23 December 2002
Finally, a company whose business practices don't make me immediately cringe. I recently ordered a messenger bag from Timbuk2 Designs, using their online Build Your Own Bag tool. When I opened the package they shipped me a few days later, I found, along with my bag, a letter that began like this:
New Timbuk2 Bag Owner,
Congratulations on your new purchase -- designed by you, built by us. No off-shore production, no sweat-shops, nothing but quality workmanship from the heart of downtown San Francisco. We stand behind our products 100% -- so if our bag falls apart (yeah, right!), if it fails to meet your most critical expectations, of if we just happened to screw up your order, go to www.timbuk2.com, click on the Customer Service page and follow the instructions for returning a bag.
That sounds good to me -- especially in a time when many companies profit by exploitation and therefore want me to remain ignorant of how they supply the products and services they sell. That sounds good to me in a time when many companies shirk responsibility and make me take all the risks and send me through labrynthine voice mail systems when I have a problem.
Sure, Timbuk2 isn't blameless. (For example, my bag is made of Cordura, a material manufactured solely by DuPont -- which isn't exactly a model for socially responsible bussinesses). But there is, at least, a tone of integrity, responsibility, and respect in their letter to me. And I appreciate that.
Emerging visual literacies
17 December 2002
My essay on the visual literacies that are emerging in today's newest communications media is back online. (It was temporarily unavailable while I took care of a few technical issues that came up when it moved to a new host.)
Tree-sitter goes online
13 December 2002
Just when you might have thought all things Internet-related had been co-opted by the profit-centric corporate ethic, a tree-sitter in the Headwaters Forest of Northern California gets a wireless-enabled laptop from a group of San Francisco Independent Media Center activists and starts sending you dispatches from (literally) the front lines of the battle to save old growth forests.
Hangovers, bicycles, and haiku
8 December 2002
Haiku about hangovers, custom-written for me by Linda at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's Winterfest 2002:
Facing the toilet
Cursing my stupidity --
Still, I did have fun
Who makes your clothes?
3 December 2002
I asked Patagonia:
I am curious about where your products are manufactured -- and, more importantly, under what conditions. Can you provide any information about this?
Thank you very much for your time.
Thanks for your email. We manufacture goods in China, Malaysia, Turkey, the UK, the USA and other countries. In addition, garments assembled both in and out of the US may contain parts manufactured both in and out of the USA. On our website, www.patagonia.com, we note which products are made in the USA under the "Details" tab on the product page.
As for working conditions, Patagonia is a founding member of the Fair Labor Association (F.L.A.), originally known as the Apparel Industry Partnership. President Clinton convened this group in 1997 to address the issues you raise in your correspondence. Our Code of Conduct, a copy of which is provided here, is that of the F.L.A.
On a more personal note, Patagonia's production team believes Patagonia products belong only in facilities that any Patagonia employee or customer would find acceptable upon a personal visit. The Production staff, in the course of its work, travels to every production location to manage the more traditional agenda of our business: quality, delivery schedules and cost negotiations. Through this process, we have found that only suppliers who treat their employees as valuable assets can consistently achieve the results we demand in these areas. There is a linkage between the two agendas that make it very easy for us to embrace both. In fact, we have come to view them as inseparable.
Patagonia.com Customer Service
They also included the Patagonia Workplace Code of Conduct. Read on...