Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when her teacher, Stephen Schock, challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika’s design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic.”
Not only did her design win a International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, it’s become the core of Veronika’s nonprofit organization, The Empowerment Plan, which hires people from homeless shelters and transition homes to help her make the coats. Now, three years later, the 24-year-old social entrepreneur expects that her team of 15 seamstresses will produce over 6,000 coats in 2014 — all of which will be distributed free of charge to people living on the streets.
Veronika originally designed the coats seeking input from people at a homeless shelter. After receiving feedback from people who used the prototype over a Detroit winter, she refined the design to create her final version which, in addition to being a waterproof and windproof coat and sleeping bag, also transforms into an over-the-shoulder bag with storage in the arm sockets.
When she started out, Veronika states,
“Everybody told me that my business was going to fail — not because of who I was giving my product to but because of who I was hiring. They said that these homeless women will never make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — you cannot rely on them for anything. And I know my ladies enjoy proving everybody wrong.”
And, their impact is growing — according to CNN, which recently honored Veronika as one of their 10 Visionary Women of 2014, “The Empowerment Plan expects to launch a ‘buy one, give one’ program that will make it sustainable beyond the donations and sponsorships that keep it running now. Hunters and backpackers who’ve asked to buy the coat will be able to do so, and the Empowerment Plan will still create coats for homeless people who need them.”
Veronika is also excited to show other clothing producers that local manufacturing is possible: “I think we’re going to show a lot of people: you think it’s outdated to do manufacturing in your neighborhood, but I think it’s something that we have to do in the future, where it’s sustainable, where you invest in people, where they’re not interchangeable parts.”
You can read more about Veronika’s organization on CNN, or watch a short video about her work here.
To learn more about The Empowerment Plan or how you can support their work, visit http://www.empowermentplan.org/
For a wonderful book about women’s great inventions throughout history, check out “Girls Think of Everything” for readers 8 to 13.
For those in the US who would like to support efforts to end homelessness and help the over 600,000 people who experience homelessness on any given night, visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness athttp://www.naeh.org/ or to find a local homeless shelter to support in your area, visit http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/
Important in so many ways.
This is amazing and wonderful.
A silent protest in Love Park, downtown Philadelphia orchestrated by performance artists protesting the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The onslaught of passerby’s wanting to take photos with the statue exemplifies the disconnect in American society. Simply frame out the dead body, and it doesn’t exist.
Here are some observations by one of the artists involved in the event:
I don’t know who any of these folks are.
They were tourists I presume.
But I heard most of what everything they said. A few lines in particular stood out. There’s one guy not featured in the photos. His friends were trying to get him to join the picture but he couldn’t take his eyes off the body.
"Something about this doesn’t feel right. I’m going to sit this one out, guys." "Com’on man… he’s already dead."
There were a billion little quips I heard today. Some broke my heart. Some restored my faith in humanity. There was an older white couple who wanted to take a picture under the statue.
The older gentleman: “Why do they have to always have to shove their politics down our throats.” Older woman: “They’re black kids, honey. They don’t have anything better to do.”
One woman even stepped over the body to get her picture. But as luck would have it the wind blew the caution tape and it got tangle around her foot. She had to stop and take the tape off. She still took her photo.
There was a guy who yelled at us… “We need more dead like them. Yay for the white man!”
"One young guy just cried and then gave me a hug and said ‘thank you. It’s nice to know SOMEBODY sees me.’
I’m just gonna keep reblogging this because this is truly how white America works. Like people have their weddings on plantations, Blackface was and still is a major source of entertainment and the biggest movie of all time was Gone With the Wind. White America will kill Black people and then smile and laugh and enjoy their day it sickens me that we’re treated this way.
So when Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry bring black girls on stage, dance with them, acknowledge their figures- it’s offensive and appropriating. But, when Nicki Minaj makes an entire video focusing around black girl’s asses and asserts her power, reduces these women to objects and flaunts her authority it’s YAAASSSSS NICKI SERVE IT. Is that because she’s black? So it’s okay for people of the same race to dance with each other but someone who does not share the same levels of melanin enters the picture, they’re doing something wrong? …idgi
You’re completely ignoring context. In Lily Allen’s Hard out Here video, she literally says, “I don’t shake my ass cause I have a brain” as Black women shake their asses in her video. She is literally degrading the Black women who shake their asses in the media. The song also uses references to Black rappers (i.e. the title of the song referencing the rap song “Hard out Here for a Pimp” and her lyric “bragging ‘bout my cars or talking ‘bout my chains”), suggesting that Black rappers are more sexist than white male musicians (which isn’t true, there’s lots of sexism in all music genres) and also suggest the source of sexism in the music industry is Black people (Black male rappers and twerking Black female dancers).
In contrast, Nicki Minaj is reclaiming a song (Baby Got Back) that was made by a Black male rapper who celebrated (but also objectified) Black female bodies. Throughout her song, Nicki raps like a man would, talking about her sexual conquests with men and the size of their dicks, almost as a way of doing to men what they have done to women (objectifying their dicks as Sir Mix A Lot objectified Black women’s asses and many other men objectify women’s vaginas). She also brags about her sexual prowess and stays in control and aggressive in the video (she goes as far as cutting a banana representing a dick and slapping Drake’s hand away—the video critiques the male gaze). The target of mockery and disparagement in Nicki’s video is men and the male gaze, and the video works to reclaim agency from it.
In what way is Nicki asserting power over her dancers? In her video, she twerks along side her back up dancers and dances with them and interacts with them on the same level. She is just as scantily clad as they are. Lily Allen, however, stays fully covered in her video, does not dance provocatively, and thus contrasts her own pure and respectable femininity with the Black women, using their twerking and scantily clad bodies as an example of “bad” female sexuality and femininity—of women “objectifying themselves.” This is racist because it frames Black female sexuality as lesser than white femininity and antithetical to feminism.
In summary: Nicki’s video is very much a celebration of female Black beauty and sexuality coming from a Black woman. Conversely, Lilly Allen’s is using Black women as props to frame them as a vile or bad form of sexuality or being too sexual to prop up her own feminism.
So you might say, “what about Miley Cyrus? she twerks along side her Black background dancers too!” But here’s the problem: Miley Cyrus continually appropriates Black culture and also uses Black women as props. It does matter that these artists are white because in these cases the point of including the Black women is either to, in Lily Allen’s case, offset Black sexuality/femininity as too sexual or bad in comparison with her white femininity/feminism, or, in the case of Miley Cyrus, to get “street cred” and exotify her own sexuality by appropriating Black culture and using Black people as props to do so. See this analysis of Lily Allen’s Hard Out Here video and this analysis of Miley Cyrus by Black people who know a lot more about this than I do.
I haven’t seen anything about Katy Perry using Black dancers. I’ve just seen criticisms of her appropriating AAVE and other PoC cultures. I’m not sure why you brought her up, but maybe I just haven’t seen the videos in question.
Either way, it’s not like white artists having a diverse cast of back up dancers is a bad thing automatically. Here is an example of a white artist using back up dancers of other races without objectifying them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ilh1ewceco (notice this artist tackles the same issue as Lily Allen—sexism/objectification in the media—without being misogynist and racist toward other women). But the examples of Lily Allen and Miley Cyrus ARE racist and Nicki Minaj’s video isn’t the same as theirs.
i love the term “partners”
are we dating?
are we robbing a bank?
do we run a legal firm?
are we the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies and are members of an elite squad known as the special victims unit?
I’m down with the term “partners” if it means you do half of housework. True story.
Saw them at the Chicago Comic Con today. Made a fool of myself and asked to take her picture.