The effort to make immigrants and refugees more comfortable as they settle in — and to foster discussion in the community — is the focus of a four-day event in Brookline, Massachusetts, that kicked off Thursday night.

The festival is called “Interwoven: Craft, Story, Immigration.” It uses arts to break down the controversial topic.

“We feel that it’s important to celebrate immigration because it’s what makes this country, and the topic of immigration is one that’s really hard to wrap our heads around,” said event organizer Hadassah Margolis. “It can feel really abstract, like it’s happening halfway across the world, when, in fact, there are ways immigration is affecting all of us every day.”

Welcome blankets are just one of the art projects they’ve taken on — knitting them while discussing immigration and then delivering them to new immigrants and refugees with warm welcome notes attached.

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“It’s a wonderful way to give to someone something that’s practical and symbolic,” said Jayna Zweiman, creator of Welcome Blanket. “They can touch and hold when they arrive.”

Another project involves using virtual reality as a high-tech way for immigrants to share their stories and explain why they wanted to move to the U.S.

“We feel that VR is such an immersive experience that you gain empathy and compassion for those who may have similar stories to yours or different stories from yours,” said Kathy Bisbee, co-founder of the Public VR Lab.

There are several events taking place through Sunday at the Makery near Coolidge Corner in Brookline. Click here to learn more.

This post was originally posted at http://www.necn.com/news/new-england/Interwoven-4-Day-Festival-Celebrates-Immigration-Brookline-560840361.html.

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