New Salem event will turn gun parts into gardening tools, jewelry

Swords to Plowshares Northeast members will be on the New Salem Common from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday to show people how to forge gun parts into gardening tools and jewelry.

Swords to Plowshares Northeast members will be on the New Salem Common from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday to show people how to forge gun parts into gardening tools and jewelry. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Swords to Plowshares Northeast members will be on the New Salem Common from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday to show people how to forge gun parts into gardening tools and jewelry.

Swords to Plowshares Northeast members will be on the New Salem Common from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday to show people how to forge gun parts into gardening tools and jewelry. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Swords to Plowshares Northeast members will be on the New Salem Common from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday to show people how to forge gun parts into gardening tools and jewelry.

Swords to Plowshares Northeast members will be on the New Salem Common from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday to show people how to forge gun parts into gardening tools and jewelry. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-25-2024 12:38 PM

Modified: 04-25-2024 5:59 PM


NEW SALEM — A Connecticut nonprofit will send representatives to town on Saturday to demonstrate how something that is often associated with tragedy can be converted into an instrument furthering new growth.

Swords to Plowshares Northeast members will be on the New Salem Common from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to show people how to forge gun parts into gardening tools and jewelry. This is not a buyback event and the New Salem Police Department asks that attendees do not bring firearms. All gun parts will be provided.

“Wherever we go to do this demonstration, there is a sense of hope,” said the Right Rev. James E. Curry, a retired bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and a co-founder of Swords to Plowshares Northeast, which is part of the larger national organization Guns to Gardens. “It’s really fun to take the destroyed gun and make it into something that

is useful and actually beautiful. It’s catching on.”

He said the old gun parts are often made into gardening tools that are given away to community gardens. Many have been donated across New England and in parts of Pennsylvania and New York over the past six years.

“It’s a real sense of taking control over something that’s tremendously hurtful. It’s just plain cathartic,” Curry said. “It’s a moment of power.”

New Salem resident Janet Henderson, a New Salem Congregational Church parishioner and a history teacher in Gardner, learned about Swords to Plowshares Northeast after seeing a segment on “CNN 10,” a daily news show for students older than 13 and other viewers to learn about current events and global issues in 10 minutes or less.

“I thought, ‘That’s really cool,’” she recounted.

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Henderson continued to hear more about the organization on the daily afternoon radio show “The Fabulous 413” only to shortly thereafter sing “Down by the Riverside,” a song about laying down one’s sword and shield and making a commitment to no longer studying war, at church.

“This has got to be something I’m supposed to pay attention to,” she recalled thinking.

Henderson figured a forge demonstration would be perfect, considering the number of gardeners and farmers in New Salem.

Curry, who is also a founding member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, explained Swords to Plowshares Northeast was founded in 2017 by a group of people who had experienced gun violence. The organization’s name comes from the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament of the Bible. He said some of his fellow clergy have worked closely with the loved ones of people killed by firearms, including those murdered in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” Curry said. “Sandy Hook is a monumental tragedy and it has really changed all the families who were involved, the town itself.”

Curry lives in New Haven, which he said has a reputation for firearm violence. He said his organization also provides free gun locks and encourages gun owners to keep firearms away from children and dangerous adults.

“We invite people to think about the guns that they have in their home — do they need them?” he said. “We are not out to get guns away from responsible gun owners, but we want people to think about the risk versus benefit of just having guns around the house.”

More information is available at s2pnortheast.org. Police will be present to answer questions during Saturday’s program. For more information, contact Henderson at bojan45h@gmail.com or the New Salem Police Department at newsalempolicedepartment@gmail.com.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.