Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Racing for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Foundation sponsored 5k race in Couer D'Alene gave me ample opportunity this weekend to run off some work stress and get meepy reading all of the "In Memory" signs aback the racers. I took on a near 70-year old toward the finish line and, ego fully exposed, darted passed her for a 25:08 minute finish (15th out of 133 in my age group!). I know, shameless.

I recommend the event to everyone -- it was quite powerful to be surrounded by so much "survivor" energy! You can read more about the foundation here: http://www.komen.org/

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Considering Corporate Responsibility

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Kelly Leary, a Director of Sourcing, who is responsible for corporate responsibility/compliance in our overseas manufacturing. He is a lovely man -- used to work in logistics, then owned an Irish brew pub, and returned not more than a year ago to bring CWC into regulatory and social compliance with its operations abroad. The job is a tricky one, as I am learning.

As I understand, the merchandising teams travel to Europe to find the next-best trend and then sends it to our design studio in New York. There, they come up with a CWC version and work with in-country fabric sourcers to determine what materials are needed and what is available. In the past, they then farmed it out to middle-men buyers who would commit to getting the garment made (completely unregulated as to where and how they do so). The product would arrive in bulk miraculously in some warehouse in Jersey and then be shipped to our stores to our customers' delight.

Today, however, the process is changing. Our Sourcing department is not only trying to replace the middle-men and go in-country themselves to do business with the factories -- they are also requiring transparency on the part of those buyers who remain to disclose where the products are being made, including what factories are used. This then allows CWC to actually see the methods of production, to tour the factory floors and determine whether or not they meet certain health and safety standards. It seems like such an obvious part of doing business, yet this view into the "buyer's sourcing" has not previously been scrutinized.

We talked for over an hour about cultural relativity, "First World" arrogance, and the need to be conscientiously cautious when building relationships with the factories overseas. It occurred to me that so many of my own perceived horrors about "Latin American sweatshops" are very tied in with my own ignorance about blue collar factory work and my own myopic denials of class privilege. I appreciated our discussion about our culture's obsession with material consumption driving the changing landscape of global manufacturing. I also was struck when Kelly reminded me that was not so long ago that his grandfather was working in unregulated coal mines in Montana right here in the USA, underpaid and underprotected.

At the end of the conversation, he directed me to the Business for Social Responsibility website and told me that I might find some interesting reading material there -- so I pass this on here: http://www.bsr.org/CSRResources/FeaturedResources.cfm#50904

Just a few more things to consider on yet another day at the job.

Evening Considerations

It is one of those thoughful evenings here in Sandpoint. Shannon is working in Seattle, I have been to the local pub with my co-workers for a beer, and now I am settling in at home. Last night was a movie night -- cried myself through Life is a House with Kevin Klein and then made Shannon swear she would never die of cancer...I know, futile attempts to avoid life's pains through our grasping at impossible measures of control...

I went to the gym this evening and looked at the "balance board" that I see every day and I heard a voice inside me say, "You can't do that." So, of course, my next move is to prove myself wrong -- alas, within seconds, I was thrown up into the air and down onto the ground, flat. And though no one saw me, I was embarassed and in pain, lying on the ground next to this seemingly harmless piece of wood and plastic. You just never know what is gonna get ya, do you?

The other night, Shannon and I had a lovely dinner at our friend Rafe's house and I found it fascinating that we rode the journey of conversation through French hip hop music, to kismet relationships, to Big Bud tractors -- here are some visuals for the novice city slicker: http://www.meissners.com/pages/bigbud.html I can't quite tell you what it is like to be taken into hysterics by a man telling 900 horsepower tractor stories. I must be transforming beyond my own imagination living this Idahoian exisitence.

Dad was visiting this week, and Shannon and I got to take him to see March of the Penguins at the local art film house. Now, if that does not leave you with some questions of purpose and existential musing -- come on -- can I really say that there is no god when these penguins have marched for centuries again and again in order to fulfill their innate sense of duty and obligation to progeny and dare we say "love?" Can it really be true that the baby penguin -- freshly hatched -- can find its one in five hundred dad by the unique sound of his vocal calls? The story of these animals is unbelieveable. A testimony to perseverance, teamwork, commitment and faith. It was a lovely post-engagement film to see with Shannon by my side.

Now, I settle in for the continuing saga of Mormon Fundamentalist murder mayhem and a hefty dose of kitty love from Peep and Sam. These are the simple pleasures of life in the country.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Proposal!

I have had many considerations of late on the aftermath of Katrina, portraits of the displaced, our national racism, dear president Bush...

But to my surprise, a wonderful and transformative event took place on our trip to Banff and Lake Louise this past weekend...Shannon proposed to me! The glee of this moment was as grand as the mountains by which we were surrounded at 9,200 feet high! So, I thought I would honor the week with some uplifting news and leave the heavy critique for future considerations...here are some photos of the amazing day!