NORTH ATTLEBORO -- Within the meeting room at North Attleboro’s Richards Memorial Library, nearly two dozen people discovered different aspects and techniques of creative problem-solving during a community-building project that included puzzles and pie.
The two-hour event Saturday, “Peace by Piece With Pie,” included several puzzles of varying design and size, as well as three baked pies: apple crumb, cranberry apple, and cherry. The pies were donated by Whisk & Paddle Bakery & Cafe of North Attleboro, Scialo’s County Bakery in Seekonk, and Stop & Shop, respectively.
Seekonk artist Sarah Jane Lapp, who has been designing puzzles with her own artwork for seven years, created this activity not only foster a creative way to solve problems in everyday life through puzzle assembly, but also to foster dialogue between people who would not have otherwise met each other.
The first puzzle, a 24-piece abstract painting of Lapp’s which measured 4.5 by 6.5 inches, came in a small manila envelope. Working in pairs of two, the participants — many of whom had not met before — put their heads together to strategize the putting the puzzle together.
Once everyone was finished, Lapp applauded their efforts.
“You’ve just taken a 24-piece puzzle that you’ve never seen and assembled it with someone you’ve never met, without a reference image,” Lapp said.
The second exercise, an homage to sociologist Taylor Cox, was a drawing of blank pie graph in which participants listed seven facets of their identities, both cultural and personal.
“In an effort to get to know one another, I encourage you to ‘share your pies,’” Lapp said as the room quickly filled with chatter.
One woman found out that the woman sitting across from her was “spiritual,” and enjoyed doing deep-water aerobics at the YMCA.
After being treated to the three donated pies, the patrons tackled another, larger puzzle of over 100 pieces while working together in bigger groups.
Once the larger puzzles were solved, Lapp again asked the participants what strategies they had used to assemble the puzzles.
Responses ranged from patience and knowing when to step back,to the importance of having a vision.
These ideas brought the puzzle-solvers back to the questions they had answered on their worksheets at the start of the event.
“How do you feel now?” Lapp asked the participants. “How can you apply these problem-solving techniques to your goals and dreams?”
This purpose resonated in a special way with patron Nandu Palanisany and his 11-year-old daughter Kayal, both of North Attleboro.
The pie graph in particular prompted Palanisany to look closer at himself in a way that he had not thought to do before.
The thrill of the challenge that lies within solving puzzles, as well as its universal strategies and its parallel to the current political climate, was reflected upon by library employee Maggie Holmes.
“When you’re solving a puzzle, it makes you continually refocus on the process and change your point of view,” she said.
Lapp concurred: “I think, in a climate of fear, it’s important for people to remember how to be vulnerable with each other, and share who they are with one another.”