A GYPSY and Traveler run organization has secured funding to replace its Legend Pole in hopes of increasing connection and engagement within Dorset’s Gypsy and Traveler communities.
Kushti Bok, which helps gypsies and travelers in Dorset gain more control over their lives and campaigns to end the discrimination they face, will receive the money from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Legend Poles not only provide a focal point for gatherings, but are also a memorial to those who died on the road – the original was carved with gypsy, gypsy and traveler motifs in 2004.
The funding will replace the existing Legend Pole, which suffered water and animal damage, with new artwork by original sculptor, Gary Orange.
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The new Legend Pole will be unveiled at Kingston Mauward College in Dorchester on Sunday July 17. The college has a long-standing relationship with Kushti Bok, who have supported the organization by providing regular meeting spaces, hosting their annual Roma Holocaust Memorial event, and have provided a permanent location for the Legend Pole.
Kushti Bok President Betty Smith Billington said: “This is a great opportunity for all Dorset residents to become more aware of the beautiful culture and heritage of traveling communities.
The new post will be placed in the garden of the college grounds, with a new plaque using a capital ‘G’ and ‘T’ for ‘Gypsies and Travellers’.
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Kushti Bok aims to use a range of engagement events such as traditional crafts and family history workshops to strengthen existing friendships and partnerships. They will also use the new Legend Pole to host community events both physically and virtually to increase connection and engagement within the Dorset Gypsy and Traveler communities.
Additionally, the project will be an opportunity for the organization to collect stories and memories and share them with Dorset-based repositories so they can continue to reflect Gypsy and Traveler culture and heritage.
Kushti Bok also hopes that the Legend Pole project will be an opportunity for them to gain new supporters and committee members and pave the way for new fundraising.