Soul Box Project
by Kathie England
“One person can make a difference. Everyone should try.” These words of John F. Kennedy aptly describe Leslie Lee, founder of the Soul Box Project.
After the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people and wounded 441 on October 1, 2017, Leslie’s despair tuned to action when she asked herself, “What can I do?”
The Soul Box Project idea began when she discovered that more than 168,000 people were killed or injured by guns between 2014 and 2017. Leslie found a photo of the Ohio State University Stadium that holds nearly 105,000 people. What does it say when even a stadium as large as large Ohio State’s cannot hold all those killed or injured by guns within the most recent three-year timeframe?
Leslie realized how difficult it is to comprehend numbers like these. As an artist, she pondered how a visual statement could make the astounding number of victims more real. Her idea – create a small origami box to represent the life of each soul gunned down – a SOUL BOX. Then display thousands of Soul Boxes in public places like libraries, shopping malls, the halls of Congress, and maybe even at gun shows. Perhaps this visual display would motivate people to write their Congressional representatives, lock up their guns, and demand common sense solutions to the epidemic of gun violence in this country.
A famous and impactful visual display, the AIDS Memorial Quilt with each panel representing one life lost to AIDS, was initially the idea of one man, Cleve Jones. First exhibited on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in October 1987, it helped Americans pay attention to another epidemic.
Perhaps the Soul Box Project has the same potential!
I recently hosted a small Soul Box Party for a few friends. We made almost 40 Soul Boxes which I will deliver to the Soul Box workshop in Portland, Oregon. We decorated many of these Soul Boxes with the names of individuals recently killed by guns. Several of mine showed the faces of a one-year old, a two-year old, and a three-year old. Just the act of researching those who have recently been killed by guns was an emotional experience.
I invite you to visit www.SoulBoxProject.org to learn more, to be inspired, to take action, and remember JFK’s words: “One person can make a difference. Everyone should try.”