Don't be a square: This one's for the people!

Shapes provide structure where there is none. They act as fences, defining the unknown and qualifying a meaningful space. Simply joining a series of edges together brings a sense of stability and presents a starting point for numerous interpretations. These constructions have a direct relationship to their perceived or actual function. The circle as a wheel and the square as a building provide the most obvious examples. In nature shapes abound in variety and there is one that provides us with a view into the crystalline composition of some of the most basic forms of life, the hexagon.
The innumerable permutations of tessellating hexagonal shapes are most vividly recognized as a social structure and a perfect example of geometric efficiency. It’s hip to be hexagonal, which suits the Interdependence Hexagon Project well. As symbol of regeneration and reflection, Interdependence Day was launched in Philadelphia on September 12 2003 as a post 9/11 symbol asking the simple question “What next?”  For Beth Burkhauser, chairperson of the project, “It seemed critically important to acknowledge the inevitability and significance of interdependence in our time, and set out to build constructively and culturally, a civil global society.”
“The goals of Interdependence are, by nature interdisciplinary.  They require everyone to connect outside of their social, economic, political, artistic and academic “boxes” and interact in a different spirit – one that is more collaborative and creative. It is those who can think creatively and solve problems that will be most valued as the world confronts the dilemmas of inequality, injustice, unsustainable environmental conditions, improving health care, global governance and democracy and religious freedom.”
And thus the wheels were set in motion to put practice into action. Inspired by the events of September 11th, Scranton native Sondra Myers co-founded I-day or Interdependence Day. “Since the launching event in Philadelphia in 2003, there have been major Interdependence Day observances in Rome and Paris, along with Philadelphia and in communities and on campuses around the world, including Scranton, which has celebrated Interdependence Day since 2006. The commemoration is organized by a planning committee comprised of volunteers from the cultural community, the secondary and higher education community, local civic groups, religious groups, local libraries, county government and many others”, states the Interdependence website.
The arts have a transformative power and stirred by Sondra Meyers mission Beth Burkhauser, a retired Art Educator for 35 years in the public school and now an adjunct in Art Education At Keystone College, LaPlume, PA, joined the movement.
“The Interdependence Movement needed to find a role for young people.  When I retired, Sondra Myers, Co-Founder of I-Day,, asked me to come on board.  I did with this project – creating a kind of “Mail-Art” where young people of approximately ages 10 – 18 could create around the themes of Interdependence. The hexagons are an engaging shape – endless linking tessellations, motivating to think about and utilize as a meaning-making vehicle or device. Students – and now the PUBLIC, have created endless variations and expressions of the themes – and, in some amazing instances, have utilized the project and take it to the next level – which is “ART INTO ACTION.”
“Scranton, being the home of Sondra Myers and her community celebration of Interdependence each year now for nine years, has also become the HUB – or “Exhibit Space” for the Interdependence Hexagon Project! We welcome collaboration with other places. We have entries from Nepal, Africa, Jamaica, the Philippines, and across the US.  We’ve had over 2000 hexagons displayed since we began six years ago. Certainly our City of Scranton is at a cross-road of development with the need for its citizens and leaders to act cooperatively and interdependently as the crux of whether we will sink or swim. Interdependence means that we need to know how much is enough and how much to give as well as receive.”
So after six years the project has been opened up to include submissions from the community. As a result this coming First Friday Scranton September 7th the Mall at Steamtown outside the Library Express will be hosting “The People’s Hexagon Project” with a reception and recognition event to be held Sept. 16 from 2 to 4 PM. The exhibit will feature drawings, paintings, collages, and sculptures revealing how e are connected to family, friends, community, and the country all while working within a hexagonal template. The event will also have food and music and a special “Interdependence Theremin Experiment” with Jason Smeltzer and flutist, Julian Sparacino as well as awards for exceptional entries in the People’s Project sponsored by Bella Faccias, The City Cafe’, Hoban’s Parent and Teacher Store, Betta’s Bread and more.  In addition to the event Beth will be doing a workshop at AFA gallery’s “No Ball Festival”, August 25th and 26th featuring John Bromberg’s Big Arts/Performance Event.
For more information on Interdependence Day and “The People’s Hexagon Project” be sure to visit Interdependence Day Scranton on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and here.