Monday, June 29, 2015

Lesson My Impact #5: Wearing Nicaragua, Costa Rica and "Overseas"

Today I am wearing the countries Nicaragua (t-shirt), Costa Rica (shorts) and "Overseas" (flip flops).

I am wearing Frisky flip flops and on their web site they claim:
Our products are manufactured overseas with quality control located in each factory to insure excellence and inspect all production to maintain the utmost in integrity and uniformity. All products are made from high quality and environmentally friendly materials. Products are produced in compliance with all U.S. regulations and labor laws. 
But Frisky never states what "overseas" means. So I sent them an email thanking them for their product and asking which countries. Still waiting to hear back.

I just read the book Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes by Kelsey Timmerman.

Srsly, y'all.

"What are we to do as consumers? If we buy garments made in some developing country, we are contributing to an industry built on laborers whose wages and quality of life would be unacceptable to us. But if we don't, the laborers might lose their jobs. My conclusion, after visiting the people who made my favorite clothes, is that we should try to be engaged consumers, not mindless pocketbooks throwing dollars at the cheapest possible fashionable clothes we can find."

I added the bold on the above quote. I heard Bono of U2 state once that we vote with every dollar. I love that. And believe it. I worry about being paralyzed by it...and how to teach it to my children. I am disgusted that my children wear clothes made by other children.

"My own conclusion, after visiting Bangladesh, is that we should not be ashamed that our clothes are made by children so much as ashamed that we live in a world where child labor is often necessary for survival.
Child labor or not, the working conditions in Bangladesh's garment and textile industries are the living conditions of the country.
This is the culture of poverty."

Timmerman's work and curiosity aligns with Susan Bissell's lifetime work of advocating and protecting children all over the world.
I met Susan while she was writing her dissertation decades ago and she was the first to widen my perspective about sweatshops, child labor, and all of the thousands of hands my cheap pair of jeans passed through to end up in my closet.
If I buy the jeans, I affect the workers - whatever their ages.
If I remove myself from the consumer market, I affect the workers...and their job security.
I have to figure out how to be an engaged consumer right where I am.

It's summertime in my house, which means the children are home all the time. All. The. Time. It has been a great reminder to me that I am not teaching them enough about the Wear and Care of the Home. I got all fired up for this to be a Teaching Summer, involving the laundry and perhaps the dishwasher.
It did not work. So I quit. I removed myself from the Wear and Care of the Home, thinking that maybe if I stepped down, at least one kid would step up.
Instead, they started a game of naming the roaches.
I am not kidding.
Engaged consumer, engaged Wear and Care.

Timmerman also notes, 
"Hope is in short supply in impoverished nations. Ask kids what they want to do when they grow up and the they'll look at you funny. They know what they are going to do. They are going to do what their moms and dads do - just try to get by."

"'If they pay $45 for jeans,' Ai says, 'it helps us. If people don't buy, I'm unhappy because I wouldn't have a job.' Ai laughs at the simplicity of the logic.
Is it that simple? Does an uneducated, 24-year-old garment worker hold the answer to how I should behave as a consumer?
To buy or not to buy, that is the question."

"There isn't a single worker who makes my clothes who lives a life that I would find acceptable. I'm not sure we can handle knowing how most of the world lives, and corporations understand this."

Why can't we handle knowing how most of the world lives? 
Why can't our daily work involve and include tiny steps towards closing the gaps between how we live, what our children hope for, and what we wear?
I am wide open for this revolution.

It started years ago, was boosted by this book, and now I have this morning to take my first tiny steps.
Join me?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

High Point at the Highest Point

We took some time to journey to the Highest Point in Alabama.

At the observation point, while we climbed the stairs, each kid's personality came out in full force:

Henry: Don't touch the railings! Y'all, germs! Don't touch the railings!

Svea: OOOOO! Look at all these little cubby holes! I can practice all my accents in this echo!

Corinne: Squeal! Can you guys even BELIEVE this place!?!?

This is the reality:

But iHusband seems to capture the Incredible through the camera lens:

Indeed, the kids are tired of posing...but the aluminum is so shiny, you see??

How much can we force The Family Moment?

At the Highest Point in AL, we will achieve the highest point of Family Annoyance. Not that you can tell or anything.

Peace out, y'all.

*It's easy to remain sarcastic that this was a labored trip overall...when actually it was our best camping experience yet. All the kids chipped in with adequate zeal and complaining, no one asked for a screen of sorts, new drawing and writing games were invented, there was much laughter, several beautiful fires in the pit, yummy food, and slower times. It was fabulous family time. My photos captured the random discomforts, and iHusband's photos captured the shiny. There is place for both, in the forced and the spontaneous. Amen. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dear Theo,

Dear Theo,

You are, as your name celebrates, a child of God.

This world has been waiting for you, and your journey here has not been straight.
With all the curves and turns you remind us to sit, wait, run, turn, leap, dance - but most of all to stay the path.

To not give up.
Even when the journey inward and outward is not clear, you keep reminding us: one step, one step, one step.
Thank you for that.

There are thousands of stitches in this labyrinth pattern for you,

Welcome to the world, Theo.

We've been waiting for you.