I have come across several local news items in recent days that make me happy and proud to be a Minnesotan. Our family has made some pretty dramatic work and lifestyle changes in order to get settled back in Minnesota. We have always argued that the air and water here are clean, and that the schools and roads are (largely) cared for as they should be. However, it has been a bumpy path finding the right professional situation allowing us to stay permanently, causing me to question at times our stubborn single-mindedness.
While living in other cities and regions, it felt more difficult to care about local politics, or to feel like getting involved in local challenges. I was less likely to trust institutions, feel the importance of voting, or to notice community resources. But when I'm here at home, I naturally want to keep the water clean, get to know my neighbors, vote in local elections, plant things, and make sure that we are caring for our soil. Especially in a political climate like this one.
So when I hear local news coverage of things I really care about (in addition to the major national stories), it affirms our efforts in a way that I feel viscerally. In these cases, environmental concerns about fibers, apparel, sustainability, and the health of our water system are all featured in recent stories, and in even in ways that touch my life up north in addition to my life in the metro area. These stories serve as small flags along my path, reminding me that we came home in order to care for people and a place that we love.
The first one I heard on MPR a couple of weeks ago was a feature about a group called Mobile Menders, a volunteer effort design to apply sewing and mending skills to homeless and low income people so that they may continue to use what few possessions that they have. Such a great idea, great for waste-reduction, and so compassionate.
Then last week, I was really excited when I heard another intriguing story on MPR, this one about an agricultural pilot project related to growing hemp in Minnesota, with one location on the White Earth Reservation, very near where my parents live. Hemp can be grown for seeds or fibers, and is a strong candidate to be a good natural fiber solution for apparel. I first heard this story on the radio on 91.1 KNOW and then saw it printed in the weekend edition of the Fargo Forum, while I was visiting my parents. Hopefully more stories like this one will ease its transition back to being a more common crop, as it was in the past.
The next day, also in the Fargo Forum, my mom came across and a thoughtful editorial note only about the hemp-growing effort, but also about how we can be mindful of textile and apparel waste and why hemp is one possible piece of the solution puzzle. It was written by Winona LaDuke, an Ojibwe writer, economist, and executive director of Honor the Earth, and I was thrilled to see my mom also read it, even thought it wouldn't have normally been on her radar.
Finally this morning, I heard a story on MPR about microplastics in our waters, even inside of the fish that we eat, and the efforts being made to learn more about the problem. Again, the story circled back to small things that we can (and need) to do to reduce levels of plastics that living things are currently ingesting. This story reminds me of the others, because again, textiles and fibers play a huge role both in the problem and in the solution.
These stories connect my love of Minnesota, my love of sewing, mending, knitting and fibers, and my strong interest in making the fiber and apparel life cycles more healthy and sustainable. Thank you to MPR, Fargo Forum, Winona LaDuke, Dan Gunderson, Tim Nelson, Kirsti Marohn. Also cheers to Jessica Body, who published this story on MPR early in 2017 about fleece microfibers in our water, a story that I missed when it first came out.