Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Adjusting "Family Values" or Phoenix Rising

In the book, The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (2003) there are many passages that highlight women in civic and social movements throughout the nation’s history. The laundry workers marches for better pay, the infamous sweat shop fire that brought attention to the inhumane treatment of thousands, the women involved in the civil rights movement, more. Many of these women had children and families that they were either helping to support or they were the sole support. In this history of bonding and uniting to make changes in systems bent on usury, they stood together. And as the military, industrial (corporate), government complex pushes for more power; women are coming together to question and counter these forces once again. Is this a new kind of feminism, a new movement or a radical change in paradigm?

After several decades of shifting family values, women are adjusting to the changes and speaking up in new ways. Acknowledging that what was won through the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960’s was less satisfying than expected; there is a questioning of goals and values. In the gap, attempts to reestablish conservative more traditional expectations and roles, cloaked as a return to “family values” are being launched in the media by various groups seeking to stabilize their institutions. (Churches, far right conservatives etc.) This may appeal to some but others are seeking to go forward, into new territory.

In this shuffle, a new feminine archetype is emerging. With a sense of purpose and urgency, women are seeking to take the lessons learned from the past and combining them as a means to inform a new balance between the individual and the cultural psyche.

“In the problem of women was the germ of a solution, not only for their oppression, but for everybody’s. The control of women in society was ingeniously, effective. It was not done directly by the state. Instead the family was used – men to control women, women to control children, all to be preoccupied with one another to turn to one another for help, to blame one another for trouble to do violence to one another when things weren’t going right. Why could not this be turned around? Could women liberating themselves, children freeing themselves, men and women beginning to understand one another, find the source of their common oppression outside rather than in one another? Perhaps then they could create nuggets of strength in their own relationships, millions of pockets of insurrection. They could revolutionize thought and behavior in exactly that seclusion of family privacy which the system had counted on to do its work of control and indoctrination. And together instead of at odds--male, female, parents, children--they could undertake the changing of society itself.” (Zinn, p 514)

After a few decades of proving they could compete in the men’s world, women are coming to realize (as are many men) how dangerous that “world” has become. It extols values that are not concurrent with a broad range of newer understandings. The entire pool of human knowledge has grown exponentially and with that knowledge comes new responsibility. It is perhaps this feeling of responsibility that is awakening their passion and courage as they reach out to find others of like mind, seeking balance, support and harmony. They are finding it and each other in co-ops, non-profits, fair profit start ups community meetings and festivals, at work, coffee shops, in the commons and in homes, face to face and via audio casts, videos and internet conversations. These are varied yet simultaneous points of entry, points of light illuminating the great change.

This is not gender exclusive, men are also responding, but women might have a special compulsion to act as mothers and midwives of this transformation. (Marx Hubbard, B. What is conscious evolution? Foundation for conscious evolution, 2011) Perhaps it is a primal urge to protect the young, to nurture what is living and not just defend it from harm. Perhaps it is part of a series of growing pains that have been acknowledged and acted upon; perhaps this is just human progress, going towards the light, seeking health and wellness for all living things. Perhaps it is just time.

Revolutions of thought and behavior within the family construct are not new; witness the suffragettes and the women artists throughout “herstory.” In less public arenas, small revolts within the family erupted behind closed doors. According to Betty Friedan, (The Feminine Mystique) “The problem lay buried, unspoken for many years in the minds of American woman. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United Sates. ……Suddenly they all realized they shared the same problem. They began hesitantly to talk about it…two of the women cried in sheer relief, just to know they were not alone.”(Zinn, p. 505)

Eventually the “problem” spilled into the streets. Writers, artists, teachers, secretaries, nurses and housewives bonded. Though this first wave of feminism was primarily a white upper middle class movement, it was informed by the civil rights movement and there was cross over. (Freedoms Daughters- The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970) Eve decided she was not to be denied. She wanted to explore her fuller potential, to enter the work force in a wide range of fields; she wanted respect, power to make decisions about her life and lifestyle. She wanted equal pay and equal rights. As women entered the work force in droves a new role was developed by media and marketers, the Super Woman who could have and do it all. Like the Perfect Wife and the Devoted Mother before her, she was given a role that protected the values of family. “Doing it all” just added income production to her long list of duties.

“The myth of the superwoman 'having it all', juggling a stellar career and children with breezy efficiency, has given working mothers inferiority complexes for decades. ……But now, the Having All It All generation are giving way to the Actually, I Don't Want It All - or at least, Not All At The Same Time generation…… and (she) calls on men to share more of the responsibilities at home. A move towards equal relationships could be the greatest hope .. of more balanced lives ., …...”(Hinsliff, G; Hill, A. Why the have-it-all woman has decided she doesn't want it all, 2005)

The family roles are shifting again as people react to what they have learned. Men in the last 30 years have become increasingly more involved with the raising of children while women learned to function in formerly male domains. This was perhaps a necessary balancing exercise that has prepared our species for the greatest balancing act of modern time.

If the paradigm change is about balancing the larger whole of life, then making peace between the rational, spiritual and emotional intellects of homo sapiens, the self and the “other” is paramount. The shift to balancing human needs with greater living ecosystems and reawakening (or finally realizing) to the value, beauty, diversity and interconnectivity of this amazing life will aid us all in realizing our full human potentials. The old walls between disciplines, roles, gender, race, biotic and abiotic forms are falling away. Something new is rising and women are responding. It is more than a movement, it’s a paradigm change.

Viva la evolucion! Viva la phoenix!


Hill, A; Hinsliff, G., Why the have-it-all woman has decided she doesn't want it all, The Observer, 2005, retrieved 5/16/11

Hubbard, B Marx What is conscious evolution? Foundation for conscious evolution, retrieved 5/22/11,

Olsen, Lynne, Freedoms Daughters- The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970, Scribner, 2002.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

recycouture defined

Refashion and reCycouture The earth friendliest form of sustainable fashion uses fabric
from garments that are in the post consumer chain. From wardrobe
swaps, yard sales, rummage sales and thrift shops these garments
and household linens are torn apart, mix and matched, then resewn
into fabulous new items. Because of their unique combinations these
are often one of a kind pieces that distinguish the fashion conscious individual.

These garments and accessories appeal to those with a refined sense of personal style and an aesthetic that strives to follow heart felt ideals that are in harmony with the natural world. This is not as woo hoo as it sounds for it is based on principles of quantum physics ( patterns and energy) biology (species diversity and health), environmental science (connectivity of ecosystems) economics (resource values and local production) and mathematics (compounding!). More!!

The refashion concept has been around for years. From depression stylists through war shortage seamsters,using fabrics for new purposes has been part of thecreative person’s repertoire. The most common form of fabricre-use was the quilt.

Today’s talented designers are refashioning under many monikers. RecyCouture is the word for garments that have hand work and time consuming details or are a custom refashioned garment. New words are coined almost daily as designers seek acknowledgement and market interest - upcycled, altered garments, remade, reclaimed fashion, recycled style etc. Whereas sustainable fashion includes the new fashions that are made from fibers that are being produced with less resource abuse, energy and toxins and in a socially just manner; the refashion movement is about lessening waste.

The shake out is about determining human progress. We will fare the future in the manner we deserve. Sustainable lifestyles enable the whole to fare better. They are based on the real science and information of today and are in defiance of the old standards that have proven themselves untrue. Sustainable fashion is not a trend. It is way of designing the styles a positive future demands. We now know better...we must act in that knowledge if we decide to be a species worth inhabiting this gift called planet Earth.

Friday, June 4, 2010


We Are All In It Together
Retail Therapy ReDux
Film and fashion have a long history. Silver screen gowns were designed for fantasy lives in the 30s and 40s. In 1967 the costumes of the film Bonnie and Clyde influenced fashion designers. Later, deliberate marketing was pursued. Designers started to give celebrities gowns to wear to high profile events where the press and television crews gathered. Both the original designer and the knock-off factories benefited from this publicity. Though it has settled down a little, the designer and celebrity connection remains. “Though all meaning is in our minds, illustrated by our inner movies” (Wolz, B. 2005, p. 69) celebrities appear to sell products. The public must be buying into the perception that the diva endorsement is honest, special and valid.

Fashion is an industry with a beautiful facade and a rather hideous underbelly; it’s easy to love the best of it and to be disgusted with the rest of it. Turning the concept of fashion and clothing into something that works with the real world, not the delusional real we have come to accept, is where sustainable fashion enters the scene. A “shift in viewpoint is the key to mental and spiritual growth” (Wolz, p. 17) it is also the catalyst for action that enables physical change.

Fashion was the instigator of planned and perceived obsolescence. The market economy came of age in the 50’s and the Department of Commerce helped define USA style capitalism. Population growth and ever escalating consumption meant jobs and taxes, companies grew and the American lifestyle was promoted as the best in the world.

The ostentatious display became a marker of worth; an individual’s value to the system was advertised by large homes, with closets the size of Rhode Island, bursting with clothing and accessories. The rapid escalation had hidden costs. The toxins released into the commons of air, soil and water as manufacturing increased, became environmental problems. Environmental problems became health problems. Now we realize that products we use daily are contributing to ecosystem fallout and many are jeopardizing our personal health as well. The process and the product are suspect and need to be held accountable.

Health is a balance of mental, spiritual and physical well being. If this is accepted as true than our beliefs based on the capitalist vision that dominates the media and promotes the push of consumer economics to make our lives "better," while actually taking away the time to mitigate stress, nurture relationships, enhance collective intelligence and appreciate our lives, then that is unbalanced and therefore unhealthy on a new level. According to Birgit Wolz, in the book, E-Motion Picture Magic, “sometimes our beliefs get in the way of seeing something for what it is.” (p. 61) This product saturated, fast paced life may not be progress at all, it may be shortening lives and creativity, it may be a techno driven joke of an overdose.

As Americans, we have become accustomed to a lifestyle that is manipulated, unavailable on a large scale due to finite resources and though at first it was fairly consensual, we are starting to realize that it is an abusive relationship. Now more and more of us want it to stop! We feel we have been duped for the benefit of a very few, while the majority is played as scapegoats and pawns.

British research verified the truth of the shoppers high a few years ago. “During a shopping experience, the human brain apparently releases the chemical dopamine, a kind of natural messenger which is essential to the normal functioning of the brain, and which has a role in our ability to experience pleasure or pain. It appears also to have a role in addictive behavior. Simply put, if an action makes us feel good we want to repeat it.” (Kopp, C. 2005) This is a short term rush and as the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic implies, we are persuaded by the current economic system to re-experience it as often as possible. As “films transmit ideas through emotions.” (Wolz, p.17) Confessions f a Shopaholic shows the sensual pleasure the character derives from shopping. That it may be a misplaced emotion isn’t taken to task except as a credit card issue, thereby the consumer is blamed for following the path she has been carefully groomed to follow. It appears to be a case of double jeopardy.

This seduction has a huge cost that is not extracted from the bottom line by the production model we have constructed. Product lifecycle considerations are now questioned as is the transportation and resource abuse we have tolerated in the name of lifestyle. Now we realize the huge price tag we were encouraged to ignore. The bill is coming due and we need to accept that fact.

As we heal the earth, we may heal ourselves and vice versa. This is a micro to macro concept, for as we heal, we are in effect consciously striving to align with the greater field of consciousness. This shift in awareness may enable us to see more clearly the truth in the concept of the “we are one” just as we are also and concurrently, individuals. Though this appears in opposition, it is really just about degrees of change in perspectives.

The sustainable path of social justice, economic equity, ecosystem balance and cultural diversity is about altering the collective perspective. It is about paradigm change on a grand scale. It is the beginning of a new story.

“Storytelling has always been the preferred tool of great wisdom teachers.” (Wolz, p. 14) Fashion and film already collaborate to tell stories. Together they can illustrate healthy, beautiful and compelling new visions based on ideas with a sustainable lifestyle subtext or even overt dramatic messages. A parallel planet, human species healing is possible if we decide that it is do-able and act on that decision. The results could be simply awesome.
now see the video Retail Therapy ReDux