Giant Origami Crane Represents Peace in the New Year, Creator Says

By Victoria Johnson on January 9, 2013 6:40am 

LOGAN SQUARE — Logan Boulevard "Christmas House," meet your match — a 12-foot-tall origami crane.

The lights of the holiday favorite Christmas House at Logan Boulevard and Washtenaw Avenue may have gone dark over the weekend, but passers-by will now be treated to a special sight across the boulevards and a block west: a 12-foot "origami" crane made of two-by-fours and bed sheets.

Sima Cunningham, a 23-year-old musician who lives at the house off Fairfield Avenue and Logan Boulevard, built the crane with two of her friends on sort of a whim.

"Basically, one of my best friends makes paper cranes all the time, and they're scattered all over my house," she said. "So that's how it started."

She teamed up with her friends Yly — a member of the Rat Patrol bicycle club who constructs freak bikes and is handy with a blow torch — and Eric Stahl-David, an engineer who has since emigrated to San Francisco but was in town for the holidays.

The three have been doing this kind of thing since their days at Whitney Young High School — building random structures on the Chicago River — and once put together a giant "pirate ship" made of 12 bikes welded together.

For the crane, they were spurred on by A Big Project.org, a movement encouraging people worldwide to do something that helps create a culture of peace after the end of the Mayan calendar.

In Mayan lore, the calendar's end on Dec. 21 represented the dawn of a new era.

But because the crane didn't go up until Dec. 29, Cunningham said it also is meant to represent something of a community New Year's resolution for peace.

"I think if any statement needs to be made in Chicago, if not around the world, it's a statement of peace," she said.

The giant crane has another community component as well.

The three left little pieces of paper at the fence, which passers-by can use to write a message of peace for the new year, then fold into a little origami crane. If they don't know how to make a crane, they can leave the paper and Cunningham and her friends will fold it later and then string the colorful cranes on the fence.

"I kind of wanted this to be a place where the whole community could harbor a resolution," she said.

The crane will be on display for as long as it holds up in the Chicago winter, Cunningham said. It is also lit up every night until 1 a.m.

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