i ♥ that this happened: http://www.cynicaltimes.org/articles/occupy-brings-working-class-outrage-to-fashion-week/
“The whole Occupation thing is important because it’s about people going out and talking about the things that are messed up in our own society and the fashion industry is one of them,” said Mediavilla. “New York City used to be popping with jobs for people making clothes and then the industry outsourced many of those (apparel) jobs so they could pay people pennies on the hour in other countries instead of a decent wage.
“Meanwhile, they’re spending $500,000 on a single magazine cover photo that gets photo-shopped all to hell and is often very unrealistic. Young people see these fake images and think they have to look like that.”
Employment in the U.S. apparel industry has fallen by 82% since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect Jan. 1, 1994, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. had 149,700 apparel workers last month, compared with 834,900 in January 1994.
The median pay for the 64,100 sewing machine operators left in the U.S. was $19,180 in 2010.
…”Most of my friends that work in the fashion industry are only part timers and they’re given less than 30 hours of work each week so they don’t qualify for benefits, but they still make too much to qualify for food stamps,” Stone-Diaz said, pausing briefly as a passing fashionista called the protesters “assholes.”
He smiled, shook his head and continued.
“We have all these fashion shows on television right now – like Project Runway – that romanticize the industry and hold it up as part of the American Dream,” Stone-Diaz said, “but it’s built on 1% structures just like the American Dream.”
One of those structures is grossly underpaying workers in order to lavishly overpay investors and top executives, models and designers.
i think some people think my work in fashion shows is counter to all of the other socio-political stuff i do/write about and wonder how i could be dong this “really superficial’ thing one day and then writing about poverty and justice the next. first of all, it irks me that some people think that fashion is only trivial and superficial and belittle its importance in human culture, especially as compared to the other arts, but that is another topic in itself and so i digress. my point here is that in fact, i ONLY, and i mean ONLY, work with designers who are dedicated to responsible clothing, who source their goods as responsibly as they can, and to keeping their lines ethical from beginning to end.
i do these fashion shows because i love fashion as a form of self-expression, but also because i think supporting my friends who do local fashion IS IMPORTANT – as noted above, the U.S. fashion industry is not only cruel in its treatment of women as objects, but the treatment of workers here and abroad is horrid.
Filed in art, fashion | Tagged with #occupyart, #occupyeverything, #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism, consumerism | Comment (0)
The poems on Old Street are set in capital white letters on a brushed black background, in a sort of mangled Futura; it’s a type treatment that should send his words running and screaming through the streets but somehow does not. Instead, the words lean calmly against the wall and arouse a kind of subtle and unnoticed reflection. People pass by on their way to or from here or there. They do double-takes and slow down. Intrigue wraps their faces. They stop, read, think, and eventually move on, carrying something with them that maybe wasn’t there before. Something that came free, silent and unexpected, set in capital white letters on a brushed black background.
Filed in art, oracles | Tagged with #occupyart, #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism, consumerism, marxisms | Comment (0)
“I’m an acolyte of Situationist ideas,” Montgomery says, referring to Situationist International, a group of 20th-century European revolutionaries who used public art installations to capture people’s attention, ask questions, and express ideas. “Their influence on me is far reaching. But the key introductory idea is perhaps Guy Debord’s idea of the spectacle, by which he means loosely the coalition of capitalism and the media.”
Debord, a French social theorist, writer and filmmaker, helped to form the SI in 1957. In his influential book, The Society of the Spectacle, he suggests that the combination of capitalism and the mass media will lead to a society dominated by false images, and that these images will act as a spectacle isolating people from reality. Debord eventually shot himself through the heart in 1994 in a small village in Auvergne, France.
“What Debord and the SI really get into,” Montgomery says, “and what sets them apart from much other post-Marxist thought, is questions of what capitalism does to us on the inside; in the inner sphere of life, to our hearts and minds, almost to our karmic sphere. I think those questions have never been more pertinent, especially in this historical moment when it is inarguably clear that capitalism in its current extreme form is not only immoral, but technically flawed.”
Montgomery’s poems hang near the vacant Old Street Magistrate’s Court, where, until recently, a group of Occupy London protesters had been squatting. “If you look at what Occupy are doing,” he says, “I think we’re finally seeing a positive international forum for positive change to the global financial system. That’s if we listen to them and don’t marginalize their voice.”
Emma is a 42-year-old Occupy camper and writer. She says she thinks it’s important to see artwork like Montgomery’s in the public realm. “Reclaiming public space is vital,” she says. “Art, music, poetry, performance, debate, conversation—these are the things that bring us together, that lead us out of our isolation, that allow us—the 99%—to connect, to share, and eventually, to mobilize. Every attempt to stimulate conversation regarding how we live now and how we could do it better is valuable.”
(and now is the time of year when i once again start nudging you to think about observing Buy Nothing Day/Buy Nothing Christmas….)
Filed in QOTD | Tagged with adbusters, banksy, BND, capitalism, consumerism, consumption, NaBloPoMo | Comment (0)
People abuse you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it.
They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.
However, you are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.
Screw that. Any advert in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.
You owe the companies nothing. You especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They have rearranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.
We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.
as you are celebrating all the things you are thankful for today, consider this from www.redefinechristmas.org:
Consider that the amount of money spent on candy alone during the holiday season is greater than the annual budgets of the American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association and Habitat for Humanity combined.
It’s not about reinventing the holiday. It’s about changing the way we look at gift giving and receiving. It’s taking money we usually spend on obligatory gifts with little meaning, and creating gifts of charity that give in multiple ways, to the receiver, the giver, and people who truly need.
There is no question we are in the midst of difficult financial times. And if it has you feeling unsure or uncomfortable this holiday season, imagine how purely difficult it’s becoming for people who already, or are about to, depend on the generosity of others for the things that only a donation can provide.
As we consider our individual place in this world we can be of help to others with a simple gesture that bestows the gift of charity on those who are in need, on behalf of the ones we care about. If this sounds like a good idea to you, redefine Christmas by giving others donations to their favorite charities, request that others do the same for you, and use this site to share this message with as many people as you can think of. Chances are, you’ll like the way it feels.
i’m also a big fan of Heifer International, where you can support sustainable living by donating farm animals to poor families around the world.Filed in things you can do | Tagged with BNC, consumerism, NaBloPoMo | Comment (0)
once again…time for the annual rant against holiday consumption and nudge toward a smarter economy….
it’s not like i don’t buy things. i do. but i try to buy them conscientiously, knowing where things come from, who made them, and how they were made and what from. i support local fashion as much as possible, shop recycled/used clothing stores, and try to avoid “made in china/sri lanka/vietnam/indonesia” when i buy something new. when it comes to food, beauty, and cleaning products, i look for the most organic/fewest ingredients/greenest thing i can find. but this doesn’t make me anti-consumer. i certainly couldn’t go a year without buying anything. in fact, i think because i am always looking for the perfect thing, the greenest thing, the most sustainable, best choice, i probably end up shopping MORE than someone who just walks into Wal-Mart, loads up the cart and walks out. i probably go to 5x as many stores looking for the best alternative, and pay more for things too, further supporting the economy.
i say this because i don’t want people to get the wrong impression when i support things like Buy Nothing Day (no shopping the day after Thanksgiving) and Buy Nothing Christmas (a radical Christian idea!). i understand that these seem extreme, and many people think futile. does it really make a difference if you shop the weekend after Thanksgiving or a week later? and aren’t giving gifts a nice thing to do?
in my mind, it’s the mindset of these activities that bothers me most – that this ritualized consumption is now an expected part of American culture, so much that people put themselves through horrid situations at the beck and call of retailers like cattle through a gate – remember the people getting trampled last year on “black friday”? – and into financial debt they can’t afford to “participate”. and, in the end, what percentage of Christmas gifts are actually something people wanted?
go ahead, consume. i’m not going to pretend that isn’t part of all our lives. but i encourage you to do it as mindfully as you can. this saturday is the first ever widely organized Small Business Saturday, with companies like American Express giving huge promotions. so maybe instead of hitting up the Best Buy and Wal-Mart on Black Friday and filling up your cart, take some time to find some of the items on your shopping lists at small businesses in your community on saturday instead. if done right, this can turn our economy around. small family businesses will thrive, artists will make a living, communities will come together. in my mind, THAT is the American way.Filed in things you can do | Tagged with adbusters, BNC, BND, consumerism, economics, NaBloPoMo | Comment (0)
a much better piece on the subject of moving to a post-consumer america than what i wrote:
I grew up in Seattle, WA and was raised with the idea that money is equal to life energy and time and that it is important to spend less and wisely unless I wished to be constantly on the job and enslaved to a salary….
…To me it is seems exciting and inspiring to rely on our local communities, know our neighbors, grow our own food, barter/trade, craft our own clothes, fix our favorite pair of shoes, and enjoy each others company instead of passing the night away in front of cable TV with a frozen pizza made and packaged in Wisconsin and numbed thoughts. It gives us a positive creative way to utilize and conserve resources, combats isolation, gives us the chance to express skills that few jobs would allow, and lends to a more holistic sense of self that even folds art and spirituality back into our daily lives. It’s a revival of what I imagine my grandparents experienced growing up in rural farm towns, infused with urban DIY culture, activism, and spiritual consciousness. I know “hold on there you idealist hippie” you might be thinking, but I really think the time is ripe for it now more than ever.
It is a huge paradigm shift to think of spending less, needing less, and relying on one another more and I think this tends to comes across more like DEPRIVATION than FULFILLMENT to most Americans. Give up a Lexus and fancy French dinners before going to see “Les Miserables” to ride a bike thru the rain and play board games over home-made apple strudel? I think that living in a way that is not so strapped to the now-not-so-mighty-dollar, the ballooned American Dream, oil, and consumer materialism in general takes a lot of work, awareness, education, and commitment to alternatives. This lifestyle shift takes time to cultivate and also requires privilege to think about it in the first place and the right environment.
related: America’s New Year’s Resolution: Stop Being StupidFiled in culture and random linkage | Tagged with affluenza, consumerism | Comment (0)
Buy Some Stuff, Enslave Somebody: this AlterNet article is a discussion of the book Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy on modern slave labor in america and elsewhere.
The book focuses on fruit pickers in South Florida; Indian welders in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Asian garment workers and sex slaves in the tiny U.S. commonwealth of Saipan in the Pacific Ocean. Employing a tone that’s both journalistic and crusading — heavy on facts and firsthand accounts but clear in its sense of moral indignation — Bowe aims to make explicit the connection between the rise of the global market — with its promises of cheap goods, high employment, and peace — and the growing number of people throughout the world living in poverty, doomed to spend their lives providing goods and services for people born into wealthier circumstances.
i know a lot of people who would use the incidents documented here as examples of why illegal immigrants should all be deported, but in my view, it’s not the illegals who should be punished, it’s the employers, and generally, they get a fine or two and are off the hook until the next time they get caught. punish the employers, not the workers.
the book and film Fast Food Nation also dealt with the abuse of illegals in dangerous working conditions and is highly recommended.Filed in things you can do, tv, books and movies | Tagged with consumerism, economics, poverty | Comment (1)
2 saturdays ago i was feeling….angsted…about politics and capitalism and the lack of equity in even the Land of the Free and all that non-happy stuff, and i acknowledged that part of my own unhappiness was that i give into things that i don’t theoretically or logically support, either due to the inability to have some self-control in the wantwantwant area, or because i’m too lazy to find/do the alternative options when the easy ones are put right in front of me, just like most other americans. we’re all presented with innumerable choices every day and sometimes we don’t make the best ones, fully consciously.
in an armchair attempt to do *something* about it all, particularly the current consumer-debt crisis coupled with the ever-increasing problem of the u.s. trade deficit (when did i start worrying about these things? how old am i?), i vowed to not buy anything but food for at least a week. this is also partly because it’s almost september and closer to the end of 2007, and i only had one resolution this year: get out of debt. so far i’ve been doing pretty well. i started out $10k in debt at the beginning of this year, and i’ve cut that in half without much change in lifestyle in the past 8 months. however, this is not as quickly as i had hoped, probably due to the not really changing my lifestyle, and so now i have $5k in debt to pay off in 4 months if i want to reach my goal. um. huh. i mean, i *could*. if i never went out and ate cereal for the next 4 months. and didn’t go to burning man. it’s possible. but i don’ t think THAT dramatic of a lifestyle change is going to happen.
so anyway, the week went by and there were a couple of non-food items i really wanted to buy but didn’t, including a hand-built antique wooden rocking chair from urban ore. i absolutely love rocking chairs. and it reminded me of my grandmother. i think more than a week went by before i bought anything non-food, but i stopped keeping track. it wasn’t that big of a deal; more or less all i really did was put off buying things for burning man by a week, which hopefully means the total overall spent will end up being less, and i won’t be putting my out-of-debt date too much further off. once out of debt….? i’m not quite sure how being debt free will change my day-to-day life, particularly if i’m committed to less consumer spending. what do you do with more disposable income if you don’t believe in spending it? invest, i guess. but in what? i can’t really wrap my head around that right how; those are questions for 2008.Filed in resolutions | Tagged with consumerism | Comment (0)
another birthday, another time to reflect.
phone calls from friends.
measuring your life’s happiness.
You’re not really spending money when you spend money, Joe and Vicki say. You’re spending the life energy you put into earning that money. You only have so much life energy. What do you want to use it for? Commuting? Shopping sprees? Going for walks? Playing with your children? Serving your community? Taking that question seriously does wonders for one’s joy-to-stuff ratio, decreasing stuff, increasing joy.
—Donella H. Meadows, “One woman’s search for the American dream,” The News & Record, July 17, 1995
~via kottkeFiled in things you can do | Tagged with affluenza, consumerism, happiness | Comment (0)
columnist joan ryan @ the chron has a great op-ed today on americas’ unbelievable spend-spend-spend and then throw-it-away consumerist mentality, where it comes from, and what it means. this is particularly poignant given the billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the south asian tsunami. those people don’t have food, clothing, water, or shelter. why the hell do i need an iPod?
“My son and I visited my 75-year-old aunt this summer in Tanzania, where she works with people dying of AIDS and with the orphans left behind. The poverty is pretty much what you would expect. Mud-brick shacks. No running water. The schools have no desks or chairs. Families subsist on the $2 or $3 a day they earn working in the fields, weaving rugs or selling roasted peanuts on the side of the road.
We saw firsthand how a little bit of money — what we might spend on a gossip magazine or a new toothbrush holder — can have a meaningful impact on a life there. So my son and I resolved upon our return home to be conscious of our spending, noting the difference between what we needed and what we wanted. When we refrained from spending money on something we didn\’t need, we promised to put the saved money in a basket made from candy wrappers, a souvenir from one of the Tanzanian women. We then would send the money to my aunt.
There is nothing in the basket. Not now anyway. There was money for the first few months. But during the holidays, we slid right back into the inviting, exciting slipstream of consumerism that had us toting home shopping bags filled with purchases that seemed not only appropriate at the time but just this side of imperative. Wonderful chocolates. Fragrant candles. Champagne. Gifts, gifts and more gifts.
Almost all of it went on the credit card. I whipped that thing around as if it were a magic wand that could, by transporting fabulous items from the store to my home, could make me more — what? I still can’t say. Maybe just more…
my #1 2005 Revolution is to stop buying shit i don’t NEED. just STOP. when you really start to make those conscious choices, it’s almost unbearable how hard it is to pull yourself away from whatever it is you think you want and walk away. it *hurts*, i tell you, and it’s really, really scary. then, most of the time, 10 minutes later you’ve forgotten about what it was you so desperately needed – that sweater, that magazine, that book, those shoes. i try to stick to a rule of “if you want it you have to come back for it”- leave the store and if you still want it the next day (or even remember that you wanted it) go back. i think the buyer’s remorse i had earlier this month was the turning point. i wanted to kick my own ass for that, and still feel totally stupid.
i’m really hoping i can do a better job of controlling my spending in 2005, and actually reach some of the financial goals i’ve set for myself (pay off student loads, pay off credit cards, put more $$ into 401(k), etc.). otherwise, at the end of next year i’ll feel as sick about it as i do right now.Filed in things you can do | Tagged with consumerism, poverty | Comments (5)