Photo courtesy: Brittany Thomasson
It’s been bitterly cold here, 11 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). Rolling blackouts of gas and electric service led the NM state governor to declare a state of emergency. Many of the pueblos are in dire straits. It has never been this cold here in recorded history. Which reminds me of a project I meant to tell you about; it’s called The Empowerment Plan and it was started by Veronika Scott.
I first heard of Veronika on Morning Edition. A junior studying at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, she’s designed a self heating waterproof coat for homeless people that converts to a sleeping bag at night. Although she’s garnered the support of apparel producers like Carhartt (they donated materials and machines to start) she’s poor herself and could use a hand if you’re inclined to help out.
She started the project from her room (cute picture) with -she says- a “vague idea of how to sew” (even with help from her mom); the first prototype took 20 hours (that’s not bad Veronika). Making coats to survive the elements is but one small facet of her plan. She’s also using the project as a training program to impart job skills.
Veronika did quite a bit of research and has some horrible stories about it. Apparently some people drive by shelters in Hummers and and Escalades hoping to incite human cock fights by strategically throwing dollar bills out of the windows. Since when did poverty, hopelessness and misery become cheap entertainment? Is there no sense of common decency? One out of every 47 people in Detroit is homeless. 25% of them are children. The majority are mentally ill having fallen through rents in what passes for a safety net. Oh I’ll get off my soapbox… my brother is ill and usually homeless. We rarely know where he is and it’s hard to help when we do. Paranoia and all; a tragedy many know well.
Veronika’s plan is to make the coat project available across the country. Stop by her Facebook page to keep abreast of developments. Hopefully you can lend a hand too -and counter the perception that designers only care about making fancy clothes for people who can afford to pay the big bucks…