Despite many differences of political opinions, let's use the American presidential inauguration week as an excuse for us as individuals and as a sewing community to make the statement that, no matter what our political beliefs, we care about each other and we care about our world. We are a community.
Hello all! Happy New Year a little late! This is my first post of 2017 and there aren't any pretty images of my latest makes however, I am starting with a more important message about community. What does this have to do with sewing? Well... stay with me and read on. After I babble a bit, I'll tell you about the big sewing community event hosted by Seamstress Erin (on her blog) designed to make positive change with a chance to win prizes while you are at it!
2016 was a wild year for many of us and not just here in the U.S. but around the world. Politics have become so divisive and tempers have flared so much recently that it can often seem like people are on one team or the other and there is no in between. That aside, as a recent member of this amazing sewing community, I am so awe struck and inspired by all of you as a community and as individuals. I have witnessed such kindness, caring and friendship within this sewing community that I know we are all such caring and wonderful people no matter what our political beliefs or differences.
Although I have some very strong views on politics, I try not to let that invade my business as I love my sewing community and don't want to alienate anyone (I do slip now and then). Just because I believe strongly in something, does not mean that I dislike others who believe differently than I do. It's great that this world is filled with people who aren't all carbon copies of each other - we are all different. But as strong as those differences may seem, we also have commonalities that bring us together to form different communities. Feeling connected and community minded is always important and even more so in times like these.
I have moved on a bit from my recent feelings of anger and fear, and what now comes to mind is that old saying about the first step to making a difference is to start at home with your own community. I've been thinking a lot about really being an active member of my many communities rather than just sitting back and reaping the benefits of the efforts of others. This was going to be the year that I would finally make a substantial commitment to volunteering my time, donating more money or just reaching out to people and forming those bonds. Just as I started to make and/or increase some of those efforts, Seamstress Erin reached out to me and a number of my fellow pattern designers to really do something in this area. I think many other people have been feeling like I have but sometimes it takes a movement to really call you to action and make you stop just thinking about it and really do it (at least for me).
The wonderful, amazing, gorgeous Seamstress Erin had the brilliant idea to launch a campaign to leverage our awesome sewing community for positive change in the world. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, please do. The campaign starts today through January 22nd. Despite the differences of political opinion, the American presidential inauguration will be used as an excuse for us as individuals and us as a community to make the statement that, no matter what our political beliefs, we care about each other and we care about our world. We are a community. Please check out Erin's blog to sign up and get more details.
Many of you already participate and give back to your communities whether it's volunteering at your child's school, a homeless shelter or donating money to a cause that's near and dear to you. Some of us mean well but get side tracked and busy and just need a little reminder or a little inspiration and incentive in this department. When you sign up and participate on Erin's blog, there are chances to win prizes! Just fill out the survey on Erin's blog to let her know what you’ve pledged (time or money) to a cause and she will tally the amount that our sewing community has pledged over the course of a week so we can celebrate the huge impact we can make when we join together! Remember that it's not a competition and even the smallest bit of time or money can make a difference especially when we join together.
As a big thank you for your support, 25 independent sewing pattern designers (myself included) have agreed to donate a selection of .pdf sewing patterns as a prize package for a lucky sewist! Enter your email address when you make your pledge for a chance to win. I am also offering a thank-you 25% discount off all patterns in the Sew House Seven shop with code GIVEBACK (enter the code at checkout). The code is good during this event - now - Jan 22nd. I will donate 20% of the sales during this event to one of the sewing related causes listed on Seamstress Erin's blog.
What have I done or plan to do so far? Well, I'm not a saint and I haven't committed weeks of time to doctors without borders or anything like that. However, I am stepping up my game quite a bit. I usually choose just one organization to donate a relatively large sum to as I'm not rich and dividing my funds up wouldn't amount to much and in the past I haven't had a flexible schedule that allowed for much volunteering. Because I now have a flexible schedule, I've decided that waiting until I have oodles of time to volunteer for something is no longer an excuse for me - I need to make time. Therefore, I've committed to a few volunteer jobs and reached deeper into my pockets to support a few different communities that have special meaning to different facets of my life.
In December, I decided that instead of just attending PTA meetings and listening to what the same group of women were always taking on, I was going to help out and take on a regular volunteer gig at my son's school. Even though I am crazy busy, I finally have a flexible schedule that allows me to do so. So...once a week, I go around to each classroom at my son's school and pick up books from the reading program and organize them back on their shelves in the reading room. Sometimes it's quick but sometimes It's amazing how long it takes and that would really eat away at the time the teachers need for actual teaching if they had to do it themselves.
I also finally signed up to volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank and hope to take my son with me so he can contribute as well. I've been talking about it for years but this event made me really take action rather than just lip service. I've also been fortunate enough to have new amazing neighbors who work for the transitional housing project here in Portland. They send me all kinds of opportunities for volunteering at the new homeless shelters they just opened. So far, every time I volunteer, the opportunity has been cancelled. I hope to actually get to help out sorting clothing or working the front desk very soon.
I've decided that this spring, I will pick up my old volunteer job at the Nature Conservancy again. I used to pull ivy and other invasive plants at the Camasia natural area outside of Portland. When my son was born, it was too difficult to keep up so I quit going and forgot about it. He is old enough now he can come with me or I can go once a month on a weekend or while he's at school.
I have donated $150 to Idaho Rivers United. I used to donate to them but have kind of forgotten to as of late as I am now rooted in Oregon. I grew up fishing, kayaking and rafting on the amazing, wild rivers in Idaho. They are magical and like no others and we still kayak and camp on the Salmon River every year. A few of my friends have ashes sprinkled there and I hope to be sprinkled there someday as well. The river has given so much to me, it's the least I can do as far as giving back to the river.
I also learned about a new organization through Seamstress Erin's suggestion (see her blog for more sewing related suggestions). It's called The Sewing Machine Project . It internationally provides sewing machines to groups in need and locally provides free sewing classes in some areas. I felt the need to give back to the sewing community so I donated $150 to that group as well.
Lastly (so far) I contributed $150 to the grass roots effort to start a local food co-op - the Montavilla Food Co-op. They are trying to raise enough money to do the preliminary research to open a store in my neighborhood. I am passionate about health and good, nutritious food that is available nearby. I also find that I love grocery shopping and find it calming for some reason. I love to meet people in the aisles when I'm out shopping and I hope joining this community will bring about new friendships and opportunities in my own backyard as well.
I'm also trying to get my son in the habit of volunteering and donating. We are putting a penny in a jar for each day of the year 1 for Jan 1, 2 pennies on the 2nd and so forth. I told Wylan that at the end of the year he can keep $30 from the jar, put $100 in his college savings account and the rest we will donate to a charity of his choice.
And finally, I'm sure there will be more opportunities throughout the year to continue to volunteer or donate but my last planned effort is to break out of my shell a bit and reach out and get to know more of you - my sewing community. It's exciting dreaming about the possibility of new friendships and what opportunities and experiences may lie ahead. I love my communities! Join with me - even the smallest bit can make a huge impact when we come together as a whole!
See below for all of the designers who are donating patterns. You are welcome to grab these images and spread the word on Instagram using #sewingcommunitygives.