Category: Health and safety

How strategic impact documentary can contribute to the Fashion Revolution: the True Cost

It’s Fashion Revolution Week this week. To mark this, we’re showcasing our favourite examples of cultural activism which have supported its #whomademyclothes call to action. On Monday, we showcased the Guerrilla Projections of documentary photographer Ismael Ferdous. On Tuesday, we showcased the gentle Shop-dropping activism of the Craftivist Collective. And yesterday we showcased the power of Disobedient Objects like Fashion Revolution Germany & BDDO’s €2 T-shirt vending machine.

Today’s post focuses on a strategic impact documentary called the True Cost. This aims to unravel fast fashion’s grim and gritty supply chains in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse. It juxtaposes scenes of fashion models strutting catwalks, YouTube shopping hauls, footage of Black Friday shopping chaos, TV news footage of garment workers sewing clothes in cramped factory spaces, talking head interviews with factory workers and owners, farmers, former corporate executives, academic experts, famous activists and ethical fashion royalty, brands working ethically, key people from NGOs like War on Want, and champions of free market economics.

What’s distinctive about the True Cost and the impacts that it has had is that it was crowd-funded, released via iTunes and Netflix, and tries to channel its audiences’ concerns to ‘do something’ through public screenings with panel discussions, its website and associated social media. This film enrolled its audiences from its crowd-funding forwards. It was a conversation, a collaborative ‘do something’, from the beginning. Despite its lack of mainstream funding or cinema listing, the making, reception and impacts of this film in relation to the Fashion Revolution have been nothing short of stunning. We’re posting this today because CEO Ian is on a True Cost panel in Portsmouth tonight. It’s a textbook example of the emerging genre of strategic impact documentary.

Further reading

Judith Hefland & Anna Lee (2012) Put movies in the hands of movements. in Andrew Boyd (comp.) Beautiful trouble: a toolbox for revolution. New York: O/R, 164-5

Kate Nash & John Corner (2016) Strategic impact documentary: contexts or production and social intervention. European Journal of Communication 31(3) 227-242

Guest post: Gavin Bridge on ‘Who mines sulphur anymore?’

Passengerfilms – a London-based ‘car crash of cinema and geography’ – invited Ian to suggest a film and panel discussants for a screening in February this year. He chose Sasha Friedlander’s documentary Where Heaven meets Hell in which audiences get to know four men who mine sulphur from inside a live volcano in Indonesia. A new followthethings.com page was published on the film and he recommended it again as part of the film programme for the Museum of Contemporary Commodities in Exeter. The screening is tonight. Is all sulphur mined in volcanoes? NO! Says London panellist Prof Gavin Bridge in this guest post. It is ‘mined’ in more surprising places…

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Where Heaven Meets Hell conveys the aspirations, social relations and hard physical labour of a group of men who earn their living by prying chunks of sulphur free from the mouth of an Indonesian volcano. Viewers are drawn into a world of work one can scarcely imagine exists – a world of cloying smoke, hacking coughs, scarred muscles and bodyweight-loads hauled up over the volcano’s rim and down the mountain to be sold. The filmmaker, Sasha Friedlander, artfully works a trope familiar to other ‘revelatory’ commodity stories, exposing the social lives through which natural materials become objects of economic exchange.    Continue reading

Watch this: BBC Breakfast on Rana Plaza

For International Women’s Day: Maquilapolis – city of factories

It’s International Women’s Day tomorrow, so we’ve picked out a documentary that’s soon to be featured on our site: Maquilapolis – city of factories. This is a preview of its page in our Electrical Department. It’s unique in the ‘follow the things’ genre because its both about, and made with and by, factory working women.

Maquilapolis – city of factories

Sharp_C1_NES_TV_14C-C1F

Year: 2006

Type: Documentary film (68 mins, in Spanish with Spanish or English subtitles)

Directors: Vicky Funari and Sergio de la Torre, in collaboration with the factory workers.

Production Company: Independent Television Service (ITVS).

Availability: DVD (California newsreel $24.99 for home use), transcript (English & Spanish, free), online (sections & whole film, search).

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Continue reading

‘What (not) to wear’ event: an introduction

Whatnot conference slide

Click for the facebook event page

Date: 11 November 2013, 4-6pm

Venue: University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Streatham Court, Lecture Room C.

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Our sponsor

A taster event for 1st year students: click for details

A taster event for 1st year University of Exeter students: click for details

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Setting the scene: journalism, activism & ‘Primark on the rack’

Primark on the rack Lego comic

Click for the flickr set with explanations

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Our audience: curious & expert students 

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 12.28.08 PM

Click to read more about this module

A draft followthethings.com page published last week: click to read

A draft followthethings.com page published last week: click to read

A draft followthethings.com page, published last week: click to read

A draft followthethings.com page, published last week: click to read

Cards 31-35

New student work: e.g. Ethical Trade Trumps game

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Our hashtag

Ask questions using this. They'll appear here. Click!

Tweet photos of your ‘Made in…’ labels & ask questions with this.

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Our speakers

James Christie-Miller

Click for our Grand Challenge Events page

Click for our Grand Challenge Events page

& Carry Somers

Click here for our Grand Challenge events page

Click here for our Grand Challenge events page

Halloween specials

We have decorated our website’s header for the season. It’s all gone a bit Scooby Doo. Our site is a mystery machine full of pesky kids.

‘Tis the season to be haunted. So here are a couple of followthethings examples with a Halloween theme.

Letter from a labour camp worker found in Halloween decorations

[click here and you can read our page on this letter – who made it, how it was discussed, and the impacts it had]

Film of workers injured making Mickey Mouse’s ‘Haunted Halloween’ book

[click here and you can read our page on this film – who made it, how it was discussed and the impacts it had].

Why Lego ‘Primark on the rack 2013’?

We researched a 2009 BBC Panorama documentary ‘Primark on the rack’ for followthethings.com. This was a documentary exposing Primark for producing its notoriously cheap clothes in Indian sweatshops. It contained a 45 second scene in which child labourers were filmed checking that sequins were firmly attached to its sequined tops. Primark claimed that this scene had been ‘faked’ and made a concerted effort to discredit the whole film, with mixed success (detailed on our site here).

As with many of our pages, we made a few scenes in Lego, uploaded them to a flickr set, and embedded them. Today, we added a couple of new scenes to our ‘Primark on the rack’ set, to bring the story up to date.

factory photo office photo

These scenes are intended to highlight a theme that cuts across a number of examples of followthethings filmmaking on our site: corporations responding to sweatshop, worker health and environmental destruction exposures by employing public relations and/or legal teams to ‘prove’ that key scenes – and, by implication, whole films – are ‘faked’. This is, for example, how Primark responded to the BBC documentary in 2009, how Dole responded to Fredrik Gertten’s documentary ‘Bananas!*’ in 2009 (link), and how Chevron responded to Joe Berlinger’s documentary ‘Crude: the real price of oil’ in 2009 (link).

This past week has seen relentless TV news footage and newspaper column inches devoted to the Savar Rana garment factory collapse. Journalists have told unfolding stories of dramatic rescue efforts and the shocking numbers of people who made Primark, Joe Fresh, Matalan, Mango, Benneton, Bon Marche and other branded clothes being found dead in the wreckage of their workplace or missing, presumed dead.

NGOs and others are putting pressure on these clothing brands to respond appropriately to this disaster by properly compensating its victims and their families, by signing agreements that they’d been reluctant to sign before, and by putting into place more comprehensive auditing practices so that what they agree to is more likely to be done in the future.

This pressure continues to be applied, and companies are responding. On Monday, for example, the BBC reported that Primark had released a statement saying that it ‘accepts all its responsibilities in this disaster’ (Source: BBC 2013 link). ALL of them. We shall see.

This is not a single documentary with a named director, whose work can be ‘discredited’ with the right PR and legal teams in place. This is ‘Primark on the rack 2013’. Click the photos to get to the whole 6 scene set.

Postscript: why Lego?

We’ve been inspired by Lego re-creations that we found online of hidden scenes from the ‘War on Terror’. They had been made and posted online in 2009 by an artist/blogger called Legofesto (see her flickr sets here). She argued that:

‘By using toys, I hope the viewer will linger longer over the image and think again about what is actually being depicted or described, in a visual language that is recognised by us all: LEGO. … The incongruity between the immoral and horrific acts and events depicted and the smiley-faced children’s toy create a tension’ (legofesto in Time Magazine 2009 link).

By photographing re-creations and publishing them online, she argues:

‘I want to keep the debate going. To keep it in people’s minds, to remind us of our atrocities because the media has moved on and they don’t want to dwell on the tactics [of the ‘War on Terror’]. … People are using Legofesto to talk about torture and state violence’ (legofesto in Carling 2009 link).

We want our Lego re-creations to help keep trade (in)justice debates going, to keep them in people’s minds, etc. in a similar way.

The 17 best examples of shop-dropping… ever

If you have just read Ian’s piece ‘What to do if you find a cry for help in your Christmas presents this year’ in The Conversation, a link will probably have brought you here. Where have you arrived? This is the behind the scenes ‘back office’ blog for the spoof shopping website followthethings.com. It’s a website that showcases Ian et al’s research into the making, reception and impacts of over sixty examples of commodity activism – from documentary films, to art works, to activist pranks – whose aim it is to encourage audiences to think critically about their relations with the people who make the things they buy, and about their powers to effect change. It also aims to encourage and inspire new ‘follow the thing’ research and activism, by anyone and everyone who wishes to do this. This post is updated every time we find a new example. It includes some examples that have been researched and showcased on the followthethings.com store, plus other that haven’t yet made it. Please let us know in the comments what we are missing. Thanks.

Introduction

Our website followthethings.com is designed to bring together and confuse two kinds of ‘shopping’: going shopping for things, and shopping things (i.e. betraying their origins).

Taking new information into stores and leaving it on/in or attaching it to the goods concerned is shopping in both senses of the word. It’s one of the most direct ways of bringing trade justice issues into spaces and acts of consumption. Whether this is done by consumer activists or factory workers, by accident or by design, genuine or faked, it’s called ‘shop dropping’ (sometimes ‘droplifting).

Here’s our list of 16 examples, in date order, with some extras at the end.

1) The Barbies that talk like GI Joe (and vice versa)

Perhaps the most famous example of shop dropping was undertaken in 1993 when the Barbie Liberation Organisation bought a bunch of talking GI Joe and Barbie Dolls, switched their voice boxes and placed them back in store. This video explains everything.

And this handy worksheet shows you how you can make the switch yourself.

2) The letter left in the pocket of a pair of jeans 

In the 2005 ‘follow the jeans’ documentary ‘China Blue’, ‘At the end … [factory worker Jasmine] leaves a letter addressed to one such person in the pocket of a pair of jeans. The film simulates the journey of this letter from the boxes in the port, to the ships that transport them, and finally to the up-scale store that stocks the jeans, implying the complicity of Western consumers in the exploitative dynamics of transnational capital’ (Source: Moll 2007 p.163-4). Read more about this film on our site here.

3) The photos found on a new iPhone

Photos and films taken on production lines to make sure that cameras work are sometimes left on cameras and phones for buyers to find. The most notorious are the photos taken of a young woman in a Foxconn factory in China who became known as ‘iPhone Girl’.  Posted online by the person who bought the phone in 2008, they went viral online, generating arguments and suspicion worldwide. Read more about the ‘iPhone Girl’ phenomenon on our site here.

4) The Killer Jeans pocket labels

In 2011, to publicise its ‘Killer Jeans’ report, anti-sweatshop group Labour Behind the Label encouraged activists to print out and add to jeans in store the label below. They wanted to ‘hid[e] messages in the pockets of thousands of pairs of designer jeans this week to highlight the serious health risks faced by workers making jeans for designer brands including Dolce and Gabanna and Armani’.  Read the story here. Watch a video of this activism in store, here.

5) The Adidas Exploitation price labels

In 2012 War on Want encouraged activists to add 34p price labels to Adidas goods in store to highlight the poverty wages of factory workers making its goods in Indonesia. Read the story here.

6) The film footage found on an HP laptop

Also in 2012, this film was found on a brand new Hewlett Packard Laptop. A TechCrunch post which features this film explains:

It was stored in the My Documents folder and clearly depicts the mundanity of life inside a hardware manufacturing plant. This was taken in the Quanta Chongqing Manufacturing City in Chongqing and the worker seems to be testing the camera on this particular model. Usually evidence of this testing is wiped out. It wasn’t in this case. Essentially, you’re looking at the face of modern manufacturing. He’s not mistreated, he’s not chained to his desk, but he’s building the same thing, over and over again, a prospect not many of us would relish. It’s a mundane view inside a fairly secret world that we as consumers rarely get to see.

7) The letter in the Saks Fifth Avenue Bag

In September 2012, a shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City found a letter and a passport photo in the paper shopping bag in which the checkout person had places her new Hunter wellies. It was written by Tohnain Emmanuel Njong, a Cameroon national who was making the bags while incarcerated in a Chinese prison. In the letter, we wrote “Maybe this bag could go somewhere and they find this letter and they can let my family know or anybody [know] that I am in prison.” Read our site’s new page on this letter here.

o-saks-facebook

8) The letter in the Halloween decorations

In December 2012 an American consumer posted onto facebook a photograph of a letter found in a box of K-Mart Halloween decorations. The letter seems to have been written by a person who helped to assemble them in a Labour camp in China. It begins ““If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization.”  Read our site’s new page on this letter here.

9) The extra price tags in the Apple store

In March 2013 – when this post was first written –  Friends of the Earth in the UK marked the opening of an Apple Store in Leeds by adding ‘price tags’ to the goods on sale. In this case, they were pointing out the ‘price’ paid by rainforests in the production of tin that’s in Apple and other electronic goods.

10) The labels and letter found in Primark clothes

In June 2014, news stories started to appear in the UK about labels like this being found in Primark dresses.

And other examples have started to appear in the news, for example.

We researched this story so far (see our page here).

11) The secret scrolls made & placed in clothes 

In September 2015 ‘Sarah Corbett and other craftivists” set out  “to lovingly handwrite messages onto beautiful paper and wrap them delicately in ribbon to place in clothes pockets in shops, fashion show seats and other secret places for people to find.” In making and placing these ‘secret scrolls’, they hoped, would “encourage people to think about who made our clothes, provoke questions and curiosity of the true cost of fashion, show the world that change is possible and celebrate all those creating a more sustainable future of the fashion industry.” In April 2016, they made this ‘how to?’ Mini Fashion Statements video for Fashion Revolution Day. It’s awesome.

12) The sketch and note found in a shoe box

In November 2015, a Reddit user posted a photograph of a sketch and note found in an unopened box of Naturalizer shoes.

The story, too, was sketchy. According to the Daily Mail, “A customer has found an SOS note in a shoe box claiming it is from a scared Ethiopian factory worker whose family were killed by soldiers. The sketched image of the worker with the accompanying note was uploaded to the website Reddit. It was translated by a user who claimed the worker said they were ‘hungry, sad’, afraid’ and pleaded for help. It also alleged that the worker’s family were killed by soldiers”. The post drew thousands of comments, some suspicious because it was posted on Reddit “the viral site that has a reputation as a source of some of the internet’s biggest hoaxes”.

13) the letter found in a pair of Primark socks

In December, an imgur user posted a photograph of a letter saying “Didnt know where else to put this, my dads just found this in a sock bought from Primark can anyone translate?” People responded, for example, saying “guy was framed for a crime he didnt commit and imprisoned, his wife ended up in mental hospital and his father was murdered”, “I’m Chinese and this letter is legitimately asking for help. You might want to report to police or news media”, “with enough attention it could probably hit the news” and “So if this is real, is there ever a good outcome to something like this?” Click the image below to follow the conversation.

14) The letter found in the Walmart handbag

In May 2017, Christel Wallace bought a purse from a Walmart store in Arizona. Inside it she found tiny folded note in a zipper compartment.  Her daughter-in-law posted it on facebook asking if anyone could translate its Chinese characters.

The result? It says:

“Inmates in the Yingshan Prison in Guangxi, China are working 14 hours daily with no break/rest at noon, continue working overtime until 12 midnight, and whoever doesn’t finish his work will be beaten. Their meals are without oil and salt. Every month, the boss pays the inmate 2000 yuan, any additional dishes will be finished by the police. If the inmates are sick and need medicine, the cost will be deducted from the salary. Prison in China is unlike prison in America, horse cow goat pig dog (literally, means inhumane treatment).”

Wallace knew about the other examples of prisoner notes being found in commodities including one where the author was found by journalists (see above). She hoped that making her note public might have the same results (see here for the original story).

15) the notes in Zara clothes

In October 2017, Zara shoppers in Istanbul found labels saying “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it” in the clothes. The notes were said to have been placed there by the people who had made them in Turkey because their factory – owned by the Bravo corporation – had closed overnight, leaving them with three months of unpaid back pay and no severance (see here for the original story).

To date, no more details have come to light about this story.

16) the note in the Advent Calendar box

In December 2017, 13 year old April Dorsett received an Amazon delivery containing an advent calendar from her dad. Her mum asked her if she had read the note her dad ordered with it (it said ‘love from mum and dad’). ‘Do you mean this one?’ she replied. It was hand written on the delivery note in the box: ‘Help me please. PMP STAFF ARE EVIL’. PMP is the recruitment agency that Amazon uses to staff its distribution depots in the UK. April’s Mum posted it on Facebook, telling Amazon that her daughter ‘found this inside of her box and is worried amazon are running sweatshops. … I’ve told her it’s probably a prank but can you just confirm that…’

The story was published by national tabloid newspapers The SunDaily Mail and Mirror as well as local papers, including the Bolton Post.  The Mirror had recently published an investigative piece called ‘Undercover at Amazon: exhausted humans are inefficient so robots are taking over‘ and all of the papers contacted Amazon and PMP for comment. PMP said they didn’t believe that the comment was accurate, but they would investigating the claim with its client Amazon (in the Mirror). Aprils’ mum Kim was worried and surprised: ‘I just hope no one gets in trouble or sacked for writing the note if it’s true. … You wouldn’t expect something like that to happen in the UK. You don’t like to think there is someone working in sweat shop. It’s shocking’ (in the Bolton Post).

17) the note found in the Christmas card pack

On December 21 2017, a short piece appeared in the UK’s Sun newspaper about a note found in a charity Christmas card bought in a pack from a Sainsbury’s supermarket by Jessica Rigby. She asked her friends to translate it, and they told her it was a greeting from a Prison product shop in Guangzhou, China.

The Sun reported that her reaction was to worry that all of Sainsbury’s cards were produced in Chinese prisons, that the charities that raised money through Christmas card sales could unwittingly benefit from forced labour, and that she had heard horror stories of foreigners being falsely imprisoned in these places. The cards were not now so festive. Sainsburys apologised, and advised her to take them back to the store while they investigated. Readers’ comments included “what a nonsense story, who cares where the cards are made”, “If I found the note, I’d have framed it and put on a wall somewhere”, “I think she’s made this story up to try and get on big brother” and “Hats off to her. She has pals who can read and translate chinese. She has raised an issue of great importance. And the Sun has paid her for the story, thus giving her extra spending money for Christmas.”

Plus….

After I mentioned the HP laptop video find in class, student Elaine King brought this photograph to class to show me. Her boss had found it in her holiday photos taken with a disposable camera. Elaine had, for some reason, kept it. This seems to be a disposable camera’s eye view of a disposable camera production line. How, why and by whom the photo was taken, we will never know…

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 14.47.54

What exactly is shop-dropping and what’s it like to do??

We didn’t know what this type of activism was called, until we found this Yes Men site that tells you how you, too, can ‘shop drop’. And this interview with Cheap Date Magazine’s Bay Garnett, in which the joys of shop-dropping are explained:

We did this thing called ‘Shop Dropping’ where we used to decorate clothes and drop them in shops. So in Victoria’s Secret we’d leave huge granny pants with a sign saying, ‘please take me home, I’m yours’ – it was just fun! The shop people were so disarmed because you’re putting something in a shop; you’re not taking it away. We did one in Prada, and literally the whole of Broadway was looking. We took this huge dress, a really, really disgusting dress, and we got paints and did like big heart and words saying, ‘I’m really lonely’, or something like that. I can’t remember who placed it, it was either me or Kira, but we placed it on Broadway in that Rem Koolhaas building, and it was just so perfectly placed that the shop people couldn’t do anything. There were queues of people looking – it was there for two hours and it was amazing. Because it was really funny. I mean I couldn’t do that now, because I don’t want to do that. But at the time it felt right, it felt really right. We’d also often go into a designer shop and there’d be all these perfect shoes, and we’d get a pair of really old fucked-up Converse, with writing and stuff on the feet, and put it in and then walk out. So you’d leave it there and wait for it to be found, and then take a photo. We’d spend Saturdays doing that (Garnett in Stoppard nd link).

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Some shop-dropping is more deliberate than others, and a popular topic of debate is the truth/hoax value of the ones that seem to be accidental. What we love about them is that they spark our imaginations, and discussions, encourage us to ask what traces of human and other labour we could find on and in our things.

Reading…

Bezanson, R. & Finkelman, A. (2009) Trespassory art. University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 43(2), 245-322 [download here]

Biggs, J. (2012) A Unique View Inside An HP Laptop Assembly LineTechCrunch 27 July

Bonanno, M. (2012) Barbie Liberation Organisation. in Boyd, A. (comp) Beautiful trouble: a toolbox for revolution. New York: O/R

Cantrell, A. (2005) Artists drop while they shop. CNN Money 20 July

Cook, I. (2011) iPhone 3G – already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). followthethings.com

Cook et al, I. (2017) What to do if you find a cry for help in your Christmas presents this year. The Conversation 22 December

Craftivist Collective (2015) Stockholm Craftivists secret scrolls in Fashion WeekCraftivist collective nd

Duggins, A. (2017) Is there a protest message in your new jacket’s pocket? You’ve been shop dropped. The Guardian 18 September

Hart, J. (2014) ‘I found this in a box of Halloween decorations’.   followthethings.com 

Kelleher, W. & Cook, I. (2014) The letter in the Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bagfollowthethings.com

Kelly, J. (2018) The SOS in my Halloween decorations. BBC News 29 October

Kelleher, W. & Cook, I. (2014) Cries for help found in Primark clothes (a.k.a.’labelgate’)followthethings.com 

Lambert-Beatty, C. (2010) Fill in the blank: culture jamming and the advertising of agency. New directions for youth development 12, 99-112

Mürlebach, M. (2018) Shopdropping: Materialities, Mobilities, Creative Interventions. Soziologiemagazin: publizieren statt archivieren 11(2), 63-75

Spicer, S., Horgan, A., Rastall, M., Mayers, J., Frost, A., & Donald, R. (2012) China Blue. followthethings.com 

Stoppard, L. (nd) Interview: Bay Garnett. SHOWstudio nd

War on Want (2012) Adidas reels under Olympics ‘sweatshops’ protest” press release. War on Want 14 July

Warren, R. (2018) You buy a purse at Walmart. There’s a note inside from a “Chinese prisoner.” Now what? Vox 10 October

YesMenLab (2011) Shop Dropping Product Labels – by the Yes Lab. Destructibles 7 July

To continue the ‘letters from factory workers’ theme, we recommend this evocative book chapter analysing the content of un-sent letters found in the debris of a deadly toy factory blaze in Shenzhen, China in 1993. These were just normal letters home:

Chan, A. (2002) The culture of survival: lives of migrant workers through the prism of private letters. In Link, P., Madsen, R. & Pickowicz, P. (eds) Popular China: unofficial culture in a globalizing society. Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield, 163-188 [download here]

to be continued…

Last updated December 2017

St Valentine’s Day: love, following, things.

We are going to love this week at followthethings.com HQ.

We’ve redesigned our website’s header for the season. Here it is:

ftt valentine's day header

 

 

 

 

[click the Cherubs’ banner, and you will get to this page]

We’re adding Finland’s favourite chocolate to our site, a new page created by University of Helsinki MPhil student Eeva Kemppainen. She’s working with us in Exeter this Spring. She is creating our first pages to be simultaneously published in English and Finnish.

We’re re-creating a scene from this new page in Lego, to add to our ‘Made in Lego…’ flickr set.

We’ve started to tweet Valentine’s Day issues, stories and activism. Like this:

On Thursday, all of our efforts will come together in a public Lecture at the University of Exeter. It’s ‘The St Valentine’s Day public lecture: love, following, things.” Here’s the opening slide:

lecture poster

Here’s the description on its facebook event page:

Come take part in a public lecture and discussion that puts chocolate, renowned for its romancing qualities, under the spotlight this Valentine’s Day. Ian Cook (Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Exeter) will be using Finnish chocolate (following them through the world economy as physical goods) as a case study in a broader discussion of trade justice and emphatic socio-economic relations. The discussion will also cover the ways in which this approach to understanding the exchange of material goods can be taught and learned in universities, engaging students in the issue of trade justice activism in critical, creative and enthusiastic ways. The event will take place in the Peter Chalk Centre, lecture theatre Newman C. It will take place at 2pm on Thursday 14th February.

Everyone is welcome.

Animation & trade justice activism: Greenpeace’s ‘Detox Fashion’

‘If only they could see the truth.’ ‘We can help them.’

Yesterday, Greenpeace announced that:

After ten months of #PeoplePowered activities and behind-the-scenes haggling G-Star finally committed to eliminate all uses of hazardous chemicals from its supply chain and products by 2020.

G-Star joins corporations like Levi’s, Zara, Victoria’s Secret, H&M and Nike who have already agreed to do this.

The imagery conjured up in the Greenpeace campaign is vivid:

They say you can tell next season’s hottest trend by looking at the colour of the rivers in Mexico and China. That’s because global fashion brands like Calvin Klein, GAP and G-Star Raw are using hazardous chemicals and dyes to make our clothes. These chemicals poison our rivers, and traces of these hazardous chemicals also end up remaining in many of the garments people buy.

But it’s even more vivid if your campaign video is an animation. That’s where those words come from, and this is its ‘Detox Fashion’ video. Bubbles are popping. Worlds of production and consumption are coming into view.

At followthethings.com, we’re fascinated by the ways in which animation can be used in trade justice activism. Our favorite examples so far have been Emily James’ “The Luckiest Nut in the World” (our page with the film embedded is here), Melanie Jackson’s “A Global Positioning System” (watch this here, and read our page on it here), and ‘Make Fruit Fair: the Movie” (in a previous blog post here).

What is that animation can offer a campaign, that a film including ‘real people’ cannot? Check out our Nut and GPS pages above, and read this, for some answers…