Heyyy, I made a cape for my dog!
Puppy Cape! Constructed on the fly, with undyed muslin and a fabric marker.
Crush joined about 6,000 other demonstrators (mostly human, some dogs) at the Rally for Working Families at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing.
Her sign (”Snyder is a wiener”) refers to Michigan’s new governor, Rick Snyder, who, well, is a wiener. And also to her status as a wienerdog (GET IT? Wiener! Hooray, political punning!)
One year ago this month in Gazipur, Bangladesh, a fire at a factory that produces knitwear for H&M killed 21 workers and injured 50 more.
Today, garment and textile workers continue to be some of the most vulnerable, super-exploited women in the world.
As U.S. and state policymakers like Snyder bust unions, empower corporations, and continue to chip away at workers’ rights, historians Nan Enstad and Joshua Freeman, and journalist Jeff Weinstein all explain how looking back at the Triangle Shirtwaist fire can help us understand our current political climate. Specifically, understanding the history of the fire gives us insight into the stakes of this ongoing debate about what Enstad calls “the relationship between the power of the corporation and the safety, welfare and dignity of people.”
Some anti-sweatshop “craftivists” believe that making one’s own clothing in this context is a political act, a material (no pun intended) disengagement from and protest against the global garment industry. In the future, we’re definitely going to have some discussion here about this idea, and also about the politics and economics of “ethical consumption” when it comes to yarn, fiber, and textiles.
For now, I’d just like to propose that, if we want yarn and clothing and textiles that are not made in deadly, near-slavery sweatshop conditions, it’s not enough to “vote with our dollars,” or to buy the right stuff from the right stores, or even to not buy anything at all. We also need to come at it from the other side, not as consumers, but as direct, outspoken advocates for workers’ rights and fair, safe, just labor practices.
- Nan Enstad, “The Triangle Fire and its Lessons“
- Joshua Freeman, “Remembering the Triangle Fire“
- Jeff Weinstein, “The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: The Ways That Tragedy Counts“
- Cornell University Triangle Factory Fire web site (amazing, comprehensive resource)
- New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, “Commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire” exhibit
- Watch online - PBS American Experience episode, “Triangle Fire“