Thursday, March 5, 2009


One of my favorite men's fashion blogs is The Selvedge Yard, written by a fashion insider who worked for a number of companies including Ralph Lauren. He is a fan of classic American workwear and clothing, as am I. Lately, I have been following his and a few similar blogs, whose authors obsess over similar items and write occasional posts about items they want.

For the most part it's all in good fun, and for more than one of the authors something to keep them occupied during their search for employment, though sometimes things can get materialistic and you begin to wonder if these authors are losing focus on the things that really matter.

Until a week ago, when JP of The Selvedge Yard went on a humanitarian aid trip to Guatemala.

Photo via The Selvedge Yard of a masking tape cross in Guatemala

It would take too long to repeat his tale, but he is down there with a group helping to build homes for people living next to a large dump. The cinder block home is only 8 feet wide and would probably fit in our apartment's living room.

Photo via The Selvedge Yard of a dump in Guatemala where people scavenge for up to 14 hours a day

As of this writing he is still down there. You should read his posts, which give a glimpse on how a large number of Guatemalans (and many other people all over the world) live every day in conditions that those of us lucky enough to live in America are rarely exposed to.

Victoria Thorne wrote a reaction on her blog to JP's posts that express not only how I feel about these recent posts, but how I have felt for a few years about our consumerist society:

...I am currently scratching my head over what it is we, in America, often expect as a "birthright."

When do we start being thankful for the riches we've got and stop wanting more? Perhaps it's just human nature. But when is enough enough?...

Armilyn and I have both worked in jobs that involve advertising/marketing on some sort of level, though I confess to feeling more and more disillusioned with the "glamour" of those type of jobs as the years go by. I am not saying that those jobs are meaningless, as they and the goods they are promoting help support many honest, hardworking families.

I'm not anti-consumerist/capitalist nor anti-American, just anti-apathy. There's nothing wrong with a little escapism (which is one of the reasons I read those blogs). But when we have access to the internet and cable tv with thousands of channels and merely shrug and say "that's sad, but I can't do anything" when we see these stories, then something is wrong. I'm not trying to be self-righteous, as I am the first to admit that I have spent too many hours watching American Idol (though this season kinda is dull). But lately I have been more conscious of the choices I make when shopping and the trash I make and being less wasteful. Those are small steps compared to going to a Third World country to help build houses, but I'm trying.

We are in uncertain times but certainly we can all help each other a little more.

post by David


Melissa Spence said...

Great perspective articles. I totally agree. When we honeymooned in Fiji, to our surprise we were in a 3rd world country. And the workers at our resort lived a 100 yards away in their small, poor village. Life would be so different if we lived that way. But to see the smiling faces on those young village kids means they are happy with what they have...we Americans need to learn that.

victoria thorne said...

What a lovely blog you have, and what a lovely family! Thanks for the mention...I am glad that we are on the same page. It never ceases to amaze me, how much we have to be grateful for... And how much we can do, if we put our minds to it.