Week In Review
The Week In Review is a roundup of interesting, inspiring or thought-provoking things I've read this week. "How are you to imagine anything if the images are always provided for you? To defend ourselves...we must learn to read. To stimulate our own imagination, to cultivate our own consciousness, our own belief system. We all need these skills to defend, to preserve, our own minds." -- Adrien Brody
How can fashion represent America in 2017? | Robin Givhan, The Washington Post
If there was any thread that connected the collections for fall, it was the question of what it means to be a U.S. designer. How do you speak your mind? How do you represent America in this moment? In the aftermath of the Women’s March, how do you create fashion that speaks to women’s desires and needs? What comes after pink pussy hats?
This was a season in which women of all color walked the runways. So did women wearing hijabs, as well as plus-size women, older models and women who are not professional models at all. Female poets recited quartets; female protesters raised their voices; and designers spoke up about everything from human rights to the humanity of the American story in all of its windswept, Midwestern glory.
The trouble with all those t-shirt slogans about diversity on fashion’s runways | Marc Bain, Quartz
Those who used New York Fashion Week as an occasion to promote their views had every right to do so, and it’s good that people speak up for what they believe in. Designers Prabal Gurung and Christian Siriano are also donating proceeds from sales of their slogan tees to organizations working toward their causes.
But what do these displays really accomplish? Designers risk little in sending political statements down the runway while selling clothes to a crowd that almost uniformly agrees with their stances. And before the US fashion industry pats itself on the back for its progressiveness, it still has genuine problems to face on diversity, not to mention factories staffed with underpaid workers, abroad and at home. The most important statements designers are making have nothing to do with a slogan on a shirt.
Ecuador's Left Wing Success Story | Mark Weisbrot, The Nation
The results for the decade of left government in Ecuador (2007-16) include a 38 percent reduction in poverty and a 47 percent reduction in extreme poverty. Social spending as a percentage of GDP doubled, including large increases in spending on education and healthcare. Educational enrollment increased sharply for ages 17 and under, and spending on higher education as a percent of GDP became the highest in Latin America. Average annual growth of income per capita was much higher than in the prior 26 years (1.5 versus 0.6 percent), and inequality was considerably reduced.
Public investment as a percent of GDP more than doubled, and the results were widely appreciated in new roads, hospitals, schools, and access to electricity.
Seeding the Future Against Destructive Neoliberal Capitalism | Michael Meurer, Truthout
One of the speakers, a young man named Alan Carmona Gutiérrez who is a cofounder of USV [Un Salto de Vida (USV), or A Leap of Life, a civic organization formed by local farmers near the town of Salto, which is across the river from Juanacatlán], gave a speech that started with this remarkable statement: "Seeds are the arms that can win the war against capitalism." ("Las semillas son las armas que pueden ganar la guerra contra capitalismo.")
Alan did not mean capitalism in the abstract. He meant the kind of capitalism that has made the 433-kilometer (269-mile) Río Santiago one of the most lethally toxic and polluted waterways in the world, and that under NAFTA forced Mexico to amend its constitution to allow foreign land ownership. This change opened small landholders, upon whom organic crop diversity depends, to the whims of banks and foreign creditors. These campesinos had been deeded their property for life by the constitution of 1917. NAFTA wiped that legal protection away with the stroke of a pen, leading to a doubling of export farming by large-scale agribusiness by 2015.
Also, The Nation puts out a weekly recap of the major things Trump (and his administration) have done (or un-done) in the previous week. I'll be linking to it as long as they keep putting it out. Here is the recap from week 4. It, as well as the Borowitz Report, should be required reading for getting us through this experimental and tenuous moment in democracy.
Pop Culture (!!)
Surprised you, right? A rare pop inclusion, but I found this a compelling read about an important cultural moment.
Beyoncé Is Not The Magical Negro Mammy | Denene Millner, NPR
Beyoncé is no one's mammy. So the record-scratching comments from Adele and Faith Hill shortly after Beyoncé's Grammy performance came across as absolutely bizarre...Both comments were made without the least bit of irony, but for this black mom, those words made me bristle — seared me down to my soul...
As did the tens of thousands watching at the Staples Center, Adele and Hill interacted with Beyoncé's art on multiple levels and considered its impact on their industry, the fans and the political moment. They searched for their personal entry point into the work. That what they found was an invitation for one of the world's biggest stars to serve them, even at the expense of her little daughter and the two littles in her belly, smacked of subservience — the lowest denominator in terms of how white women have historically entered into relationships with black women.
In One of the Nation’s Unhealthiest Places, This Hospital Prescribes Fresh Food From Its Own Farm | Liza Bayless, YES! Magazine
Since the farm’s launch in 2015, it has provided over 4,000 pounds of organic food to hospital patients at no cost. The produce is used for educational demonstrations and served in the hospital cafeteria. From its community needs assessment, Lankenau’s staff learned that many of its patients, especially from West Philadelphia, lacked access to and nutritional knowledge of fruits and vegetables. So Lankenau now facilitates pop-up markets in internal medicine and the OBGYN practice wards.
Is Finland’s basic universal income a solution to automation, fewer jobs and lower wages? | Sonia Sodha, The Guardian
Finland’s experiment is a variation on the idea of a universal basic income: an unconditional income paid by the government to all citizens, whether or not they’re in work. The Finns have long been perceived to be at the cutting edge of social innovation, so this is a fitting setting for the first national experiment of its kind.
What have you read this week?
Feature image Tim Laman for National Geographic