My name is Jada Harris. I am the director of programs at The NAMES Project Foundation. I coordinate all of the quilt programming including workshops, tours, speaking engagements, off-site presentations, special displays, etc. I have worked here since The Quilt moved to Atlanta from San Francisco in 2001.
The part of my job that I like the most is creating a safe place for people to commune together that somehow allows them to reveal some of the most intimate details of their lives. I have watched people heal from years of grief and despair right before my eyes—it never ceases to amaze me.
This is my favorite “Quilt Magic” story:
The first time I answered the phone back when the Quilt had just moved to Atlanta and was still mostly packed was from a panel maker who was frantically looking for his panel. I was the only person in our makeshift offices and it was late Friday evening. Earlier in the day, I had randomly pulled a non-descript block of Quilt to hang in front of my cubicle to block the sight of the many boxes that were left to be unpacked after the weekend. During the phone call, I searched through the unfamiliar database and files and could not find the records for the panel the caller was asking about. Frankly, at the time, I wasn’t even sure what the difference was between a “panel” and a “block” or exactly how The Quilt worked*—it was my first week on the job and we had just gotten phone service. (*a block is made up of eight panels sewn together)
The panel maker was frantic with worry. I didn’t even know if the panel had been sewn into a block for display. The panel maker said he had been looking for his panel for months and because The Quilt had moved, he could not get anyone to confirm if it had ever arrived at the San Francisco office.
Even though the Quilt was mostly packed away and there was no way I could look through fifty-four tons in search of the panel, something told me to look up at the “one” block that was hanging next to my cubicle and ask the panel maker to describe the panel. I then looked at a panel on the block hanging not more than six feet away from me and began to describe it to the panel maker. His panel was hanging right next to me!
This ‘Quilt Magic’ stuff happens all the time—really.
Come meet Jada Harris at the Festival this summer in the Creativity and Crisis program area.