Hosted by Fibershed Executive Director Rebecca Burgess, Weaving Voices tells the stories of our textile culture. We learn from communities that have enduring textile recipes that have lasted for multiple millennia, a complete contrast to the current and contemporary system dependent on fossil carbon and volume-based production models.

If you wear clothes, you’ll want to tune into these stories about how the dominant narrative, imagery and trends try to tell us what is “appropriate” and good to wear. And how most of the time, this leaves out the voices, lives and daily realities of the people, animals and landscapes that make our clothing possible.

Ep 1: The Economic Waters We Swim In

In the first episode, we speak with Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist and author. From the end of feudalism to the violent imposition of capitalism, they discuss the historic political, social and ecological threads that led to the economic model we now exist within. They also discuss why, under capitalism, the current reliance on growthism is unsustainable and what needs to be done to change course.

Listen to Ep. 1: “The Economic Waters We Swim In”

For additional reading, you can check out Jason’s book, “Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World“.

Duration: 41:42 | Full Transcript | Listen on Apple Podcasts & Spotify

Ep 2: Mulberry Trees, Silk Moths & Modern Sustainability Measurements

Silk is a natural protein fiber that some caterpillars produce to protect themselves inside a cocoon. In the Brazilian variety, a silk cocoon is made of one filament that is 1.2 kilometers, or about three-quarters of a mile! Eight cocoons are then reeled together to produce the most common raw silk yarn. The resulting textile is not only durable, but also insulating.

However, the fiber has been deemed unsustainable by a privately funded textile sustainability tool known as the Higg Material Sustainability Index, the most common tool used by the global fashion industry to make sustainability assessments. Why is this? In episode two, Rebecca Burgess speaks with agronomist Joao Berdu and analyst Veronica Kassatly about how silk production helps rural communities, empowers women and is light on the earth. They also unpack how big business tries to push it down, in favor of more polluting, yet cheaper fabrics, like plastic.

Listen to Ep. 2: Mulberry Trees, Silk Moths & Modern Sustainability Measurements

Duration: 33:23 | Full Transcript | Listen on Apple Podcasts & Spotify

Ep 3: Reflections from an Industrial Ecologist

From 1962 to 1992, global GDP tripled, increasing the environmental impact being created by the global economy. It was also during the 1960s that the modern environmental movement began, leading up to the 1992 U.N. Earth Summit. In the 80s, environmental protection was a zero-sum game defined by conflict between environmentalists and environmental regulators, and business and industry. However, leading up to the Earth Summit, the narrative changed to a win-win paradigm that emphasized the possibility of profit maximization while maintaining environmental sustainability.

In Episode 3, Rebecca talks to industrial ecology professor Roland Geyer about the history of corporate social responsibility and sustainability programs, while exploring what else needs to happen to manifest change.

Listen to Ep. 2: Reflections from an Industrial Ecologist

Duration: 43:42 | Full Transcript | Listen on Apple Podcasts & Spotify

Check out Roland Geyer’s book, “The Business of Less: The Role of Companies and Households on a Planet in Peril“.

Ep 4: Andean Pastoralist Livelihood Initiative

The Andean pastoral community has formed a social contract with camelids native to the region. In recent years, however, their livelihood has been threatened by climate change. In Peru, 120,000 families are dependent on alpaca herding and 1 million families across the Andes are dependent on grasslands. Eighty percent of them live in extreme poverty.

In Episode 4, Rebecca speaks with restoration ecologist Mauricio Núñez of the Andean Pastoral Livelihood Initiative about addressing the economic issues faced by herder communities in Peru and revitalizing their cultural values.

Listen to Ep. 4: Andean Pastoralist Livelihood Initiative

Duration: 33:51 | Full Transcript | Listen on Apple Podcasts & Spotify

Ep 5: A Life Woven Together Between Shepherd and Sheep

The Diné people of the Navajo Nation have a deep relationship with the breed of sheep called Navajo-Churro—knowledge and practices of caring for the sheep have been passed down for generations.

In Weaving Voices Episode 5, three Diné guests join Rebecca to share stories from their work as shepherds and weavers who’ve committed their lives to the sheep they raise. Hear from Nikyle Begay, the co-founder and director of Rainbow Fiber Co-Op; weaver and spinner Zefren Anderson; and Jay Begay Jr., who raises Navajo-Churro sheep and Angora goats on his family’s ancestral land.

Listen to Ep. 5: A Life Woven Together Between Shepherd and Sheep

Duration: 44:15 | Full Transcript | Listen on Apple Podcasts & Spotify

Archived: Soil to Soil Podcast

Our Soil to Soil Podcast connects the dots in the lifecycle of clothing and material culture. Each episode offers a look at how and why our community is working to cultivate fiber and dye systems that build soil and protect the health of our biosphere. Tune in to seasons 1 and 2 to hear from a Climate Beneficial™ verified sheep rancher, experts in soil carbon science and modeling, artists who are shaping slow fashion, and more.

Listen to our Soil to Soil Podcast >>