Monday links, 2/17/14

Sometimes Boston’s trees grown pom-poms in the winter.

I’m sorry for the lateness of this links roundup. I lost my job last week (found out on Thursday that Friday was my last day), so I’ve spent the weekend recovering, trying to cheer myself up, and re-reading Sarah Kendzior’s writing on surviving the post-employment economy for sheer relevance.

I also have a bunch of Fatshion February outfit posts that I’ll be putting up soon. I’ve still been wearing and photographing fun outfits, but just haven’t gotten around to posting them yet.

Fa(t)shion
-It makes me so excited when people write their own reflections inspired by my posts! Celendra has some thoughts here about the availability of plus size clothing, inspired by my post about wanting pretty things, dammit.
An open letter to yarn companies from a fat knitter.
-On the double standard where thin girls dressed casually are considered cute, while fat girls dressed the same way are often seen as lazy.
-This fat cosplay of Elsa from Frozen is amazing.
-Exciting tutu-related news: Zelie for She’s new collection includes a gorgeous pale pink tutu! *drools*
-Total style inspiration: figure skater Johnny Weir’s silver sequin outfit.
-Shakesville holds another fat fashion resources thread. I’m so glad this is a thing.
-Rachel of Re/Dress writes about why she’s had a hard time finding clothing about 3x to carry online, and how she’s been trying hard to find manufacturers that will make larger sizes.  I appreciate that people like her are working so hard to make larger sizes available, and it just sucks that so many manufacturers have refused to make larger sizes, even when she offers them extra money. It’s ridiculous that there’s so much consumer demand for larger plus sizes, but manufacturers won’t listen.
Live Fat Die Yum sweatpants = yes.

Fat Acceptance
-This fat punk cartoon girl is the cutest.
Fat burlesque pictures always make me so happy.
-I so wish I could make it to Curve Camp, a body-positive yoga retreat in Nashville run by Anna of Curvy Yoga.
-Liss writes about the many “fat taxes” that fat people have to pay.

Climate and Sustainability
-The title of this article sounds like it’s about the Olympics, but it’s actually about indigenous rights, corporate greed, and the struggle to preserve a sustainable way of life and protect a sacred–and extremely biodiverse–environment: To get the gold, they will have to kill every one of us.
-A pre-med’s perspective on climate change, public health, and the need for fossil fuel divestment.
-Wen Stephenson reports on the growing movement to merge economic justice and climate activism. This is exactly what I believe in, and am trying to be part of.
Of pipelines, lunch counters, and warheads: effective protest requires concrete goals.
Oglala Sioux vow to stop Keystone XL if Obama won’t say no.
-Also planning to fight KXL: the students behind XL Dissent.

Other times, they grow really weird and cool ice formations.

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Another thing money can buy: time

Money doesn’t buy only job opportunities, kindness, and compassion: it can also buy time.

Last night, I was poking around the Transition Lab‘s website (because yes, I still have fantasies about doing it, even though I probably won’t for a whole bunch of reasons), and I noticed an announcement about two new work-exchange scholarships they’re offering:

At Transition Lab, we face an irony: While building a new economy, we still need to charge tuition in order to pay our bills in the old economy. Yet, the students who would benefit the most from our program don’t have a lot of money, because the traditional economy isn’t working out for them. It’s a double bind that is preventing the new economy to take off.

So we are going to take an innovative leap to break this cycle: We are offering the two remaining slots in our 2014 Co-Creator Program as gifts in exchange for the gifts that students can offer our program. That’s right- full tuition to two students in exchange for what they can gift us in return. Really? Yep. Gifts for Gifts.

It’s great that the people at Transition Lab recognize this double bind and are working to make their program more accessible.

But it reminded me how easily money can serve as a substitute for time and energy. People who can afford TL’s tuition can just go, no strings attached; those who can’t have to come up with a skill that’s useful to others, and then spend their time and energy practicing it throughout the program.

It’s similar to all the festivals and events that offer volunteer slots in return for free or reduced admission. Those who can afford tickets have the luxury of spending their time however they want; those who can’t, don’t. Volunteering isn’t necessarily bad–it can be fun if you do it with a group of friends. It can be a good way to practice your skills and learn new ones. But it can also be exhausting. Sometimes you just want to relax and enjoy yourself without having to work.

And that’s not even getting into the many, many people who work multiple jobs just to make ends meet, who wouldn’t have the time to go to festivals or events if they wanted to.

I want a different world: a world in which free time isn’t a luxury, but a right. A world in which people have the time and energy to explore who they are and what they want to do.

Reducing the standard work week to 21 hours, spreading out work more evenly across the population, and instituting a basic minimum income would go a long way toward making that possible.

Speaking of which, Alyssa Battistoni’s recent essay in Jacobin Magazine, Alive in the Sunshine, is a must-read. She argues that reducing the workweek and instituting a basic minimum income is necessary to achieve both economic justice and environmental sustainability–and would also give people the time to build communities and enjoy life.

Her analysis reminds me of my favorite book, Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy, condensed into a form that’s both more succinct and more specific about policy goals. It also reminds me of this great video about visualizing a plentitude economy, made by Juliet Schor (whom Battistoni quotes) and the Center for a New American Dream:

This is the world I want to build.

(Note: just to be clear, I think Transition Lab is going great work toward building that world, and I’m not disagreeing with or attacking their decisions at all. I’m just using them as an example to illustrate my train of thought about the ways in which, in our current system, people with less money often end up with less free time and less control over how they spend their time.)

Reflection of the day: on car culture and change

Sometimes I look at people who are incredibly knowledgeable about cars, like my dad, and think: if the US ever manages a shift away from car culture and sprawl toward high-density building, public transit, and walkable/bikable towns, we will be losing so much knowledge and culture.

It reminds me that with any social shift, even positive and necessary ones, we always lose something.

Friday links, 7/26/13

Fa(t)shion
Erin tries out BeauCoo, a body-positive outfit-sharing app, and finds it promising but problematic in many ways.
-I love the kids’ clothing in this Etsy shop! They even have a TARDIS skirt and a tuxedo dress.
-A new Tumblr dedicated to alt-fatshion: Plus Size Goth.
This dog is so stylish!
-I so wish this sharkini came in plus sizes.
-Somebody, please, buy this size XXL skull lace dress with red trim so I can enjoy it vicariously.
-Canadian readers, check out Lucy Clothing!
-Kriss, a Swedish brand that goes up to size 2XL, now has an online shop that ships worldwide! It’s expensive, but they have some really cute stuff.
-Karyn takes down fashion “rules.”
-Another recent find: the Bargain Catalog Outlet, which has super-cheap clothes from various plus size catalogs.
Adventures in summer style with Harvey Guillen.

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This is what a deep economy looks like: Cupcake Camp Boston (plus OOTD)

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with Bill McKibben’s book Deep Economy. This is because McKibben so clearly articulates a vision for a future that is livable, community-based, and joyous–a future that will destroy neither the planet nor the lives of its inhabitants. His book is both practical and visionary: both a blueprint for creating a healthier society and an exploration of what that means.

And so, when I recently attended Cupcake Camp Boston, I couldn’t help but see it as one delicious example of a deep economy: a tiny, tasty model of a society built around community connection rather than profit.

Cupcake Camp promotes both local businesses and community togetherness, with a good helping of buttercream frosting. The basic idea is that you pay a small fee to sample a certain number of cupcakes from local bakeries. (Ironically enough, I didn’t end up eating a single cupcake! By the time I arrived, tickets were sold out, so I just wandered around. A few of the booths gave me cupcakes despite my lack of a ticket, but I was too full from breakfast to eat them, so I was planning to save them for later…until they started getting all melty, so I gave them away instead.)

In addition to the cupcakes themselves–which are both a great deal for the consumers, and great publicity for the bakers–there were all sorts of fun, free activities, including a cupcake relay race and a cupcake eating contest!

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Want to know how I feel about the threat of climate change?

Then read this essay by Megan Mayhew Bergman.

A taste:

I want to be hopeful. On good days, I go to 350.org and am heartened by their belief that we can make large-scale changes in the human activity that results in global warming. Not that we can, but we will. But most days, I don’t think we’re going to save this planet. I don’t think, as humans, we’re going to do the right thing. Is that constructive to say? No. Is it subscribing to the very unhelpful school of shaming the enemy, even if that enemy is yourself?  Yes. But if I knock the moral sieve out of the way and give it to you straight, that’s what keeps me up at night. Our inevitable failure.

I don’t know how she got inside my head. This is how I feel, down to the letter, with the one major difference that she has small children whereas I don’t even have kids yet.  How do I even begin to think about bringing new lives into this world?

When it comes to fat activism, I feel like I can make a difference. Even just putting pictures of myself on the internet, pictures of myself being fat and happy and fabulous, can be radical in its own small way.

But climate change? It’s huge, and all-encompassing, and terrifying. It makes everything else feel meaningless.

I don’t have the guts (or the financial stability, but mostly the guts) to devote my life to it. To chain myself to other activists like the Westboro 8, or lock myself to a piece of heavy machinery like a grandmother from Oklahoma. I admire the hell out of them from a distance. I go to 350 meetings, I do my little bits of activism, and I distract myself.

I don’t know how I’d get through the day if I didn’t distract myself. I don’t know how I’d stay sane.

Deep down, I’m terrified.

And, unlike my various irrational anxieties, I know that this terror is real. This terror is justified. I don’t think there’s any way to quell it without going completely into denial.

How can we build good lives atop this undercurrent of panic? How can we keep hoping in the face of overwhelming odds, while our government twiddles its fingers?

How do we live well and justly in this world when there’s a very real chance that it’s just too late?

I wish I had answers.

I wish there were answers.

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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