Messages of hope


Rainbow art brings cheer during quarantine

Photo courtesy of Jenelle Botts
Henry, 6, and Madeline, 4, look out their window in Aukamm housing during quarantine. Their mother, Jenelle Botts, created the rainbow hearts collage in the window. “I liked the idea of having lots of color and using hearts to make the rainbow as a way to spread the love,” she said.

Since mid-March, Wiesbaden families have participated in the world-wide movement of placing rainbow art in their windows as a symbol of hope while people are staying at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While nobody knows where the concept originated, in the Wiesbaden military community the USO took the lead in promoting the activity to families.

 

Grace Lauer, center operations manager, created and shared a rainbow coloring sheet on the USO’s Facebook page in March after seeing a post in the Hainerberg housing Facebook group.

“Let’s create a community of hope though this pandemic,” Lauer said, in her original call for rainbow windows. The endeavor would be a colorful but silent support and show of love for friends, neighbors and the broader community. She added, “For all of time a rainbow has been a symbol of peace, hope and promise of a better future.”


From her perspective, the coloring sheet was a starting point for families and an easy way to bring the community together. The project coloring page has inspired collages, she said, and other creative approaches to the idea.

In the Aukamm community, Jenelle Botts provided her children, ages 4 and  6, with the rainbow sheets. “We have retreated into isolation and yet in this community-level collective event we have remained connected,” she said.

As a surprise to her children, Botts created a second rainbow collage with a series of cut-out hearts. “I liked the idea of having lots of color and using hearts to make the rainbow as a way to spread the love,” she said. She completed the project in the evening after the kids went to bed.

Gloria Morken, also of the Aukamm community, said, “I didn’t hesitate when I saw the idea on the garrison’s USO Facebook page.” She continued, “Since my building is so far away from the street, I knew a small piece of paper could be overlooked.” She went “big,” constructing a curtain-like rainbow from crepe paper streamers and tissue paper, filling the entire window. “I used to make this every year for St. Patrick’s Day, so I had all the supplies.”

The rainbows have become an I-Spy game for children. Botts said,  “On every walk our kids look for rainbows and get excited when they find them in a window.”

 

The enthusiasm isn’t limited to young children either. Lauer’s 15-year-old daughter, Trinity, is a fan of the project. The sophomore has even photographed some of the window postings. “My daughter told me they were everywhere,” Lauer said.

Botts said, “Just like the painted rocks that have been placed all along our sidewalks and in the tree knots, it’s a fascinating social phenomenon.”

Morken said, “I’ve heard great feedback from neighbors and strangers alike.” She also said she is encouraged by “the way the community has been intentional about giving young kids something to look forward to while they’re walking and also projects to do while they’re home.”

For families looking for additional collaborative projects, Lauer encourages parents to participate in the Month of the Military Child coloring/Flat Stanley project featured on the USO page. Students color and connect with their families and friends as they share a digital version of their creation. Find more information at facebook.com/USOWiesbaden.