devozine

For Youth Workers Post

WHAT TO WEAR

Darren Wright

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for August 17–23, 2015.

MAKING THE CONNECTION 

“If we are what we wear, what is more important—where our clothes come from or what we look like in the clothing? How would you feel if the $5 T-shirt you love so much was made by a child in a sweatshop? What if you knew what was involved in producing the running shoes you covet? What if you knew where the cotton used to make your jeans came from? A lot of issues are raised when discussing clothing and justice, whether the conversation is about ethical manufacturing, buying local, or buying cruelty-free products from environmentally ethical companies. What if we wore our clothes proudly because we knew where they were made and where the material was grown rather than because of the cool catchy slogan attached to the brand?

“A children’s song by Mary Lu Walker says,
       Put on love every day,
       never hide your love away.
       Don’t save love for a special day,
       but put on love every day,
       put on love every day.
       Put on love with your sneakers,
       put on love with your old blue jeans,
       put on love with your Sunday clothes,
       put on love every day,
       put on love every day.

“When we put on our sneakers, jumpers, socks, shirts, are we putting on love or are we putting on something very different?” —Darren

MEET THE WRITER 

darrenDarren Wright is a Uniting Church Youth Worker serving in the Riverina Presbytery in New South Wales, Australia, as the Presbytery Education & Discipleship Worker. Darren has previously worked in congregational ministry, high school chaplaincy, and local government as a youth worker. His interests include music (Radiohead, Ben Harper, The National, Of Monsters & Men, Ryan Adams, Laura Marling, All India Radio, Florence + The Machine), film (Avengers, MegaMind, Harry Potter, How to Train your Dragon, Scott Pilgrim, Big Hero 6), TV (Chuck, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Community, Agents of SHIELD), theology, pop-culture, working with young people in at-risk areas, and studying the juncture of church, theology, and pop culture. Read more about Darren on his blog.

PLAN OF ATTACK

Option A:

One of the options in this workshop is to invite a person or group of people from your faith community to teach group members how to make clothes. Perhaps a knitting group or local tailors would be interested in bringing in some material and equipment to knit or sew some clothes. Would the youth like help in learning how to keep their clothes longer by sewing and repairing them? This option would also be a great way to build connections between older and younger members of the congregation.

Option B:

The second option is to view a couple episodes of the reality/documentary “Dead Cheap Fashion” and to discuss some of the issues it raises. If you choose this option, prepare by watching the show and choosing the episodes you want to use. Make sure the show you choose has subtitles. As an alternative, invite the group to watch the John Oliver episode listed below; but be warned that, unfortunately, while his show is informative and asks some great questions of the fashion industry, it includes a lot of swearing that may be offensive.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

Option A:

  • Invite guests to attend.
  • material to sew or knit clothing (sewing machine, knitting needles, wool, cotton, clothing designs, knitting patterns)
  • conversation questions

Option B:

  • a TV, projector, or screen hooked up to your computer. (Note: If the show has subtitles, you may need a larger screen than usual.)
  • a good speaker set up for audio
  • Either download the episodes of the show you’re using or have Internet access available.
  • Prepare some discussion questions to ask.

PLUGGED IN

Here is a list of resources you might find useful in discussing where your clothing came from:

  • “Dead Cheap Fashion” is a great short reality series in which three young adults were sent to Cambodia to meet a number of people who are behind the creation of the clothes we wear and to work in a textile factory for a month.
    Link to article on the project
    Link to the video series, available in English and Spanish
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Fashion— Trendy cheap clothes are great for the people who buy them, but horrible for the people who make them. This video by John Oliver asks a number of important questions about the fashion industry and the manufacture of cheap clothing, but the video includes a lot of swearing. If you choose to use this, you may want to edit out the swearing or to decide which parts of the episode to watch and which to avoid.
  • Books that Explore Issues of Justice and Faith
    The first four are available from amazon.com:
    Deep Justice in a Shallow World: Helping Your Kids Serve Others and Right the Wrongs around Them, by Chap Clarke and Kara E. Powell
    Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, by Shane Claiborne
    Make Poverty Personal: Taking the Poor as Seriously as the Bible Does, by Ash Barker
    Take It Personally: How to Make Conscious Choices to Change the World, by Anita Roddick (includes a chapter on sweatshops)
    Stop the Traffik: People Should Not Be Bought and Sold, by Steve Chalke
    Another Way To Love, by Tim Costello and Rod Yule
  • Sumangali,” by Suzanne Kim, is a documentary that “tells the stories of women and girls who have been deceived, coerced, and trafficked into the cotton mills of Tamil Nadu, India.”
    Link — includes links to watch and download the film, a shorter version of the film, the trailer and a film screening event pack.

CHECKING IN

Before people arrive, make sure the space is warm and welcoming. Have snacks and drinks available. If you’ve invited guests to participate, make sure you have all the equipment at hand and that seating is available for everyone.

Option A:

If you’ve invited people to teach your group to sew or knit, introduce them to the group and give them the chance to start to teach your group. Allow for some time for the group to bond and to start creating something. If group members will be learning to sew, you may wish to invite people to bring in clothes that need repair rather than asking them to make something new.

Option B:

If you’re watching the documentary, introduce the series to the group, explain the idea behind the series, warn them of the subtitles, and screen one or two episodes from the series. Allow for conversation between the episodes.

Questions for conversation:
       What’s more important to you—what your clothing looks like or where it came from?
       Have you thought about making your own clothes?
       Have you thought about where your clothes came from or who made them?
       What do you know about the companies from whom you buy your clothing?
       Would you shop differently in order to change the world?
       Would you consider shopping at second-hand clothing stores or making your own clothing?

EXPLORING THE WORD 

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:7b

Read the scripture aloud:
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)

Quite often we read verses like 1 Samuel 16:7b and think they mean that what is in our heart matters more than our appearance. What we wear doesn’t matter, even if what we wear is unethical or causes harm to other people.
       How does what we wear show what is in our heart?
       What clothing can we wear that expresses what’s in our heart (without using slogans)?

SHARING IN PRAYER 

Invite group members to say a line of prayer for each item of clothing they are wearing. The prayer may be thanksgiving, confession, intercession, or blessing.

TAKING IT FURTHER 

  • Invite the group to spend some time watching one or more of the video resources in the “Plugged in” section.
  • Encourage group members to delve into the Fair Wear project and to participate in their activities.
  • Ask if the group is interested in having more lessons on making their own clothing.
  • Ask group members to choose some of their favorite pieces of clothing and to track down where they were made and by whom. They may want to do some research into the company and to start writing letters, asking the company to change their ethical standards or thanking them for taking seriously fair business practices.

—from devozine In the Habit (July/August 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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