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Does everything need to be more difficult?

Allegra Raff

Aug 16, 2023

Last fall, I grappled day and night (literally! I lost lots of sleep!) with big, brain-busting Q's, like: How to exist without feeding the fires of capitalism? (A: As of this writing, you don't.) And, how much fire-feeding is actually required to live in society and just be okay? (A: too much.) And, does it make sense to feel guilty about participating in stuff you don't agree with to get by? (A: Only to the extent that guilt can be repurposed into motivation to figure out something better! Otherwise, don't feel guilty! Get some rest!)

Turns out I was by far NOT the only person thinking about these things. Just the most recent example: this podcast episode of A Wild New Work, featuring guest Peter Michael Bauer of Rewild Portland. (S/o Jessica Lackey Consulting for introducing me to A Wild New Work.)

So many sharp minds emerging to talk about this stuff feels—recent? But also, like it's been brewing for a loooooonnnng time. Like, since I and everyone else who used to be a kid were kids, running around collecting acorns pretending to be squirrels and wondering WTF having a "job" had to do with survival.

And it's incredibly comforting.

I'm glad to know other people like Bear Hebert, Megan Leathernman, the folks at Slow Factory and Re/Make —just to rattle off a non-exhaustive list (maybe even you?)—are on point with verbalizing these topics. I've never been the best at verbalizing anything! (But I feel compelled to do it anyway!! Just look at this email!)

I enjoy doing stuff. Experimenting with plant dyes, making clothes for people, refining core Raff Co. patterns, etc. I enjoy it so much more so that I worry, if I don't TALK ABOUT IT, the next time I encounter another person it will be that person saying, "why is there so much dust on this work table?" and the dust is my bones.

The bridge that bypasses bone dust on the way to a regenerative community-enriching sustainable clothing production could be a physical Workspace/Shop (not in my house) that's open to the public.

PICTURE THIS.

A magical environment where you can come get measured, browse and try on pieces I have for sale, chat with me, fondle fabrics, watch me while I work, maybe even do some sewing of your own if you want (lesson/workshop potential here?)?? Buy curated work from other artists??!!?? And hang and vibe out to experimental synth music (just me?).

It’s the vision that’s been driving me recently. Maybe in the next year or so I will figure out how to make it happen??

I DO think that local community involvement is the antidote to globalized capitalist industry with all its attendant and ABUNDANTLY OBVIOUS* social/environmental misery.

Would you come to such a place? Would you shop there? There’s nothing like this in the town where I live that I know of. (Central Illinoisans: correct me if I’m wrong!)

I can't see you on the other side of the screen. Are you gagging with anxiety at the idea of making SuCh A rIsKy CoMmItMeNt? Or grinning and nodding?

BUT WOULDN’T IT BE AWESOME? I think so.

On that note, please reply to this email if you have a space that screams 'sustainable clothing workshop/showroom.'

(You can also reply to sign the (imaginary) morale-boosting petition to make this happen.)

As always, I appreciate you. Thanks for reading.

*All caps to make up for not finding a juicy link to back up this claim. You know it’s true, though.

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Some more highlights from the aforementioned episode:

Bauer calling out the concept of progress: “humans are supposed to, like, make something of themselves, instead of just [enjoying] their lives” and observing that “what we would call ‘work’ for hunter-gatherers is like what people in our society tend to do for ‘leisure’.” (Examples: crafting, fishing, hiking.)

FYI, E.F. Schumacher made a similar observation in his 1973 book, Small is Beautiful. Maybe this collection of essays by a renowned economist politely telling global capitalism to stick it is ripe for a revisit??

Also in this episode is Bauer describing wandering around the city pretending to be a hunter-gatherer, and some revealing confessions of equating not wanting to sell your labor with some kind of neurological pathology. (I, myself, have felt defective for being repelled by capitalism!)

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That's all! If you got this far, I appreciate you even more!


Softly,

Allegra

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