Friday, December 30, 2016

Daily Action: Community Bond Funds

Friends, in November I was made aware of a great Chicago organization: Chicago Community Bond Fund. On their website, they outline the unjustness of bonds, specifically as it relates to Cook County Jail:

While there are signs that bail and bond policies around the country are beginning to change (as shown in Washington, DC in the John Oliver segment above), there is still much to be done at this moment to help individuals who are cannot afford their bond today.

If you're interested in donating to a bond fund charity, please see the list below from Bail Bond Network. They've also created a great infographic that outlines exactly how your donation will be put to use.

Massachusetts Bail Fund2161 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund195 Montague Street, 14th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Just City MemphisMemphis, TN
Phone: (901)206-2226

 Northwest Community Bail Fund1245 10th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98102
Phone: (206)323-0300

Chicago Community Bond FundPO Box 479015
Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: 1-844-363-2663

 The Bronx Freedom Fund360 East 161st Street
Bronx, NY 10451

Connecticut Bail FundNew Haven, CT
Phone: (203)340-1116

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Daily Action: Countable/Speaking Out Against Mandatory Sentences

Friends, I love the app Countable. Today, I'm going to show you how you can use the app to make your voice heard to your representatives, especially in regards to a bill requiring mandatory sentences that is making it's way through Congress right now. (You can also use the desktop version as well for the following steps.)

 When you first download the app, after inserting your preferences for what topics/bills you would like to see come up in your feed, you'll have access to scroll through bills that are currently pending in Congress. 

The bill we are going to be focusing on today is Senate Bill 1762, which is attempting to make into law a five year mandatory prison sentence for anyone who re-enters the U.S. illegally.

Once you select the bill, it will open to a page where you can view all the details, as well as a summary of bill listed on the top of the page.

As you scroll down, you'll see arguments for Yea, Nay, and further details.

In the details section, you can see who is the sponsor of this bill, what the bill number is. and a cost breakdown of the legislation.

You'll also be able to read on the impact of the bill, as well as a further description of the bill.

For Senate Bill 1762, the description offers us a chance to see what the mandatory sentences would entail.

A explanation for why the bill came to be is often included:

There are also further links to news stories regarding the bill, and it's official title.

Finally, you can see where the bill is at in Congress. 

After reading all the details, if you'd like to express your opinion, you can select the Yea or Nay options at the top of the screen. I selected Nay, and the next screen prompted me to add my opinion. This part is optional, as your response will be sent to your representatives with or without your adding an opinion. You can also send a video message if you prefer.

Not sure who your reps are? Once you've logged into the app, you'll need to input some of your personal details (like your address if you live in an area with lots of districts), or just a general area. Your representatives will then appear under the Account tab.

If I click on Dick Durbin, the below screen pops up with his photo, phone number, as well as his Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and official website. It also shows me exactly how he's voted on any previous issues, and where those bills are currently at in the process.

If you're curious to see if I ever actually hear back from my reps regarding issues, I do, and on a regular basis, too! Below is an email that Sen. Durbin sent to me after I expressed displeasure in the nominee for Secretary of Education:

 Friends, I highly encourage you to download this app, or just use the desktop version if you prefer. Either way, if you are as horrified as I am regarding the policy of mandatory sentencing, I ask that you please contact your representatives to express your displeasure in this bill, and encourage them to vote against it when the time comes. If you're curious as to the damage that mandatory sentences do to communities and the US as a whole, I recommend checking out the documentary 13TH, directed by Ava DuVernay. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Currently Watching: Ava DuVernay's 13TH

The 13th constitutional amendment was ratified in 1865 and stated: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

I would venture to say that this film is essential viewing for every person living in the United States of America, especially those of us who are white (we have A LOT to learn in order to be effective allies in our communities). Currently, you can only watch it on Netflix, though several clips can be found on YouTube. 

The next several posts will focus on issues raised by this documentary: mandatory sentencing, ALEC, and what companies are still profiting from prison labor, as well as actions we can take to push back against mass incarceration, discriminatory policies, and racial injustice in our communities.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Daily Action: Sign Up For Bystander Intervention Training

Friends, if you're interested in bystander intervention training, I've just signed up through Hollaback! They are hosting online webinars that directly address how to avoid being a passive bystander when you are witnessing harassment. I've included a graphic from the training page below, and here is the link if you would like to sign up for a webinar ($5 minimum donation requested):

Street Harassment: A Bystander's Guide Infographic

Monday, December 26, 2016

Daily Action: Using for Good

Friends, I confess: I became an Amazon Prime member last year, and I use it constantly. It's especially great when I run out of crafting materials, and I would like something to be sent to me as soon as possible. I'll admit, I'm not a patient person, but I want to make sure that some of the money I am spending is going to a good cause. 

When I log onto Amazon, I make sure that I am using the website Amazon Smile takes part of your purchase (on Amazon Smile eligible items) and donates it to an organization of your choice. Currently, my donations go to Planned Parenthood of Illinois, and Amazon has a list of hundreds of charities and organizations that you can select from. If you're interested in making donations through Amazon, I recommend reading through all the information here: how to use Amazon Smile

Amazon has also recently launched an effort with Goodwill that makes use of your empty Amazon shipping boxes. Currently, I have three sitting in my sewing area. This new program asks that once you empty your boxes of the shipped merchandise, you fill it with items from your home that you no longer want/need, print off a free shipping label, and USPS or UPS will take it to the nearest Goodwill facility. My first box contains some sewing and crafting supplies that are no longer needed: extra crochet hooks (I have 12 extra hooks, in all various sizes) and patterns that I thought I liked at the time, but upon further reflection, nope. It also includes that glass juicing dish that I bought two years ago and has moved with me twice but I've never used. If you're looking to clean out some space in your life before the new year begins, here are details on how to get the free shipping label: Give Your Amazon Box New Life.

Finally, my relatives gave both my partner and I Amazon gift cards for Christmas. After assessing what we could possibly buy on Amazon, both of us realized we really didn't want anything at all. I feel pretty satisfied, as does he, with the amount of possessions in our home. Our cabinets have food, we have all the socks we need, and I'd just restocked all the cleaning supplies before the Holidaze party. We decided we would rather spend those gift cards on local organizations who have Wish Lists set up on the site. An easy way to find a local organization's wish list is to either check their main website, or look them up by name in the wish list directory. You can also type in your city, and search that way. We are hoping to donate to Habitat for Humanity - Chicago, Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children's, and Chicago Books to Women in Prison. On their pages, I selected the link "Ask Your Friend to Update This List.". Some of the items were added a few years ago, and this is a good way to let the organization know that I want to help by donating exactly what they currently need. 

Friends, I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any further suggestions for how to use Amazon for good, I'm all ears! Let me know in the comments :)

Much love to all of you, and I wish you all Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 23, 2016

Crafting for Good: Holidaze Party (Act III)

Friends, my favorite time of year is the holidays, when I host my now annual Holidaze party. It gives me such tremendous joy to have people I love dearly filling my home with laughter. I get so excited about this party that I usually send out the invites for this December event in July/August. This year, in the invite, I asked friends to answer a poll about what size shoe they typically wear. For this party, I like to have a handmade gift to give each person when they arrive, and this year, I wanted it to be slippers. My original intention was to knit all the pairs of slippers, one for each person who answered the poll and RSVP'd, but I ended up being sick for about a month, so the plan changed. I ended up having a mixture of sewn and knit slippers, one for each person, 51 in total.

The plan also changed a bit after the 2016 election. In the past two years, I've given away the Holidaze gifts to partygoers without asking for anything in return (except hugs. I love hugs). This year, I asked my fabulous friends to please donate to a local LGBTQ center in the city and show me proof of their donation in order to receive a pair of slippers. They did not let me down: we ended up raising $565 for the center!


Slippers in action!

One of the most exciting things about the party (besides raising lots of money for a great cause and knowing my friends would have warm feet this winter) was seeing the fabulous Vicki again! Here she is in all her chicken dress glory, with Liz, Michelle, and I. Sewing people are some of the best people I know :) 

I didn't get many photos at the party (because hostessing), but I wanted to share some photos of this amazing vintage dress I've had in my possession for years and finally decided to wear. It spins beautifully.

I love all the colorful stripes!

 Once the party had ended and all the guests had gone home, I was left with quite a few pairs of slippers. Not everyone came, and I had overmade in case some slippers fit better than others or more people showed up than I planned, so I managed to fill an entire bag with the leftovers.

I took the leftovers to a local community charity, which delivers food, clothing, and counseling services to my local area. These slippers will be part of their free clothing closet. I'm so excited to think of a child wearing these Feet Eater slippers :) 

Friends, have you ever raised money for charities with things you've made? Let me know in the comments - I would love to hear what you did!



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Prepping for 2017

Friends, 2016 was one of the most difficult years I've ever experienced. There were some incredibly crushing defeats, heartbreaks, and moments of complete despair. There were days when I thought about blogging about crafting, but knew I couldn't do it without mentioning other things that are happening in our world and my personal life, and so I didn't say anything at all. 

To put it mildly, the 2016 election completely changed my worldview (and many of my relationships). I'm no longer content to sit in silence, and instead, find myself doing anything and everything I can to make positive changes in the world around me. This is my true passion now. Those who are friends with me on Facebook may have noticed a lack of posts about sewing or knitting, and I am sorry for that. This space will also be changing. While I will still talk about crafting, it will mostly be in relation to activism. The majority of my posts will be in regards to the actions I am taking on a daily basis to endorse positive change in my communities, and if you'd like to join in and take action with me, or suggest actions that you think I could take, that would be greatly appreciated.

I've always valued and loved the sewing and knitting communities I've found here on the interwebs. If you decide that these further posts aren't your cup of tea, I want you to know that I appreciate you and your opinions and want the best for you in the future. 

Thank you for reading, and be excellent to each other.