Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Upcoming Clothing Social in Braddock, PA

Give-and-Take will hold its second clothing social at Braddock’s UnSmoke Systems Artspace, October 8-9. If you're interested in thrifting, repurposing or donating clothing to the local community, please come and check us out. Over the weekend we will host:

• A clothing exchange
where everything costs $1. Clothing comes from you, the public. All sizes. All genders. All seasons.
A drop-off for your clothing donations. Looking to clear out your closet or make a contribution to your community? Your clothes make the exchange possible. So bring your clean, gently worn stuff to us. For a list of what we’re able to accept, please see our donation page.
A mending circle where we can help you fix or change clothes you bring from home or score at the exchange. We’ll have comfy couches, sewing machines, and most importantly, mentors to help you do your thing.

Thrift. Donate. Mend. Or just hang out. The idea is for you stop by and be part of the mix. As a special treat, we’ll have the outdoor pizza oven up and going on Saturday from 3-5pm.

Would you be interested in contributing your skills? We’d love the help. We need sewing mentors; brave souls to make sense of all the donations; and all around ground troops to help us run the show. We have lots of opportunities. In thanks, we hope you’ll find some clothes you like at the social and fill up a bag for free.

Hours: UnSmoke Systems Artspace, 1137 Braddock Avenue, Braddock
Oct 8 Saturday 1-6pm
Oct 9 Sunday 1-6pm

Please contact us if you have questions or want to volunteer. You can also email us directly at

A portion of the clothing social’s profits will be donated to support the The UnSmoke Gallery’s ongoing renovation and programming efforts.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Few Thoughts on the Maker Movement

A short article popped up at Shareable this weekend rephrasing some of the over-arching issues that explain how and why collaborative consumption, the maker movement, informal economies, etc. should be understood as something more than a trend, and instead, a quiet and steady r/evolution in how the world is and could be produced and shared. Thanks to a rise in a networked society, which is providing free or low-cost, instant access to open platform technical, fiscal and intellectual resources, we're now able to engage in personal- and community-based production in ways never experienced before. Specifically, the self-producers of the world, which were historically isolated from one another, are now producing at higher levels and collaborating in ways that are making real inroads on what society consumes. And whether intentionally or not, are prodding us to think about how we make our consumer decisions.

On one hand these collaborations are enabling self-sustaining mini economies to take hold or at a minimum, to be rigorously explored. (Think Smorgasbord). What's particularly interesting to me is that with these burgeoning, bottoms up options that are becoming available, issues like ethics, impact, and quality of life are giving price point a run for its money as decision-making criteria. On a more practical note, collaborative economies are reducing the need for middlemen, which helps keep prices and material use lower. And for consumers we're finding we don't have to be passive recipients of whatever the market dictates but have more value-aligning options and negotiating power around the stuff we want surrounding our lives.

The article offers the possibility that from this self-organizing and -producing approach, there could come more sustainable models of production and consumption. While applicable everywhere, there could be important implication for societies that lack the wherewithal to work with more traditional or institutionalized modes of production. I see this in my own neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh where folks like DIY'ers and small-scale farmers are able to pay their bills through collaborative enterprises while exposing the community to some alternative consumer options--ones that say, whether deliberately or not, here is a way to do less damage or this is a more delightful way to go about living a life. I'm hopeful reading this article, knowing that competent visionaries and public facing figures are taking a step back to consider and communicate the implications of this shifting state towards collaboration.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Antonelli on Critical Design

Here's an excellent article voicing the role of Critical Design. In a nutshell, critical design undermines the default notion of design as an affirmative, commercially-oriented practice that shies away from thorny ethical issues. The field and practice, formalised by RCA faculty and design practitioners, Dunne and Raby, follows in the footsteps of radical design and architecture from the late 1960s and 1970s, but also marries it with a viable, rent-paying career. Antonelli continues, "The Critical Design process does not immediately lead to useful objects, but rather to food for thought whose usefulness is revealed by its ability to help others prevent and direct future outcomes. The job of critical designers is to be thorns in the side of politicians and industrialists, as well as partners for scientists or consumer advocates, while stimulating discussion and debate about the social, cultural and ethical future implications of decisions about technology made today."

Read the article for a high level introduction to the topic and some of the compelling and provocative projects that are circulating around cultural issues such food sustenance, self-image, and body politics. "All these examples, even the most apparently nihilistic ones, are characterised by deep empathy, trust in a possible better future, and a belief in the demonstrative power of well-designed utopias."