One Colour

Reflection

What Do Your Eyes See?

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What do your eyes see?

This is Purity. She works at the Kenana Knitters in Kenya. I love her hair, her head band, the way she wears the colourful wrap in the chilly weather. Her beauty is so evident. But I think she is rather amused at having her photo taken, yet again.

Many of the women at Kenana Knitters have their photos taken repeatedly. People come to visit and want their own memory of the ladies, and so the ladies very kindly smile as they work to earn the living that will change their lives and the lives of their families.

I wonder how we would go if random strangers wandered through our work places and took photos of us as we worked so that they could show them to others and so talk about their experiences of visiting our place of work. I have immense respect for the patient forbearance of these wonderful, wonderful women.

Challenge

In My Opinion, ReflectionOne ColourComment

A world wide wave, the Fashion Revolution, swept across the globe last week. Did you hear about it? Did you wonder who makes your clothes? Did you ask a brand you like to wear where you clothes come from? (see footnote)

I have a feeling this journal post will have more questions than answers, or at least more wonderings than advice or information, most likely due to the fact that I don't find huge amounts of clarity when it comes to understanding the impact of fashion, fast or otherwise.

On the one hand, fashion employs so many people from farmers to fabric suppliers, to garment workers to wholesalers, to retailers. It is just a massive movement of materials across the world, with people handling them at different stages. Who am I to demand these people stop how they are doing things so that I can feel better about it?

On the other hand, this same industry creates problems, too. Problems in unsafe work conditions, low wages, fantastic skills being wasted when a garment is made so quickly, so cheaply only to be worn and thrown away. So my one glaring problem is over production. Why do we produce so many garments? Why don't we value to skills of the garment workers to the extent that we want them to work for more money, make fewer garments - to truly be valued as amazing sewers of clothing and accessories? But getting back to over-production.

Tailor at Viva Africa 2014

I know the challenges minimum quantities pose to designers...my roof cavity is loaded with plastic tubs of past collections because, although I was producing as sustainably as possible, I didn't find a big enough market for my ranges. So, even though my quantities were tiny compared to most brands, I still over-produced for my market. To be honest, there is sadness for me when I know that what we created is well designed, well made and reasonably priced, yet this is not enough to make it viable and so to keep designing and producing. I guess we only need so many clothes (yet another conundrum of sustainability in fashion).

No wonder brands resort to land fill or second hand clothing bins to off load excess clothing. By using these methods of removal it immediately eliminates signs of over-production or failure to reach the market, or any number of other reasons why a style just does not work. And the window for the range or the style to work is getting smaller and smaller. Once upon a time we had at least 6 months to sell the range (spring/summer or autumn/winter). Now it's all mixed up with short runs, mini collections, trans-seasonal options and one-offs that are made to order. And then there is fast fashion on top of it all.

Which brings me to the conundrum of sustainability in fashion.

I know for sure, because I feel it in myself, that there is often a disconnect between what we believe (our values, principles, ideals) and how we live. Not for everyone, of course, as I know there are people who live with little compromise, however, I think they are the exception rather than the rule. Most of us will justify just about anything if we really want something badly enough.

Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will - Anne Klein

This is sounding a bit dark and angsty. But it does bother me. I have an uncomfortable feeling that things are not right yet there still isn't the will in most of us to make the necessary changes to begin to make it right. Even Fashion Revolution is a one-week-a-year focus (for which I am exceedingly grateful) but what happens when it's over? Do we continue forward looking for change or do we slip back into our comfy stance? I know which one I want to do and which one I am most likely to do, too.

My big questions are: how can fashion be sustainable if we keep producing vast amounts of it (even if it is sustainable in some way - organic fabric - fair wages - better working conditions - recycled fabrics)?

And: how can sustainable brands remain viable without going down the path of over-production to keep costs down? The hard reality is that the more you make the cheaper it is to produce.

Oh, dear, I think my journalling is starting to unravel. Time to pause, to bring to a close my ramble on this topic.

One thing is certain; there are no guarantees and no perfect fixes in this world. We will work to see our ideas come to life, hoping against hope sometimes, that we can live with less impact and clothe our bodies more sustainably.

And, thank goodness for Nelson Mandela.

Footnote: - a huge thank you to the many who shopped online with One Colour and the other brands who work towards sustainability in fashion, during Fashion Revolution Week.

A Northern Exposure moment

In My Opinion, Inspiration, Reflection, WisdomOne Colour2 Comments

Just because this TV show (Northern Exposure) was made in the 1990s doesn't mean it's not a sound action to repeat watch it nearly 20 years later.

In 1990, when the show's harmonica theme song was first heard, I was living in Sydney. At that stage I think I managed to catch almost all the episodes between 1990-1993, then I moved to the Hunter Valley and, with the new living location and job, I didn't watch that many of the later episodes. By the time the show had its final series in 1995, I was married and pregnant, so definitely not in the zone for watching the series, although at that time I do remember watching quite a lot of Pride & Prejudice (the 1995 BBC production).

Northern Exposure still has a fascination for me, though. I love the quirky harmony of the imaginary town of Cicely, Alaska. The townsfolk, some of whom are so apparently opposed in lifestyle or belief, are still able to accept each other and live side by side. In that idyllic world there is little judgement, much respect and a wonderful fitting in with the rhythms of the seasons. The most recent episode I watched was "First Snow", all about the coming of winter, wishing each other "Bon Hiver", loading up on carbs to ward off the freezing temps to come and celebrating just what it takes to survive in such a remote location. I know life in Cicely it isn't real or even feasible but I still love the feeling I get when escaping for an hour or so into the lives of these characters.

So it seems good to begin my 2017 journal with a message straight from Northern Exposure. The message is spoken by Marilyn Whirlwind, one of the permanent characters on the show. I can't really say that the story Marilyn tells is based on truth (almost all internet references to this story are from the show), but it's a good story anyway.

Photo by AnsonLu/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by AnsonLu/iStock / Getty Images
The Eagle wasn’t always the Eagle. The Eagle, before he became the Eagle, was Yucatangee, the Talker.
Yucatangee talked and talked. It talked so much it heard only itself. Not the river, not the wind, not even the Wolf. The Raven came and said “The Wolf is hungry. If you stop talking, you’ll hear him. The wind too. And when you hear the wind, you’ll fly.”
So he stopped talking. And became its nature, the Eagle. The Eagle soared, and its flight said all it needed to say.

My take away from this is, if I hear my voice speaking I will know I'm not listening. And when I hear the wind and the river and the wolf (or birds, or laughter, or bees) I will know I am.

This year, and every year, I want the way I live to say all that needs saying, even if a few words leak out from time to time. By the way, these journal posts don't count as words or not listening, because I don't really know if anyone reads them!

The tolling bell, no man (or woman) is an island, floral reminders

Inspiration, In My Opinion, Reflection, WisdomOne ColourComment

Reflecting on words written 500 years ago...

John Donne was writing in the (his) present and yet his insight and words are no less true today, in our present.

The bell tolls for all of us, every day, every hour, every minute, every second. This is a big kind of reflection.

For me, it's the inter-connectedness in the meaning of these words that toll for me. How can we be so connected (mankind together on a big rock called earth, in a solar system, in a galaxy, in a universe) and yet make decisions based on being somehow separate and a part from each other? Decisions made here or there rippling across oceans and continents affecting the lives of others who didn't make those decisions in the first place.

We might think we are different, through our colour, creed, belief, birth location but if John Donne is on the money, that thought isn't true in the big sense, just in the little, keep me safe, I must be special, sense.

If we keep trying to break our inter-connectedness then we will start to believe we are not connected at all. That would bring mankind to a sad, sad place...an island, maybe. I might think I'd like to be on that island but really it's no place I want to be, not really, not permanently.

The bright star, the beauty of this passage, is that always in every age everyone is involved with everyone else, we just don't remember it.

John Donne reminds me.

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee" - John Donne (1572-1631) in Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII

Is this why floral tributes become such symbols for people even when they don't know the person or people who have gone?

And the inter-connectedness becomes evident in such laying down of flowers and messages for those we will never know.

This is a wonder and why we still exist - at least in my opinion.

 Kensington Palace 1997

Kensington Palace 1997

One Colour - an ethos

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It's helpful to revisit core values and reasons for doing things. I did just that last week when uploading EcoBling to the website. It gave me a chance to review what One Colour is and what One Colour offers. This is what we are on about. And even if it is idealistic, I actually don't care. If you aim for the stars you might just reach the moon! Feel free to share with me your ethos by emailing me at di@onecolour.com.

One Colour is an idea in action. Our core mission is to provide on-going employment for our partners in Africa and to support like-minded businesses in Australia, where we live.

One Colour can be worn with purpose, can be owned or given with purpose - embracing the broken, the beautiful, the sustainable and the confronting in life. We want to see an end to extreme poverty, we want to be part of the solution. This is our way of seeing it happen.

The above pic is from a while ago, beautifully captured by Tangible Media. For those interested, Tangible Media takes all our Kenana Down Under photos - www.kenanadownunder.com.au

Spring, through the eyes of Leunig

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The Australian way of living is so diverse because we live on such a big island. And the indigenous had six seasons to cover the year, not simply four. Or up north it is "the wet", "the dry" and "the build up". So to move through the year in Australia it's more about seasonal living, dependent on where you live. A much wiser outlook, I feel.

To start your seasonal weather journey you can take a look at this link from the ABC website and read more about the indigenous way of weather. It dates from 2003 and is a fascinating place to begin. The Lost Seasons

#documentation #inspiration #sharedknowledge #naturalsigns #aboriginalsociety #future #newseasons #abcaustralia 

Highways at night - a community in darkness

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Highways are strange places at night.

Daylight is gone leaving only moonlight or headlights to show us where we are.

Enter the thought…we are not alone.

Even though we are but one metal capsule travelling along with headlights charging before, watching red taillights ahead, we are surrounded by other “ones”. We are watching out for each other even as we concentrate on looking out for ourselves.

It’s a different sort of community at night. In the darkness we are many, on the one road.


  Country Road at Night by Przemyslaw Wielicki

Country Road at Night by Przemyslaw Wielicki


Pelicans and their beaks

Inspiration, ReflectionOne Colour

Picture a late afternoon by the Manning River....cool with a beautiful graded sky from pale blue high up to deepening orange to the west. On dusk I watched a pelican quietly glide past me. This intriguing bird was fishing for dinner, I suspect. Taking no notice of me, it peered intently at the water for any movements. Every now and then it would sink its beak into the water, not straight down but sideways, to gather whatever it was it saw.

I realised, for the first time, that pelican beaks are as long as their necks. I don't know why this had never occurred to me before, but it hadn't, and I gazed in wonder at this quirk of nature, one that gave rise to a creature with such a long beak.

And I thought how wonderfully graceful pelicans are in the water and the air. I wanted the pelican to take off so I can see it in flight, but no, fishing came first.

 

Pelican at Manning River July 2014.jpg