When I took the exam to get my CBEST
back in the early 90's the essay topic I had to write about was "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Last night I watched the Academy Award winning 1982 movie Gandhi
. In it, Gandhi's wife, Kasturba Gandhi states:
"There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness."
Wow. More than 30 years after the movie and perhaps 100 years after the words were uttered and that still rings true. When Kasturba said it, she was referring to the British landowners who were pushing the cotton farmers into debt. The British left India and the chemical (and seed) companies moved in. Today, it is estimated that an Indian cotton farmer
commits suicide every 8 hours. Here's a 5 minute video
that explains the situation in more detail. A longer movie worth watching is Bitter Seeds. Gandhi
spoke to the humanity in us all. . . I wonder what it will take to hear the message this time around ? Are we destine to keep exploiting people and planet or will we eventually wake up to the reality that we are all much more deeply connected than we realize?I must say that I feel really happy that Harmony Art supports organic (non-gmo seed) cotton farmers in India. It makes me feel connected to this bigger story we are all writing together. Individually we may feel insignificant but together we are mighty.
Gandhi taught us that too.
Twill was one of our first organic prints. It was released for the first time back in 2007. The design was inspired by this flower. I do not know what kind of flower it is but I vividly remember taking this picture at the Thompson Heather Gardens in Manchester after we hiked on Manchester State Beach
. As you can see I took liberty with the scale and the colors. Earlier this year we decided to reprint the design this time on organic cotton (USA) percale and in a pink colorway.
Big thanks to everyone who chimed in on facebook
and voiced their opinion on which colorway we should release. I really love the co-creating process and now look forward to seeing how you bring the fabric to life. Sew Happy!!
I am often asked, "How do you come up with your designs?" Almost all of them start with a hike. I find nature to be an unlimited source of design inspiration. When I hike with the Thursday Ramblers
I almost always have my camera with me and snap away at anything that grabs my attention. My most recently released fabric is called Stornetta
after the land the flowers were found on. It's a magical place with fields, bluffs, cows, ocean views, a waterfall into the ocean, huckleberries, a spooky Halloween tree and much more.
Sometimes it's a plant, a texture on a stump, a flower -- really the design can start with most anything. In this particular case, the flowers on the hike beckoned to be put into a designs and I listened. . .
I have about 100 designs created and yet to be printed. How do I pick which is next? Sometimes I turn to my friends -- the ones who actually know what Harmony Art is and does -- that care and understand and maybe even sew.
In the case of Stornetta, Mary Sue and Bob picked it out. Their confidence and support of Harmony Art has been a constant source of strength and encouragement. So when they requested Stornetta in blue -- well, so be it! For the second colorway I turned to my facebook
fans for suggestions and votes. They spoke too and I listened. I really love have having so many people involved. The journey is indeed the prize. Now the fun and patience begins as I wait to see what YOU create with it.
My dad had this poster back in the 70's. I have to admit as a young person it sort of grossed me out that the lemonade was pouring out of the guys nose. Frankly, I didn't get this at all.
Now, as an adult I get the sentiment (I still think the visual is gross).
Last week I had the unpleasure/pleasure of "making lemonade". We live in the woods. You can not see a neighbor in any direction. We love the remoteness but it means sometimes sharing our space with not-so-welcome friends.
In this case, the intruders were mice. They let themselves in and snacked on my pot holders. My first reaction was... AAAGGHHH!
My second reaction was. . . good!
Now I have a perfect reason to invest in some new organic pot holders and oven mitts.
So I did just that. I ordered 2 sets from A Greener Kitchen
. Aren't they lovely? What an improvement. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" Indeed.
I avoid talking politics. I don't watch the news. However, I am so perplexed about what is going on in Washington I can't keep quiet at the moment. I just don't understand it.
I keep trying to wrap my head around it. Your business is about to default on its loans. . . you decide to give all of your employees a paid vacation? I don't think even the worst business owner would decide to do that. [Debt ceiling limit reached + furloughs with back pay = nonsense.]
My friend Karl tells me they are trying to make a bigger point. I'm sorry the only point I see is that they have NO common sense. Seriously. Who does that? It is mind boggling that these are our "leaders". Ok, I'll jump off my soap box. I just had to get that off my chest. May sanity (and smart business/government decisions) prevail.
Did you know that Redwood trees drop 1/3 of their foliage every year? At my home/studio it is raining redwood leaves. I love this time of year. What is no longer useful has been identified and now when the wind blows just strong enough the leaves will be released and fall to the ground.
I feel totally in sync with the rhythm of the trees this year. I recently moved my office and found myself letting go of many things. Shedding the need to hold on and instead rejoicing in the release. I feel lighter. Clearing the way for the winter and turning my focus inward, preparing for the next growth spurt I know will happen come springtime.
Is letting go easy for you? For me it depends on many things but at the moment I am taking a lesson from my wise friends (the Redwood trees) around me and celebrating the Autumn Equinox. What are you ready to let go of?
In late May I received a call from my friend Cara. "We're calling your from REI. Wanna backpack the Appalachian Trail with me and Lorrie next month?"
My response was silence. Not what Cara expected from her most-likely-to-be-hiking friend. I'd backpacked -- once. Up Half Dome in Yosemite. It was hard. very hard. I wouldn't call it fun. That was one night. They were proposing 4 nights and 5 days. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE hiking. It's where and when I feel the most sane but hauling everything you need to live changes the experience entirely. That much I did know. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the sisters to opt for camping + day hiking I relented, and against my better judgement and my husband's warning ("What are you nuts? You hated it. You swore you'd never backpack again."
) I bought a plane ticket. It was arranged. They would drive from Texas and meet me at my aunt's house outside of Atlanta. We would hike the southern most part of the A.T.Lorrie was the mastermind. She sent us itineraries, packing lists and links to various sites to purchase hiking poles and the like. I assumed she had done this before. It wasn't until we were on the trail that I learned this would be her first time backpacking and that I with my 1 night some almost 10 years ago was the most experienced. shudder. In preparation I hiked our local trails slowing adding weight to my pack. 10lbs. -- no problem. I could even still keep up with my Saturday hiking group (they have a reputation for being ruthlessly fast).
As the pack got heavier my fear grew stronger. I am not sure I can do this!
When the pack fully loaded weigted close to 40lbs, I may have cried. I can't do this!
I scaled everything down. Only the bare minimum. One long sleeve shirt, one short sleeve shirt, one pair of pants, etc. I was ruthless. Lorrie would bring the stove and water purifier, Cara the tent, and me the food. I purchased the 5-day meal combo
. It weighted 10lbs! With water, food, sleeping bag, clothes, etc. I got my pack down to 35lbs and I boarded United flight 1446 SFO to ATL (via Chicago). It took 20 hours - but that's a whole other story.Before departing I watched this video.
At minute 3:29: "In our avoidance of discomfort, we may become more uncomfortable." That struck a cord with me and echoed through my head. . .
"The more you need to be comfortable, the more likely you are to be uncomfortable." Nowhere is this more easily experienced than when you are backpacking. However, the more I have considered this more I have come to believe that this is not just trail wisdom. It's much, much bigger than that.
"The more you need to be happy. The more likely you are to be unhappy."
More what? Money, fame, friends, sales, likes on facebook, comments on your blog, shoes, fine wine, fancy cars, bigger house, new clothes, remolded kitchen, praise, vacation time -- the list is endless.
The trail strips everything away. You are down to basics: water, food, shelter. Your most important possessions are your feet and knees. Wants are simple. Basic. Then you return. Back to reality and hot showers, fresh vegetables, a bed. They take on a more sacred role. It's easy to fall into wants disguised as needs. Our culture and economy is based on this. . . but for now (and hopefully always) . . .
The trail lesson continues to ring in my head. Happy is here. NOW. :)
This week two explosions rocked the Boston Marathon finish line. Our country faces with horror and disbelief yet another senseless violent act just a few short months after the Newtown shooting. When I heard about Newtown tragedy, the first thought that popped into my head was, "People who love themselves and feel loved don't do this sort of thing." My reaction to the Boston Marathon explosion echos this sentiment. We don't yet know who or why someone would make the conscious choice to kill innocent people but I'll bet ya we find out "they don't love themselves or feel loved". If you watched the 60 minutes a few weeks back with the parents/partners of some of those killed at Sandy Hook you heard the plea of
David Wheeler, dad of 6-year-old victim Ben, to look in the mirror and ask yourself if this could happen in your town. . . if there is any shadow of doubt do something about it he implores us.
I believe in gun control and background checks but I also believe that we can make as many rules as we can think of but until we get to the root of the problem the threat will always be there.The more I think about this topic, the more convinced I am in the need for love to prevail here. Anger and revenge, although gratifying at times, actually plant the seeds of violence. I can't get the words to stop repeating in my head. . .PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEMSELVES AND FEEL LOVED DON'T: _______________________.Fill in the blank.
Shoot innocent children. Kill others. Exploit. Abuse children. Rape. Manipulate. Dominate. Violate. Knowingly pollute the planet. Steal. Lie. Bully. How would you finish the sentence? So, Mr. Wheeler, I want you to know I for one am looking in the mirror. I am making a much more serious effort to express LOVE to myself and others around me, especially to people who seem to need it the most. I am looking friends, neighbors and even strangers in the eye more. I am listening to them when they speak. I am silently saying to myself with each interaction -- I receive your love
(thank you Holly
for turning me on to this greeting) and you are loved.I know the issues are more complex than this blog post makes them. However, in the face of terror and tragedy, I choose love. It feels like the most powerful and meaningful thing I can do and it certainly can't hurt.
Sometimes I try to imagine what the world would look like everyone "loved themselves and felt loved". . . . .
Over the weekend I watched NOVA: Earth from Space
. All I can say is WOW! WOW! . . . WOW! I am not sure I have ever watched a movie more mind blowing than this one. I HIGHLY recommend it. If you click on the image above you can see a trailer and if you click on this link
you can actually stream the 2 hour video right to your computer for free. I have some personal connections to the movie and perspective it shows. My father use to design circuit boards for NASA and I am pretty sure some of the satellites featured in the movie were ones he worked on. Below is a picture that I took looking out the window of a plane as we crossed the Great Plains. It inspire
the design Space Cowboy
Space Cowboy wide-width organic sateen
I must admit when the US Postal Service came out with their Earthscapes
stamp collection in 2012 I had to do a double take.
The "Center-Pivot Irrigation" (pictured here) was taken by the NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat 7 satellite. Is it just me or does it remind you of Space Cowboy Red/Green?? I encourage you and your family to take the time to watch the NOVA: Earth from Space episode. When you see our planet from space, suddenly the connection to all things becomes so beautiful and undeniable.
Textile Truths: click image for larger version and link to downloadable pdf
June 27, 2011 Jen Madsen of Stitch Simple
emailed me this statement: ". . . we need, you know that 'dirty dozen'
list for organic produce? How about a list of most environmentally friendly arts and crafts supplies or home décor items?"I thought she was absolutely right! But how
to rate, rank, educate and not overwhelm people is no easy task. Fabrics are so much more complex than fruits and vegetables. As the idea progressed, I contacted Leigh Anne of Oecotextiles
. She has one of the most comprehensive and thorough blogs about textiles and the chemicals in them. She is my go-to for the chemistry and statistics so I asked if she would be willing to help. Thankfully, she agreed!The three of us (Jen, Leigh Anne, and myself) knew that there was SOOOO much information that one infographic was not going to do. Our goal then became to put together a series and it was decided that we would start with BABY since that seems to be the most common entry point for people when it comes to organic fibers. I took a stab at the graphic, I redid it about 20 times. It stalled and stammered. My dear friend Suz enlisted her graphic design friend Alison who took a shot at revamping my sad attempt. It helped but also lost the entire fabric focus. We knew we lost our audience. Alison did the work pro bono and I thank her deeply for helping move the project forward in April of 2012 and highlighting where we went astray (focus!).It stalled for months. I was sick of looking at it and frankly didn't know what to do. In September of 2012 I was contacted by Linsi of Spark Collaborative. We had a mutual friend Rachel Hulan who connected the dots.
I bit the bullet and hired Spark Collaborative to take a shot at it. I sent them various versions, thoughts, and challenges. The name was changed from Worst Things/First Things to Textile Truths (duh!) and the layout started to pull together. I sought
help from Suz again (she is an editing wizard with decades of experience!), my friend Madge
(a marketing maven and hiking tour leader extraordinaire), and a select few others (you know who you are!!). Changes: color changes, text changes, font changes, layout changes, pattern changes, alignment changes and more changes were made. Then I sent it to GOTS
to make sure they would approve of the logo usage. Whew. It got their blessing and now . . . drum roll please . . .
IT IS OUT IN THE WORLD at last. Will it fill the need we aimed to address? Will anyone read it and care? Will it go viral and ignite different purchasing behavior? Launch a helpful series? Help all organic fabric companies to be better appreciated for what they are doing? Will it crawl under a rock never to be seen? I don't know. Time will tell. I can tell you that I am very grateful to have it no longer haunting my to-do list! I also want to acknowledge all of the kind, thoughtful people who helped in this journey. I LOVE YOU and COULDN'T HAVE FINISHED THIS WITHOUT YOU!
I VERY MUCH welcome your feedback (too late for changes to this version) and if all goes as hoped (and prayed for) we will be releasing other versions for: Home, Fashion, Pets, etc.Please feel free to share this with anyone you think would be interested.Buckets full of hugs and gratitude to each of you. It is my gift to the organic fiber community and the world. I hope you like it.