In 1994, the Forest Service celebrated 89 years of service. This quilt was made in part to commemorate this event. The Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service held a Unit Leaders Conference in June of that year and made this quilt to reflect on the past 89 years of the Agency and to recognize the present time of transition. District Rangers and Unit Leaders from Region 6 together, designed and made the quilt (with the help of lots of friends and coworkers). The Quilt shows the 19 National Forests and the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, all on a background of the States of Oregon and Washington.
The Conference theme was “Echoes and Ecosystems; Coming all Together for Tomorrow”. What better symbol of the past than a quilt? Quilts have often been used historically to capture significant events, such as weddings, births, exhibitions, political events, “Lindy’s First Flight”, etc. Their objective was to make a quilt that would be a memento of this point in time in the Agency, and of the Conference. Everyone who attended the Conference, including the Chief of the Forest Service at that time (Mr. Jack Ward Thomas), signed the back of the quilt.
Making the quilt became a metaphor for region 6 work…in many ways. The Rangers from each Forest or administrative unit were asked to bring a square of their own design to the conference. The Quilt reflects the work of a great diversity of people. Men and Women both worked on the quilt. People of color worked on the quilt. People who had never quilted and thought they couldn’t do it, worked on the quilt. Very experienced quilters worked on the quilt. People, who claimed they weren’t creative enough, stretched themselves and tried. Everyone was surprised by how much fun it was and that the quilt turned out beautifully. Obviously, this reflects the various ways that employees of the Forest Service accomplish the Region’s work.
In the end, the quilt is a metaphor that a very diverse group of people, all with different skill, beliefs, and opinions, came together to finish the job and create something very wonderful together.