Where should we shop? From Factory Store Rack to Social Conscience A place-based approach to the teaching of writing. Dr. June Johnson-Bube & Tara Der-Yeghiayan Seattle University. Goals for Core Freshman Seminars.
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Dr. June Johnson-Bube
& Tara Der-Yeghiayan
A. To welcome students into the academic community and intellectual life of Seattle University
B. To connect students to Seattle and the surrounding region
C. To extend the learning of the course outside the classroom through co-curricular activities that are integrated into the academic content of the course
D. To foster a spirit of community and build rapport among the students and the faculty
E. To provide a rigorous and memorable learning experience
This course will equip students to
This course will equip students to
Co-curricular group fieldtrip (see handout)
Writing Project (see handout)
Informal, incremental writing assignments and class activities
About Greener Lifestyles in Ballard
Informal Writing Assignments
A whiff of old carpets and furniture splashes my face as I enter the two door entrance. The faint aroma of a new pair of shoes intertwined with the dusty tang of a thirty year old attic fills my lungs. This place is a dream, a bargain beyond riches, a place of treasures and memories. Vinyl upon vinyl: Berlioz, Mozart, Garland, and Sinatra each carry a varying amount of creamy dust on the surface. Knitted scarves revealing tedious finger work grace numerous plastic racks. Coffee-stained pages of vintage edition novels topple across bookshelves of disarray while opposite, chipped chinaware await gentle care. It is a village of values, recycled products awaiting a new owner and journey at inexpensive prices. Some people believe that purchasing these old and recyclable products at thrift stores, such as Value Village, is disgusting and impedes the global economy. I beg to differ.
It’s a normal Saturday afternoon down at the mall when suddenly I hear Justin Timberlake’s newest song playing loudly from a store that has bright lights coming from it with red sale signs everywhere and trendy clothes that I see the girls on MTV wearing. Immediately I walk towards the direction of the store. How could a teenage girl resist, right? Rummaging through racks and racks of cheap and stylish clothes that would go great with my new boots, I envision a girl my age, maybe even younger, sweating, in pain, struggling to reach her quota, sewing these clothes. My heart stops for a second while I recall what I just learned in class about sweatshop workers and free trade. I didn’t need another cute blouse to add to my already full closet. I put it back on the overly-stuffed rack and walked out of the store.
We, as consumers, can make a positive change in this world by shopping at fair trade stores at least once a month, instead of only free trade stores because they are more “convenient.” Just recently I visited a fair trade store called Bonnie River. There was only one worker present at the store and to my surprise she was the owner of the store. There were no huge marketing gimmicks, loud pop music playing in the store, or sales associates walking around trying to convince you to buy something. Instead, the store felt homely and comfortable. Mrs. Riley, the owner of the store was there if I had any questions, but she wasn’t there trying to sell her things. Before entering the store, I expected
it only to have “weird cultural things” that someone my age would care nothing about. However, there were many items that caught my eye. For example, she sold fair trade chocolate from Peru, beautiful hand-crafted jewelry, coffee, stuffed animals, cute hats, and uniquely designed blankets. The one thing that amazed me the most was when I was reading the tags on some of the clothing. These tags actually said who made the particular article of clothing and some of them were even signed by the workers themselves! I also came across handmade bags. On the shelf below the bags there was a photograph of the man who made these bags and he was holding his products with a big smile on his face. Just seeing this made me feel overwhelmed with joy. Knowing that these people are paid fair wages and work in decent conditions makes it worth paying a few extra bucks for a bar of chocolate or a cute bag for your mother’s birthday.
So, if you can’t afford Italian shoes or the mark-up for fair and organic goods, what is a Seattle University student to do? On Capitol Hill there are vintage clothing retailers like Red Light, Backstage Thrift and Value Village. They are inexpensive, trendy and some are even charitable. Value Village works predominantly with the Northwest Center for the Retarded and helped raise 100 million dollars last year through its various branches. Also, Backstage Thrift donates a proportion of its profits to the Northwest Actor’s Studio. Some may not consider this in the line of responsible consumption. However, the reuse of clothing delays the time before it goes into the dumpster and saves the resources of producing a new garment. Even though most of their clothes were made by sweatshops, not a penny of the revenue rewards the manufacturer for doing so. If anything, it damages income to the majority of present producers selling clothing made in unmonitored sweatshops abroad.
Not into vintage? Note even new fashion? The solution is the many ethnic retailers peppered across Seattle. Their wholesome products are timeless and inexpensive. Retailers such as the non-profit Ten Thousand Villages can offer you things from soap to armchairs and show you the guy who made them. They, in particular, manage production with the workers to reach an accommodation. The workers are paid a minimum salary and half of it is given before hand to discourage rushed work and promote a sustainable lifestyle for the workers. All of Ten Thousand Village’s prices are fairly low and there is even a array of items that are more discrete about their origins, for those who aren’t into the ethnic image.
The Fieldtrip- What worked?
The Writing Assignment- What worked?
What we’re working on