Dillard with two examples of ornaments by children in the class she taught. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
Every year, a different state decorates the capitol Christmas tree in Washington DC, and this summer, ten Alaskan artists will design the ornaments. Bonnie Dillard is a retired teacher and one of those involved. She explains the project is meant to be a community effort.
“Each artist created a lesson plan so that teachers around the state or community members, whoever wanted to lead a workshop to create these ornaments could do so, and they’d have the lessons plans and examples in front of them,” Dillard says.
Dillard says marine debris has been a concern of hers for many years and she’s chosen it as her medium. She says she recently led her first class with children at a local summer program.
“I created a plan for a marine debris animal,” Dillard says. “A fish, since we’re a fishing community, and basically you cut up the debris and you wire it together into shapes and patterns, and they end up being very sturdy. You have to make an ornament that can hold up in the weather, because it will be outside.”
And Dillard says the fish need to be colorful to stand out against the green of the tree, which will come from the Chugach National Forest. She says she hopes to raise awareness about the marine debris washing up on the coast.
“It’s important that kids realize that this is a problem,” says Dillard. “And as they grow up, I’m hoping that they will become passionate about taking care of the place where they live instead of blindly buying things and not thinking about what happens to their garbage.”
Dillard encourages kids and adults in Kodiak to get together to make the ornaments and submit them for consideration to hang on the capitol tree. She says she hopes to see workshops pop up around town. Check out the project’s website for more information.