Sunday Smiles and Joy

by Aug 22, 20214 comments

A break from the news of the week

There is much in the news that is heartwrenching and stressful.  Here are a few stories to bring you some positive energy or inspiration.

Participatory Embroidery

Artist Liz Kueneke brings large embroidered maps of local areas directly to the communities the maps represent and recruits community members to add their own stitches.  Everyone is welcomed to participate and each person can add anything that represents their own experiences, memories or ideas about their local area.  

What a great way to create a dynamic,  interactive story of community and its people.  It encourage people to really think about their spaces and what they represent. The finished product is a piece of art that is more than a beautiful map, it is a social history that captures the heart and spirit of the people who live there in a way that a static document never could.  

Follow Liz on Instagram @liz.kueneke, read her story On The Cutting (and Stitching) Edge or visit her website to see more about her projects.

Unbridled Joy

That is the way that this performance is described and it fits.  This is not new but a friend posted an update today on Facebook and it is the first time that I have seen it.  I felt like dancing through through the performance and couldn’t stop smiling but was in tears at the end.  Wow.  There is a lot going on here and these kids are having a blast!  A group of elementary kids from FlakeFleet Primary giving it all for their chance in Britain’s Got Talent – with their enthusiastic headteacher.  

Taking Theater to the Streets

A celebration of shared humanity and hope.

(A new TED Talk, posted in August 2021)

In a staggering display of creativity and community, theater director Amir Nizar Zuabi introduces “The Walk”: a theatrical journey following a nine-year-old refugee girl named Amal (represented by a giant, lifelike puppet) as she makes her way from Turkey to England. Zuabi shares the bold vision behind this cultural odyssey aimed at spreading hope and celebrating the refugee experience — and joins us live from Turkey as Amal passes through a village.


Banner photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


  1. Martha

    What an awesome blog and so much happiness and joy to share! I love the embroidered maps but the Unbridled Joy was the most heart warming! I’m sure there were no dry eyes if anyone watched the entire video. We need more videos like this instead of all the negativity! Kuddos to the teacher and students!!

    • Mary Elizabeth

      I am with you completely. The embroidered maps are inspiring but those kids definitely captured my heart. And what an amazing teacher to let them direct their learning and express their skills and enthusiasm.

  2. Rachel Lavern

    We should take regular breaks from the news in my opinion. I would love to be greeted with good news for a change. First thing I saw today was the report about lives lost in a Tennessee flash flood. God help us. I wonder if artists have their normal level of creativity in these dark days.

    • Mary Elizabeth

      I am definitely with you on the need for a break from the news. Sometimes all the negativity makes you feel helpless. I think you are right that it can be hard to have much creativity these days but I continue to find hope in seeing people do so many positive and collaborative things with their art too.

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