LANSING — Greater Lansing Area Development has kicked off a major revitalization and beautification project for the town of Lansing, which is set to take years to complete.

GLAD is a nonprofit organization that is committed to the revitalization and economic development of the town and townships of Lansing. The organization completes its efforts while honoring Lansing’s local history and maintaining its culture.

One of the first steps in their beautification efforts was a barn quilt project. A barn quilt made by local students with the help of their family members is now mounted on the historic barn in Lansing Creeper Trail Park.

The quilt hanging on the barn features a cardinal with mountains in the background and is noticeable for miles due to the bright red, green and blue paints used.

A second barn quilt can be found on the wall of the park’s restroom facilities.

Both were mounted by David Powers.

These barn quilts are the work of Dawn Richardson and her twin daughters Carlee and Bailey, along with Rianna Barker of Silas Creek Barn Quilts and her grandson Luke Neaves.

Another project located in the park was created by the hands of Ashe County students.

This past fall, Ashe County High School CCP students in WLD 131 designed and assembled a fish sculpture. Each student worked on different sections of the trout, stamping their initials next to their work.

Recently the sculpture, which is located near the parking area, was painted and has become a popular attraction at the park.

“We are proud of our young adults bringing life to our cultural heritage with the barn quilts and sculpture,” said GLAD project manager Rene Shuford. “They now have a home within a certified community wildlife habitat where they can be enjoyed by everyone.”

Dawn Richardson is a math teacher at Ashe County Middle School who also serves as the vice president for GLAD.

The idea of creating barn quilts resulted from a conversation she had with her family during one of their many walks in Lansing Creeper Trail Park. When they were there almost two years ago, she made a comment about how great a barn quilt would look on the barn in the park.

Her husband, Travis, teaches science at ACMS and at the time Carlee and Bailey were students at the middle school. She immediately started thinking about ways she could get students involved in the project.

According to Richardson, she presented the idea at a GLAD meeting to gather opinions about the project. After the committee expressed interest, Richardson began exploring funding options.

She had previously received a Bright Ideas grant in the past and found the project to be a perfect candidate for the grant, which is through Blue Ridge Energy.

According to Richardson, she had applied for the grant in fall 2019 and was awarded money to complete two quilts. One quilt was for the barn and the other for the restroom facilities. The purpose of the grant was to include students in the planning and execution of the project.

Richardson lined up local historian Jim Parsons and Rianna Barker of Silas Creek Barn Quilts to assist in the project.

The initial plan was to include history lessons about the area and allow students the opportunity to select, plan, draw and paint.

“I wanted the students to learn about their town and take pride in where they come from,” Richardson said. “It was my hope to have students learn to think about the history of an area and make connections to create meaningful artwork with the hopes of them taking this and spreading their newfound talents to other communities in the county.”

According to Richardson, a lot of the plan quickly changed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which occurred just as they were getting started.

She was unable to include the students due to restrictions and had to form new plans. Barker and her grandson, along with Richardson and her daughters set out to ensure as much of the project was completed as possible.

Richardson described Barker as wonderful to work with because she volunteered countless hours and was a great teacher who quickly became a close friend.

According to Richardson, after the two barn quilts were complete for Lansing Creeper Trail Park there was enough money left over to purchase several smaller squares. It is planned for these purchased squares to be used by ACMS students during the 2021-22 school year.

Barker and Richardson have plans to expand on student involvement in the near future by teaching students how to create their own barn quilts.

“We are going for the same goal at the end but are having to get there in a totally different way than planned,” Richardson said. “I look forward to working with Rianna and teaching these students an art that they can use and maybe pass on to future generations.”

To learn more about GLAD and their efforts, follow them on Facebook @GLAD501C3.

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