I live in a Safe Place. How many people can say that? Not many in the world. I’m sure people in my district, my town, my state, my country even my street probably cannot say they live in a Safe place. Victims and witnesses of domestic violence can’t say that. Gravely sick people don’t live in a safe place. People of color can’t say they are safe every single where they go, many know safety rarely. Huge areas of our nation are being torn apart with gang violence, places where people hear gunshots daily. Across the world for combatants and witnesses, war is their reality. So many of us know peace, yet we create our own discord. We fight with our loved ones or focus on our problems, hurt our bodies, put ourselves down, and take clear skies and smiling eyes for granted.
I have Space around me. Houses and streets and acres and acres of woods, streams, meadows and trails. People in New York City for example have to be very clever or spend serious money on the hour to have even 100 yards of unoccupied space around their bodies. Here I am in a house with three rooms and a basement all to myself and a kid and a cat, with grass on all sides and a forest in the back yard and beyond. It slopes downward in the middle so I can see across a quarter mile to the trees on the other side. All covered in kudzu. I can look out there and see a couple backyards, but no other people. Imagine that in Hong Kong, if you can. I expect most livable parts on this planet are not as empty and beautiful as this. And I expect there will be fewer all the time.
Even the plants cannot say they live in safe and spacious places. We are harming their safe space to create our own. Invasive species of plants and animals attack their eco systems. We tear them down and dispose of our waste in their space. The plant’s sacred space is so peaceful, of course we want to horn in on those vibes they’ve created. They do so well despite us, and are so forgiving of us.
There is a small circuit of people who know about and go to the safe and beautiful spaces we have claimed on the earth. Money and privilege certainly could describe the majority of people who occupy these spaces, white is another term that can be used profusely when describing the people one sees in the beautiful places one goes to as a white american. But money and privilege and skin color or even gender are no longer needed to access these parts of society, you just need to know where to go and how to get there. It is the knowledge that we pass down to our own kin that is our main privilege, a knowledge we can share with peaceful folk of different origins as well.
These safe and spacious places are Physical Spaces to live in and be in, as well as Industries to work in and people to be surrounded with. Construction and permitting for example is an area that white men specifically are largely in-the-know about. Not out of malice but simply out of inheritance, the knowledge of how our bureaucracy works has been taught to and learned from white men who built the buildings. This means generations of relationships as well as ways of speaking and dressing.
In order for more people to be involved in the building of buildings, white men need to go out of their way to teach their daughters and friends of minorities the Ways of the Industry, and they need to adapt to the changes new faces will bring. Every person and every industry could benefit from teaching as well as learning from someone with a completely different background. The ways we do things would improve as well.
This is the the buying season of the year, remember to support what you believe in with the gifts you buy!
Luckily Asheville as well as the internet is full of ethically crafted clothes, jewelry, tools, and art so it's easy and fun to shop with integrity. Especially the next two weekends.
The thing about this season is we get to pass a little piece of our mindset along to those we love who are often outside this local community. Many of our families don't recycle, they go for quantity of gifts rather than quality, they expect us to eat mystery food and fit into the roles we assume in that family unit.
It makes it difficult to spread enlightenment and encourage positive change coming from the role we were raised in. Calling attention to new developments in one's self can just result in isolation. Remember your first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian? You probably weren't too bothered by the styrofoam plates.Sometimes our families can be the biggest source of opposition when we seek to explore our selves. They keep us in static roles and it's because they love us, are worried about us, want to feel like they know us, are afraid of change and what they don't understand and frankly they don't have the opportunities we do to live in all the same conscious ways.
I wanted to use this post to connect with you on that level- there is an undercurrent of stress that comes from spending time with those people who raised us up to a certain point.
From what I can tell in this world there is only love and fear, two extreme pulls on our human experience. One positive one negative. One light one dark. If you can go to your holidays full of love, that will be the best communication to your family. They can notice your actions- you don't have to point them out. If you behave differently but gracefully in their world on their terms it will ease the resistance they have to learning about your way of life and all the ways this world could change for the better. You don't have to wage a campaign for ethical behavior with anything but your own example and loving interest in understanding them and the changes they are going through. On the other hand, you don't have to take on that old role and zip your lips, you can chose silence instead of agreement on issues you disagree with. Voicing compassion for the victims of violence rather than hatred for the perpetrators could be common ground that all agree on.
What are your family experiences like? Please feel free to comment, I'd love to continue the conversation.
Need some gift ideas? Check out our Gift Guide
December 6th and December 13th are great days to Shop West Asheville, click here to find out more.
Does anyone even care if things are original any more?
In trying to figure out how exactly to define the term "original" I found myself looking for the key component that makes art what it is. Is it the inspiration source, the concept, the actual drawing or first recreation? Can you mass produce it, project it? Art could be considered original when it's the first physical form of an idea the artist had and illustrated, be it through music, color or design.
For visual art, would you agree that art is original when the picture, down to the first sketch, no matter the media used to create it was created by the artist originally? I certainly like art that comes from artists who get their own ideas and interpret them on their own. But some say that Picasso said "Good artists copy, great artists steal."
I think it's important to be creative, and I know that all ideas are recycled, mutated and passed around. I believe if an idea visits you and you don't bring it to fruition, it will move on to someone somewhere else. For that reason I feel a responsibility with each idea, even the ones that other people give me and ask me to use.
I guess that when I see another person doing an idea I had or saw but didn't do, I'm glad. But if I see someone doing something that someone else is already doing really well, it's annoying. I think that's what I mean about the importance of being original. It's not that you need to be your own source of inspiration to the deepest core in order not to be a copy cat- but that you should bring something original that no one else brings. To your art. To Everything you do.
I have already discovered that there is not enough time for all the ideas, probably not even if everyone got together to work on the very best ones. Perhaps if we gave up working on all the bad ideas we would have enough time to make all the variations on recycled tea kettle koozies and garden roofs, board games, screen prints, Halloween costumes, mom presents, infrastructures, permacultures and we'd save the world.
I think that if we at least aim to be original in what we say and do, we can make a big difference in the long run.
But that could be too lofty a goal.
Tell me your thoughts!
On a rainy morning
the fog rolls in
and rolls down gullies
into yards roads rivers and streams
millions of eyeballs
Oceans of mountains
Thick with our dreams
memories, and ways of getting by
the Oldest shapes
carving a Home
into my heart.
A pathway into my Life.
One of a kind and custom pieces comprise this 828isgreat Collection.
All garments pictured have sold, email firstname.lastname@example.org for yours!
I have had more interesting and deep conversations in the time since we opened our doors than I can count. Actually when I was in high school the big rhetorical plan had been a cafe where people come to exchange ideas and question... so it’s fitting that this component remains true!
One person brought up the same thing I wrote about last week, the growing of Asheville and how she plans to leave soon, has stopped saying “welcome” but now says “why are you here?” to the new neighbors. I went to a chamber of commerce meeting to learn more about what they do and found out about their big and successful economic development plan to bring 5,000 jobs here, through tourism and targeted companies. Needless to say their tactics worked, I wonder how many people moved here due to the same campaigns and whether the jobs are gainful employment and how many locals got them... of course I had lots of questions as I always do about information portrayed in only a positive light. Those people at the chamber of commerce did their job well, it’s what they were trained in. I hope they ask the questions and some of them probably do- but I’m not here taking sides. I’m not sure if a boom is bad or good yet. I’ve got my bubble on Haywood Road so I should be able to take it for quite awhile longer... but only because of these conversations!
We talked about slavery and how willingly people take on pre-ordained roles in society. So many societal rules are just taken for granted when in reality they make up our culture and we can consciously choose what that looks like. The world was and still is built on slavery- an un due wealth reached the privileged population while being robbed from generations of slaves and their eventual ancestry. So now we have this unbalanced wealth flying around, plus that heritage has grown in time, while the ancestors of slaves develop without that strong free lineage and accumulation of wealth that humans naturally have- both socially and financially. We privileged received from our ancestors our own birth rights as well as the wealth our ancestors stole. But still a person with such a hugely unfortunate family history is just as responsible for consciously reacting to his or her environment here and now- in this country even more so than the average next guy.
Another conversation was about a utopian society where no money or ownership exists. I try not to get too idealistic and involved in hypothetical utopia because a change that drastic in one life time just seems impossible.... Until you stop to realize that it’s all about how we see it. In reality we really are only as good and safe as our neighbors. We have important roles to play and if you look at the really big picture it’s clear to me our stuff is an asset and a burden we already share.
Money is to blame so many believe and so it is said. I don’t want to blame money because it’s what we have. It’s our system for exchanging energy, it organizes our efforts. It’s still based on faith. With no money, what would happen to fear and evil and manipulation? Would they go away? I doubt that very much, I just think the most psychologically powerful people would use their brains to control, the most physically strong would build the biggest houses, the beautiful people would find others to do their bidding and free loaders would still get out of the work!
We can turn in just about any direction to find something to blame for the badness we see and feel, but it’s really in us. I’m talking about raising some consciousness, taking responsibility and thinking about the hard questions with the soft facts in mind. Teaching our kids that chaos is the name of the game and it’s up to us to navigate each moment and chose right or wrong from a group mentality. Hold the group in mind, but think for yourself. Mob-mentality is the thing that scares me most... because it so much easer to destroy than to create.
There is gravity here after all!
The other day I was cutting off my hair, and my stylist who has grown up here in Asheville was relishing our town's growth into a city.
I noticed a few months back going downtown and walking around, then coming back to West Asheville and feeling a considerably slower pace. Like an island feel in comparison.
Two or three times a day the traffic on Haywood Road is at a stand still in front of our shop. I know it's that way at least a mile up the road to the bakery.
There are these birds called Chimney Swifts that gather for sleep every night in a chimney right outside my bedroom window. I love to watch them circle and land there. They will be on their way south soon. Last week the flock startled me, they were moving much faster than normal. I watched for awhile and determined they had grown in numbers.
According to a study I heard about on Radiolab, the pace of city is directly related to its size. They recorded the time it took an average walker to take a step and drew all sorts of accurate conclusions- predicting how many libraries, fire stations, schools the city had just based on it's citizens average footfall. Bigger cities move faster.
Asheville North Carolina is growing. "Hype City USA"
We have a stronghold here. A Bubble at 444 Haywood Road.
I love it so much. And I am trying to keep it slow.
I don’t listen to NPR any more. Unless it’s Garrison Keeler or This American Life.
There is such thing as “news” for sure, and we need that information. As large as this nation is, we need an objective account of what happens, so we can evaluate the status of our culture and find our place within it. I stopped listening to NPR the day the reporters personal feelings became part of the “report”.
Every news report is colored with the opinion of the writer, and that is not okay. The number one reason that’s not okay is that our papers and news outlets are all owned by massive corporations who have an interest in shaping public thought and opinion. A journalist with dissenting opinion is not going to be published, so what are we really reading? Hand chosen distractions meant to reach us emotionally in order to undermine our intelligence.
Unfortunately this morning I found myself reading our own syndicated paper, The Citizen Times. My business was mentioned in an article, along with the whereabouts of my home, which is infuriating to say the least.
Even that, though, didn’t get me writing. It was the article on the next page by Froma Harrop titled “Is Ferguson a social media victim?”. With her opportunity to speak, Froma chooses to “explain” the inner workings of twitter, criticizing the varied viewpoints and perhaps god forbid unrealistic broadcast of the events that were happening there.
Big Surprise! A newspaper owned and syndicated by USA Today published a story about keeping your mouth shut and letting only the established and pre-approved media chose what is “trending” and relaying the “truth” of the situation- as if there is one undeniable “capital T” truth.
Guess what, this concept of absolute truth is what allowed for the crusades, slavery, the holocaust and many many many more nameless tragedies not covered by USA Today or any other established media presence.
There is no truth absolutely. We are all alive to the same degree and are therefor entitled to our perspectives. Twitter and Instagram are great sources of news painting a much more realistic picture but still requiring discernment. Watching or listening to the news should ALWAYS include discernment! Trust each other, question everything, skip the “news” and find out what’s going on in your neighborhood and do something about it, because syndicated columns don’t apply to everyone.
I love you SO MUCH
Robin Williams is an ego that belongs to the human race. His career and the range of the characters he played impacted many areas of our culture and spanned generations. The way he died is out of line with how we see him- let us use this as an opportunity to learn, to question. Can we separate the human in his role in our world and the role itself?
Imagine a person as quick, talented and impressive as he. The potential of that personality is basically unlimited, and indeed he challenged himself and rose to the occasion again and again- testing that personality, developing characters within it and doing those characters justice. Using his talents to make people happy, but in a world that is so broken.
When an artist is a painter he can hide his most intimate work, and paint over any canvas that no longer represents his direction. When an artist is a writer he can create different characters for different aspects of himself and experiment to his heart’s content, confirming or denying whatever fiction suits him at the time. But when an artist is an actor, he himself is the canvas, his work irreversible. Characters developed inside his own heart but born from another’s brain.
The way we cling to our characters is our own. The way we interpret any art form is our own- and completely true extending to the limits of the universe we rule on our own. Being a conduit for these stories and works of art is a sacrifice Robin Williams made for us. As far out as his influence reached, that’s how far in his own realm of reality reached as well. That uncharted territory no one but himself can wander in is subject to all the harsh realities that every human faces.
I guess what I’m saying is that we can hold Robin Williams to our highest expectations as his body of work allows for, and let the person who carried that ego be a human with mysterious weaknesses. Those weaknesses only make the work that much more remarkable.
Folks have been asking recently about the name “Rhetorical Factory” and how it came about. So let me tell you!
I used a swirly question mark to label everything I made when I first started making things to sell- around 4th grade. The ultimate dream was that I would one day see someone with something I had made and be able to look for the question mark and be sure it was from my hands.
In middle school my brother wrote an essay on leadership or something and the word rhetorical was an important part of it. Maybe it just stood out to me because I was so fascinated by what it meant. It seemed scholarly but mysterious- not the kind of term that leaves some people behind when used, instead a rhetorical question sort of takes away the pretension that goes along with knowing anything. It leaves the wisdom in the question and demands unending consciousness from the people receiving the question who know there is no particular answer.
I think I was thirteen or fourteen when I started using tags when selling necklaces I made and the word Rhetorical appeared on one side with the swirly question mark on the other. I never had a time when I thought of making that the name, it had just settled in my heart somewhere and surprised even me when I realized I had picked the word for the label.
“Rhetorical” became the term I used for my own art. When I was 16 I started taking pictures and around 17 started feeling good about them and made a water mark for “Rhetorical Photography”. I operated that as a business for awhile shooting for the Orange Peel, and musicians and some events and portraits.
A few years later I apprenticed for Danielle at Royal Peasantry. She showed me her method for making peasant skirts and I started making a bunch for little girls. They sold pretty well and Danielle wanted me to make more, so I set up an area in my little tiny apartment and called it “Being a Factory”. After some time developing different areas of my clothing-art I was asked to make it more officially branded, that’s when I decided to get a studio and since I wasn’t sure I’d only be making clothes, and didn’t want to rule out all the other art forms I really would like to get into, I called the studio “Rhetorical Factory” and have been honing that brand ever since!
We narrowed it down to screen printed clothes but the truth of the matter is that it’s art cranked out in an atmosphere of wonder and shear respect for the process. I’ve taken my own personality out and sprinkled it back in, sort of dis-associating from the factory. It has the effect of putting me in awe of Art Itself and allows it to adapt through the interpretation of every soul it comes in contact with. I am a faithful vessel for Rhetorical Factory but I couldn’t claim all that it has become or all it will be because it’s been there on it’s own looming right at the top of my gaze.
Rhetorical Factory went to Bonnaroo 2014
It was by far the worst festival we have ever participated in. Having paid $1450 to attend and earning less than half of that back. If we hadn’t made a dime but had meaningful conversations with people that would have been worth it, but the attendees just weren’t “there”. The reason is that 80,000 people having paid $300 to attend are herded through the sunny pastures and ripped off at every corner. The true vibe of this festival showed all the way through- they have but one priority- to make money. It showed in the quality of sound at the stages, the incredibly nasty facilities and the vendor coordinator we never met who overbooked vendors in favor of the fee which left the crowd oversold and disinterested in the art booths. We talked to our neighbors and they had the same experience.
But hey, at least we know how to have fun!