When you first opened the January issue of the SAQA journal, did you feel a certain surprise upon encountering Kris Sazaki’s opening lines in German? Perhaps some members of SAQA had not even realized that there is such a thing as a language problem for other SAQA members. SAQA is an American based organization, but with an international outlook. Some of the regions beyond California or the Northeast may seem far away, strange, or way out there to people in the United States. So I, as one of the co-reps for the SAQA region Europe/Middle East, would like to present you with a little bit of information about this region.
Europe/Middle East is one single region, which in its total expansion covers an area larger that the size of the entire continental United States. SAQA Europe/Middle East has currently around 250 members, spread out over 15 to 20 countries – depending on whether you count the Channel Islands as part of Great Britain or not, or how you include the countries of those members who have signed up for Europe/Middle East as their second region. That makes for members who speak at least as many different languages between them. Membership numbers vary between 1 per country (Lithuania) and 66 (United Kingdom). We do translate our newsletter into five languages right now (besides English), trying to extend SAQA’s reach to people who are not very comfortable about speaking and reading English.
Quilting had a national tradition in some of the countries in the region, such as England and the Scandinavian countries, but less so in many others. Here, quilting was introduced somewhere in the 1970s/80s after its resurgence in the US. Soon, however, some European quilters broke free of traditional quilting patterns, and the art quilt scene in Europe has become an interesting, vital, and individual appearance with a distinct voice, despite constant influences from the US.
Several major quilting events have developed and become fixed dates in the annual calendar. We will report from these events in more detail as they come up this year (and as this European correspondent happens to be present there).
As the region is so large and varied, it is a special challenge to get the members to know each other. Building a network across such a wide area and so many languages is not an easy task – and depends mostly on the members’ willingness to participate and cooperate, of course. It has become a standing tradition that SAQA will have get-togethers for SAQA members at the various venues. Meet-and-greets at Birmingham and Ste. Marie-aux-Mines have become a tradition and draw members from all over the world, and have been the basis for new friendships. Similar events are now being officially introduced in Prague and Maastricht, and in Karlsruhe I simply arrange for an informal get-together of SAQA members in a local restaurant.
Quilters in Europe tend to be very internationally oriented. In Veldhoven (NL) last fall we had 10 people at the meeting, and although half of these live in one country right now (Israel), due to biographical circumstances and backgrounds, we could claim that we virtually had people from 10 countries getting together.
The next get-together coming up will take place in Prague, on April 11, at the Prague Patchwork Meeting. It is open to any SAQA member from all over the world, should you happen to be in Prague on that weekend. Simply send a mail to Uta_at_SAQA@web.de, indicating your interest to attend, and we will be very happy to have you there!
You can read more about goings on in the region Europe/Middle East on our regional blog http://saqa-europe-middleeast.blogspot.de/
On the blog, we have also been featuring a series of self-introductory posts from the members, approximately grouped by countries (depending on the order in which members sent their contributions). You can get to know almost every fifth of our members there, and find links to their respective personal blogs or websites. Blog posts on the regional blog vary in frequency and do not overlap with posts on the main blog, so if you want to get more information on other aspects of SAQA, do stop by every now and then!
Uta Lenk, co-rep for SAQA Europe/Middle East