A rainy Saturday in January 2018 – almost a year ago. It’s warm in the ESI building, a part of the University of Exeter, and really, really cold and windy outside.
Yana and I are also there on that Saturday, with a hint of regret for not staying in bed. Instead, we are about to spend our only day off in a room crowded with people fighting for a cause we support (in theory), but which our hungover heads find quite difficult to comprehend early in the morning. Yawning we go through a few hours of presentations, waiting for the tea break. The thought of shortbread cakes and cookies doesn’t seem to be able to leave my sleepy head. With eyes half closed and mind elsewhere I am patiently awaiting the moment I can go crawl back in my warm bed and forget about the storm and some sort of problems they say existed in the world..they said…hmm, poverty, famine, contamination of lakes and rivers, something about resources…toxic chemicals…allergies?
No, that is not and will never be my world. I’ve got my own way to deal with stress and deadlines, which does not include solving problems of that caliber.
Only two weeks later this was my world too, and I had committed to spending every Saturday until what seemed to be the rest of my life to something called sustainability. At first, quite reluctant to spend winter Saturdays walking to our meeting spots and evaluating the environmental impact of the fashion industry on natural resources. With every workshop that we did and each documentary we watched, each lunch we spent talking and every week I occupied myself with silent observation, however, I started realizing the importance of this project and its outcomes, and engaged physically, emotionally, and creatively with this cause.
Although quite excited about the outcomes of this research project that I see in the short documentaries we made, in the data we collected, in the enormous set of skills and knowledge we acquired throughout these 10 months, finalizing this project brings a hint of sadness. This Friday we held our last event together and I could see I wasn’t the only person whose heart was heavy with nostalgia. While organizing the venue and even presenting some of our outcomes to visitors, I couldn’t get something out of my mind and this time it wasn’t the shortbread cake, but the memories we all had made, committing every single Saturday of the past 10 months to searching for and spreading knowledge about sustainability. But now I was not yawning, my heart was burning with determination to keep this going because the project and its aim were no longer a concept, but an understanding, knowledge, aim, friendship and love for something better than what is out there. It is a willingness to make others stop yawning and listen, understand and make a change as well.
A skirt Yana and I made from an old blazer
P.S. Thanks to all these organizations for shaking my sleepy head: Arts & Humanities Research Council, Creative Kernow, Fashion Revolution, Krowji Creative Space, The Poly Falmouth, The Hive, Chyan Community Centre, St. Gluvias Community Centre, Blacker Sheep Wool, Black Country Living Museum, University of Exeter, University of Wolverhampton, S4S (Designing a Sensibility for Sustainable Clothing), the organizers of the event Swap don’t Shop, Fix don’t Ditch.