Sunday, November 29, 2009

29 November 1955 “A chance for a REAL Vintage Tomorrow?”

I have been very moved by a modern documentary someone suggested to me. It has made me realize how much what I have learned about this year in 1955 means for my future.

Though I have enjoyed my year of ‘pretending’ I don’t want to pretend away the future. What I began to love about 1955 on a very personal scale has left me wanting it more on an overall scale. I soon began to realize, it is not a particular time because of just the fashion and music, but the feeling. The community, the spirit of the time, of the old America that I now long for. I realize, too, that by 1955, that is when our current America of convenience and low cost was put before people and community. It was only just beginning with increased trucking in of products from all over not just local. From mass production increasing to a homogeneity. Yet, it was new then. We had choices and I feel that we have now lead ourselves down the wrong road.

The wonderful news of the whole thing is we can have a realistic vintage world in that we, today, have so many freedoms and choices, yet we allow ourselves to have those choices made FOR us by corporate America. I honestly believe now that if we can seriously choose to make a change with our money we can change our environment. Our towns and communities can grow and heal and get itself back from the Walmart and the Starbucks and the McDonalds. We have to make the choice however, but if we want to continue to HAVE the choice we MUST make it if not for ourselves for future generations. When there are only a few chains that provide everything there will be NO choice for the future generations. There COULD be a time when Wal Mart and a few similar stores are literally ALL we have to get our products from. Products that are NOT made in our country and when they are made in China and India, are made at the cost of young children's freedoms and health. We may have no say over the government choices in those countries, but we allow them to continue child labor by giving them someone to supply the products too. On top of all that, we take away from our own town.

Who cares if something costs a little more or a lot more! THEN we have to learn to do without or to use less! That is the MAIN GREEN solution, not more products that purport to be safer but fewer products made and spread out.

We have allowed our country and its people to be defined by our need to consume and shop, so we must use that same power to work towards the old America of unity and community mixed with our new freedoms and that can only be done through our shopping. By choosing the right places to shop or to encourage or help to start a local place. To do without sometimes. The fix to our economy is NOT to buy more things to spur it on, but to let that dead horse die. We have to change the very fabric of how we think and react with our wallets. The world economy, the green nature and health of our planet, the very health of our towns and the emotional health of one another HAS to be addressed and put BEFORE a new flat screen TV or a new iphone! When will it stop?

I love my journey to 1955 and part of my sadness of not having the world is turned away when I see that 1955 isn’t just a point in time, or a full skirt or a hat and gloves. It is about people and community. Some how along the way we lost sight of people and each other. Our country was founded to be a place for freedom from those who felt they had none. Now we are so easily passing that freedom over to large corporations that are literally run by a few people. Why do we want a company who has no real invested interest in us to grow and prosper. Do you think if our community suddenly lost it all and couldn’t shop at Wal mart and they saw the profits go in this area, they would pull together and help us? No they would pull out, but a local store run by the man you see on the street or whose daughter goes to your child's school would.

I want back what I think has become to mean Vintage to me and that main tenet, the main focus of that is personal pride and accountability. It is easy for someone to just roll their eyes and say, “Oh, well, it’s cheaper there” but they might as well just run downtown and through bricks through the windows of the local community and wipe out any real honest individuality from their children’s future. I only hope we have enough time to stop it and we are not too late.

I know this movie is not Vintage, but please, please watch it if you can. It really does show the change that the box stores are doing to us. It matters little if you are Republican or Democrat, Christian or Jew, our country was founded so we could all coincide and get along and help one another. Now even corporate America run channels on TV that help us to feel there is an actual Divide in the this country, but that is only so we can not see the real problem. The real divide in this country is between the people and community and the corporate machine that wants to take away our personal and community rights to have our own towns run our own way. Don’t fall for the smoke screens, really go out and look at your town, is it hurting? Think before you go to the local chain store and wonder could I buy it locally and if so try it and if not, wonder when last in your town you could go locally and wonder, how much longer before there are no more choices locally, only the big box store. Then you can see it for the monster it really is. It isn’t an evil entity, but its results and need to be ruled by profit and money is and does ultimately hurt our towns, ourselves and our future generations. Don’t teach your children to choose low price over people and community.

I am sorry if this is so impassioned, but I just really want our vintage world to be revived, and it can be for all not just those of us who might like vintage fashion or music, but so that individuality can grow.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I am not going to continue my vintage project and am very seriously meaning to make next year 1956, but I feel as if I am a time-traveling reporter who needs to go back to ‘before it all began’ and report back to all of you so we can be reminded of why we do need to change. That our lives and the lives of our children and future generations CAN now what has been lost because they can have it back. The moral backbone of this country need not be a particular political party or religion but the very humanity of its people. We must come together and care for one another so that we don’t continue to become complacent and want the companies to make it easier for us to become slothful consumers who are ultimately empty and unhappy.

So here is the LINK to watch it on HULU. You will notice the ads in between seem even more conniving because of the content. PLEASE watch it if you can. It makes you think and that is what we need most to think. The homemaker was always the thinker, we have to be to do our job, yet that very job was made to look silly or unimportant. Now, I can see not only is it a very important job, but it’s main skill of thinking things through is one of the best lessons any of us can have. Have a great day, my fellow Apron Revolutionaries. We can make a difference, I know we can!

19 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, I unable to view your link in Canada. I do agree with your sentiments about supporting local buisinesses and all the people that contribute to real community. One of the challenges for many home-makers of today is if you live in a suburb, there really are few locally owned businesses or even businesses that you can easily walk or bike to so the big box malls become your only "choice". I know that the figure to bring organic food into more affordibility/availability was for everyone to change 15% of their buying habits. Because that would be out of the question for many individuals living on the financial edge, if those of us who could afford it (even if that means going without things we do not really need), the same idea could be applied to buing local/supporting local businesses. That would mean if about a third of our buying was local and we encourage our friends (word of mouth is more powerful than most other forms of advertising)to do the same, there would be the possibility for a huge surge of change. If you look at the history of big advertising (such as portrayed on Mad Men), it was in the late 50's to early 60's that the most important consumers to target their advertising dollars were middle class home-makers. We could use are clout as an economic group to make changes back to what would be healthier for our children and communities. Keep up with your reporting from the past to help us understand and give perspective to our present times.

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  2. Wonderful post! I agree 100% and am doing my bit to keep local alive in Lancaster, PA.

    To drag our country and world back from the brink of disaster we are going to have to give up some of the conveniences and luxuries we've labeled "necessities". One of the things I love about this blog is that you make that prospect sounds fun, exciting and do-able. Thank you!

    -Rebecca

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  3. Jennifer-that is too bad it won't play outside the us. One of the things they mention is the 10% solution which is, as you said, spend 10% of what you would, but spend it locally. It makes a big difference. It is sad, about the suburb situation, hopefully we have not gone too far to bring back the local business to an accesible reach to the burbs.
    Rebecca-Thank you and I am glad to do it. I really do feel, sometimes, as if I am a time traveling reporter. Oh and the film is called independent America, if you have any other source to find it, not sure if there is a canadaian version of HULU?

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  4. A very compelling essay. Well written and thought out. I completely agree with you but I fear just as sure a Wal-mart closes a dozen small shops we will never go back.As you said convenience and low prices appeal to the masses. They would pay for cheap junk knowing full well it won't last. Just gives them another reason to put on their cleanest dirty sweats and go back to Wal-mart. Again I complement you on a wonderful piece.

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  5. So true 50sgal. Thank you.

    (The Apron Revolution Gals might find some parts of the following blog entries inspiring... "The Importance of Being Home" Nov 27, and continued on Nov 29, "Learning From the Past" written by Lady Lydia from http://homeliving.blogspot.com/ I'm off to continue my 'Happy homemaking.' :) Linda

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  6. Thank you James, as you are new here I guess you are not used to my 'rants' and I am glad you enjoyed this most recent one. Sometimes a gal just has to get up on her soapbox, but none to worry ladies (and gentleman) I always get back down, brush off my petticoats and apron and get back down to brass tacks such with cooking and sewing. A gal does like to speak her mind, though.

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  7. Thank you for those links Linda, we shall check them out and support our like-minded homemakers.

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  8. i completely agree. i've been reading a lot about what could be considered 'similar' issues in "Jesus for President" by Shane Claiborne, among other forms of informational materials. part of the problem is the lack of education about these issues when it comes to the common American. only people really interested seek out the information or take the time to realize what's happening. my own father said yesterday that this corporate/capitalistic system is "just the way it is." i'm watching my small hometown being taken over by Wal-Mart and soon Lowe's and can't help but lament the fact that they will soon destroy the few local businesses left as well as take away more of our gorgeous land.

    if we band together, we CAN make a difference. thanks for posting.

    -Jessica.

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  9. Donna, I'm looking forward to sitting and watching the documentary you linked. I too hate seeing big box stores everywhere and being "told" what to buy. It's insulting.

    As I've mentioned before I'm lucky enough to live in a town that has some local shopping options. My concern with them is they sometimes sell the same merchandise at the big box stores because there are just so many manufacturers making clothes, food, etc. And if there are just so many manufacturers out there then we in effect have a big box homogonist situation without the big box store. (does this make sense?). Now I prefer to shop local for the community feeling and to keep my sales tax helping my town. But I still have concerns.

    The 10% idea is interesting. It would be a good experiment for my family as we were typical "yuppies" in the pre-recession years. Not to say we're not appreciative of what we have but we spend money way to easily. This downturn in the economy has been somewhat refreshing.

    Thanks for yet another thought provoking post.
    S

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  10. Sarah-that is true. I didn't even want to touch on that as of yet, because that scares me as well. It is true that you can go into a shop local and still turn a thing over and see 'made in china' on the bottom. We are so far removed from what it means to produce and consume that it is as if we have to heal backwards from trying to 'unlearn' the 'saving money on products is number 1' to 'where the product is made'. So much of what we eat and consume comes from so far away. I find it very shortsighted and scary that so many people seem to think there is just this magical endless supply house somewhere in the clouds that just keeps pumping out products for us to buy cheaply at walmart. Every time a thing is made cheaply (and badly) in China it hurts that little child making it, it adds to our debt to that country, it increases our connectioin with the biggest Communist country in the world (which gives them more wealth to continue their brand of living which, if powerful enough, will become the worlds brand of living)and takes jobs away from our country and brain power from us. Why bother trying to invent and make your own product, manufacture it here locally and sell it back to you community, just go buy a dvd for 4 dollars and watch eating processed food. It's as if the evil take over of a dictator, such as Hitler, is easier to see, so you can hate the man, yet Walmart and thus the growth of China could very well lead us to a large Communist country leading the world. Then WE can make the tennis shoes for 25 cents an hour and our 5 year children can work 15 hour days and we will wonder, "how did this happen?". It is very scary indeed. I just need to keep reminding us every so often so we can remember that being a homemaker means also caring about your community and that cannot happen if we don't try to feed back into it.

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  11. Donna, the upside of having these local stores is the owners have the option of selling merchandise invented by local people. We have a few stores that make a big deal about local authors and inventors. Even if I don't buy the specific product I'm supporting the stores who sell them. Voting with my spending money is powerful, and unlike at the big box stores, includes free gift wrap and connection to my community. :)

    I'm glad you understood my point, scary as it is. If we fail to recognize the problem we can't stop it. But I think the limited spending at those big boxes will certaintly send a message. It's disturbing how some communities already have no other options though.

    S

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  12. Very true and it is also TRUE that we can send a HUGE messgage with our money, or really, their power over us ceases to be if we did not spend there. I am worried, of course, that the majority of people will just continue to do so until some horrid thing happens as there are ONLY walmarts and Targets and no other stores, then they can charge whatever they like!
    But, overall, there is the hopeful message that we CAN make a difference and the more we discuss it and spread the word and prove to others by our actions and deeds, perhaps there is hope.

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  13. There is no easy answer to America turning into one big corporation. It is all about money, power, and control. While there are vestiges of independent retail companies, and as I write this I am upset about a locally owned business that is closing by the end of the year, they will continue to dwindle. Laws, taxes, and regulations are stacked against the entrepreneur. Government is not kind to small business owners.

    The video focused on only three businesses in America. Two of them would not have been my choice. To give them credit, they did mention manufacturing, but only in passing. It was manufacturing that allowed the USA to rebound from WWII. Manufacturing was the firm foundation of our stable economy. Its removal was the beginning of our doom. No retail store is able to survive without a manufacturing infrastructure. Many of those manufacturing businesses were owned by "Mom and Pop." My family was one.

    My husband is third generation of his high skill trade. He is the last as well. Not only was this job sent overseas years before the rest of America woke up to the loss of manufacturing jobs (it was glaringly obvious to us in 1980), but technology also contributed to the problem. It took my husband fourteen years to be skilled in his trade. He spent four years as an apprentice, and ten years as a journeyman. He worked long hours, but had a secure, fulfilling job. All of our needs were met. Today, the companies that are still in the US, do not have to hire this level of skill. They hire people of lesser skill, and one person to program the machines. The machines are able to produce a better product, faster. The down side is that these machines are extremely expensive. Regardless, most of the work is done overseas.

    What I do not understand, however, is what anyone is trying to prove. My preference is the small business owner, and most of our purchases are from them. My actions and deeds, however, have nothing to do with my choice of stores. My actions and deeds to God and man is what counts. In the end, we have all been sent down the river.

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  14. Ok, I finished watching the documentary tonight. First, thanks for posting about it. I never would have found it myself.

    It was interesting how walmart was see. As a positive at first but then reality set in and the towns shrunk to ghost towns. The 10% plan is totally doable for me and I'm possibly doing it already but I've never calculated it. But for example today I shopped at a local grocery and paid $80, well above 10% of my weekly spending.

    I really liked how the townspeople talked with the film makers and welcomed them. I think one reason people passing thru a town stick to the big chain stores is familarity. One person they interviewed even said it. This just goes to show how afraid of the unknown our people are. A chain restaurant feels "safer" than a local one. I'd love to shop in the co-op they went to as well as the town owned department store. Both look wonderful but the truth is if I were to run accross either, without seeing this documentary I'd most likely not stop. Sad.

    I only hope there are enough of us who see the real cost of cheap merchandise so we can change it. The ending with the prediction of a few big box stores controlling what we can buy and thus what we can learn (the example of the walmart magazine selection comes to mind) is disturbing.

    S

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  15. Sarah-wasn't it an interesting film? I found it funny, as well, that the two men interviewed preferred going to mcdonalds when they go anywhere as they are 'familiar' with it and that a local place might have cockraoches or be dirty, very silly. I also found it interesting that the two they were interviewing, one man was so fat, unhealthily so certainly from all the fast food, and the other man, who had his small daughter with him, was wearing a t-shirt with a corproate sponsered movie through Disney emblazoned upon his chest. Now, more than ever, do I see how we have even sold our own fashion sense to the corporation. We all gladly wander about with ads and corporate logos on our shirts and we even PAY for the right to do so!
    I felt the town in Vermont was wonderful how it was pulling together. A few of us were saying if we ever get to overwhelmed with how we feel the world is moving and the chain stores etc we could always find one of those places that are really focused on their town, such as that place in Vermont, and just move there! An exodus, if you will, of likeminded people moving to pockets of our country where we are all consciously aware of our production and local business, care and know our neighbors, etc. It is an interesting time, now, that we are living. I hope that we minority can hold onto some semblance of reality before we are all swalloed up by the big box store, how much longer before we just live in the walmart! THey have everything in there we need, apparently, might as well sell apartments, "oh, those are in our housing aisle!"

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  16. Donna, I thought of you and us regulars this morning when I saw on one of the morning talk shows a segment on all the new holiday products. It was all fake- an electric fireplace heater with a picture of flames, made by Amish people. The strangest part was the Amish are getting into the fake stuff. Then they had a "corner" Christmas tree with the back trimmed so it fits into a corner. Can't you just tri your real tree?? Then there was the upside down tree, which has some historical basis, but the thought was you'd have more room for presents. Sigh... Then there was fake snow made from the absorbant material used in disposable diapers. There were more but these stood out as ridiculous.

    Back to the movie, I noticed the man and his daughter and his tshirt too. I'm more afraid of what's going on in fast food kitchens than a real restaurant.

    S

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  17. Sarah-here here on the kitchens of fast food restaurants. Those items make me very happy that I cannot turn on the tv. I would rather watch a christmas special from 1955 and enjoy that sentiemnt, or, as last night, have fun laughing and decorating with friends using old ornaments that have meaning and then winding down with conversation, drinks and a good rousing game of scrabble. They can keep their diaper snow and amish electric fireplaces! (although I know they did invent some cheesy electric 'mantels' in the 50's because much of the tract suburban housing did not have a traditional fireplace, I however, would not have, even then, fallen for it!)

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