CRANES FOR CHANGE - A Mobile-Based Web App for Gun Violence Activism - 2016

Following my experience of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, I spent years researching and exploring what happens to the tens of thousands of items people send following tragedies. The interviews and footage I gathered are now available as part of the interactive web documentary, The Story of the Stuff. After seeing how overwhelmed communities can become by the outpouring of mail and donations, I wondered if there was a way to reverse the flow of stuff to people in positions to effect meaningful change to prevent gun violence. The talented and generous folks at Murmur and VividStory joined me in this endeavor to create more peace in the world.

While the quantity and variety of items sent to sites of tragedy varies, one item that reappears at nearly every site is origami cranes.  As just one example, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, Blacksburg received more than 32,000 paper cranes!

While we can’t be exactly sure why cranes are so common, it likely has to do with the cultural significance of the crane, particularly senbazuru in Japanese culture. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane.

We chose to use the origami crane because it is our wish to end gun violence and mass shootings in America. Perhaps when we all fold a thousand cranes together we can accomplish this goal.


"In the Wake of Tragedy: Librarian and archivist’s web documentary explores makeshift memorials." American Libraries Magazine. George M. Eberhart. December 14, 2015. <>.

"This Documentary Explores the Deeper Meaning of the Gifts That Pour in After Mass Shootings." The Trace. Elizabeth Van Brocklin. December 14, 2015. <>.

"Redirecting Sympathy After Mass Shootings Toward Those Who Can Effect Change."  WNPR - Connecticut Public Radio. Diane Orson. December 14, 2015. <>.