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Making events begin June 7; on Aug. 2, the third and final local Soul Box-making event will coincide with the opening of an exhibition of Soul Boxes at Milwaukie City Hall

Milwaukie Arts Council (artMOB) will host three Soul Box-making events during First Fridays starting June 7.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Visitors admire the colorful hand-folded boxes from The Soul Box Project, a national community art project to raise awareness of the number of gunfire victims.  In the tradition of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the national Soul Box Project is collecting one handmade origami box for every person killed or injured by gunfire in the United States since 2014. The project has collected more than 50,000 3-by-3-inch origami boxes from across the country.

On Aug. 2, the third and final local Soul Box-making event will coincide with the opening of an exhibition of Soul Boxes at Milwaukie City Hall. The project was created by a Portland studio artist who wanted to take action after hearing about the Las Vegas music festival shooting in 2017.

Project founder Leslie Lee thinks that when people come face to face with thousands of boxes representing victims, they'll understand the enormity of the gunfire epidemic and be inspired to take action by enrolling in gun handling classes to securing firearms, to working toward gun-sense legislation.

"Together, those actions will cause a shift in our nation's culture," Lee said. "We get a lot of activists folding, but we also get boxes from people who've lost someone in a suicide or accident. "

The goal is to take at least 200,000 Soul Boxes to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the election year 2020.

The Soul Box Project intentionally seeks to bridge the so-called gun divide. "Soul Boxes can be made for any person killed or injured by gunfire. It can be healing for anyone experiencing this loss. No matter how or why a person is shot, people grieve," Lee said. "The collective spirit of people coming together to take action, to remember and to heal continues to inspire me."

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