by Harriet and Annie Wu

Story by Cailey Howard, a student reporter from UNC-Chapel Hill

The Creativity in Bloom Contest is a unique opportunity to remind ourselves of our environmental appreciation during these quarantined weeks. Past participants of the Community in Bloom contest Harriet Wu and her daughter Annie found that they were able to express themselves in this green project, and let their imaginations run wild.

The COVID-19 virus has stolen a great deal of normalcy from our everyday lives. Luckily, it cannot infringe upon our abilities to let creativity bloom.

In these crazy quarantined weeks, it is very easy to feel trapped indoors and to become enthralled with nothing other than our technology. The Creativity in Bloom Contest is an exciting event that will allow us to use this screen time to engage in a crafty competition centered around environmental mindfulness.

The goal of the contest is to have participants create their own green project using recycled or reused materials. The participants must submit a photo (and can also create an optional video presentation) of their projects and a short written statement about the piece online at

The competition has a grand prize of $200, but also has other opportunities for participants to be recognized/awarded. For example, viewers will be able to vote online for their favorite green projects. Five winners of this voting will each receive a “People’s Choice Award.”

Past participants Harriet and Annie Wu created their project “Peace Garden,” using materials like recycled cardboard ring, origami paper used for crafts, twigs from their backyard, bamboo from an old serving tray, and rocks gathered on family hikes.

The overall goal of the contest is to instill habits in participants that promote stewardship of the environment. However, an additional benefit of the program is the ability to express powerful messages through the green projects.

Harriet and Annie Wu were able to address the violence that exists in our world through their piece. Many objects used in “Peace Garden,” were symbolic of a deeper meaning.

"Our garden includes the harmonious elements of Feng Shui,” said the Wus. “The painted Chinese character is the character for harmony - harmony between man and nature, as well as between people.”

They also used the origami paper to fold paper cranes, a symbol of peace in Asian culture.

Through their work, the pair not only wanted to inspire environmentally savvy actions, but also wanted to create their idea of the perfect sanctuary in a violent world.

“We imagine that a visitor could sit in our cool misty garden, listening to the sounds of running water and birdsong, and feel at peace,” said the Wus.

They found the competition as a valuable way to give back to the environment through the reuse of materials.

The Creativity In Bloom contest is organized by an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit called We Sense and its volunteer team. Registration for the contest is open from May 10-30, 2020 and online voting is open from June 1-15, 2020. Visit to learn more.

Although we are currently encouraged to be socially distant from others, this contest is a great way to virtually connect with individuals who share a passion for the environment.

Efforts to live greener should not stop even though normal life currently has been put on pause, and this competition is a platform to explore how we can do that even in quarantine.