Suite 305, New York, NY 10003.

More information about the project can be found at https://linktr.ee/thelisteningloom.philly and the Listening Loom’s pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. ••

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