Andree de Jongh, a member of the Belgian Resistance during World War II, died at the age of 90. Her inspiring obituary in the New York Times begins, “Andrée de Jongh, whose youth and even younger appearance belied her courage and ingenuity when she became a World War II legend ushering many downed Allied airmen on a treacherous, 1,000-mile path from occupied Belgium to safety, died Saturday in Brussels.”
When the Germans captured de Jongh in 1943, the Times says, “…it was her youth that saved her. When she truthfully confessed responsibility for the entire scheme, they refused to believe her.” The Germans sent her to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, where she became so unrecognizable among all the other starving prisoners that when the Gestapo wised up, they couldn’t identify her for requestioning!
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has an interesting story on eco-trendiness at L.A. fashion week. I am amused by this paragraph: “Eco, green, sustainable… while you might expect the terms to mean the designers minimize harm to the environment or to workers, the terms are currently meaningless because there’s no strictly guarded definition. They seem to indicate in most cases that the fibers didn’t come from petroleum. Fabrics spun from milk protein are being billed as eco, for instance, despite the processing that is obviously required to spin thread from milk.”
The article also has good stuff on the difficulties faced by Bono’s clothing line, Edun, which aims to use mostly organic fabrics while creating work in places like Lesotho and Uganda. Apparently, no one realized how hard it would be to find organic cotton or skilled workers, or deliver anything on time due to poor local infrastructure and the HIV epidemic. After three years, designer Rogan Gregory thinks the business is turning around with better styles and a “simple knit outfit that was manufactured entirely in Uganda, which Mr. Gregory sees as a big success.”
Since WSJ.com is a paid site, I can’t give you a link to the whole story but if you can get the paper, it’s well worth reading. I think everyone mentioned in the story, including Edun, is making a good effort (and it typically takes five years to get a new business off the ground so three years of struggle doesn’t surprise me). But there’s a reality check too. Sewing on a “green” label and sending your spare change to Africa are not surefire ways to save the planet from very complex issues. Personally, I think you’d contribute more to the eco issue by cutting down your purchases of cheap crap made in China rather than throwing your money at expensive “green” items, because no one pollutes like China.
I think Bono has the best intentions and may achieve some good things, but Andree de Jongh is the hero to me … not the pop star with the big checkbook and the private plane.
Come back later for my Thursday book club posting, in which I will amaze and delight you by connecting 16th century British royalty to Dancing With the Stars … maybe!