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december 2012 newsletter
 

Hempy Holidays

     
 

vital ones,

A big THANK YOU for helping us celebrate our ninth! year in business, and the successful conclusion of our first year in the vital hemp store (open 7 days!).  We’ve enjoyed making hemp apparel for you and your loved ones, meeting you in the shop, at festivals, or at one of the events we hosted this year. Whether you’re an old customer or a new fan of vital hemp, we deeply appreciate your patronage, because by giving our hemp clothing a try, you sustain our evolving work in the world.  We love to hemp you out!

Having made it through the end of the Mayan calendar (whew!), we’re now looking forward to both the New Year and the cosmic shifts to come.  In our little hamlet of hemp, we’ll be introducing some new styles, including improved women’s hemp drawstring pants (now in the store in forest, aqua, navy and purple too), a hemp dress, hemp henleys, hemp jeans, and hemp button-downs for men and women.  
 

A few nights ago, I watched a YouTube video, arguing, “You are what you do” in the world--not what you think or feel, but what you do for others.  The message reminded me of my dad, Jack’s counsel. When I couldn’t decide what to do after college, Jack told me: 
“Stop thinking so much about what you want to do.  Think about what the world needs, and how you can best fulfill those needs.”

It was good advice that saved me from advertising and law (not his intention), led me to teaching at the university, and a decade later sent me wandering out of the gates of academia, wanting to do more for the world than lecture about the genius of Keaton and Truffaut….  

I’m sometimes sad that Jack did not witness my response to a dangerously warming planet: the journey from educator to hempjucator & hemperdasher.  At the same time, I know he understood I would follow both head and heart, loving the world with a long view that wants to preserve the best of it, while creating it anew for future generations.

I see merit in providing an authentic service for the world—whether through co-creating a great pair of hemp pants, a moving song, healing bodywork, nutritious food, an inspiring design, a resolution in- or out of court, a great haircut, a fecund garden…just about any activity that contributes to the improvement of life on the planet.  And I hope that each of you will consider well Jack’s words in the year to come.  How can you best fulfill the needs of our world?  

I know newsletters are supposed to be short and sweet, but if you want another perspective, read on.  

At the same time, the video, with its harsh message of utility, overlooked a pretty simple and beautiful truth: You are what you are, regardless of what you do.  And that can be a beautiful thing, a vital part of an infinitely unfolding universe.

A flower may seem little more than an ornamental feature of nature…sprouting, growing, blossoming, withering and dying.  But for the bees and other insects, it’s an oasis of pollen and nectar, a shelter from rain, a vital part of ecosystems that affect everyone, including us.  In the same way, a homeless man named Dreamcatcher, who used to help me on the Venice boardwalk, may have been an unemployed vagabond; but his smile and his roaring voice lit up my dreary days. 

Perhaps a more interesting way to see our lives is less in terms of what we do, and more in terms of what we value and choose to support with our actions.  For example, when we buy clothing, we typically support clothing companies and farmers--usually conventional cotton farmers.  But did you know that cotton cultivation accounts for 25% of the world’s pesticide use (and 50% in developing countries)?  These pesticides blow off into peoples’ lungs and into ground water, poisoning entire ecosystems and causing deformities and other health problems too horrible to list here.  The manufacturers of bamboo fabric claim it’s eco-friendly; but did you know the polymerization process emits harmful chemicals into rivers and streams with every production run?  That’s why companies such as Patagonia, who value the environment and care about what they’re supporting with their actions, won’t sell clothes made from bamboo.  There are other options.

For so many reasons, I urge you to support hemp.  Hemp grows without the need for pesticides.  Hemp restores agricultural soil, rather than depleting it.  Hemp’s dense biomass combats global warming, sequestering enormous amounts of carbon dioxide with every crop (and we can grow three crops a year!).  Hemp paper can replace paper made from trees.  Hemp bioplastics can replace those made from petroleum.  Hempcrete is lighter, stronger, and insulates better than concrete. And hemp clothes last longer and let your skin breath!  The list goes on and on. 

To those in the choir, thanks again for helping us build the market for better hemp products!  Laws changed in Colorado and Washington this year.  As attitudes change (and become more sane), our nation will again be able to grow industrial hemp here on this land, rather than importing finished goods—oil, seed, bio-plastics, fabric and clothing—at great cost--from Canada, China or Europe, lands whose leaders never considered criminalizing the cultivation of such an obviously useful plant.
I want to riff on Nike’s slogan.  Instead of “Just do it,” how about “Just do it better!”The problem with just doing it is that it often leads us back to what we know: just buying the same brand, making the same arguments, eating the same food, or stretching the same way.  If we really want to do it better, let’s try something new.  

More and more, I appreciate the value of curiosity, of opening up, moving around and trying the new.  Yogis and dancers know what I’m talking about, but so do skiers and mountain climbers and chess players.  You can be on the same mat, the same dancefloor, the same rock or the same board, and then, instead of the same move, you try something a little different, find a new edge or release or handhold or move.  And then the energy moves and you’re suddenly living a better life.  Or maybe you fall.  And then you can laugh and get up and just do it differently.

I learned this year that I need to balance “doing” with replenishing.  Even owning a good business can tax your health and deplete your soul.  For weeks, I drove around Los Angeles, managing the production of style after style. While it’s all worth it, I developed quite a pain in my neck.  The pain sapped my attention, preventing me from enjoying life.

Then nine days ago, I celebrated a birthday week and surfed, hiked, went to yoga, got some bodywork and danced, drank lots of water and slept-in once or twice.  Lo and behold, the pain dissipated, joy and smiles flowed as if from a younger man.  Balance good business with filling your own cup, and love, health and happiness overflow. 

It’s like Confucious said: “Let success, family and friends each be represented by the numeral zero.  Let health be represented by the numeral one.  Without the one, you have nothing.  With the one, each additional zero increaseth your happiness.” 

I believe the same is true with the health of the earth’s ecosystems.  With healthy ecosystems, economies and cultures flourish; without healthy ecosystems, all the subways of NY can be flooded in days, or earth can dry up, leaving farmers with dust and people hungry.  Let’s stop “just doing” and do it better.  When we clean and replenish the earth’s ecosystems, it will happily take us far into the future.

And if stuck, stagnating, or in pain, get back to what you love: the ocean, music, a friend, a good conversation, a museum or movie that fills your heart, an act of charity, a bike, a kite, a walk in nature with a child…. 

Let us all get back and move forward with the ways of being we love most—even, or especially perhaps, the ones we have not yet discovered for ourselves.  Then, full of life, let us share our gifts with others, and in so doing, better the world.

Be vital,
Ron Alcalay
hemperdasher

~satisfy your hemptations~
  vitalhemp.com
  store and wholesale: (310) 450.2260

 

 

Vital Hemp - Hemp Clothing in Santa Monica