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Garments and poor working conditions… all made in Bangladesh

I couldn’t help but wonder if any of my clothes were made in factories just like the one that collapsed last Wednesday in Dhaka, Bangladesh and killed over 300 people.  One can’t know for sure.  The supply chain within the garment industry is  very complex, and thus very difficult to pinpoint where one finished product comes from, despite what the labels say.  According to this PBS video, there are contractors and subcontractors and distributors all along the chain.  CBCNews Canada describes in this article the difficulties in learning exactly where and how a specific garment was made.

What can the average American citizen do in order to buy clothes while avoiding exploiting worker  Well, here are a few ideas:

1) For one, you could shop conscientiously.  Be informed and be a more responsible shopper.  This means doing a bit of research before shopping for a new garment.  There is Maggie’s, which boasts sustainable and fair-labor-made clothing.  Or go to Good Guide, where you can search brand names in clothing, food, and other products, and see how they are rated based on how healthy, green, and socially responsible they are.  According to its website, Good Guide uses a sophisticated rating system.

2) Buy clothing locally.  In Atlanta, there is the Beehive, which hosts clothes made by independent designers in the local community.

3) Buy used clothes.  They’re cheaper than buying at regular retail price.  And if you can’t let go of high-end brands, you can sometimes find some really good brands in stores like Goodwill and The Lucky Exchange.

4) Make your own clothes.  Then there won’t be any doubt as to who’s made your clothing.  I’ve been wanting to learn how to do just that for several years now but haven’t gotten around to it.  If the workers in Bangladesh can do it, I can do it.  Designing and making my own clothes (or getting them made) would be much more rewarding than simply buying a ready-to-wear garment from a store.  It also gives me a chance to be creative.

If you want to learn more about campaigns that work to end sweatshops and secure workers’ rights abroad and at home, check out the following:




To have a good blog means you have to listen

Cartoon by Dave Coverly

Cartoon by Dave Coverly

I used to think blogging was silly.  But, actually, it’s not that bad.  I have found that blogging is not as easy as it seems.  I do research, put thought into each word, and try to make my blog posts useful, or at least entertaining.  It’s like a mini paper every time.  I understand now and appreciate people who blog daily, and appreciate bloggers who garner a large audience.  It takes skill and it takes time. What helps to create content is listening.  Netvibes is a good tool to do just that.  Netvibes is a personalized dashboard which allows you to see various portals of social media all in one place.  You can arrange widgets how you like. Also, as scintillating as your blogs are about your everyday escapades to the mall or the cutest thing your cat did, people won’t be attracted to your blog if you don’t have them in mind.  Writing blog content means writing something that people would want to read.  So, by listening to what is being talked about your brand or nonprofit, you can stay abreast of what the public dialogue is concerning your nonprofit.  Kivi Miller offers some concrete tips on what to do with what you learn from listening.

But far more important than the fueling of content for your blog, listening should be the first thing you do, and you should continue listening. If you don’t listen, then you might miss something important. It could actually result in a social media disaster, like what happened with the Komen Planned-Parenthood ordeal. Click here to learn more about the stages of a social media disaster.  I haven’t been blogging for that long, but I know that listening is the cornerstone of any good social media campaign and the key to creating blog content.


Georgia’s Not Buying It Campaign

Georgia’s Not Buying It Campaign

The latest press campaign to fight child sex trafficking in Georgia.

Privacy… Is it possible? And why should you care?


Privacy is a term that has somewhat lost its meaning over time.  It’s a topic that’s been contested over for sure, but what is doubtful is whether it can be achieved or not.  Of course, there is no true privacy in this day and age–in the absolute sense of the word.  But why does privacy matter?

We should be allowed to have the choice to make something private or public.  If everything that’s private in our lives is made public or publicly available, we’re robbed of the chance to even build the courage to come out into the public to share something that is very private to us.  We’re robbed of our own mouthpiece and freedom to express, that is, the way WE want to express ourselves.

Like Bruce Shneier, I believe

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as “security versus privacy.” The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that’s why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

So, as a social worker who advocates for others, as an artist, and at the most basic level as an individual person, I feel like privacy at some degree can be achieved.  It’s my right to some level of privacy, and it’s my responsibility to make sure others also enjoy some privacy.

There are some ways to reconcile the gap between true privacy and the intrusion that comes with the wonders of internet and mobile technology.  You can achieve reasonable internet privacy.  It’s important to be aware of and educate others about how to be responsible with your own and others’ information on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  Think before you type.

But even with advanced hacking and surveillance technology, there is also emerging technology to counter these threats to our privacy.  Silent Circle is in the works of coming out with their latest, groundbreaking, “surveillance-proof” smart phone app.  This peer-to-peer mobile app will supposedly enable you to send files securely by scrambling the data and then set a timer to automatically “burn” the file from both devices.  This would not make some government agencies happy.  But hooray for those of us who want ways to keep our lives more private!

It’s important to know how to be safe and secure while also being social.  Social networks are great, but with businesses and employers encroaching more and more into employees’ lives via social networks, it’s easy to feel inhibited and almost oppressed.  A great go-to reference on privacy and social networks is here.  Technology will always be there and will always threaten to invade your privacy, but that’s why it’s important to know what your rights are and how to achieve some level of privacy.


The Magic of the Mountains of Georgia

If you need to do a little self-care, then you should spend some time in the mountains of Georgia.  It will do wonders for your mind and your body.  I really mean it.  I often dream about Amicalola Falls State Park and I think, gee I wish I were there now.  The first time I ever went, I never wanted to leave.  Here are a couple of places that you must explore.

1) Amicalola Falls State Park. 

amicalolaIt’s only about 1 hour and a half away by car.  It’s home of the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi and it’s the end of the famous Appalachian Trail.  There are tons of trails, marked by level of difficulty.  AND you gotta love outdoor events with names like “Encounters of the Bird Kind” and “For Goodness Snakes!”

But really, this place is beautiful, and will take your mind off a lot of things.  And there are lodges and cabins.  And grills if you like that sort of thing.  Amicalola is simply magnificent.

2) Unicoi State Park

This park is also not that from Atlanta.  Its beauty is enough to make you warm and welcome.  There is a lake and mountain trails to hike on.  If you’re into crafts, Unicoi has a Visiting Artist Series where a different artist comes every weekend throughout the summer to share their craft and sell samples of their art.  There’s also a Dancing Through the Decades, which is a four week-series class where you can learn the steps to some of the best social dances ever.

3) Click here to find out more about the wonderful parks of Georgia.

I’ve shared with you my favorite getaway places.  I hope you’ll take a chance to visit them and experience the magic of them like I do.  What’s your favorite local getaway?


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