October 29, 2007

Putting the kids in GapKids

The UK newspaper The Observer broke the story on Sunday that an investigation found children as young as 10 sewing GapKids clothing, revealing that "despite Gap's rigorous social audit systems launched in 2004 to weed out child labour in its production processes, the system is being abused by unscrupulous subcontractors".
In response, Gap released a statement the very same day announcing that "a very small portion of a particular order placed with one of its vendors was apparently subcontracted to an unauthorized subcontractor without the company’s knowledge or approval".
Clearly, apparel companies need to profoundly rethink the way they do business overseas, and the way they develop relationships with manufacturers and contracters, whose business rules and values may not necessarily match those of our own. In the middle is the consumer, who needs to ask themselves hard questions about the high cost of low prices, and what they are willing to carry on their conscience.

October 25, 2007

Last night I had the privilege to host a talk by Kathleen A. O'Shea, a former nun, who is a social worker, teacher, writer, and human rights advocate. I am the chair of the Queen's University Association of Queer Employees (QUAQE) and one of our members invited her to speak on her work as an advocate for women on death row in the United States.
In the winter of 2006, Ms. O'Shea was the first scholar to be hosted by the Women's Studies Department at Queen's in their new Visitor's Program. Her work with women on death row was profiled on Women's Television Network last spring. In addition to several magazine and journal articles, she has published three books, Female Offenders: An Annotated Bibliography (1997), Women and the Death Penalty in the United States: 1900-1998, and Women On The Row: Revelations from Both Sides of the Bars (2000), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her memoir of the beginnings of her religious life, To All the Nuns I've Loved Before, is trying to find a publisher and she is working on a novel, Adios Comparera: A Chilean Memoir, loosely based on her years in Chile (1965-1973). Kathleen currently lives and works with mentally challenged adults.
About 30 of us assembled for a pot-luck dinner at the beautiful Victorian era house of the Faculty Women's Club, and then we gathered in the cozy living room to listen to Kathleen's compelling story of her path from a convent to Chile and back to America, where she somewhat accidentally became a tireless crusader for women on death row. It was moving, compelling, and a testament to the power of one to make a real difference. I feel that I've finally met a real hero.

October 10, 2007

I'm not ahead of the pack on this one but if you haven't watched "Heroes" I highly recommend it. With its intricately woven storyline, each episode has to be watched for the slow reveal of the overall arc. Details that emerge through paintings, sharply edited scenes, and some compelling acting by a talented ensemble fit together in a cosmic puzzle of sorts. There have been some pleasant surprises in the plot that don't seem contrived or forced. There are six intersecting strands of the narrative, and each is worth watching and full of sufficient pathos for the viewer to become fully engaged with this fantastical tale of a few emerging heroes who want to save the world.

October 1, 2007

Everything old is new again

The ongoing revivals of late 70s and early 80s pop culture bookmarks continue to be the hope of TV executives everywhere. What began with the mining of classic TV fodder into slighty better movies a few years back (think "Starsky & Hutch" and "The Dukes of Hazard") continues with a slew of new-and-improved editions for the post-modern audience.
Last week saw the premiere of a new "Bionic Woman", and word is that a contemporary version of "Knight Rider" is on its way. Meanwhile, the crew of the reimagined "Battlestar Galactica" floats once again, and a slightly more accessible "Dr. Who" can be seen navigating time and space via the TARDIS on CBC.
Perhaps these revivals are meant to be a comforting salve for disabused Gen-Xers, confronted as they are with a bleak future they keep seeing in polemical documentaries. For the life of me I can't imagine anyone under 35 being particularly interested in very many of these shows. If we are being honest we have to admit that they were all pretty terrible the first time around. I suspect the majority of interest is fuelled by pure nostalgia. Of course, just because I think it would be a kick to have a live-action version of "Battle of the Planets" doesn't mean a single dollar should be spent to make it so. Some things are simply better left buried.