Resilience Conversation: Defending Degrowth

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https://www.resilience.org/stories/2018-08-17/defending-degrowth-at-ecom...

Climate scientist Kevin Anderson (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Anderson_%28scientist%29), has been saying this for years. Ultimately we will have to cut back and scale down. He is not alone in the scientific community of course.

This particular article is especially interesting because the author's views are juxtaposed with those of the ecomodernists defending decoupling as the solution. (Terminology I was unfamiliar with until now.)

My question is, how can we slide into degrowth on a personal and community level? This would be easier for me if I were a young extrovert!

Look forward to the discussion. Smile

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dkmich's picture

It would seem to me that if you aren't growing, you're dying. Remaining static?

I am no environmentalist as my comments probably scream out, but I think we have to replace. Instead of a triple-dip banana split, we get one dip of sorbet. If we keep substituting lesser of evils (OMG, I don't believe I said that), we make progress towards decoupling and degrowth? Boy, am I out of my league here.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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mhagle's picture

@dkmich

with technology.

My neighbor and I are both trying to figure out how to grow food in this inhospitable land. We both sew. She (and her sister - both in their 70s) have collected a store's worth of fabric. And she has a room set up with donated sewing machines for group work.

I feel like we are evolving into something. But I am 61 and she is 71.

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14 users have voted.

Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

dkmich's picture

@mhagle

I own a sewing machine, and its only mission in life is for the thread tension to get screwed up and piss me off. While I can follow a pattern, I cannot tailor. Making things that don't fit is sort of pointless. Some people make their talents look so easy. I wish I had a talent. I would love to be artistic. It does sound like you have so many interesting projects going on around you. I hope others take advantage and join you. They could learn so much.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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mhagle's picture

@dkmich

Lots of ideas and often not so much action. And that is the terrible thing about a sewing machine . . . when the tension gets screwed up! And yes, you can go through all the work of sewing and if it turns out crappy, that is especially terrible because you have spent all of that time and work for something you can't use. My most useful sewing projects in recent years have involved recovering pillows and making curtains. Very forgiving work!

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

@mhagle Don't panic, ladies.

First, the loving hands at home look is in fact usually much better than the crap from WalMart, Dollar store, etc. Not to mention that your own homemades last much longer than the cheapo commercial stuff.

Second, start with something easy. Napkins. Tablecloth. Napkins and tablecloth used to be first projects for 4H sewing. Curtains, which don't have to be as complicated as some books make them. Those pinch pleats with little hooks in each pleat are MAJOR dust collectors and are best avoided. If you want something for yourself, try a nice nightgown, a luxury most of us can't think about buying anymore.

Third, the problem we all have is that the pattern fashion industry lives on a planet of its own imagination. For good fit, draw your own patterns. There are lots of videos to show you how on youtube. Look at the library for a book on the subject. Or, look for Fitting Finesse, by Nancy Zieman. Her method for altering commercial patterns to fit real, live people is the best I know and I have used it with success. All her books are excellent, and are intended for real world women who do toss clothing into a washing machine and who don't have maids to maintain their wardrobes.

Fourth, about the sewing machines: You might want to get yours cleaned. I have used a New Home from the early 50s, worth its weight in gold if you can even find one, a Kenmore from about 1967 which was OK, a Necchi from the early 60s, which I loathed. I finally up and spent one year's income tax refund on a mid priced Bernina, a purchase I have never regretted.

Fifth, the correct needle makes a world of difference. European machines, Bernina, Pfaff, Viking and Elna require European needles, Schmetz is the brand I think. American machines, never mind they are now made somewhere in Japan or China, Singer, New Home, Kenmore (the Sears brand), need American needles, packaged under the Singer name. For knit fabric, use ball point needles and for woven fabric use universal or sharp needles. Thicker fabric needs larger needles. Jeans needles are both large and sharp. I use the 40% and 50% Joanne coupons to buy needles of different kinds and sizes.

Good books on sewing, from throughout the 20thC, can be found on ebay, in 2nd hand stores, and library discard piles. Well known contemporary sewing authors include Sandra Betzina, Claire Schaeffer, and Roberta Carr. The problem with all these ladies, and others, is that they appear to have unlimited budgets. Silk organza, $10/yard if you can even find the stuff, recommended for all interfacing and interlining, for example. For a good, basic sewing manual, I would suggest, look for one of the comprehensive books put out in the mid to late 20thC by Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, or one of the major pattern companies. I spoke once with a budding young designer who called the Reader's Digest Book of Sewing the "Bible".

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Nastarana

TheOtherMaven's picture

@Nastarana

is still "The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book". It breaks you free of the tyranny of patterns, and shows you how to use the clothes you have now to make more clothes (without, I may add, destroying the old clothes in the process).

If you want to go on to work with patterns afterward, you have a solid grounding in how to wing it when you want to.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

dkmich's picture

@Nastarana

I have a friend who sews seldom but is into tailored big time. I asked her to help me make a simple tree skirt. OMG, six hours and a big fight later everything in sight was basted, steamed, and shaped. Beautiful skirt. It was a gift for my daughter. She doesn't like the fabrics I picked. Oh well.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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@dkmich I am not expert, don't do tailoring, but have been sewing for a long time. The best advice I ever heard came from Sally Collins, quilter extraordinaire, who said in a video she made, "most people sew too fast." In other words, don't let the speed merchants intimidate you. If you can sew fast, you are qualified to work for less than minimum wage in the garment industry.

Tailoring is a separate skill, is mostly done by hand, and not really needed in the present day when almost no one wears fancy suits or is able to pay cleaning bills. I do think it is a traditional skill worth preserving and I hope to get into the books I have, but you can do a lot without ever getting into tailoring.

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5 users have voted.

Nastarana

Deja's picture

@Nastarana
I spent my early childhood happily playing "Indians" under various quilts my paternal grandmother and aunt assembled in their living room -- how they used the kitchen chairs to do it I'll never know. My cousins and I had our very own teepee and we could even watch Bonanza from it. I gladly threaded many a sewing machine needle for my grandma in a back room piled with material.

At about 35, I decided to take a quilting class at the local senior center. Everyone was warm, and welcoming, and they kicked my butt! I was doing it by hand and for the life of me, couldn't get the lines of the various patches to line up straight. What I'd give to have my MeMaw to ask what I was doing wrong. I gave up.

I am able to crochet, though. That's easier than riding a bike, and have a few blankets (afghans my maternal grandmother, MawMaw, called them). She tried teaching me as a child, and I gave that up too until I was about 25, when I found a booklet at Wal-Mart and recently dug it out along with my needles. I'm planning a shopping bag, made of used plastic bags rather than letting them end up in the ocean.

I'll leave the quilting and sewing to those with more patience and skill, but I'll stick with my crochet.

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"The gatekeepers must change."
Prince

mhagle's picture

@Nastarana @travelerxxx @dkmich @Deja @TheOtherMaven

So much good advice to follow!

Actually, I love sewing. Not that I am that good at it. When I was a kid though if you wanted clothes, you had to sew them. Or someone did.

Had a New Home from the 50s that I used for years and donated it to a school when I bought a friend's mom's Kenmore. I donated the Kenmore to my neighbor when I got an '87 Baby Lock on eBay for 60 bucks and bought a $125 Brother at Walmart. It is computerized, a risk I know, but I really like it. How that came about, I was hemming all of the school band uniforms that needed to be finished by Monday and my Kenmore broke on Saturday (I did fix it later).

Mostly I have done mending. A few years ago we bought an old camper. When I recovered all of the upholstery, it nearly looked new.

And yes . . . the pattern industry sucks. Really the clothing industry hates real women. About 5 years ago the only shirts you could buy in women's sizes were low cut and short. I was not interested in showing my tits or my ass! So I sewed several old hippy style tunics for myself. Much better!

My daughter took up sewing out of the blue. She said she wanted to sew a Victorian ball gown. By god she did it. Not really out of the blue I guess. When she was little she would sew dolls for her friends. When she was about 7 one day she came to me and asked if she could have a white dish towel. I said yes. A few hours later she has cut and sewn an evening dress on a barbie, then used markers to color it. (sorry to brag about my kid so much)

There are videos on YouTube of young women designing their own clothes and yes, using existing clothes as a pattern.

Maybe the younger generation will embrace degrowth as an opportunity to invent their own future. ????

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

travelerxxx's picture

@dkmich

I own a sewing machine, and its only mission in life is for the thread tension to get screwed up and piss me off.

Sounds like my wife's 35 year old Singer. Same problem; tension always wrong and/or changing. Being rather mechanically minded and able, I set about to repair it. The woman can sew but hadn't for years due to the uncooperative machine.

I found manuals online and disassembled the Singer. A number of critical parts were either worn out or were plastic and had deteriorated. Once I got together a list of needed parts, I found that I could get them all online.

But, I didn't. Cost and shipping exceeded the cost of a brand new - and far better - Singer. So, we went shopping and for less than the cost of those parts, bought a new one, which was clearly a direct descendant of her old machine. Everything worked the same and was completely familiar to her. Well, almost. The new machine will even thread the needle and the tension mechanism is light years better than the old version. This is not a computer-based machine; it's totally manual.

Frankly, I couldn't believe the price. Yes, of course it is manufactured in China. However, let me tell you, the quality is there. It seems to be made at least as well as her old Singer. I took the covers off and checked.

Anyway, you may not wish to purchase a new machine, but in my opinion you'd be saving yourself a lot of headaches by doing so. We spent just over $100 for it. Singer Heavy Duty model. There are several versions of that model.

Buying a new gizmo might seem to go against the theme of this essay, but you've got to have the tools to do the job if you intend to sew. My wife's new machine has already paid for itself and she's only had it for a little over six months. It's repaired many garments and things, and can crank out clothes for growing grandchildren easily.

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dkmich's picture

@travelerxxx @travelerxxx

I put a tablecloth over mine and a lamp on it. I use it as a table in the spare bedroom aka office. I thought about buying a new one to even do simple stuff like repair a hem or make a cover. If I do, simple, small, and portable sounds goods. The fewer gizmos and attachments the better. What did you buy your wife?

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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travelerxxx's picture

@dkmich

We got what's called a "Singer 4452 Heavy Duty." I see the price has risen a bit since we purchased. The model 4423 is the same model with fewer built-in stitch selection. It's around $50 less, which is a good deal. That whole "Heavy Duty" line is nice. Again, no computer to deal with - for good or ill, depending upon your wishes.

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2 users have voted.

It depends on growth to gain wealth. Otherwise it just circulates the same dollars around and around collecting rent. Some times it's good to not be growing, dying, when what you are talking about is cancer. I buy a lot of stuff used....it's already made, and try fix things before discarding them. There is a lot of stuff that's just old but is quality, like tools. The big problem is that it takes almost as much resources to produce and ship junk as it does to produce and ship an iphone, and most of what people are buying, can afford, are junk products.

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mhagle's picture

@Snode

and enjoying simple things.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

@mhagle "Use it up, wear it out
Make it do, or do with out"

If you can get beyond the source, this kind of hints at how we are all forced to wear MoneeGoggles to see the world.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-scharmer-gdp-economic-growt...

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mhagle's picture

@Snode

Even though it was in HuffPo!

Thank you!

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

dance you monster's picture

Not much about de-growth, but that's why we use search engines.

The ecomodernists most people here would see as the enemy they are, even without the Pritzker name attached. And their arrogance would also sound familiar:

I was amazed at how brazenly condescending speakers were toward people they thought were not in the room: not just anti-GMO and anti-nuclear people, but also toward the public in general. It is assumed that everyone is misinformed. It is assumed that everyone wants to be modern. That farming and cooking are horrible chores no human would ever want to do unless from a pre-packaged kit as a fun hobby. That “the peasant diet was [sic] awful.” (That’s a comment from Rachel Laudan, the historian of food who received an award and was interviewed to open the conference.) To her and others there, factory farms and industrial processed food are miracles of modernity. Ecomodernists seem to think that concerned citizens who like cooking organic food from farmers markets are elites simply mistaken about what they want.

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mhagle's picture

@dance you monster

It sort of seems that way. I was encouraged that the author said they listened to him, but he was like a foreigner they didn't understand.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

@dance you monster Sounds like neo-libs to me. Yes, yes, they're going to save us all. They just don't want to actually know any of us.

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dance you monster's picture

@Snode

. . . though, of course, all societal development is political. There is much overlap with neo-liberalism (and even more with contemporary libertarianism) simply due to ecomodernism's maintaining (and frequently doubling down on) much of the infrastructure and all the economic control that any of these political factions rely on to preserve their position as masters of the universe. Think Silicon Valley types on steroids.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecomodernism gives you the image that ecomodernists like to present for themselves. Consider the ramifications of every word in that wiki.

Contrast that with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth, which is explicitly political.

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@dance you monster Nothing against degrowth. Many of us have been forced into it and survived. It's just so many of these conferences seem float above it all, ready to judge others while exempting themselves.

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@Snode to know them. I just need the whole pack of bossy cow "coordinators" to but out of my neighborhood and my life.

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Nastarana

lotlizard's picture

@dance you monster  
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
shining at the end of every day . . . ♪

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney%27s_Carousel_of_Progress

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Pricknick's picture

We are fleas.
How many shrugs will it take to rid us?
Degrowth is inevitable.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

magiamma's picture

Thank you. Bliss' "role was the token “degrowther”"

Degrowth can happen on an individual level when communities / organizations can effectively educate people on the importance of consuming less. There is little connection between a 'thing' and it's production cycle - from the ground up.

People have been programmed, since the first WW, to consume and that 'things' define who they are - the more things they have the happier they will. See the BBC documentary The Century of the Self about Bernay's influence.

People are just beginning to connect global warming to climate change. At a very rudimentary level oil extraction => Burning oil / plastic production => heat-trapping CO2 => Global Warming = > Climate Change...

The production cycle, from the ground up is sadly not on most people's radar.

sigh...

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation
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