June 2012

Flux Factory is not only my favorite and most beloved artist collective, the group now also organizes a series of monthly workshops that discuss how members of the public can actively engage in neighborhood development.

The Future of Your Neighborhood: Who Decides? informs about strategies for self-organizing to enact positive change in their neighborhoods and in the city as a whole.

Check out their newest event:

Reclaiming Vacant Land for Community Use

Wednesday, June 20, 7 – 9pm

Flux Factory is pleased to present the second workshop in our yearlong initiative, The Future of Your Neighborhood: Who Decides? This monthly series discusses how New Yorkers can self-organizing to enact positive change in their neighborhoods and in the city as a whole.

In conjunction with Flux Factory’s June exhibition, Bionic Garden, Paula Z. Segal of 596 Acres will present Reclaiming Vacant Land for Community Use. In this visioning session, Segal will explain New York City’s land use and real estate warehousing practices, describe where you can find information on a vacant lot in your neighborhood, and share success stories of communities gaining access to previously close-off parcels of public land. Learn how to find that special lot in your life, where to go from there, and what to do with it.

The Future of Your Neighborhood: Who Decides? will continue in future months with workshops on urban agriculture, historic preservation, sustainable transportation, and other topics near and dear to New Yorkers. If you have an idea for a workshop, please email christina[at]fluxfactory[dot]org. This educational initiative is organized by Christina Vassallo, Douglas Paulson, and Lacey Tauber.


Went to the Contemporary Craft Fair today and listening to the Craftnet event Making Places: Branding a Craft Town where Ruth Potts talked about Clone Towns and the importance of local production and consumption. One of her positive examples was “Keep Louisville weird.”

Now, beside the fact that “Keep Louisville weird” is a “clone” of the original “Keep Austin weird” (now trademarked by Outhouse Designs and used to market tshirts, hats, mugs etc.) in his book “Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas,” Joshua Long points out the commercial adoption of the phrase beside the relationship between place, urban economies, the environment, and culture.

Potts’ talk reminded me of the debates around “greenwashing” i.e. big corporation adopting semi-“green” principles to cash in on consumer preferences (see for instance the Body Shop). But also re the NYTimes article I posted recently For Ohio Pottery, a Small Revival … that is, Starbucks-turns-to-ohio-not-china-for-coffee-mugs. So, are mugs made in Ohio for Starbucks local? Are casted ceramics handmade? (another discussion we frequently have regarding e.g. Emma Bridgewater’s ceramics). What constitutes handmade? Industrial manufacturing that is stamped by hand?

And what is a craft town? A town where local manufacturing is revitalized because Starbucks ordered several thousand mugs? How does that scheme change our perception of global corporations and chain stores?

Moreover, the Etsy blog featured a real short excerpt of Elizabeth Cline’s book “Overdressed: The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion” today. Here, she praises the “fairness” of a Dominican versus Asian sweat shops who pay “three-and-a-half times the Dominican minimum wage, roughly $2.83 an hour or $500 a month. This type of pay structure is known as a ‘living wage.’ Instead of trapping garment workers in a hand- to-mouth existence, a living wage allows factory workers to achieve longer-term goals and invest in their children’s futures.” But $2.83/hour? Seriously? Is this our new “fair,” “living wage”?

Cline acknowledges that “Garment workers overseas are still only earning about 1 percent of the retail price of the clothing they pro­duce. The Worker Rights Consortium has found that garment worker wages could be doubled or even tripled with little or no increase for Ameri­can consumers. Clothing companies have enjoyed decades of cheap foreign labor and the resulting profits, but what exactly are the tangible benefits to us, the American consumer?”

Exactly, so what are the benefits of all these semi “fair” “local” and “handmade” schemes? One cannot resist wondering whether this is just yet another scheme to generate positive attention to an exploitative and profit based business practice.

We obviously have a love for buttons.

Now Slate.com published a nice history of buttons by Jude Stewart:

The Simple, Humble, Surprisingly Sexy Button. A visual history.

And, there is a slideshow as well: You Can Make a Button Out of Almost Anything

… yup, it was last Saturday

If you participated, here’s a badge for you:

Also note that Knitta has an international photography competition that you can still participate in until July 9th!

Or, if came across other peoples’ work, then this on is for you:

and again, Knitta’s International Yarnbombing Day 2012 Facebook page is full with the most amazing yarn bombing photos and projects from all around the world. Check it out!

My favorite though:

All courtesy of yarnbombing.