Indigenize!

Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Boycott Black Friday November 27, 2014

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This is a picture I took at an arts and crafts supply store — in September. Halloween decor I could handle when it was still 70 degrees out and school was just getting started, but Xmas stuff too?! “Beware the horror” indeed!

Now it’s Thanksgiving Day as I write this, and the onslaught really begins. Do you feel your body recoiling at the barrage of ads, tinny Rudolph Midnight Clear muzak, the message that you have to now get busy and jolly and go shopping? Yeah, me too. So I have a proposal. Instead of rewarding the Christmas sales juggernaut that now begins before Halloween (argh!), let’s switch it up. Slow down the holidays. Enjoy the one we’re in.

I propose a movement to keep actively ThanksGiving for the last few days of November, enjoying and appreciating what we already have instead of buying.

If taken up en masse, this could be revolutionary. Enjoying and appreciating what we already have instead of buying – if even for a few dedicated days.

Boycott Black Friday.

Here are some memes for inspiration. The last one is my favorite.

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#BoycottBlackFriday

* I found the above memes being passed around the Interwebs. If you made one of them, please let me know so I can give you credit.

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Relationship with Stuff: Toy Stories September 22, 2013

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Gabriele Galimberti wandered the world to photograph children with their favorite toys. He would first play with the children so they would get to know one another a bit, then he’d do the photo shoot.

I think the project reveals some interesting insights into peoples’ relationship with our stuff — not only in the photos themselves, but in the photographer’s experience of doing the project.

The first interesting observation is that cross-culturally, the toys were not that different. Dinosaurs, cuddly stuffed animals, dolls and boy dolls – er, that is, “action figures,” toy trucks and the like showed up across the globe.

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Of course, the favored toys naturally

“…reflected the world each child was born into: so the boy from an affluent Beijing family loves Monopoly, because he likes the idea of building houses and hotels, while the boy from rural Mexico loves trucks, because he sees them rumbling through his village to the nearby sugar plantation every day.”

These toys were of course provided by the parents, who offer their children implements of their own lives: the taxi driver bought her son a lot of miniature cars, and the farming family bought small plastic rakes, shovels, and the like.

With the exception of computer games, these are also, Galimberti noticed, the same kinds of toys that have been around for the past 30 years — a continuity that gave him a sense of calm belonging.

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But bigger cultural differences appeared in two ways. The first is the way the parents dealt with the child’s participation in this project.

“Parents from the Middle East and Asia, [Galimberti] found, would push their children to be photographed even if they were initially nervous or upset, while South American parents were “really relaxed, and said I could do whatever I wanted as long as their child didn’t mind”.”

The second big difference lay in the way the children play with these toys.

“But it’s how they play that seemed to differ from country to country. Galimberti found that children in richer countries were more possessive with their toys and that it took time before they allowed him to play with them (which is what he would do pre-shoot before arranging the toys), whereas in poorer countries he found it much easier to quickly interact, even if there were just two or three toys between them.”

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Both of these hold significance when looking at the world ecopsychologically.

The first brings up the question of whose will is more important and sovereign: the outside authority, or your own smallest family member?

The second begs the large question, how does the number of possessions we own correlate to the quality of interaction we have with others involving their use?

In other words, does a richer standard of living naturally lead to more possessiveness, and a poorer or more simple one lead to more sharing? We could make the argument that the first part has indeed been so since the dawn of agriculture, which allowed for some groups to store great quantities of food for the hard winters while those without such walled, rodent-proof containers sometimes starved — unless the walled-in folks were generous with their surpluses, or unless the nomadic hunter-gatherers began raiding.

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If more wealth does indeed lead to more possessiveness, is that still the case if the entire community attains a certain level of wealth, or only if there’s great discrepancy between the haves and have-lesses or even have-nots?

Regardless, can recognizing the likely possibility of behaving in a stingy way lead certain folks in affluent societies to deliberately keep themselves poorer in a subconscious (and likely misguided) bid for deeper community connection? I ask this question for myself, often: does my deep-seated fear of becoming an entitled jerk keep me from having a surplus of money, even a modest one? I’ve always had enough, but something deep in me fears extreme wealth and keeps me from having it.

Hm.

But I do have a lot of stuff. What I miss, living now in a new place, is people to want to come play with it.

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What about you? What is your relationship with stuff like? And how might we move toward a more caring, sharing society and world while still enjoying our toys?

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All quotes and photos from http://www.gabrielegalimberti.com/projects/toys-2/

Please go there to see more of his excellent work.

Images are published here with permission.

 

A “Must Hear” Whole Systems Story January 8, 2012

Yesterday I happened to have the radio on, and caught a show that blew my socks off, a recording of Mike Daisey’s stage performance about a trip he took to China. It’s an excerpt from his one-man play, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” A self-proclaimed “worshipper in the cult of Mac,” when Daisey gleefully opened up his newest iPhone, he found four photos on it – photos taken in the factory, as a test of the camera. He began to be haunted by these images. It occurred to him that he’d never once given a thought about how his beloved gadgets came into being. So bless his heart, he went to find out.

This is one of the best whole-systems pieces I’ve ever heard. I doubt it would be possible to listen to it and not come away with a deeply expanded awareness of the need to consider the life-cycle of all of our things.

Mike Daisey did fabulous journalism, to begin with; through his detailed, evocative imagery, the listener really feels herself to be there with him, seeing and hearing what he is experiencing. When he interviews a worker whose hands were ruined by the minute repetitive work of creating iPads and then realizes that this man has never actually seen one completed, let alone one powered up and working, I was glued to the radio. The man thought Daisey’s iPad was like magic.

And it is, in a way. I’m incredibly grateful to our technology, from radios on, for allowing me to hear Daisey’s performance done thousands of miles away, and allowing you to read my words about it now.

Daisey’s honesty about the dilemmas this growing awareness poses in his life is refreshing, and it is an issue we all face, whether we think about it or not. If you are reading this on a personal computer, you are complicit, as am I. How best to deal with this reality? On a personal level, should we give our gadgets up and try to live a materially simpler life? Or is the commerce actually helping the people there, as many claim? On a societal level, does the problem simply lie with unscrupulous companies in Shenzhen (a former fishing village, now manufacturing central) trying to make the biggest bucks in the fastest time; shades of the Gold Rush in the American West; boom and bust, and damn the consequences? If so, could it be fixable through stronger governmental oversight of the tech industry and overseas manufacturing? Or is the problem actually rooted more deeply in the west’s rampant overconsumption; in the corporate capitalist industrial growth model itself? All of the above?

I intend to give Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory to the students in my Ecopsychology in Context course at Naropa this semester as part of their required “reading.” It’s that good.  Be sure to listen to the commentary afterward, too. It’s much dryer, but contains important follow-up journalism regarding Apple’s response that will make you think even more deeply about the issue.

So what can we do? These issues are complex; to begin with, please don’t jump to immediate conclusions about whom to blame. Socioenvironmental issues like this, involving toxins, survival, workers’ rights, economic growth, and desire, are systemic problems. And when we’re talking widespread, multi-faceted processes like this, it’s often mistaken and shallow thinking to point to one minute element that contributes to it. In fact, shifting one little element in a system more often than not leads to unforeseen, unintended consequences that we then have to add to the pile of problems. (Illustrating that will be another long story.)

A middle-ground response for the individual could be to just keep the gadget you have for as long as you can before replacing it. This would help on both ends of its life, the manufacturing end and the discarding end. How about we re-define the “coolness” factor to include long-term sustainability for both planet and people?

 You can hear the piece on NPR’s This American Life website (after 7 pm Sun 1/8/12). It’s episode #454.  There’s a short promo too, so you can see if you’re interested.

Please let me know what you think about these things here in the Comments section!

 

Update 1/16/12:  Apple has responded with a new page on their website, Supplier Responsibility at Apple.

Update 3/3/13 (rather late, but I just found out about this):   NPR has retracted the story since discovering that some of this powerful piece was, sadly, falsified by Mike Daisey.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/blog/2012/03/retracting-mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/460/retraction

I apologize for unintentionally passing on false information. According to my keen-eyed student, Jason Butler, who brought my attention to this, it is to this date the only story that This American Life has ever retracted.

Although now proven to be at least partially fictional, it is still a powerful meditation on some of the systemic effects of global capitalism. To learn more about that, I suggest John Ryan and Alan Thein Durning’s excellent short book Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things, and the subsequent (easily Googleable) film along the same lines,  The Story of Stuff.

 

 

DIY Envelopes from Junk Paper April 2, 2010

Never buy an envelope again!

Wow your friends and bill collectors with mail in these envelopes you’ve made out of repurposed junk paper.  This envelope looks like the sort you’d purchase, with angled bits in the back.

Check it out & try it.  It’s easy to make. You can make someone happy, extend the use of those bodies of trees, & reduce the landfill all in one fell swoop.

Here’s how:

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Materials Collection

Sources for free and fabulous “junk” paper are everywhere: junk mail, NYT Magazine, gorgeous catalogs for things you can’t afford, old calendars, discarded books.

Begin collecting as soon as you can because packrat-ism is a positive thing in this case! Whatever you don’t use can come in handy for collages and other projects.

Here you see an excellent source for gathering raw materials.

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Last year's calendars: Score!!

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For envelopes, you’ll want paper at least 8-1/2 x 11″, and bigger is better. In addition, if you plan to send it through the postal service, the paper should have a heavy thickness to it, enough that it won’t rip or come apart with rough handling.

You will also need scissors and scotch tape.

And in the final step, you will want a Sharpie pen, or white paper to tape onto your envelope, for addressing purposes.

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Image Selection & Initial Folds

For the complex envelope, the bigger the paper, the better. Old calendar pages are ideal.  I also like heavy maps and coffee-table book dust jackets.

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Begin by folding your chosen image on the diagonal.

The first fold will create the bottom of your envelope’s front.

You’ll want to fold over more than you might think, in order to make the envelope wide enough to hold most paper or cards.

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first fold, creating the bottom of the envelope's front

front view of first fold

back view of the first fold

back view of first fold

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Fold in the sides

Fold each side angle in to the middle, over the bottom fold you just made.

Details: The edges should overlap. Make sure you have enough paper on each side to cover up the envelope’s future contents. A common mistake is to make one side too short, as the side bits are uneven at this point.

Then, as in origami, unfold it and reverse-fold each of the bottom corners. This makes it look more like an envelope, with the middle fold now on top.

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folding in the sides over the bottom fold

Folding in the sides over the bottom fold

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After folding, open the sides up and fold them in first with the bottom then folded in after.

This is like a reverse fold in origami.

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How the back looks after reverse- folding

How the back looks after reverse- folding

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Complete the shape, tape it down, and trim it

Now fold over the point that’s sticking up off the bottom piece. It will look squared-off.

Fold it up and make its top match the side bits in an aesthetically-pleasing way.  You can give it an interesting angle if you like, or if its odd shape happens to fit the way you folded the sides. (That’s not a mistake – it’s artistic license!)

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Fold it up and tape the sides down.

Also put tape across the bottom edges for reinforcement.

You want it to be as strong as possible because the post office workers will be so fascinated with your envelope that they’ll handle it a lot.

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Cut off any excessively long parts to the top flap.

This will be necessary if the initial paper was rectangular.

But nota bene: The final product need not be perfectly symmetrical. It is, after all, a unique handmade woik o’ aht.

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It’s starting to really look like an envelope!

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Final steps & Voila!

Fold over the top so the opening is entirely covered.

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Here’s what it ends up looking like, front and back.

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Congratulations!  You’ve just made an envelope!

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Send Your Envelope

To address your envelope, you can do one of the following:

1) Use a Sharpie pen, glitter pen, or the like on a blank portion of your image. (Just be sure to pick something water resistant and extremely visible)

2) Glue or tape on a piece of white paper that’s been cut into an interesting shape to serve as an address label

3) Use one of those sticky tags for same purpose

Add your return address and a stamp.

Tape shut and send.

And await the joyful response from your correspondents who’ve gotten so used to e-mail only that they’ll be wowed by receiving this work of art, uniquely made just for them, in the post.

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In case you’re wondering, I’ve sent hundreds of these over the years, some as SASEs to myself, and they’ve always arrived. One postal worker did warn me, though, that mail sent in such envelopes might take a day or two longer to arrive since they get passed around in the PO for everyone to ooh and aah over before sending them on.

Enjoy!

And please send me images of envelopes *you* make!

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A version of this is a featured Instructable on the wonderful DIY website of the same name.  (Uh-oh, my secret identity, BrujaHa, is now revealed…)