Are you tired, worn out, running on fumes on this day, in this moment?
Feeling separated – or literally apart – from those you love?
Overwhelmed with emails, meetings, needs, abounding longings?
Me too.
Just minutes before I sat down to write this story, I had a moment with one of my beloved kiddos – an interaction full of misunderstanding, judgment, and anger. It was gut-wrenching and hard.

I needed some light and hope, so I lit this candle:  for me, you, and the kula.

Candle flickering, lighting me up, I began to write this story about an extraordinary community event last week, the screening of the film, The True Cost.  The filmmakers describe the film this way:  “Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye-opening journey into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.”

This film is intense, friends. I cry each time I watch the trailer and I teared up a handful of times at the screening last week. It makes me uncomfortable, heavy-hearted.  This film voices the reality that many of our sisters and brothers work in desperately inhumane conditions, separated from their own children, weary to the bone, and alone.

I do not share this same experience, but I can relate to pain.

This morning, I didn’t need to go looking for nchrting, brokenness, and unmet needs in the outside world.  They exist in my home, in my children, and in me.

What if this quandary of pain within our everyday, ordinary, lives is one possible starting point?

For example, I recently visited a discount clothing store, looking for a pair of shoes.

shoe aisle

As I looked through boxes of beautiful shoes, I found a gorgeous pair, turned one of the shoes over in my hands and discovered that it was made in a country known for unfair labor practices and inhumane factories.

At that moment, a scene from The True Cost trailer flickered through my mind.

I remembered an image of this man, a brother, surrounded by mountains of shoes.

true cost brother

This ignited a warrior of love moment in my heart.
As I held those beautiful shoes in my hands, my throat tightened, tears filled my eyes, and I whispered,
Not this time.

Fueled by love and a longing for my dollars to voice my deepening sense of passion and love, I walked out of the store.  I headed across the street to a five-generation family-owned and operated shop, and had a wonderful conversation with a sales clerk, who directed me to lines of shoes sourced from companies with a commitment to paying their workers a living wage.

Ahhhh … much better.
I see you, my brother.
Your story changed this one choice, changed me.
If this small decision impacts only me, that’s plenty.

Yes, our stories can deeply beckon and transform one another.
In small choices like purchasing a single item or “big” life matters.

The film features Shima, a 23-year-old courageous, intelligent, innovative sister in Bangladesh.  A powerful force for change, she empowers and unifies the women in her factory to fight for increased living wages and more humane working conditions.

During a series of interviews, she wholeheartedly shares her story.  There are times in which her eyes sparkle, others when they tear up; sometimes her voice trembles with emotion, and moments later, it is emboldened by her dreams.  She harbors both purpose and a longing for her daughter’s future to be different from her own. It’s a hope she expresses from afar since her city job prevents her from living at home with her family.

Her life is not easy.
There are no simple answers.
But she’s giving this life all she can, inspiring our kula with each courageous step.

Shima, my sister.  I see you and your little girl.  May I – may we – be changed by your joy, your pain, your voice.


{An essential pause. Take note and take this in, friends.}  This is not about shaming or guilting or piling on one more burden on your shoulders.  Listen, dear ones, this isn’t about judging or affirming you for where you shop or talking about heady and important matters of fair trade, organic, and needed systemic change.  It’s about sitting together, wholeheartedly open to learning how to infuse more meaning, purpose and intention in our lives and to connect with and love those around us.  Who knows where it will lead us in our individual choices and collective journeys?

At the film event, we had the gift and opportunity to do just that.  The remarkable Lisa Sharpe of Stylish Sparrow led the event, which took place at Culture Garden Market in Denver, Colorado.  As we watched, there were moments when many of us were filled with sorrow, challenged by the complexity of the world, but during the dialogue following the film, the audience voiced fervent hope and commitment.

I wrote this down in my journal at the event:

I want to be changed by their stories – whether it’s about what I wear, where I shop, how I spend money, what I think about, or what I do with my time and energy each day. Although I may never meet them, these are my sisters and brothers.

Indeed, I do not have the answer for these massive systemic collapses in economy, ecology, and community that have come together to create such devastation.  There is much I do not know.

But, after taking a few breaths and fueled by love, I will begin.

I will slow down and listen.
I will consider the hands that made the clothes I wear,
the eyes focused on each stitch.
I will sit with this remarkable kula, being ignited by love for our sisters and brothers around the world.

No, it’s not easy.
Our lives are full of our own brokenness, right?
Our own sense of not enough.

But, loves – let’s DO THIS … together.
Let’s explore, question, share stories, take little or big steps.

Together, may we discern what is our brave and wholehearted response to our own pain and that of our sisters and brothers around the world.  I have a hunch that a real sense of flourishing will emerge as we weave our stories into one another’s.

And, dear ones, take a moment.

Here.  Now.
Pause. Breathe.
Consider the words in this poem.
Let them take root.
Be surprised by what comes forth.

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue. -Martha Postlewaite

Friends, let’s keep listening to what nudges us to our part in this journey of life – together, as a kula.  Let’s raise our voices in an exuberant YES to our unique things to be and do.

I wholeheartedly believe that as we more deeply reach out for and connect with our sisters and brothers around the world, we all begin to come alive in ways that we cannot yet imagine.

Resources {Learn and ACT, fueled by love}

  • Watch the film. It’s free to stream on Netflix. Why not have a few friends or your neighbors over and make a night of it? After the film, debrief it using this discussion guide.
  • Share and tag us at #TrueCostSeeds with glimpses of moments of struggle, connection, and action that this story has inspired. This kula is growing, friends – let’s courageously accompany each other in the moments of celebration and struggle alike.
  • Join Stylish Sparrow’s event and blog email list and Facebook following. For those who live in Colorado, hire Lisa Sharpe to come to your home, go through your closet and empower you to express your rockin’ self with compassionately sourced beautyFULL clothing.
  • Pause and listen to this beautiful and poignant songI Want It All, by Natalie Taylor? It’s featured in The True Cost film.

Here is a peek at the lyrics:
I’ve kept my grip so tight
I won’t let anyone get in my way
I want beautiful things.
Golden rings.
I get what I want.
I live just to get what I want.
I want it all.
And I’ll use you to get it.
‘Cause I want it all.

    • Take the pledge. Join this free campaign to Help Reduce The True Cost of Fast Fashion: Become a Responsible Clothing Consumer.
    • Read and learn about Fast Fashion:
      • Human Rights
      • Environmental Impact
      • Buying Better | 5 tips for shopping smarter and list of “brands we love”
      • Review of the film, with a valuable synopsis, quotes and statistics
      • Stitched Up, by Tansy Hoskins. This book delves into the alluring world of fashion, exploring consumerism, class, and garment factories to reveal the real beneficiaries of exploitation. Consider questions like: Why does size zero exist? Is fashion racist? Why do we consume so much? Can you shock an industry that loves to shock? Is “green fashion” an alternative? What would a real fashion revolution look like?
    • Watch this clip from the film about “Black Friday.”  What might we do differently this year?

Quotes to educate, enCOURAGE, and ignite.

“I felt naive for not realizing why exactly clothing like Old Navy, etc. are so cheap. Of course it is because they aren’t paying workers well. And I’ve started researching places where I can buy fair trade. Also, organic cotton – never gave it much thought but now I’m realizing it is important. This is going to change where we buy clothes for sure. Wow. Eye opening.” -Jen | Seeds of Exchange kula

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter … We must rapidly begin—we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. -Martin Luther King Jr.

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”  -Martin Luther King Jr. | civil rights activist

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust | philosopher and writer

I believe that these clothes are produced by our blood. -Bangladeshi mother | from The True Cost

“The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it.” -Arundhati Roy | humanitarian and author

“Stop treating people like profit, stop treating land as a commodity, and start talking about creative work instead of labor. Remember that everything we wear was touched by human hands.” -Richard Wolfe | economist

I do not want you to feel guilty. I want you to feel angry, I want you to feel moved … I hope people open their eyes and hearts to the simple truth that there are people behind the clothes they wear. –Andrew Morgan | director, The True Cost

“Become an active citizen through your wardrobe … Human beings working at the bottom of any supply chain – whether is strawberry picking, prawn fishing, cotton farming, garment workers – are often treated like slaves, without reference to our common humanity.” –Livia Firth | executive producer, The True Cost

“I was surprised by:  1. The Bangladeshi’s complicity with the lack of humane standards / government regulations for their citizens who work in factories. 2. What feels like the pervasiveness within the fashion industry of either turning a blind eye or being satisfied with what the factories tell them about working conditions for their workers.  3. The impact of non-organic farming on the community in Texas that was highlighted in the film. I definitely buy as much organic food as possible, but I have only just begun thinking about buying organic clothing / bedding.

I learned that it’s one thing to read a news article about deplorable conditions that leads to so many deaths and suffering of innocent people; it’s quite another to see the tears and listen to the anguish, sorrow and hopelessness of someone crying out for change and justice when the world is turning a blind eye to what is happening to them.

I feel nudged to:  1. Continue to search out ways to increase our consumption of fair trade, organic foods and products as inexpensively as possible.  2. Buy second-hand clothing more often.  3. Seek out where I can buy fair trade, organic clothing in the UK.  4. Possibly host an evening for friends over here to see the documentary.” -Jeannine | Seeds of Exchange kula