Category social justice

#Style For Justice Update

It is with much excitement that I tell you that I am #17 in the running for the contest to win a trip to Rwanda to meet the Noonday Collection sewing co-op artisans (out of over 500 entries). I am blown away by your love and support – thank you, thank you, thank you. We have until May 28th to vote once daily to move me up to one of the top 7 spots. The rankings will not be updated until May 29th. Once the top 7 are announced, Noonday will select the top 3 entries and the voting will begin again! You can read my first blog entry about the contest and watch the entry video here.

You can VOTE FOR ME (fill out or click ‘X’ on the popup and scroll to the bottom of the page) once everyday through May 28th!

And even more, will you ask your friends and family to do the same? Feel free to forward this blog post, share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I know many of you have already done this, and I can’t thank you enough!

rwanda-noonday-sewing

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Repost: Why Sustainable?

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would do a repost on why I am trying to pursue a sustainable lifestyle. This is a post from almost two years ago and it is quite interesting for me to revisit! I hope that you enjoy it and that you all have a lovely and ‘green’ Earth Day.

Originally posted on 10/16/2008.

I don’t know that I’ve taken the time to explain why I think it’s important for me to live a life that honors the planet so I thought I’d take a (long) moment and reflect on my learning/growing experience over the last year or so.

When I was young, I had a great 3rd Grade teacher that taught me about the environment. We learned a lot about ecosystems, endangered species, the three ‘R’s’ (Renew, Recycle, Reuse) etc. I think that is where it all began for me. As I grew up, this interest lay dormant. I partially think it didn’t surface because it wasn’t ‘cool’ and we all know how hard we strive for coolness in middle school and high school. Well, this began to change as I hit college. The degree I choose (Landscape Architecture) had a strong sustainable aspect to it. This began to awaken the interests I had for the environment as a child, but in college, it was coupled with a strong faith. I think everyone knows about the poor record of the church and the environment (conservative Christian = republican = DRILL DRILL DRILL!) and I felt pretty disheartened about the internal conflict I had with my desire to ’save the environment’ and what I saw being modeled for me in the faith community.

I sometimes listen to podcasts at work and on one particular day I was listening to the Mars Hill Church podcast, where Rob Bell turned the pulpit over to Matthew Sleeth. Matthew Sleeth is an environmentalist. A CHRISTIAN environmentalist. Not only that, but he’s sane, well spoken and educated. After listening to his 3 or 4 podcasts, I felt strongly convicted of living a selfish life. I had the American attitude of convenience, disposability and entitlement. I never thought about my actions having a negative effect on someone else’s life. I had believed what had been drilled into my generation’s head, that I should do whatever makes me happy. Greatly impacted, I bought Sleeth’s book, Serve God, Save the Planet. It sounds ridiculous, but this book helped to change my heart and the way I was living my life.

Sleeth’s approach to this issue is not one of gloom and doom. He gently brings to light issues and consequences that you may not have considered in your life and suggests why that behavior may need to be changed. He also competantly reveals the spiritual side of living a life that protects the planet; he called my attention to many actions I was participating in that would ultimately affect the ‘least of these’ (Matthew 25:35-40).

Utimately, I believe that it is important to live a sustainable life because the way you live affects other people and most often it affects those that don’t have the financial or medical ability to take care of themselves. The definition of sustainability is ‘meeting the needs of today’s generation without compromising the needs of the generations of the future’. In other words, caring about people, even if they are future people. I don’t believe that a selfish life is a fulfilling life and living sustainably means living selflessly. If you believe Christ, then you have been called to live a life that loves others the way you love yourself. I believe that you can show people love by showing the planet love and in an age that is disillusioned with the Christ followers of the world, love can still speak above those preconceptions.

I know there is a lot of gloom and doom out there (especially about the destruction of our environment), and often I feel crippled by the lack of care/motivation and the depth of depravity that exists in our world today. But I believe that by living with less, living with concern and love I can begin to show love to people in a way that is tangible and real, which is the way I believe I should live my life.

And that, my friends, is why I pursue ‘environmentalism’. There is no political motive in me, just a love of people and hope of communicating that love . What is the driving force behind you living a ‘green’ lifestyle?

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CH:H My Listings

In light of the last post, I whipped up a few things to add to Craft Hope’s etsy shop to raise money for Haiti. I got permission from Rebeka (aka artsycraftbabe) to use her free Phoebe Bag pattern to list in the esty shop, so if you’ve always liked that bag but don’t sew, now’s your chance to grab one! They are all made from Ikea canvas fabrics.

Remember this post where I mentioned that I had made another empire star quilt block? Well, here that one is in tote bag form. I like this a lot.

And then just a few earring sets because they’re quick to make and it’s looking like jewelry is selling fast!

And just a quick note to all you seamstresses out there, if you would like to use my Diana Hobo pattern to make something to donate to the Craft Hope etsy shop, you have my blessing. Just remember to add your photos to the pool!

Updated: All of the photos are linked to the etsy listings!

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Craft Hope for Haiti

I know I have felt a little paralyzed to help with this whole situation that is going on in Haiti. My heart just aches for those people. My mind spins at the tragedy. More than anything, I want to give to make an impact over there but our finances are a little strained at the moment. If you are a crafter, take heart, Craft Hope is providing a way for us to donate our time and crafts to make a difference.


Craft Hope is an Austin based craft blog that helps crafters unite to provide for the needy all over the world. They have opened an etsy shop for people to sell their donated goods with 100% going to Doctors Without Borders. So this is my plea to those of you that read this blog that craft, sew, knit, scrapbook, felt, take photography, and anything else that makes a sellable good, PLEASE donate your items for a good cause. Check out this post for information on how to donate.

I am going to be donating several items – a tote bag, two pairs of earrings, four Phoebe Bags (with permission from the pattern designer) and a new mama set (I’ll update this post with links and pictures once I have them). Hopefully more as time allows. If you are not a crafter, I invite you to spend your money freely at this shop, knowing full well where every penny of your money will be going (minus shipping costs of course).

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Animal Vegetable Miracle

animalvegetablemiracleI finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and family about a week ago and I feel like this is a book that everyone should read! It was really well written and not preachy at all (environmentalism can sometimes border on being very preachy). The book chronicles Barbara’s year long journey of eating food mainly produced by the land that her and her family live on. It pretty neat because her older daughter and husband take part in the book, writing pieces that set off the story that Barbara is telling. It also serves as an educator about where our food comes from, how it gets there and the process that happens from farm to grocery store. In a lot of ways it is similar to In Defense of Food but written conversationally, so that it’s not just about the facts, but about the way of life involved with eating locally. I especially loved the way that their quest united their family through food. This is something that I’ve always felt about food – that it draws people together.

I thought I would share some of the quotes that most impacted me when I was reading the book. I’d love to hear what you guys think about all of this!

“The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude. The most difficult requirements are patience and a pinch of restraint – virtues that are hardly the property of the wealthy. . . Furthermore we apply them selectively: browbeating our teenagers with the message that they should wait for sex, for example. Only if they wait to experience intercourse under the ideal circumstances, will they know its true value. “Blah blah blah,” hears the teenager: words issuing from a mouth that can’t even wait for the right time to eat tomatoes, but instead consumes tasteless ones all winter to satisfy a craving for everything now. We’re raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by wholesale desires. Waiting for the quality experience seems to be the constitutional article that has slipped from the American food custom.”

I know we’re a culture of NOW and MINE, but ouch, this quote hurt! It really struck me that we try to impart values of patience and virtue in our children, yet there are so many areas in our lives (food being singled out in this instance) where we set the standards for our children that we are impatient. Waiting for the quality experience has not only slipped out of our food custom but just American custom in general. People don’t practice or applaud patience/self-control any longer, more often than not, they’re shocked by it! I feel like I encounter this when tell people that I cook dinner most nights a week, or that Jason and I waited until we were married to have sex. “Why?!” is the most common reaction I get to that statement and I think part of that shock may be because waiting for the quality experience is not a value of our culture any longer!

“We have the illusion of consumer freedom, but we’ve sacrificed our community life for the pleasure of purchasing lots of cheap stuff. Making and moving all that stuff can be so destructive: child labor in foreign lands, acid rain in the Northeast, depleted farmland, communities where the big economic engine is crystal meth. We often have the form of liberty but not the substance.”

The form of liberty but not the substance. So often we feel ‘free’ because we have infinite choices in front of us but we’re blind to the true consequence of our actions. Oftentimes our freedom is at the cost of other people’s basic human rights. Most people choose to be blissfully unaware that their actions really do negatively affect another human being because it’s an uncomfortable truth that what you do could be helping keep a child in slavery, or fueling a market for goods that is tied to a drug industry. Eating locally is one small facet of this whole idea but it’s there nonetheless. Do you think about where your food comes from and at what cost?

“It’s my observation that when Italian genes are present, all others duck and cover. . . . After arrival on the ancestral soil [Italy, on vacation] I figured out pretty quickly why that heritage swamps all competition. It’s a culture that sweeps you in, sits you down in the kitchen, and feeds you so well you really don’t want to leave.”

Now coming from an Italian background, this quote tickles me on a couple of levels. First, I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that valued slow food – sitting at the dinner table and talking about our days and things going on in our life over dinner. I really did grow up with a family that sits you down in the kitchen and feeds you so well that you don’t want to leave! You can ask any of my friends – they’ve all been fed by my mom! I also think it’s funny because our genes tend to swamp all others in the genetic pool too! If you look at my family, you can tell that we’re all related. I’m pretty sure that Jude is going to be born with a full head of dark hair, just like I was and the majority of my family.

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Mama to Mama: Second Round

So my coworkers donated some more t-shirts (yay for some colorful ones this time!) to make 13 more caps (for a total of 32) and I also completed 3 receiving blankets for Mama to Mama. I think one more coworker may be bringing in some t-shirts this week so there may be a round three of these caps. . . we will see.

I’m especially happy with how the three receiving blankets turned out. They were made out of the same bedsheets that I made the Anda Dress out of and I was happy to find another good use for that large amount of fabric. I thought I was going to make one side terry cloth and the other side cotton, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that terry cloth may be too bulky for long term swaddling use so it ended up being double sided of the cotton sheets. It was also very fun to find a use for some of the decorative stitches on my sewing machine. I love the little chains of flowers, row of stars and little leaves that adorn these blankets. I hope that all of these items end up as a blessing for these precious Haitian children and families that are in need.

It’s still not too late to whip up a few of these (they take no time at all) and send them over to Mama to Mama; c/o SouleMama; PO Box 8190; Portland, ME 04104; USA before December 10th.

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Mama to Mama: First Round

So, I asked my co-workers for some t-shirt donations and they definitely came through. This weekend (amidst feeling pretty sick and not moving very far from the couch or the bed) I managed to whip up 19 of these precious little caps for Mama to Mama. They’re very simple to sew and I’m hoping to make another round of hats (and maybe a receiving blanket or two with some leftover bedsheets and terry cloth that is in my fabric stash) this upcoming weekend. I’m still looking for more t-shirts to be donated, so if you have a few and live in the Austin area, leave me a comment and we can figure out how to get the t-shirts from point A to point B.

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Mama to Mama

In what I believe is the true spirit of the holidays and Thanksgiving, I would ask all of my crafting/crafty friends to consider participating in Mama to Mama. I think this is a great way to give to people in need from what you already have. “As crafters, the reasons we create are many. Just one may be to spread a little bit of peace into the world, to make a small but meaningful difference in one person’s life through a simple act of crafting with intention. Mama to Mama seeks to find ways to connect handcrafters with mothers, children and families in need of a little bit of handmade love.”

The essence of what to do is this: take old t-shirts that you already have, make two infant sized caps per shirt, send to Soule Mama (address on the website) and she will send the caps to Haiti to become part of a birthing kit to help ensure the well-being of infants being born there. You can choose to create simple blankets as well.

I can’t imagine these caps taking much time to make at all – they are very simple, two seams total. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can hand stitch them. If you are local to Austin, I will be doing a shipment of these December 3rd or 4th, and if you can get them to me, I will include them in my box. . . just let me know if you would like to participate with me. I will also take any old t-shirts that you would like to donate – I have no problems doing the sewing if you provide the materials!

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.”
-Stephen Grellet

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Voting With Your Money

So we’ve voted as a nation and elected our new president. Now how do you vote with your money?

This is something that I’ve struggled with for over a year now because deciding to act on this information is very difficult but I believe my faith calls me to action, especially in financial areas of my life no matter how uncomfortable. Essentially it boils down to this, the money you spend goes back to corporations and supports whatever practices they’re employing – thus your dollars ‘vote’ for those conditions to continue. This includes sweat shop labor, inhumane conditions, child labor, etc. I personally believe that I should not put my dollars towards companies that are mistreating people just to expand their bottom line. I am not ok with that.

I feel like Americans (and I’m sure other developed countries), just gloss over the working conditions in which that trendy item of clothing was created in because materialism is king here. The bottom line is more important than human lives. People will buy anything just because it is cheap without questioning WHY it is cheap. Why is it that you can buy a shirt for $0.99? Who made it? How? And in what conditions?

I want the money that I’m spending to bless someone, not empower mistreatment. I am willing to spend more money, less times, to make sure that I am not buying an item made by a child or a worker in poor conditions. This is difficult to know when the majority of items available to me are marked ‘Made in China/Bangladesh/Indonesia/Pakistan/[inset other country name here]’. I am hugely at fault in purchasing items without thinking about where they came from, because I ‘need’ those new pants/top/dress/skirt. I own tons of Gap Inc. products, Target products, etc, and those corporations don’t have the best track record with child labor and fair working conditions. I have read that Gap Inc. and Nike are both looking to change and have begun taking steps to do so. . . hopefully they will set a new standard in the industry.

This is a difficult thing to consider. There is no clear and easy answer. Many of these cheap products help provide for those that don’t make a lot of money. What do you do if you can’t afford to not buy an item and spend a bit more on ‘fair trade’ items?

I think the answer is to prayerfully consider the items you want to buy and do your research. To consider where your money is going and who it is supporting and whether you agree with those practices. I think you buy less and pay more to support businesses you agree with. Or you buy reused products. Then you are no longer supporting the initial business that provide the poor working conditions.

I think Green Daily’s advice is worth repeating to as far as purchases go (yes, because these concepts of voting with your money are also very green): Buy less, reduce, reuse, recycle, precycle, create a plan for high-spending times like the holidays and take a breather (sleep on it for as long as you can) before making purchases.

If you’re interested in doing some more research on your favorite companies and how they rank in social justice issues, check out these two website for more information:

Sweat Shop Watch
CorpWatch

I would love to know if any of you have thought about this before and if it has changed your spending habits. Thoughts?

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