Dutilh Church Donates $5,000 to Library Makerspace Project
The Cranberry Township Community Chest (CTCC) 2019 Project of the Year, Forge Ahead: Library Makeover, just got a big boost from a small church.
Dutilh United Methodist Church in Cranberry Township recently pledged $5,000 towards the CTCC’s ninth annual – and largest ever – community project of the year. The church has underwritten the creation of a textile arts and crafts component as part of the Forge Ahead makerspace project.
“Our church’s mission calls us to share God’s love in our community. We care deeply for the community we call home and appreciate the incredible contributions our library makes to our community. We are thrilled to support this project,” said Pastor Tom Parkinson, Dutilh’s senior pastor.
“The gift will fund a sewing machine, a table-top weaving loom, and all of the supporting items for those machines like scissors, cutting mats, and needles. Starter consumable items such as yarn, buttons, and fabric will also be covered with the contribution,” explained Leslie Pallotta, director of the Cranberry Public Library.
The computerized sewing machine is a high-end piece of technology with the capability for embroidering, quilting, and more. Because both the sewing machine and table-top loom are portable, they are also accessible for people with disabilities. Pallotta’s team has tried to incorporate feedback from across the community in the design of the makerspace, and has had lots of input from individuals with special needs, Pallotta said.
While much of the makerspace is high tech, this donation will be directed toward a crafts center that provides tools and materials for sewing, knitting, weaving, and other low-tech creations. That juxtaposition is a unique aspect of the overall project
“When we initially surveyed the community about what they wanted in a makerspace, we noticed there was a diversity of activities that people wanted. While 3D printing was top on the list, sewing/weaving/knitting—the textile arts—were a very close second. The diverse makeup of activities that you can do in the space is critical to the success of it,” Pallotta said.
Projects like electric clothing (e.g., T-shirts that light up using simple circuitry) are an example of how the low- and high-tech elements might be combined. Pallotta said that such diverse elements provide potential for new ideas and creativity.
Another unusual aspect of the library’s makerspace is the cross-generational learning component. Often, makerspace renovations happen within a school library; its users tend to be around the same age. Hosting this makerspace in a public library allows for both younger and older members of the community to be teachers and to be learners.
“Collaborative learning is a natural component of a makerspace,” Pallotta said. Its location in Cranberry’s library allows for partnerships with community organizations as well as individuals.
“Makerspaces are all about building community – churches, businesses, nonprofits are all a part of the community,” Pallotta said, “and when these groups support projects like this one, those partnerships strengthen the community.”
The partnership is a good fit for Dutilh Church as well. The church has thriving fabric and quilting ministry teams that gather regularly to create quilts, fabric bags, and other items to donate to people in need. Future opportunities may exist for church and community members to lead quilting classes or donate materials.
“Our church’s passion for fabric and quilting ministry make the sponsoring of the sewing machine and loom a perfect fit for us,” Parkinson said.
The partnership is a win on both sides.
“When we get support from different groups and organizations, it generates excitement about the project,” Pallotta said. Individuals and organizations still have a chance to support the Project of the Year. Information regarding donations is available on the Cranberry Township Community Chest website at www.ctcchest.org. Those interested in volunteering to teach a class or help staff the makerspace may email Pallotta at firstname.lastname@example.org.