September 2018 - Vital Hempnewsletter
Lots to share, so here goes!
During Dance Tribe last week, I received a very powerful message about one of my reasons for being here: to praise.
It’s probably the reason I spent a decade teaching literature and film history—to introduce others to these cultural gifts, and to better understand their meanings, their contexts, and how they give us pleasure.
The path to promote (and design and manufacture) hemp clothing also sprang from this same source. I wanted to share the beautiful, useful products that this supremely versatile crop could produce.
This same impulse has led me to partner with aligned companies and organizations over the years, companies that produce the same products I buy for myself and my family, because they are so carefully and consciously made, and represent the best in their class.
These companies understand that if they’re going to put the care and attention into making organic or sustainable products, then it only makes sense to put the same care into choosing what t-shirts, hoodies or totes they make for their team, their buyers, or customers who might want to promote their brand. They understand that cheap stuff often gets donated quickly and ends up in landfills, while quality goods become favorites and fulfill their purpose in the world.
Most recently, we made some hoodies for New Chapter, a company whose turmeric-based Zyflammend capsules I’ve been using for more than a decade now, in addition to so many other of their wild-crafted, effective products that address everything from good breathing to good sleep. The Vermont team loved them so much, the company ordered a second batch a few weeks later for the Canada team. These kinds of collaborations help grow the hemp industry in ways I’ve been envisioning for the past fifteen years.
Beyond the seemingly low-hanging fruit of the natural products industry, I also want to focus on changing the merch. practices of the music industry, away from polluting cotton, poly and bamboo blends to hemp, a crop that cools the globe and probably better represents the values of artists than the high-margin crap the promo companies offer to fans.
Another recent collab: I met Stephen (pictured with me above) at a local cannabis party that he produced in Santa Monica; I gave him my hemp spiel. Within days, he called me, wanting to get together, wanting to learn more. Soon, he introduced me to one of his projects: SAWA (means “all good” in Kiswahili), an organization that employs women in Kenya (at three times the daily wage), and provides healthcare and education for their kids. The women up-cycle magazines to produce beautiful paper-bead wrapped headsets and USB charging cables. Stephen inquired about a hemp-based sealant, so I introduced him to Hemp Shield. Now the SAWA products are sealed in hemp—good for the workers & good for the planet. Everywhere I go, people ask me about them, so I share the SAWA story. We sell them in our store and will be taking them on the road wherever we go, including the Southern Hemp Expo and Bioneers (more on those events below).
Our most recent partnership is with a CBD company called RE: Botanicals. I’ve been sampling and regularly using CBD tinctures and capsules for more than two years now, comparing both the ingredients and the processes that produce them, as well as their effectiveness. We’ve carried a variety of brands that I stand by, because I used them every night. During a conversation with John Roulac (founder of Nutiva and one of the most vital hemp activists of our time), he mentioned to me that he was about to bring to market a truly organic line of CBD products (organic, sungrown full-spectrum hemp oil, processed with organic ethanol in an organic MCT-oil base). With all the “bandwagon brands” coming into the market at this time, it’s good to know that someone with the integrity of John is doing the research, sourcing the best, and raising the standards of the industry—all with the larger purpose of supporting “regenerative agriculture,” a set of practices that will contribute so much to cooling the globe, provided we support companies that employ these practices.
With so much at stake for the cannabis industry (and the world), we cannot lazily let big brands that grow conventionally with Monsanto-supplied pesticides overtake the industry just because they have big farms and big marketing budgets to greenwash their story. Just because it’s hemp doesn’t mean it wasn’t grown with pesticides, or processed with industrial chemicals. I’m happy that companies such as RE: Botanicals are showing the industry a better way forward. Now it’s up to us to support them and companies that follow their lead. Our bodies and the ecosystems that support life will thank us for the better choices we make.
We’re taking Vital Hemp to other lands in the next few weeks. Find us in Nashville, Tennessee this weekend for the Southern Hemp Expo (SHE). Morris and Elizzy, who produce this show also produce the Northern Colorado Hemp Expo (NOCO), and have done a lot to create both a loving community and markets that support us. We were happy to create shirts for NOCO and bandanas for SHE. So if you’re in the South and not too drenched, come to SHE for informative speakers, booths representing the best companies in the hemp industry, a welcoming gathering of vital leaders and participants that will raise your spirits (and not just from hemp tinctures, coffee, clothing, bioplastics and building materials)! I’ll be speaking about domestic manufacturing, cooling the globe with hemp and other adventures at SHE, so if inspired, come check out my short talk too.
Meanwhile, back in California, we’re excited to be once again attending the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. Now in its twenty-fifth year, this conference brings together the most active leaders in the environmental and social justice movements, with talks, panels, and workshops that emphasize not only the problems we face, but the solutions that are happening right now to address them. More than a feel-good conference (though it does leave one feeling inspired and dare I say it, hopeful), the conference also charts the ways so many of our challenges are inter-related. The list of speakers and the quality of presentations is unmatched, and we are so happy to be a part of the Change Makers Fair again this year.
That’s all for now. Sitting in this small park in Santa Monica, watching the old folks play bacci ball, as the turtles laze on rocks in a beautiful man-made pond where a duck quacks and ruffles its wings, it’s easy to be grateful, to praise and have hope that the babies in strollers will inherit a beautiful world. But an ambulance racing by also reminds me that this life that we love so well is also in critical condition, and needs our support. Beyond praise, how can we collaborate to further the evolution of a healthy world for all life on Earth? This is not an idle question. I welcome your reply.
As ever, thanks for being vital,Ron Alcalay