Finding ways to use fabric scraps could easily be a full time job at Alabama Chanin. Hopefully, our company will one day be large enough to facilitate an entire scrap development team; however, right now we are moonlighters and dabblers in the art of manipulating scraps of our organic cotton jersey into a variety of projects, products, and playthings.
Our goal of becoming a zero waste company means that every scrap of fabric we cut is taken seriously. We are constantly looking for new ways to mold, shape, and incorporate these fabric cuttings into our everyday work – lest they overtake us like the roadside kudzu that swallows entire towns in the South. Continue reading
In follow-up to our blog post on Sustainism this morning, Alabama Chanin (AC) held a Facebook chat today with Michiel Schwarz (MS) to explore his manifesto – created with Joost Elffers titled Sustainism Is the New Modernism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era. The text below recaps the questions and answers that surfaced during our hour-long chat.
Like our Facebook page and join our mailing list to take part in future conversations – and feel free to keep this conversation going in the comments section of this post:
I had the opportunity to meet Michiel Schwarz last September when I spoke at the Hello Etsy conference in Berlin. His purpose at the conference was to present his concept and book: Sustainism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era.
The New York Times did a fantastic review of the book – calling out its good points and problem areas. Alice Rawsthorn writes that the book is more an exercise in branding and that today’s “designers are already well aware of the principles outlined in the book, most of which have been analyzed in greater depth elsewhere. “ Very true, but although the book was originally created for designers, I see it more as a place for non-designers to find tangible manifesto points that they can easily process and assimilate into daily life. Truth be told, we human beings need things simplified for us sometimes and I think that the tidy graphics might just find a voice on office walls and farmers’ market pamphlets. At least I believe that it is worth a conversation.
In his talk in Berlin, Michiel admits that the book is “naively optimistic,” in that it doesn’t address the real issues that we need to overcome: climate change, “social inequalities, and the degradation of nature.” However, he says, “We believe that it is important to shift from the negative to the positive,” and mentions a conference talk given by William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle, where McDonough decries the focus that is always placed on what we are NOT supposed to do.
“We hear over and over again that we need to reduce everything to zero, that we need to reduce emissions to zero, zero this, zero that. In this way, we are making the future on the things that we don’t want. We need a future on the things that we DO want. That’s why it was so important for us to name where that future is.”
Michiel’s point is that, “we are moving into a new cultural era,” and that hopefully the manifesto of Sustainism will give us symbols to describe the move from modernism to sustainism.
Check out my post this week on EcoSalon.
Board By Board:
This is a conversation that played out in my head countless times this last week:
“I need to sit down and write the EcoSalon post.”
“The laundry really needs to get done.”
“I NEED to sit down and write the EcoSalon post.”
“Maybe, I should go weed the garden.”
“I NEED to SIT DOWN NOW and write the EcoSalon post.”
“There is that bird pecking around in the yard, I could go stare at it for a while.”
As the year closes, I thought I would put together a list of those people and organizations who have made a difference for me in 2011. For a moment, let’s celebrate just a few of those who are creating inspiring works by striving toward a better, more beautiful, sustainable world.
The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, have been producing inspiring material for years, as producers of such programs as Hidden Kitchens, Lost and Found Sound, and now, The Hidden World of Girls. One particularly inspiring piece, the film “White Gloves,” by Courtney Stevens and Les Blank focuses on the Oakland Museum Women’s Board. The short piece is poignant in its focus on volunteerism, women, and the relationships that bond people together. The Kitchen Sisters never fail to tell important stories and create moving art. (Images at the top of this post from Francesca Woodman.)
The book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, offers a challenge to the notion that more is better and instead emphasizes the importance of locally-centered commerce, politics and culture. The author, Bill McKibben, challenges us to consider why we buy what we do and urges us to think about our role within a community at large. McKibben makes appeals for action, but he also leaves us with a sense of what is possible. I believe in community and the fact that change is possible.
It seems unbelievable to me that 2011 is coming to a close. The Alabama Chanin journal has covered so many topics over the 2011 year and we have been so grateful for the opportunity to share our thoughts, travels, milestones and inspirations with you. As the year’s end approaches, we thought we would recap some of the favorite topics of the year.
About this time last year, I agreed to create a barbeque inspired collection for our next Fall/Winter line – yes, that’s right, barbeque. Although it seems impossible, time moves SO QUICKLY and it is time to get started. John T. Edge is headed to our studio today to discuss the upcoming work, as the barbeque collection will be shown at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi, next year.
In preparation for that collection, I have been working on a series of barbeque inspired Textile Stories Quilts for the Taste of the South auction next month. When thinking about barbeque (and we have our share here in Florence), what better place to start than with Joe York’s film Cut Chop Cook.
I love this quote from barbeque master Roosevelt Scott (it starts at the 4:48 minute mark):
“After building the fire, while the fire is getting ready put the pig on the pit. And after you put the pig on, when the coals get ready then you start putting the coal under the hog.
We take the shovel. Scoop it in there. Scoop up what we need. Take it on the inside and we have an open door at each pit where we go under with the shovel and spread the heat at both the ham and the shoulders. No where else. And all the heat meets in the middle.
You hear folks all over say they use the wood. But then they say they use wood chips, or they may use a few pieces of wood. They might smoke for a little bit. This right here? All wood. Nothing else. One hundred percent wood. Nothing but wood.
Cut. Chop. Cook. It’s all right here. In the wood.”
You can almost smell the barbeque. Food for the soul:
CUT/CHOP/COOK from UM Media Documentary Projects on Vimeo.
Sara sometimes scolds me for referring to all of our pieces as my “favorite.” It’s a truthful statement though, since at one time or another each has been in heavy rotation in my wardrobe. I tend to get stuck on one garment at a time. I once spent an entire summer alternating between two identical tank dress. So, right now I would like you to meet my current obsession- the Bolero.
The Bolero is the absolute perfect piece for erratic Southern weather. The soft jersey fabric and slim cut mean it’s small enough to toss into my bag without sacrificing much space. In less than a week my amazing Bolero has saved me from a freezing restaurant, a subzero theater, and having to explain the meaning of my tattoos to my in-laws. With that sort of performance I feel like I’m completely justified in treating myself to another for the holidays!
I adore clothes. Both my closet and a large portion of the surrounding floor space are a testament to that. My lack of self control, paired with a job that forces me to be around beautiful garments all day, means I acquire more than I should and more than I have room for. At some point I will have to pay Alabama Chanin for working here.
My morning routine usually consists of two or three outfit changes. And if I’m getting ready for a special occasion- forget it; it’s going to take a while. At least that was the norm before Agnes, my daughter, came onto the scene. Life with a tiny human that refused to sleep quickly put showering in the luxury category and landed multiple wardrobe changes nowhere near the radar.
Check out our latest post @EcoSalon and join us on our Alabama Chanin Facebook Page today, November 18th, from 12:30 – 1:30 pm CST to chat with Natalie about Design Process + Manufacturing.