Support local journalism by subscribing at explore.mypapertoday.com/wickedlocalpremium, and subscribe to the Melrose Free Press newsletter here.
The Melrose Alliance Against Violence’s (MAAV) 25th Anniversary walk will incorporate a community art project of a manmade mandala created with objects found in nature.
A mandala is a geometric symbol of figures that represents balance and peace and aligns greatly with MAAV’s mission of raising awareness for domestic and teen dating violence.
Taking place the weekend of Oct. 24 and 25, walkers are encouraged to add whatever objects they find in nature on the walk to the mandala. Objects can include rocks, twigs, leaves, acorns, and other items that are found in nature.
“We wanted to come together in a creative way for this year’s walk, but still remain socially distant,” Board of Directors for MAAV member Jen Winslow said. “I saw manmade mandala’s on Suzanne Pollack’s (@suzaluna) Instagram and thought it would be a great addition to this year’s walk.”
A Beverly resident, Pollack is a local artist who will be helping MAAV with the manmade art project. She’s excited to bring the mandala to life on a larger scale at the MAAV’s annual walk.
“With the pandemic, a lot of us are stuck at home with our families with no real alone time,” Pollack said. “We want to give people the gift of alone time and connecting with nature through making this mandala.”
Pollack often walks her dog in nature and creates mandalas that can be found on her Instagram, which is her way of having time to herself and grounding herself while connecting with nature. She explained there is no “wrong way” to create a mandala, and encourages others to come out to the walk and experience all that nature can give you.
“Anybody can do it, you don’t have to be an artist,” she said. “It’s all about connecting with nature.”
Making the mandala will give walkers the opportunity to contribute to something big that people across the world can do together, but still separate.
“It’s really hard to connect with each other, and to reconnect with ourselves,” Pollack said. “People will enjoy being able to come together in a safe way and make something incredible.”
Walkers will also be able to come together as a community to celebrate MAAV’s 25th Anniversary and annual walk and candlelight vigil.
“We had special events planned for our anniversary year, like a breakfast and speeches from state leaders,” MAAV’s Executive Director Rebecca Mooney said. “We’ve adjusted and have great socially distanced and virtual events planned.”
Events include the annual candlelight vigil, which will be livestreamed on Oct. 18 at 4 p.m., as well as recorded speeches from state leaders and a special 25th anniversary tribute video.
MAAV will also be celebrating “25 Days to Celebrate 25 Years” on their social media starting on Oct. 1 with posts about their history, awareness videos, and more leading up to the annual walk.
If you aren’t able to make it to the walk, MAAV invites you to make your own mandala and post it on social media, tagging MAAV and #naturemandala.
“Even more people can get involved this year through our virtual programs,” Winslow said. “We have a great lineup of virtual events and socially distant events for the community to participate in.”
Another event that will be taking place is a scavenger hunt with 25 items along the route for walkers to find.
“It’s a fun and family friendly event with activities appropriate for kids of all ages,” Mooney said. “We’re looking forward to kicking it off.”
The annual walk exists to bring the community together to raise awareness for domestic violence and foster peace, which is something mandalas also accomplish.
“Creating a mandala is a cool way to come together but also remain separate,” Winslow said. “It’s one way to take a step back and reflect on where we are, and where we’re going.”
Register for the MAAV walk online here.