Today's post is part of a new segment on Positively Present called "Positive Change." Posts labeled "Positive Change" are featured periodically on Positively Present and will highlight the people, websites, and organizations that are striving to make the world a more positive place. As we all know, there is a lot of negativity in our world today and it makes me incredibly happy when I notice those really making an effort to make the world more positive. Today's post focuses on the the blog, Sandy and the 1000 Paper Cranes, which highlights the journey of Sandy, who is striving to create 1,000 paper cranes, each with a positive message, and then place them in a variety of places in order to spread a positive message to the world. Her mission of "patience, peace, and papercuts," started when she read the inspiring book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (a book I also read when I was a child and cried my eyes out at the end of... if you haven't read it, you must!). After reading the book, Sandy was inspired to spread messages of peace and hope and she found a creative and unique way to do so. Below is an interview with Sandy in which I strive to get to the hear of her inspiring project.
What inspired you to start the 1000 Paper Cranes Project?
The idea of my project came from the short, nonfictional children's book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. It's the story about Sadako who was stricken with leukemia after the Hiroshima bombing. It is in Japanese folk lore that if you fold 1000 paper cranes, you will be granted one wish. (It seems that the most common wish is for good health and happiness.) Sadly Sadako died before she was able to finish the 1000 cranes. Her family and classmates from school actually completed the remaining cranes she needed so that she could be buried with them. The book was both sad and inspiring. I wanted to do something like that.
How do you determine what words to put on the cranes?
When it comes to 1000 different words, I learned to not discriminate much on which words went in. Basically I came up with a short list off the top of my head and then polled my friends/family members for some additional words. I organized them into an excel document to keep track. (I have a tendency to double list things if I'm working on a list of any length. This allowed me to sort it alphabetically to avoid duplicates.) I tried to use words that were relatively universal. Example, while I have a positive association with the word family, I know not everyone feels that way. But happy, well, it kind of stands on its own. I got up to around 350 - 400 or so words along that route. From there, I consulted a thesaurus for similar words. And I also took to googling positive word lists on google to compile all 1000 words. It actually took about a year to do, between getting responses and finding the time. I wanted to make sure I could come up with 1000 words before I actually started on the meat and bones of the project (the blog/website and the folding of the cranes.)
Have you heard from people who have found cranes?
Unfortunately, no responses yet. I've only released 30 cranes so far, so I'm not too surprised. I left the bulk of them in touristy areas where not necessarily everyone speaks english. So there's a chance that even if they found the crane, they might not be able to understand my site. And there were definitely some cranes that might have been a bit too obscurely placed to find them. But the project is a learning experience, and it will come with time. When talking with my boyfriend, we figure out of all the cranes, only a handful of people might respond. I've decided that even if I get no responses, I'll still consider the project a success.
How do you decide where to leave the cranes?
I try to leave the cranes in public areas where they will be seen. But I have a couple rules for myself. a.) Try not to let anyone see you place it/take a picture of it as that might cause someone to pick it up just because they saw me put it down. b.) Try not to place it outside if the weather is a bit iffy (rainy/too windy) c.) Try not to place it where someone will squish it. d.) Try not to place it where only a very limited number of people could get it (so not at a restaurant table because only the waiter/waitress and bus staff would find it.) So far those are my rules. Chances are I'll adapt them as time goes on.
You "release" cranes to inspire people. What inspires you in your life?
As corny as it may sound, other people inspire me the most. It doesn't take much for me to get misty-eyed. Be it a positive story in the news or a person helping someone in a random act of kindness. I feel like the more you see those positive little things, the more you're effected by them and able to keep the trend going. But perhaps that's only me. :)
What are some of your favorite words from cranes you've released?
It's hard to pick favorite words mostly because now I've linked them with the places I've left them. I think Quaint, Lovely and Happy are my favorites. But the again they are placed in my home town, the beach and my local library, respectively, which are some of my favorite things. It just kind of worked like that. I make the cranes up, keep a couple in my pocket and then release them.
Can others get involved in with the 1000 Paper Cranes Project?
In the case of my project, I'm trying to decide whether or not I'll mail cranes out to some people and have them place one or a couple. It has its positives in that it involves other people and gets the cranes out to a wider group of people that I might never reach. But at the same time I want to take the project as far as I can take it before I ask for help. The thought of placing 1000 cranes on my own in different locations is beginning to feel a bit daunting! Haha.
What message do you hope to spread with the Project?
I want to impress upon people that it doesn't take a huge act to make a difference. Every little bit counts, as cliche as it sounds. Peace through paper cranes in a way. A bit of positivity can go a long way, not only in my project but in projects of others. There are so many great positive projects out there. I am starting to get off topic from your question so I'll just cap my answer there before it starts sounding like a 'Thank You' speech from an award show.
If you had to pick one word on one crane to represent the entire Project, what would it be?
I'd like to think "inspirational" would be a way to describe my project, but time will tell if I am right!
Sandy certainly got it right when she chose "inspirational" as the word that would represent her project. I don't know many people who will really go out of their way to spread positivity, hope, and peace to complete and utter strangers, but that's exactly what Sandy's doing. If you want to learn more about Sandy's project and her 1,000 paper cranes, check her out on out her blog or visit her on Facebook.