Why did I begin Liflad?
What does Liflad mean and explaining why on earth I am starting this new (ad)venture in material culture, fashion and fibre.
After many years working in design, education and enterprise, I have just co-founded a not-for-profit company and I am very excited. Liflad CIC is my response to the unfolding polycrises we are all grappling with and this article, my first ever on Substack, will share the reasons why it has come into being. Through writing, I hope to share the feelings of agency and purposeful practice this (ad)venture will bring. I hope it resonates with you.
Let’s start with the name. Liflad means ‘course of life’ in Old English, it evolved into livelode, the ‘means of keeping alive’ which in turn became livelihood. A similar evolution can be found in Old High German in libleita meaning ‘provisions.’ (I have to thankfor the inspiration here). We need to re-think what livelihood means and with my background as a fashion designer I am coming at it via that lens. Our material culture is grounded in the objects and architecture that we provision for ourselves. The fashions we display though our clothing and houses are a mirror on society and much of what we produce is not fundamental in supporting our basic human needs, health or happiness. I have been contemplating sustainable fashion for over 25 years. In that time the consumption of clothing and other resource intensive materials has increased exponentially and shows no sign of slowing.
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Our current livelihoods are not fit for purpose in many ways, built around a landscape of consumption that fills a void left by our current empty culture, bereft of purpose and meaning, focused on social media, shopping and individual pleasure. Our aim with Liflad is to support and demonstrate enterprise, and I use that word carefully, that creates useful items from local resources using natural materials, agroecological methods and minimal energy. In short, we want to develop new livelihoods to provision an emerging culture; one that balances the needs of both nature and people, reflects fundamental human needs (rather than wants) whilst manifesting respect for all living beings.
The Commons underpins our approach and like a growing group of thinkers, writers, artists and educators, we have faith that small, local economies will develop through community, collaboration and a refocusing of values. We recognise that state sanctioned policies and measures required to bring our planet away from the trajectory of collapse are politically difficult to achieve from the top down. We are beginning our radical reorientation and exploring new territory regardless. To support this culture shift we also need to rethink our economic and governance systems and we will work hard to figure this out (spoiler alert - we don’t have the answers yet).
It is also key that we decolonise material production through developing our own non-extractive supply chains from our own land, on our own land. We want to gently bring others into our ecological and social perspective to enable a smoother, less chaotic transition when the realities of the polycrises hit in full force. The UK, where I am writing from, lost much of its local textile knowledge hundreds of years ago when our early advancement of industrial processes and colonisation obliterated any indigenous knowledge. Blending old and new technologies, restoring long forgotten processes and bringing this knowledge back into being, requires support. Our focus will help projects relating to the natural material supply chains of fibre, textiles and clothing.
We will collaboratively create and disseminate open-source knowledge that can be adapted to different places and contexts, connecting as many of our fellow explorers as possible. Pioneers working in the nascent home-grown fibre space need all the help they can get to survive and thrive. It is difficult to compete economically in sectors such as clothing, that outsource environmental and social costs overseas. Many practitioners we know are working from small pots of grant funding or through volunteer time but they are all driven by a vision of something better. Our first projects will provide access to technical and alternative financial information. We plan to design and pilot new methods of enterprise involving collaborative, co-operative & community finance.
Liflad will be an emergent container for creativity and practice and we are open to its development over time. We have been involved with enough (ad)ventures to understand that the thing you start out with may not be the thing you end up with. This is ok. We are dancing with possibility.
Please support us by following our journey.
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