From Stitching to Sudan

Modern quilting techniques are alot like global warming solutions.  Both consist of creating optimal solutions for a set of constraints.   In quilting, good techniques have these characteristics:

  1. minimal wasted thread and fabric
  2. less time to complete the task
  3. easy to master
  4. beauty and/or accuracy of the end product

I solved one of these problems myself last weekend, working on some star stitching.  After I spent an hour covering a small portion of fabric, tying off after every star,  I changed techniques.  The new technique took less thread, less time, and was easier than quilting each star separately. The resulting quilting was indistinguishable from the original. 

This was a simple example, but there are hundreds of quilting books and seminars and tools out there, helping quilters to optimize those four variables. There is, you might say, a quilting economy.
It isn’t that big of a leap from a quilting economy to a green economy.   But the benefits of a green economy are staggering:

  • reduce global warming
  • revive the American economy
  • create jobs that can’t be easily outsourced
  • reduce reliance on foreign oil
  • revive manufacturing in the steel belt

and those are just the examples from a February Business Week article!  Not the Sierra Club — Business Week!

And yes, you can credibly throw world peace into the mix.  A green economy could help prevent wars, at least the wars caused by scarcity of resources like food and oil.  If you remember, one of the key causes of the War in Darfur was drought in the northern regions, believed to be caused by global warming, which motivated a migration to address a food shortage.  One of the prime motivators for the war in Iraq was the concern that Sadaam Hussein could cause regional instability, which would in turn affect the oil supply to the United States (read a review of Rising Power, Shrinking Planet, for extra credit).

The quilting economy is based upon innovative techniques aimed at conserving the resources of thread, fabric, time and effort, while producing practical, beautiful things.  I hope to see, in my lifetime, a healthy green economy in the United States, so that we can all enjoy practical, beautiful things – a healthier domestic economy, and a more peaceful planet.  

And that’s you get from stitching to Sudan.

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2 Responses to From Stitching to Sudan

  1. Eliza Linley says:

    OOH, I like this! And then there’s the metaphor of how a successful resolution will be a piecing together of various ideas and techniques, carried out by a circle of workers all over the world. A quilt carries with it the idea of economy – making something new and beautiful out of old pieces of things that are
    left-over. Frugality being a virtue practiced by our grandmothers…I’m
    thinking that reducing our carbon use has a very feminine edge to
    it, at least as practiced from he ground up. Thank you for sending your thoughts, Susan!


  2. Steve Ellis says:

    All economic change is painful, I guess, when you get beyond the individual quilt. But to think that this could be so powerful for our economy, use our ingenuity, provide a lot of jobs that can’t be outsourced, and “save the world” in the bargain, felt first in the economies that are most vulnerable, but later by us all . . It gets inspiring just thinking about how achievable a green economy might be. Thanks, Susan.


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