Things that give me hope

1.) New York’s Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, reading her poem titled “New York City” at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inauguration (transcript available here):

When I watch this young woman read, I can almost believe that change is possible. That the tides are turning. That we, the people, can and will rise.

Not just because of the beauty and fierceness and demand for justice that shines so clearly through her performance–although that alone is enough to blow me away.

But because this beauty and fierceness and demand for justice takes place at the swearing-in of a new mayor in the city that is America’s heart. The city that has been sanitized and stratified by 12 years of Bloomberg’s neoliberal policies. The city that has become an extreme–and extremely visible–symbol of an economic system that crushes lives and spirits.

The city that refuses to give up fighting.

In that fight, I see a world of new beginnings.

2.) Rebecca Solnit’s essay, “The arc of justice and the long run: hope, history, and unpredictability.”

Solnit argues that “[s]ometimes cause and effect are centuries apart; sometimes Martin Luther King’s arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice is so long few see its curve; sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc.” She gives examples of social and political seeds that germinated for years, decades, even centuries before bearing fruit: the role of hip-hop in the Arab Spring uprisings; the influence of Thoreau’s writing, which sold few books when he was alive, on both Gandhi and King; the effect that a seeing a talented black trumpet player had on a young man who grew up to help end segregation by aiding the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education.

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Truly sustainable fashion: what would it look like, and how do we get there?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the need for durable, small-scale, community-based economies–because that’s the only way we’re going to survive in this age of climate change. And I’ve been wondering, what does that mean for fashion? What would a sustainable system of clothing production look like?

Clothing swaps and bargain shopping events are a major step in the right direction. But new clothing still has to come from somewhere.

I really like The Social Skin’s vision of a sustainable textile industry. In it, fibers are grown locally whenever possible, including from animals like sheep and rabbits; local fabric shops create various types of cloth while paying their workers a living wage; people sew simple items at home, and take fabric to tailors for more complicated garments; and people care for their clothing carefully, using it until it wears out or selling it at consignment stores. Also, hats come back in style, providing work for local milliners–an idea which I can get behind 100%!

A sustainable system involving hats? Sign me up!

The way clothing would get made sounds wonderful:

You collaborate with the dressmaker on your garment design and in choosing your trimming and notions. She contributes expertise in fabric drapery and cut, suggestions on styles she has seen work before, and information on current fashion trends or historic styles as appropriate. You contribute your preferences on the style, cut, colors and fabrics that work for you. You might bring in pictures of clothes you’ve seen to be copied, with whatever adjustments you want, or your favorite old dress to be recreated in fresh fabric. All of your clothes fit you perfectly, are exactly the right length, height, and width in every place. The colors are always flattering to your complexion, the cuts always flattering to your figure, the style always exactly what you feel most comfortable and lovely wearing. What a dream!

There would be so much more room for creativity, and people of all sizes could get clothing they love, rather than being left out by corporations that don’t want their clothing seen on fat people.

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Quote of the day

“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: if you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.”
― Martin KeoghHope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World (source: Goodreads)