Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spinning in Community with Others

Erin’s life inspired the creation of the Welcoming Space in
the Library of Westerville South High School and the Erin
McKenzie Virtual Welcoming Space Web site at Otterbein
College Courtright Memorial Library. Both provide a
diverse mix of media styles and information to encourage
conversations and facilitate our discovery of one another’s
cultures, experiences, and how we are connected; celebrate
the gifts and talents in each of us; and help us to build
inclusive communities where all are valued.

The mural on the wall of the high school library’s space was
inspired in part by an article my friend Candee found about the
Whirling Dervishes of Turkey. The spinning of the dancer is
an intentional act of participation in what is believed to be the
shared similarity and revolution of all other beings.

Student artist Sarah Boatright took that theme and combined it
with the significance of the circle in Native American culture to
create a beautiful painting of a young woman with long,
flowing hair who looks very much like Erin spinning within
a dream catcher. On a wall to the side are the words,
“Mitakuye Oyasin,” which is taken from the Lakota/Dakota
language and can be translated, “We are all related,” or “All
my relations.” It is a belief of oneness and harmony with the

This connection was also important to Erin. My husband
was involved for many years with the central Ohio Native
American community. When we attended events, Erin was
always genuinely welcomed and invited to dance in the

Sarah’s artwork has marvelously captured how two very
different cultures celebrate the importance of community.
Erin’s life powerfully demonstrated that too.

May we all spin happily together.

Copyright 2008, Barbara McKenzie.

1 comment:

starrlife said...

They all sound like beautiful places. I too am connected to the (Massachusetts) native community and always they have been tender and inclusive.