Valerie Vande Panne

Re-localizing industry, one thing at a time

“An incredible opportunity for domestic manufacturing.” That’s how Mercedes Gonzalez, a director at Global Purchasing Companies, describes an unexpected benefit of COVID-19: With shipments from China facing delays since the outbreak of the pandemic, what was once done overseas is rapidly being done here at home. The shift is revitalizing the once deserted factories, such as in New York City’s once-thriving garment district.

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Capitalism has distorted our understanding of community — and it’s making us vulnerable to manipulation

When we talked about community just a generation or two ago, it was understood we were talking about people, not brands—what they enjoyed or cared about, and not where they spent their money. But the definition of “community” has been hijacked by consumerism.

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Why the fashion industry needs a major sustainability revolution

New York City is the fashion capital of the world. Its streets are peppered with influencers on Instagram photoshoots, its fashion week parties are annual events everyone vies to attend (but never eats at), and its sample sales are so exclusive you need an invitation to attend.

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Out of the ashes of Puerto Rico’s economy emerges a promising currency for all

While the United States has some of the most successful community currencies in use, such as the BerkShare, surprisingly few Americans actually use them or know anything about them outside the communities who use them. In the EU there is a lot of interest in community currency—Spain and England have many, including the Bristol Pound.

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It’s prime time to boycott Amazon

Are you ready to divest from Amazon Prime? How about Whole Foods?

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Why it’s prime time to boycott Amazon

Are you ready to divest from Amazon Prime? How about Whole Foods?

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A moral budget for 2020: Creating a visionary blueprint to end poverty

In 2018, the Poor People’s Campaign, led by Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, released an agenda addressing systematic poverty in the United States. On June 17, the Poor People’s Campaign along with the Institute for Policy Studies released a “Moral Budget” outlining how the government can not only pay to shift the system to address that agenda—but make a healthier and stronger nation. Indeed, the report also illustrates that continuing our current trajectory is actually more costly than making the shift.

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The surprising success of local currencies reveals the power of small banks

Back in the 1990s, a couple of farmers and a deli owner in Western Massachusetts were denied loans, despite their history of good credit.

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The battle for rights of nature heats up in the Great Lakes

In February, the voters of Toledo, Ohio, passed a ballot initiative that gives Lake Erie and those who rely on the lake’s ecosystem a bill of rights. The idea is to protect and preserve the ecosystem so that the life that depends on it—humans included—can have access to safe, fresh drinking water.

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Tired of spending money on the things you need? Try this

Imagine needing a refrigerator, a child’s car seat, and a stroller. Except you’re broke and have no funds to make a Target or a Walmart run. What do you do?

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I tried special glasses that block TV images. They left me both hopeful and disappointed.

The idea was simple: Create sunglasses that block digital TV screens. A Kickstarter was born. Media buzzed. IRL Glasses were born. (IRL = In Real Life, natch.)

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Time really is money with increasingly popular cooperative time banks

Jennie Weakley is a time bank enthusiast with Unity in Our Community TimeBank in Southwest Detroit. For nearly 10 years, she’s used time banking to get the windows of her home washed and her house deep cleaned, in addition to babysitting, pet sitting, and house sitting. She gives a lot of transportation to the time bank (including rides to the airport), organizes multicultural cooking classes, and does local event support, such as ticket taking.

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My friend wanted to call ICE when his boss laid him off and hired immigrants. Here's what I told him to do instead.

A friend of mine worked in a tool and die shop in Michigan. That is, until recently, when he was laid off, just days after his employer hired immigrant workers with no visas.

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Communities across the country are taking radical steps against plastic

Florida is the kind of red state one might expect to cut its recycling programs. And some communities, like Deltona, have done just that.

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Universal Basic Income is a big distraction from questions we should be asking

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a much-touted solution to our increasingly tech-driven society, proposed by everyone from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to conservative libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.

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Here are 7 reasons overworked and underpaid workers on the U.S. coasts should move to Middle America

If you live on the East or West Coast, you’ve probably been subjected to increasingly expensive rents, food, clothing, and more—tiresome commutes, working multiple jobs to pay the bills, and the exhaustion that comes with the frustration of not being able to do more of what you want.

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7 dubious financial buzzwords that indicate someone is conning you

There are so many plans these days to “transform” an area via a “public-private partnership” that will “restore” and “fix” the local economy and lead to an economic “recovery” for the “brave” group of “stakeholders” who’ve come together to make it happen. The business leader drumming up support is often a “good friend” of the politicians in charge. To entertain another plan, the people in power warn, will “hurt” the economy.

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You Have Permission to Take a Media Break

It seems, somehow, we’ve been living in the 12 Days of Kristallnacht before the Election. That is an exaggeration, but if you’re plugged in to the news constantly, it can certainly feel that way.

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Is the Way We Count Time a Mechanism of Control?

You and I are living in a standardized time, right now. Look at the clock on your device. It’s the same time, depending on your time zone, around the world. Meaning, if it is precisely 1 p.m. in New York, it is exactly 10 a.m. in Los Angeles, and exactly 6 p.m. in Paris. Note: I am not talking about Daylight Savings Time, which has its own issues and a growing movement to repeal it.

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How the Headwrap Expo Is Helping to Break Cultural Barriers

In cultures around the world, women wrap their hair and their heads. The practice is found in Native American, Japanese, Turkish, Eastern European, Bengali, Filipino, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, and Sikh customs—among many more. African-Americans have long wrapped their hair (respect, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin). Even in the United States, white women and men both covered their heads in polite society well into the 20th century.

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You Don’t Have to Screw People Over to Survive

“You don’t have to fuck people over to survive” are wise words I once heard radical comic book artist Seth Tobocman chant, repeatedly. It’s also the title of one of his books. Those words have stayed with me, and I’m a bit surprised more people don’t echo that sentiment.

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Is Clickbait Distracting You From the Causes Worth Fighting For?

ICE. DEA. Police violence. Bail reform. Private prison labor. Midterm elections. The EPA. Fossil fuels. Climate change. Online privacy. GMOs. Pesticides. Climate change.

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Outraged by ICE's Treatment of Children? Here's How to Close Your Wallet to the Companies That Profit from It

Are you sick of our government separating children from immigrant parents and putting them in cages?

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These 10 Tips Can Help Ease Your Guilty Conscience When You Buy Gas

Many Americans live in a place where they have no access to public transit. They live in areas that might be dangerous to walk or bike in. They live miles from where they need to work, or shop, or see family and friends. Getting around by car, then, is an absolute necessity. But when you know the gas you’re buying—regardless of the company—is contributing to climate change, environmental disasters, health problems for those who live near refineries, and more, how do you reconcile the need to live in the modern world with the damage it’s causing?

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This is the Terrifying Reality of America's 'Deadly, Dangerous and Destabilizing Role' in Global Arms Supply

Most Americans want peace—in the world, in their country, and in their own homes and communities.

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Here’s How Marketers Are Capitalizing on Your Shopping Habits -  And 10 Tips to Stop Them

You probably purchase clothing and shoes without thinking too much about how you do it. Yet how you purchase apparel, from the time you first consider a product through the post-purchase experience, is being thought about, a lot, by people whose job it is to relieve you of more of your money. Your purchase process is tracked, studied and analyzed, and then becomes the foundation for new marketing strategies by everyone from retail consultants to the most exclusive business schools in the world.

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Burning Man as We Knew It Is Dead - Here's How Its White Culture and the One Percent Killed It

I spend a lot of my time writing and thinking about ways to foster a healthier world, economically, socially, environmentally, and spiritually. Burning Man has always seemed like something I should support. I have good friends who go every year, and one of my dearest friends, whom I have known since I was 14 years old, is one of Burning Man’s leaders who not only helps run the show during the party, but works out there on the Playa all year long.

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Mudgirls: Meet the Women Building Their Own Sustainable Homes

Clare Kenny is a natural builder. She uses natural and up-cycled salvaged materials to build houses, incorporating everything from straw bales to old tires.

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I Finally Gave Up Getting My Nails Done - The Risks Are Just Far Too High

Last fall, I went through an intense body purification that can best be described as a religious experience. Over my nails.

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Do Fair Trade Labels Actually Mean Anything?

If you consider yourself a conscious consumer, you might have stood before the chocolate section at your Whole Foods, reading label after label of “fair trade” logos, and wondered, what the heck do all these different certifications mean?

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