(To download a PDF of the full 2023 Threading Resilience Zine, click here).
I’m in awe, each time I think about the origin story of the shirt I am wearing; the initial seed or blade of grass powered by solar energy — an abundant and reliable source indeed — nurtured by networks of microbial life and nutrient exchanges beneath the soil’s surface. The plant (think cotton), the ruman (think grazing animal eating the blade of grass, ie. sheep), unconsciously working to turn seemingly nothing into something. As these plants and animals grow, stalks and other plant parts are harvested, animals are shorn, and they continue on their lifecycles; but left in their wake is an abundance of fiber capable of transforming human society.
The intricate processes involved from taking that initial seed or blade of grass and turning it into long-lasting clothing — each individual step itself worthy of a moment to pause and appreciate— is beautiful and awe inducing. Plant stalks are peeled, fermented, softened; cotton bolls are harvested; wool is shorn, cleaned, carded — all to be twisted into yarns and woven into fabrics. This depiction itself is far too simplistic to outline the complex processes involved. It’s full of craft, skill, wisdom, and is a work of art to create the basis of our textile systems.
We are all a part of this textile system — whether we grow, create, or wear. Clothing is and always will be one of humanity’s basic needs; a protection from the environment, a cultural identity, a place of comfort and home, freedom of expression, a societal indicator, our second skin. And although our recent track record shows a lack of consideration and protection of our basic needs — water, food, medicine, material systems — they are the foundation to our livelihoods, and all interconnected through ecological systems and human stewardship. There are communities around the world, continuing ancestral ways of caring for the land and these stated systems.
There are communities around the world revitalizing land-based textile economies that restore the soil and cultural practices. This collective action is necessary and inspiring.
Fibershed has the honor of supporting some of these communities through our Fibershed Affiliate Network. In this network, there are 65+ fibersheds working in their specific bioregions to connect the pieces of intricate land-based textile systems — working with the fiber farmer, shearer, spinner, weaver, designer (and many more people) to produce clothing and other textiles rich with life and stories of the land and communities. Some of these stories are told in this year’s Threading Resilience Zine, while some are quietly moving along with a strength that is ready to transform a system. I encourage you to follow along on the journeys of these grassroot organizers who dream and act out of necessity, out of creativity, and out of pure will to believe that the world can be different.
The answer to many of humanity’s current challenges is not in new technological innovations, it is and has always been here. You just must be willing to look at what is already happening, rumbling beneath the surface — literally and metaphorically. I hope you join this movement of climate activists who believe that collectively we can live abundantly and in balance with the natural world while generating a LIVING material culture.
Affiliate Network Coordinator
Past Threading Resilience Zines: