We Need to Get Creative Right Now!

I have been posting on this little blog every week for almost ten years.  I rarely write about politics because the blog is supposed to be about creativity in its many forms and incarnations.  And this post will (I hope) be no different.  Not because I don’t have opinions, because I do.  Very strong opinions shaped, in large part, by an insatiable curiosity about history and a career that enabled me to witness parts of American life that many of my fellow white middle class Americans don’t ever get to see.  But I digress.

3-march4I went to Women’s March Philadelphia last week and came away with the feeling that people on both sides of the political arena are scared.  Some are scared by globalization and the instability it brings.  They want to move the clock back, but things can  never be like they were before because the world has changed.  Community has broken down, technology is racing ahead and people are migrating throughout the world on planes, boats and the Internet.  The frightened response is to circle the wagons and hunker down. But this is not as simple as it seems because every action has consequences.    The yearning for a simpler time raises the possibility of  draconian measures that will imact public health,  national security, women’s health and reproductive rights, funding for arts and eduction, and, some fear, racial relations and religious tolerance.  No one knows what is going to happen.  And prediction is hard, especially when it is about the future.   Where does that leave us?    I came away from the march with the feeling that it will be a long time before things settle down.  Probably not in my lifetime.

My proposal: let’s get creative.  In the future, all kinds of organizations are going to need help if  funding  is cut for health care, legal services for the poor, education, the arts, mental health and drug rehab, community groups, child care and similar things.

Right now, people are fired up to volunteer,  give money and to get involved.  That momentum must not be lost.    Organizations that need help will have to be able to draw from beyond their traditional volunteer pool. People who want to volunteer need the ability to connect with  the right organization for their skills and passions.  Some organizations will be flooded and others will go begging unless there is a means by which they can make their needs known.

This also applies to fund raising.  Groups must be able to raise money to serve their communities and clients.  They need a way to reach beyond their  traditional pool of donors.  

We need something new.  I envision a kind of Craig List to do the job.  Why the Craig’s List model?  It is local and it is national.  It contains an abundance of categories to  facilitate the exchange of goods and services and to connect people with one another.  It is constantly updated by the people who use it.  It is organized and  easy to navigate.

A tool based on the Craig’s List model could also pair volunteers with programs, solicit donations of items like clothing, books and school supplies, publicize  community events, and alert the public  to vital issues related to the community, the nation and the world.

It goes without saying that there also has to be a way to maintain contact and to reach out to groups and individuals that are marginalized or feel uncomfortable getting involved or don’t use the internet.

Developing a tool like this is a huge undertaking that would need the expertise of programmers, tech companies, charitable foundations, libraries, designers and more.  But things have changed drastically in the past year and new tools are called for.  I ask everyone reading this post spread the word and get people thinking about how my proposal could be improved and implemented.  There is no way that I could do it but I hope someone takes this idea or another one like it and runs with it.  Maybe someone has already started!

And now, some creative posts about the past few weeks from around the Internet.

Sign making and the Boston Women’s March from the Be Creative Mary blog

For us visual thinkers,  A guide to Trump care from economixcomix

From The Economist, a Visual Guide to the Trump Administration

What you can do now,  10 Actions for the First 100 Days

And finally, let me point out that this is not the first time in world history that existing societies could not address the challenges of rapid change.  For those interested in looking at the past to see how other societies reacted to turbulent change, check out  The Axial Ages of World History: Lessons for the 21st Century  by Ken Baskin, Dmitri M. Bondarenko.  [Disclaimer:  I am married to Ken Baskin.]  This is the short version of a longer book they plan to write.  










Resource and Treasures



I am so cold today!  Yesterday I had to go out in a whirling snowstorm to deliver a sick portable hard drive to the computer hospital.  Today, the computer doctor called me with the happy news that the files on the drive would live. I feel like I dodged a bullet. Fortunately, I already had the pictures for this blog post ready to go.

Which brings me to the Resource Exchange.   I heard about this wonderful place a couple of years ago as a space where film  and play companies deposited their leftover props and set equipment when production was finished.  Then I leaned that the collection of leftovers had grown to any kind of material that could be used to make art.  Which includes everything when you think of it but we won’t go there, will we?

No, the Resource Exchange offers all kinds of reclaimed arts and craft supplies that you can mention in polite company AND use to make art.     These supplies would otherwise end up in the trash.  The Resource Exchange gives them new life.  Let’s see, conservation, art, creative reuse-looks like a win/win situation to me.

And if you have a bunch of discarded art supplies, builder supplies, tools, and old sewing machine, a stuffed animal, a bolt of  cloth a case of paper clips, bring them to the Resource Exchange.  Someone, somewhere will want them.

On my trip to the Resource Exchange, I found some bead storage boxes,  jute webbing that I used to Boris-proof my foot stools, gold thread, giant wooden beads,  and some more things that I can’t remember-all cheap and in good condition.

Beading Yoda was thrilled   because now she has a place to bring all her Strawbridge and Clothier Bags because the people at the Resource Exchange know the difference between trash and vintage.

Be sure to check out the Resource Exchange’s web page and follow them on Facebook.  In the meantime,  here are some enticing pictures.
















I Made a Cross Back Apron

I got the idea into my head that I would make a Japanese-style cross back apron.  No, that I would make a reversible cross back apron for a friend who I decided needed a reversible Japanese-style cross back apron. With piping.

Actually, it was the fabric that spoke to me.  I had some nice orange cotton that I think used to curtains and a  gray blend that raveled like crazy but who doesn’t love a challenge? And I found a  mint green piping that seemed to work with the colors.  11-colors

And a pattern was available on line for free at the Japanese Sewing Site,  Here.

The pattern was easy to print out and assemble.  It calls for size A4 paper which is a slightly different size from  standard printing paper.  I just cut down some drawing paper and fed it through the printer. Everything printed perfectly.


When I laid out my fabric with the pattern, I saw that I could cut out the entire apron as one piece and omit the side seams.  Be warned that this makes it more difficult to stretch your fabric.  I had originally wanted to make two long aprons but had to make one of them short (thigh level)in order to cut it out as one piece.  But if you are working with a print, being able to cut the apron as one piece means you don’t have to match up patterns.



Boris is my quality control assistant.


The easiest way to cut out the apron is to trace around the pattern with chalk.  The fabric is doubled and the pattern is cut out on the fold.


Here is one side cut out.  There are two additional parts: facing for the top of the apron (which I didn’t bother with because mine would end up with a double layer of fabric plus piping) and a template to extend the strap parts at the sides that you attach to the bib portion  at the front.


This is my first version of the front of the apron.  I did not like it at all. But the straps were too short for me even though I added some fabric to the patters and the square shape of the front did not seem to go with the curved style of the apron in the back.  And the piping on the front was tricky to plan.  I am not really a sewer  and I had a hard time visualizing the transition of the piping from the straps to the neckline.  I was happy with the body of the apron and the hem.


I reassessed the apron.  I had put double piping between the straps and this was not necessary.  Also, I realized that I should have sewn the apron from the top down rather than from bottom up because there is lots of room to adjust and turn on the hem.  But that was not mission critical in my case because the shapes are so basic.  The pattern is very forgiving.

So my plan was to open up part of the hem and use that to turn the apron inside out as needed, lengthen the straps, put a slight curve in the neckline,  sew piping on the neckline and straps, and omit the piping I had sewed across the straps.


 After Boris gave me the go ahead, I got to work.


Original neckline with piping removed


New neckline before piping is sewn on


I hand sewed the straps on each side with matching thread and hand stitched close the part of the hem I had left open.

And here is the end result!