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Chapel Hill celebrated culture and community with Bloom Fest


On Sunday, WE SENSE, a 501(c)(3) volunteer organization based in Chapel Hill, partnered with the Town of Chapel Hill’s Community Arts and Culture division to put on the first ever Bloom Fest. 

Bloom Fest celebrated the diversity and culturally rich community of Chapel Hill with their spring-themed festival that combined the arts, nature and food in the 140 W. Franklin St. Plaza in downtown Chapel Hill.

A relatively-new organization, WE SENSE was founded last year, and Bloom Fest was its third major project, following their E-Cycling and Festi-Fall Art Festival events.

Tingting Chu was the Volunteer Program Director for the event. Chu explained that the “SENSE” in WE SENSE’s name stands for “serve, engage, nurture, share and enrich.” Because of this, the group found that the symbolism of spring bloom was the perfect theme to convey the group’s mission. 

“Our content focus is about anything creative, everything has the vision of environmental awareness and about community connection,” Chu said.

Chu brimmed with pride when showing the miniature garden that was part of the Community in Bloom contest within the larger Bloom Fest. The contest encouraged community members to create artistic miniature gardens through repurposed materials to highlight creativity and diversity of cultural backgrounds in the Chapel Hill community.  

“You can tell the cultural highlights have a personal inspiration. It’s more than just fairy gardens,” Chu said. “You can see all this personal inspiration, personal experience, background, heritages––that’s why we found this project particularly interesting.”

Ultimately, the goal of the project was to bring together all members of the community to take pride and encourage openness to the various backgrounds within Chapel Hill.

“I think we want to kind of first establish this project to be something making Chapel Hill feel very proud. And then we can use this as a sample if we want to reach out (to other communities)” Chu explained. “When we talk about what’s so special about Chapel Hill, we can say, ‘Oh we have a Community in Bloom that takes place.’”

Several local high school students took part in the festivities. 

Lucy Marques, a sophomore at Chapel Hill High School, volunteered with the Kidzu Children’s Museum at their popup exhibit at Bloom Fest.

“My friend’s mom works with Kidzu, and they asked if I wanted to dress as a fairy to volunteer, and I said sure!” Marques said. “It’s been a very positive experience.”

Other organizations there included Blawesome, a small local business that cultivates and delivers locally and organically grown bouquets of flowers. Raimee Sorensen, a young man in the Chapel Hill community living with autism, started the business to show that having a disability does not prevent someone from contributing to the world beautifully.

For every signature bouquet of flowers sold, Blawesome also provides “The Good Karma” bouquet to a teacher, police officer, social worker, or any other individual who is often unacknowledged for their work.

“I enjoy going to all kinds of shows and events, but personally I really haven’t seen anything like this,” Chu said.

To find more information about WE SENSE, or if you’re interested in getting involved, the group can be contacted

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