The core of our work is a proprietary online platform called Collectofus.org where students interact across borders. Collectofus is a hybrid social media platform, digital student workspace and learning management system targeted at primary and secondary school students and teachers. Collectofus allows students from any background to become active, globally conscious citizens. The transformative experience that we offer fosters peer education relationships across borders -- expanding perspectives, strengthening empathy and putting a face and a name to accountability. In addition, Collectofus is a living museum of learning. With interactions and projects created and archived in one place, teachers and students can track development of both socio-emotional skills and traditional disciplinary expertise. This further facilitates the self-reflection critical in developing empathy and systems-thinking. The ability for students to dialogue with multiple mediums integrates arts education with digital storytelling, making every assignment fundamentally interdisciplinary.
We support the student experience on Collectofus.org through an extensive digital and in-class curriculum exploring how indifference toward modern day slavery and waste affect the entire planet. The curriculum traces a t-shirt through time to illustrate that one seemingly simple product has a complicated story. We approach global citizenship education through a lens of critical pedagogy that requires students to think about the world and their role in it from a systems level. This cycle begins with self-reflection. Intentionally paired one-to-one peer relationships based on art exchanges across borders, along with many-to-many connections, push learners beyond the single stories and stereotypes they may hold to an appreciation of the ‘other’ as fellow human beings. This requires learning about someone else, and it requires the ability to tell one’s own truth. Through these acts, learners see how their values translate into actions, and what impact those actions have. Students use their heightened awareness to serve their local communities - a core element of our program. Past student initiated projects range from sourcing school apparel ethically, to building solar charging stations for community laptops and cellphones. These empowering experiences cultivate the internal expectation that students can make a significant positive impact in society. This is a formative part of the identity for global citizens. By combining digital tools, curricular resources and a mission to solve one of humanity's most disgraceful and persistent problems, our students view their education not only as a way to better themselves, but also as a way to better the world.
Students and teachers can work through elements of our curriculum called These Things Take Time independently of Collectofus. Participants study the life cycle of their personal t-shirts, starting with the present, continuing into the past, and finishing with an examination of the future that they choose. Taken as a whole, the curriculum examines modern day slavery and environmental degradation through historical, sociological, artistic and scientific lenses. Complete with assignments, assessment rubrics, hands-on activities and supporting resources, These Things Take Time can become the keystone of any learning experience. While fundamentally interdisciplinary, we work with teachers and students to implement the curriculum in a way that is relevant to specific context and learning objectives. These Things Take Time is not publicly available at this time, but please contact us for more information.
Some sources estimate that one in six human beings work in the fashion industry. Every human being uses clothes. All Six is an app in the development phase allowing participants to track their clothing use. Subscribe for updates at https://allsix.org.
The Fashion Industry produces more clothes than we can buy. We buy more clothes than we can use. Every year billions of items of clothing “end up” in places like Accra, Ghana. Dead White Man's Clothes is a multimedia research project comprised of hours of audiovisual recordings, thousands of photos and multiple datasets exploring the impact of "used" clothing in and around Kantamanto Market in Accra. As we compile this information with an open-source spirit, we invite you to ask questions and leave comments to help guide our work. Please visit https://deadwhitemansclothes.org to contribute your voice.
For Their Memory is a music video project honoring the memory of the 1,138 people who died in the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza fashion factory and the other countless lives lost to the vicious and soulless cycle of overproduction and overconsumption. Inspired by the story of Rana Plaza survivor Reba Sikder, the song was written and produced by The OR co-founder J. Branson Skinner and features a vocal performance from award winning singer Lauren Eylise. The music video was directed by a former student of The OR co-founder Liz Ricketts, and was created with the help of over 30 current and former students. The website https://fortheirmemory.org invites visitors to find out the minimum wage of the country where their clothes were made and contribute that amount to improve labor conditions. Funds raised will benefit the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity and Fashion Revolution, among other organizations.
Minimakers is an immersive project in which students are asked to consider the role of beauty in forming a healthy and productive society. Students are challenged to transform and connect three large-scale problems into design opportunities at a local level:
1) Hunger in America
2) The waste created by the devaluation of the process and people who work in the fashion industry
3) The environmental impact of synthetic dyes
Charged with the goal of designing an outfit that will never become waste, students take on the responsibility as designers to identify and to communicate the value of what they create. The design and production process is a formative experience offering participants a deep appreciation of what goes into creating clothes.
The AFUTU Project is an entrepreneurial experience through which students redefine the value of their old t-shirts by transforming them into new marketable products with an educational message. Students source the materials, design the object, calculate the cost, determine the price, write a value statement and market their repurposed products to raise awareness and funds for issues of their choosing. The first AFUTU Project products were t-shirts transformed into backpacks by seamstresses in Accra, Ghana. While what we choose to wear speaks to who we are as individuals, it also connects us to a vast global narrative. Inspired by the Afutu Language of Ghana, The AFUTU Project challenges students to consider how they can preserve the personal meaning of their t-shirts, while simultaneously beginning a conversation of mutual interest.
We participate in Fashion Revolution Day on April 24th, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza Factory disaster killing over 1130 people and devastating the lives of thousands more. Fashion Revolution Day is a global day of activism to raise awareness of the social and environmental injustices plaguing the fashion industry.