Last week I got to take a few days off and get some time for reflection which was much welcomed. I realized I had not really taken that time since we moved here roughly 1.5 years ago and there was so much to digest and think about. Early in the week I had a tough day. Our favorite healthy gluten free bakery and lunch place – Bucha Brewhouse – (no doubt the only gluten free bakery for 100s of miles), temporarily shut their doors to figure out how to provide fresh, healthy food to people in a community not used to it, between labor shortages and then surges and drop offs of customers (it is easy to imagine the appeal of opening a bag of frozen food and dumping it in a fryer).
I spent that evening talking with Lisa (our sewing instructor) and the apprentices about all the health problems in the area related to what people eat. I reflected on how tremendously that impacts what they are able to do with their lives, particularly, though not limited to young people. Poor eating also causes enormous health care expenses that the people here are least able to afford. And finally – living out in the country takes a whole bunch of energy just to keep your house going. I write this because at the start of the week I was thinking – how can we do this here? This is so insanely difficult. And here I am just writing about one issue – not to mention people who have a tremendous caretaking burden for others who are of ill health, are recovering from drug addiction, or who are raising children from other family members who can’t care for them. The burdens of life out here from many tough years are tremendous.
And I found myself getting frustrated. Why aren’t people doing more for communities like Princeton? Not only do small town and rural people go unseen by most Americans but I have found, astonishingly, that it is OK to make fun of poor rural people at my day job or in the affluent communities I grew up around, among people who serve people in developing countries who they would never think to make fun of.
Somewhere early last week my fighting spirit started to burn hot. And in my days of reflection that followed I found a deep gratitude for your support here and the support of our Founders. When I want to shout at anyone who will listen “WHY ISN’T THERE MORE SUPPORT FOR AMERICAN COMMUNITIES LIKE PRINCETON?!” I listen and feel an intense glowing optimism at the people who do get it, who do see us. Who get it so much that they sit down and take precious time to read these letters, or donate expertise, or find resources for our apprentices, or who write notes of support or who spend precious dollars to help us succeed. You see us and know this is important and that means the world to us.
Last night we had again convened for our weekly apprenticeship session. I will be honest that we all show up exhausted from busy day jobs, ferrying kids around, fielding calls from grandchildren getting out of school. And yet in that exhaustion there is so much gratitude because in it we find an intense commitment to see this succeed and a community together sewing, sharing knowledge and watching a fine product emerge. We meet in Lisa’s tailoring shop in the midst of prom season. Long, poofy prom dresses line the racks all around us. And yet we make the space, we meet, wherever we can. We show up and we keep showing up until we succeed.
By week’s end we will have sent out three more muslin Boss Blouse samples to our Founders for a total of 4 sent out in March. Slowly we are picking up our pace.
On the womenswear workshop front we had a wonderful moment where supplies arrived for the roof. I made a fool of myself in front of the roofing company jumping around and taking videos. And then radio silence – the crew got Covid, the weather got bad and the momentum faded. Please send us positive thoughts around our space opening for April. It is so easy to just say that things happen slowly here and that is the way it is. But momentum IS important.
Thank you for all your support. We are tremendously grateful for the privilege of getting to show up and do this work.
Go, fight, win.