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Slutwalk London

22 Sep

Super International Women’s Day!

5 Mar

In honour of International Women’s Day on Thursday, I have to tell you about the coolest discovery I made last week. It’s a total nightmare working just off Brick Lane, because I tend to suffer from these weird black outs where I SOMEHOW end up in a vintage clothing store. Anyway, last week, I ended up purchasing this very beautiful black dress. You can’t really tell what it’s like here, but it fits like a glove, is made of the softest linen, and has that really nipped-in fifties shape that I lurve. It was only after I bought it that I looked at the label:

It says Int’l Ladies Garment Workers Union. OMG I WAS SO EXCITED. I suspected that my dress had been made by totally badass women in the fifties. And I was right.

Here is some info about the International Ladies Garment Workers Union from Wikipedia:

The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union was once one of the largest labor unions in the United States, one of the first U.S. unions to have a primarily female membership, and a key player in the labor history of the 1920s and 1930s. The union, generally referred to as the “ILGWU” or the “ILG,” merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in 1995 to form the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). UNITE merged with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) in 2004 to create a new union known as UNITE HERE. The two unions that formed UNITE in 1995 represented only 250,000 workers between them, down from the ILGWU’s peak membership of 450,000 in 1969.

Having done some research on the kind of label my dress has, I know that it was made sometime between 1955 – 1963. This is what ILGWU workers looked like then.

Members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union on strike gather in a meeting hall, March 15, 1958.

ILGWU parade float bearing the union label, December 7, 1960

i.e. BLOODY AWESOME.

I love thinking that maybe one of these women made the dress that I own now, in the time she had spare when she wasn’t standing up for her rights. I love thinking that in a small, small way, I might be continuing their tradition by campaigning for green and decent jobs.

There is much, much more brilliant and inspiring history around the ILGWU, especially the part they played in the strikes at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York in 1909, where 20,000 workers walked out in protest against working conditions. During that year, Clara Lemlich, a shirtwaist employee and union activist spoke up at a Town Hall meeting and asked that she and her co-workers receive fair wages and safe working conditions. “We’re human, all of us girls, and we’re young. We like new hats as well as any other women. Why shouldn’t we?” (source). This is what 1909 looked like.

And this is what they looked like marching in 1911 after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which burned 146 workers to death, who had been locked inside the factory to prevent them from taking breaks (click on the picture to see the non-negative).

And in 1935 during the Great Depression.

I find it really heartening to see these images, and remind myself that women have been on the front lines of these battles for a long, long time. It is easy for us to think that women were just stuck at home, playing housewife, when in actual fact many women were going out to work every day, participating in public life and fighting for those rights that we have either achieved, or are still fighting for today.

It also reminds me of the millions of women around the world who are still in almost exactly the same situation (or worse) that these women were, making clothes under extremely poor working conditions, for very little pay. 76% of the global sweatshop workforce are women.

That’s why I’m going to be celebrating International Women’s Day this week, in solidarity with working women past and present, and why I’m pretty happy to have a piece of this amazing, incredible, inspirational history hanging in my closet.

I can’t wait to wear it.

hanna ♥

Super Sunday

22 Jan

1. We’ve had a crazy couple of weeks at Otesha moving office to Toynbee Hall and getting settled in. Say hello to our new meeting room table and chairs. This is what happens when you put me in charge of furniture. Mwahaha.

2. Sending solidarity over to my friend Vi in San Francisco, who was out and about standing up against anti-abortionists this weekend. Standard.

3. Made an awesome discovery this week with my friend Cress – the Aubin Cinema in Shoreditch. We watched Shame, which was great, but bleak. However, our moods could not be tempered, because we were in the massive-ist, comfiest seats imaginable.

“We all know the classic scene from cartoons: The cat reaches a precipice, but it goes on walking, ignoring the fact that there is no ground under its feet; it starts to fall only when it looks down and notices the abyss. What the protesters are doing is reminding those in power to look down.”

4. Read this article – The Violent Silence of a New Beginning – by Zizek on the Occupy movement. It’s brilliant.

5. Spent a substantial part of today making these cakes. The recipe is called Cake for Breakfast? YUP. (Also made this for dinner – proper yum).

6. I had a really nice time volunteering at The Ministry of Stories yesterday, mentoring a group of East London kids in creative writing. One of the kids on my table (age 8) wrote a story about a dog-monster called HOUNDOOM who was the devil’s pet. Houndoom ate fried dinosaur’s eggs for breakfast and travelled through a cloud of lightning bolts, which allowed him to pass through time (he also sucked out people’s souls by digging through their brains – eek). It was quietly hilarious. Also – want to know my 8 year old’s top tip for creative writing? “Let your mind go wild.”

7. Look at my smug new jumper face. £15 from UO Renewal. It’s GOLD. Yay.

hanna ♥

Super Monday

13 Dec

It’s been a while it’s true, and one of my new year’s resolutions is to figure out what to do with this blog and which features I want to keep / start / ditch / tweak etc. But in the meantime.. well, there is just so much superness to reflect on!


1. I went to Papered Parlour over the weekend for their DIY Couture Make a Cloak workshop and it was great! A race against time admittedly, but I was very happy with the finished product, plus we got tea and cake. And now I can pretend to be from the 50s, or that I’m a BAT. Because capes are versatile like that.

2. Bento boxes are super. The BBC actually did a report on them, so it’s official.

3. I was interviewed for the Think Act Vote Futures series a while back, which was really nice.

4. You’ve seen Feminist Ryan Gosling. Now brace yourself for Handmade Ryan Gosling. It’s the future of swoon.

5. Talking of handmade, remember these that I made back in the spring? Well they have been selling like hotcakes! I have had orders and requests without expecting any, and I have done so much panic sewing that my left hand is all claw-like. Worth it though to think of these slogans adorning a few christmas trees this year. Haha.

6. I’ve been back at work full time for 2 weeks now as Green Jobs Director at The Otesha Project UK, and it’s nice to be getting back into the swing of things. The coolest thing is that we are trialling a flat, non-hierarchical structure. You can read about how it’s going here. I’d really recommend it, as it’s going super well so far!

7. By far the superest thing this week was Occupy Cop 17 at the UN climate talks in Durban. The outcome of the negotiations was not perfect, and in no way puts us on track for mitigating climate change, but the fact that they came away with ANYTHING was largely down to this protest. The negotiators overran the talks by 36 hours after this public show of dissent. It proves that protest does and can work. To read more about what happened at the negotiations, read this overview.

hanna ♥

Don’t turn back time

18 Nov

Look! I made an edible protest sign for the Fawcett Society Don’t Turn Back Time march and rally on Saturday! It was pretty blimmin’ laborious, but I reckon it’s going to complement my 50s get up for the occasion perfectly! Come if you can, and tell David Cameron that we won’t go backwards on women’s equality!

hanna ♥

Super Sunday

13 Nov

1. I am quite a fan of this new band, Friends, partly because the name choice is hilarious and will reclaim the word from the decade-long sitcom, but mostly because the song is rahlly good.

2. The East London Green Jobs Alliance has funding for the next year! Woop!

3. I downloaded Summer Camp’s debut album, Welcome to Condale. It is brilliant, is inspired by 80s bratpack films and teenage angst, and has a song on it called Brian Krakow. WHAT COULD BE BETTER?

4. I am back in the saddle again. This morning I cycled in London for the first time in well over a year. Cycling and walking around Brighton has been a bit of a luxury this past year, so today I decided to investigate the quieter cycle paths around my new house and I reckon that I can piece together a nice long, chilled pootle to my offices. Image from weheartit.

5. Massive win this week for the No Keystone XL Pipeline campaign over in the states! The proposed pipeline would have been a huge boon to the very environmentally destructive Canadian tar sands industry. It was basically a done deal, but 3 months of incredible campaigning has resulted in Obama delaying the decision – yay! You can read more about it here.

“Yes, the Spice Girls were created to cash in on “feminism” and “girl power,” at a time when those things were popular. Yes, the “Girl Power” slogan ripped off Riot Grrrl—although, actually, the Spice Girls ripped off girl groups like Salt-N-Pepa or TLC far more than they did Pacific Northwestern indie culture. But do you know what it looks like when someone “rips off” girls being empowered? Well… it sort of looks like… girls being empowered.”

6. Great great great post – In Defense of the Spice Girls. Now I don’t feel so bad about going to see them when I was 14!

7. I am feeling a bit depressed about the fact that it looks like I’m intolerant not only to dairy, caffeine and alcohol, but also wheat. It’s hard to be a good baker when you can’t use wheat or dairy! It would be SUPER if anyone could point me to any good recipes / websites / or cookbooks that are friendly to a positively MONKish dietary requirement, and that actually taste good. Thank you!

hanna ♥

Super… Wednesday

9 Nov

hello! bit late and I don’t know what this means for this coming sunday when I’ll have already used up half the week’s superness…hmmm…

1. This is my friend Debs at the student demo today. It looked amazing, I wish I could have gone! Especially as it was my sister’s first demo as well! She loved it! Read more about what went down here.

2. I read a new blog post over at the East London Green Jobs Alliance on how to get started on your own green jobs programme.

3. Got my results, I am officially a master (mistress?) of science! Under the belt.

4. I love these style pics from Rookie Mag, which were taken at Salvation Mountain in the California desert, a crazy adobe monument built by ONE GUY called Leonard Knight. If you watch Into the Wild (great film) there’s a whole bit in it where he takes Kristen Stewart and Emile Hirsch on a tour around it. I’d love to see it one day.

5. The love affair with Mac lipsticks continues. This time it’s called New Temptation. Saucy.

6. On the 19th November (my birthday! more to come on that later… mwahaha) I’m going on the Fawcett Society march to protest against the dreadful impact the cuts are having on women. It’s a 50s dress-up theme as well, which is amazing. So come along!!! Or if you can’t, how about hosting your own Fawcett tea party instead? Watch the video above for instructions how!

7. And finally, yes, women’s rights, student fees, participatory democracy, the global financial system, and the keystone xl pipeline are all very important issues that have great campaigns surrounding them at the minute. But by far the best campaign out there is the one to get the Muppets hosting the 2012 Oscars. YES PLEASE OSCAR PEOPLE!

hanna ♥