Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America.


In late August 2009, a multi-year educational initiative called Silk Road Connect was launched in five pilot schools in underserved neighbourhoods of New York City as part of its Department of Education’s Campaign for Middle School Success. The brainchild of cellist Yo Yo Ma and his Silk Road Project, Silk Road Connect ‘inspires passion-driven learning by empowering students and educators to seek connections across all areas of study and to follow their interests from the familiar to the foreign. In a spirit of playfulness and investigation, collaboration and creativity, this program invites students to experience learning as a continual process and the foundation for a meaningful life in our complex and interrelated world.’ The topic of indigo (backed by storytelling, music, dance and film) was chosen as an ideal model for interrelated learning. Dating back to the tombs of Ancient Egypt yet also connecting with the personal experiences of students and their blue jeans, indigo provides a ‘through line’ for exploring history, science, geography, music, the visual arts and culture of the rest of the planet. Resources introduced at the first teacher training sessions will continue to be developed by all those involved, including educators in partner institutions, as the project unfolds. The author, indigo consultant to this innovative project, will discuss in her paper the ideas and formation of Silk Road Connect.