5 Reasons to Keep Shopping at L.L.Bean

My boyfriend is hard to buy gifts for. Not because he “has everything”–in fact, it’s just the opposite. He makes an effort to shop ethically, which, mostly means not supporting brands that use sweatshop labor. For the first year or so of our relationship this meant he mostly shopped at second-hand stores or bought things made in America. That’s not easy these days. But over the past few years a handful of brands have made their way onto his “approved” list, and–for whatever reason–they are mostly outdoorsy brands, like Patagonia, that have a commitment to the environment and the workers in their factories.

L.L.Bean is one of those brands. There’s a store not far from my home, and at first, he was skeptical. He knew the company makes their Bean boots in Maine, but couldn’t quite wrap his mind around how the company keeps prices reasonable without exploitative labor practices. Then he had the chance to ask an actual employee, who explained that because Bean doesn’t sell merchandise through third parties and goes direct to consumers it can keep its prices down. Meanwhile, it stays committed to making some of its most popular products in the U.S.  Continue reading

What’s The Pope Got To Do With Me?

Apparently there is a new Pope, which is nice, but only because I am so sick of hearing about the Conclave and the lack of a Pope. I have never been less interested in a news story than I am in this one, in large part because it does not effect me… at all. 

I honestly can’t imagine a story that has less to do with my life than whether or not there’s a Pope and who he is. I am not a Catholic. If I was a Catholic, I’d be a pretty awful one, going well beyond “lapsed” to straight up “heretic.” Whenever I hear a news report about someone standing watch outside the Vatican waiting for the smoke to change colors I wonder about them and their sanity. Do they have jobs? Bills to pay? Friends and family with real life problems?  Continue reading

Trayvon Martin, American Paranoia, and the Decline of the Neighborhood

Seriously, which one of these people would you be more afraid of if you encountered them on the street?

This morning I listened to a story on NPR about “the talk” one mother had with her teenage sons. It made me sadder than anything has in a long time.

Here is the gist:

BRITT: The talk is what many black parents have with their sons and daughters – but probably more often their sons. It’s a preparatory explanation and a warning, to let them know what’s out there for them. You know, when they shift from the adorableness of childhood into, you know, their early preteen and teen years where they can perceived as dangerous, as threatening, as things that most of them really aren’t. Continue reading