Tag Archives: Inspiration

GRAVY #53: INSCRIPTION FOR AIR

GRAVY #53: INSCRIPTION FOR AIR

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INSCRIPTION FOR AIR by Jake Adam York
—excerpted from Gravy 53: Food and Social Justice, page 42 

John Earl Reese, shot while dancing in a café in Mayflower, Texas, October 2, 1955.

Not for the wound, not for the bullet,
++power’s pale cowardice, but
for you, for the three full syllables
++of your name we hold whole
as a newborn by the feet, and so
++for the cry, the first note, the key
So every word to follow, the timbre,
++The tone, the voice that could sing
Nat King Cole’s “If I May,” and slow
++dance the flip side, the blossoms
fallen like a verdict to the jury’s lips,
++not to the blood or the broken
glass or the spiders silking juke-box
++wires in a junkman’s shed,
but the fingers’ heat still on the dime
++when it slides to the switch,
the lamp on the platter, the groove
++that tells the needle what to say,
and the pine boards of the café floor
++once moved by the locusts’ moan
now warm as a guitar’s wood, revived
++with all the prayers of songs, Amens
that flame when a blues turns bright,
++not for what was lost, but what
was lived, what is written here,
++in the night, in vinyl, in the air,
for the bead of sweat at the hair’s deckle,
++the evening star in the trees,
soda-pop sugar wild on your tongue and
++for the tongue telling Saturday night
something of Sunday morning, fluent
++as a mockingbird, and for the hand
that opens as if in praise, as if in prayer,
++asking for another to fill it there,
for the smile and for the smile of skin
++behind the ear where love might lip its name,
for you, if we may, pull back the arm
++and start the music once again.

Jake Adam York (1972-2012) was a poet from Glencoe, Alabama, whose work often focused on the civil rights movement in the American South. “Inscription for Air” was originally published in Abide, copyright 2014 by the Estate of Jake Adam York. Reproduced by permission of Southern Illinois University Press. The SFA thanks Sarah Skeen, Joe York, and Southern Illinois University Press. PHOTO BY Mike Garofalo.

PHILLIP MARCH JONES | DEAR MOTHER

Harald_Stoffers_Inspiration_1

Harald Stoffers has been writing letters every day for over twenty years. Long ones. Short ones. Tall ones. Skinny ones. Some of them measure over ten feet high; others are only a few inches tall. Occasionally, he tears them apart. Most of them are addressed to his mother with the loving words, “Liebe Mutti” (Dear Mother), though he rarely sends them to her.

The substance of the letters varies from the banal activities and formalities of daily life—like what he is planning to wear the next day or the price of a cup of coffee—to personal thoughts and reflections. Most of the text is legible, but Stoffer’s process of writing and line-making sometimes obliterates what he has already written. At times the individual letters might be written so closely together that they become clouds of black ink.

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MAGGIE’S HOLIDAY PLAYLIST

MAGGIE'S DECEMBER PLAYLIST

My daughter Maggie is obsessed with holiday music. For her, it’s never too early to display a wreath (hung throughout the year in her bedroom) or to enjoy a loudly sung Christmas carol. When she was only three and in nursery school, holiday songs were go-to sing alongs—just after we finished, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” we would begin with “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Over the years, her tastes became more sophisticated: we listened to Etta James wail out “Winter Wonderland” on any given Memorial Day and Fiona Apple’s version of “Frosty the Snowman” on a last summer jaunt to the beach. I’m hoping to introduce her to Darlene Love’s holiday catalogue over the upcoming school holidays.

This year, she is creating her own versions—armed with almost a year of piano lessons under her belt and stacks of holiday sheet music. We will let you know how it all turns out next year.

Happy holidays from Maggie and me,
xoNatalie and Maggie

THE LOCAL PALATE

THE-LOCAL-PALATE

Based in Charleston, South Carolina, The Local Palate is a food culture publication that celebrates the region’s best culinary figures, recipes, and processes. The magazine has recently launched their digital presence, resulting in a beautiful, easy-to-navigate, and delicious website.

From The Local Palate website:

Food in the south is intrinsically connected to life in the south. It is through eating, sharing, and creating food that pleasure is evoked, connections are forged, context is offered, and history is created. Across southern states, individual interpretations of food are as varied and compelling as the people who live in our unique cities and towns. Yet the importance of food in enriching our lives, our culture, and ourselves is a concept that is universally understood.

This description of food (and life) in the South has been my experience since childhood. And since opening The Factory Café last year, I’ve witnessed firsthand how food brings people together in an entirely new context. This concept is especially true this time of the year, as family and friends begin to gather together around the table in celebration of the holidays.

I’ve bookmarked several recipes and cocktails on the website as I begin to plan my holiday gatherings, parties, and meals. Citrus Sweet Potatoes, Sugared Pecans, and the Love Holiday are sure to find their way into my kitchen (and belly) this season.

We recently caught up with the editor in chief, Maggie White, of The Local Palate, and she was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about food culture, community, recipes, and launching a new site:

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INSPIRATION: EVERGREEN

INSPIRATION: EVERGREEN

Evergreen: adj.  2. Perennially fresh or interesting; enduring.

Our new Evergreen collection features a selection of hand-sewn and machine-made garments, all over-dyed by hand in our indigo vats here at The Factory. The slow process of dying one garment at a time creates rich color variations and shades of color in each of these one-of-a-kind pieces.

We love to pair this (perennially) fresh color with indigo and cream for the holidays—and all year long.

Available for a limited time.

INSPIRATION: EVERGREEN

P.S.:  Photo of joyous woman and evergreen tree from a box of photographs liberated from the Museum of Wonder.

 

#givingtuesday

#givingtuesday

#givingtuesday and #gratitude

Today, December 2, 2014, is the second annual #GivingTuesday.

“It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company, or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.”

Remember SOLA and so many others that could use a little help. Gratitude is everywhere to be found.

ASANTE SANA

ASANTE SANA

In March of this year, we unexpectedly received an email with the subject line, “Asante Sana (Thank You) from Kenya!” It was sent by a woman named Nirvana, who is part of a team working to empower rural Kenyans with life and entrepreneurial skills. It seems that their goal is to inspire people to challenge the current social and cultural systems that tend to keep rural Kenyans impoverished. Read part of Nirvana’s first email to us:

Dear Alabama Chanin,  

You inspired 39 rural Kenyan women and men to start a tailoring class to learn hand sewing! They thought they had to have a sewing machine to learn tailoring. They also thought only poor people sewed by hand!

My American team and I are living in rural Kenya to teach Kenyans how to move beyond survival entrepreneurship. When so many community members said they wanted a tailoring class, I had to get creative. I knew there had to be a way to empower these youth without having to buy or find at least 20 sewing machines. So I Googled “hand sewing.” Of course, that led me to Natalie and Alabama Chanin!

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HEIRLOOM IN THE MAKING: MIKE’S CROSS

CROSS-1

Over the past months, we have been exploring heirlooms through ongoing Journal posts. Our intention is to look at the things we hold dear and examine how we find meaning in our personal heirlooms and mementos—even if those things don’t necessarily have great monetary value. The Heirloom series is meant to celebrate things that last and the things that we assign meaning to in our lives.

This week, we look at the process of creating something with intention – the act of making something designed to last and assigning a meaning to that object from its inception. Our friend and Journal contributor Sara shares stories of her late father-in-law, told from the perspective of some of his children:

A few months ago, my family suffered a loss with the passing of my father-in-law, who we all called Mike. It was a heartbreaking time but, as is often the case, the painful loss provided the opportunity to share memories, spend time together, grieve, and heal. The ironic part of the rituals surrounding a death—the preparations, family gatherings, storytelling—is that you constantly look at one another and think: He would have loved to be here… He would have loved this.

My husband, Kory, has six siblings. They rarely see one another. We don’t live terribly close to most of them and, though we might have great intentions of visiting one another (or at least calling more often), inevitably life happens. Days and weeks and months and seasons pass with only brief “hellos”, the occasional text message, or the rare visit.

When Mike passed away, we all found ourselves in the same room, thrust upon one another in the middle of life. We were brothers and sisters, spouses and children, nieces and mothers and aunts and uncles—together with one terrible agenda settling in over the room. But, as happens, there are things that must be done, plans to be made, decisions to ponder, meals to cook, and logistics to navigate. You begin the tricky balance of working, grieving, and healing. Your loss is personal and it is also communal. Continue reading

REAL WOMEN: SOLA

REAL WOMEN: SOLA

Do you remember your first day of school? I don’t remember the actual day, but I do have photos of myself, standing outside my first grade classroom, smiling, wearing a plaid dress and knee socks. I do remember my children’s first school days—the nervous excitement they showed and the bittersweet pride I felt at witnessing this important milestone. While I don’t take those moments for granted, there was never a doubt that those moments would come. It’s common now to see Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram light up with school photos that document every moment of our children’s educational lives. A few months ago, I received an email from an old friend that provided some much-needed perspective.

The email offered a link to a Ted Talk by a woman named Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder of SOLA—Afghanistan’s first all-girl boarding school. The word “sola” means “peace” in the Pashto language, but it is also an acronym for School of Leadership, Afghanistan. Shabana was 6 years old when the Taliban took over Afghanistan and made it illegal for girls to go to school. So, for five years, her family dressed her as a boy and sent her to a secret school to learn. Even at this young age, she understood the risks that she—and her parents—were undertaking. She would walk for 30 minutes, even an hour, to schools. The locations would move, and she would walk different paths each day; sometimes class would take place in the morning and other times in the afternoon.

REAL WOMEN: SOLA

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