COMMUNITY-BASED LOCAL PRODUCTION
2012 - South Bend Collective is a brand strongly focused on the creation of jobs, pride of place, and an awareness of sustainability – three essential components of a healthy community. As a movement, the Collective is dedicated to reinventing manufacturing and starting the healing process and revitalization of communities that have been hit hard by the economic decline in the United States. By diverting materials from landfills and giving them new life, the Collective is able to create hand-crafted repurposed and responsible products made by the people of South Bend, including local college students, artisans, veterans, and homeless.
My goal with South Bend Collective is to inspire community-based local production that promotes sustainability and pride in American-made products. By embodying the rich industrial heritage of our cities, I aim to inspire our neighbors to unite and create.
1. Divert and integrate useful reclaimed industrial off-fall into products.
2. Offer the South Bend community a place for innovation incubation.
3. Exemplify a sense of responsibility to community and country.
4. Foster employment, pride in product, and a renewed sense of self worth.
SOUTH BEND, INDIANA
This past Thanksgiving, a leading manufacturer of accessories for the automotive and RV aftermarket announced that it would be laying off roughly 450 workers from its nearby Goshen, IN plant in order to outsource those jobs to Mexico in favor of cheaper labor costs. Company officials left the difficult task of announcing the news to a plant manager who was not even involved in the final decision.
450 people will now be looking for work. They have rent, mortgages, and bills to pay. Most importantly, many have families with children who need medical insurance, clothing, shelter, and food.
The rationale for this type of move in industry is that labor is cheaper in other countries. It has also been pointed that many US workers have union protection and living wage standards, which is a fact often used to justify outsourcing. This move by company officials in the Goshen plant boldly illustrates the harsh reality that corporate profits matter more than the well-being of its American workforce.
Where is the sense of responsibility to community and country? Where is the sense of respect and appreciation for the workers who reported daily to this plant, some for many many years? How does a move like this affect the self-worth of those who now find themselves without gainful employment? Furthermore, what is the long range effect of the communities that these people live in?
For a long time, factories have discarded perfectly good materials. Now, as evidenced by the story I just told you, it seems they are now discarding perfectly good people. In turn this leads to the deterioration and unraveling of solid communities across America.
South Bend Collective is first and foremost a facilitator. As a brand, it focuses strongly on the creation of jobs, pride of place, and awareness of sustainability – three essential components of a healthy community.
As a movement, the Collective is an idea to start the healing process and revitalization of communities that have been hit hard by economic decline in the United States. Through the production of a variety of useful and desirable products without the draining of additional resources, the Collective will create a reciprocal effect thus fostering employment, pride in product, pride in job, pride in community, and most importantly a renewed sense of self worth. This is how a healthy community is formed – not just one person or one job – a cohesive effort, a puzzle where all the pieces come together.
In a community such as South Bend, a movement can take root in the energy and creativity of the youthful student population found in the many schools located in the area. This student demographic relies heavily on the use of social media as its chief form of communication. This is a huge opportunity to spread the spirit and the message of the movement.
THE POCKET TEE
Among the first line of products from the South Bend Collective is a line of pattern-pocket t-shirts a result of a collaborative effort employing the skills of my neighbor, Mrs. Joey Elliott, and a number of undergrads in the Design department. The reason I chose a t-shirt is because it’s a staple of the American wardrobe. In this case, the t-shirts used for production happen to be manufactured in the United States using American labor and feature the prominent placement of the logo on the back. This logo features the shape of the state of Indiana with a heart taking the place of the city of South Bend. This serves as a strong visual symbol meant to spur curiosity in the meaning and the message of the movement.
It’s important to note that the fabric used in the trademark pockets is collected from local industrial off-fall, diverted from landfills, and given a second chance, placed over the heart of the wearer. Coincidentally, much of the fabric has been reclaimed from the trash piles of RV plants in nearby Elkhart County.
DOWNTOWN SOUTH BEND
DTSB offers many possibilities for the introduction of a vehicle to promote the SBC. One example of this would be a pop-up shop located in one of the vacant retail spaces dotting the landscape of the downtown area. A pop-up shop would attract a lot of walk-in traffic and would be a place to house the merchandise representing the Collective.
Another exciting possibility is the use of a shipping container. For those of you unfamiliar, it’s a container chiefly used for importing and exporting products. The problem with this method is that they tend to be abandoned and not reused, once again leading to the accumulation of discarded materials in the United States. A shipping container is attractive due to the fact that is highly visible and tends to create a curiosity factor, thereby drawing people in, once again allowing the message of the movement to be mobile.
This container would serve as a central creative location for the community where they can actively participate in this process first-hand. The container would be an environment encouraging the formation and innovation of new ideas. Examples of possible uses for the container would include co-ops, internships for design and business students, guest speaker lecture series from DTSB innovation leaders and faculty members from local universities, employment opportunities for veterans and the Center For Homeless, and retail space for the products created by the Collective.
This approach is an exciting, creative alternative offering the South Bend community an innovation incubator place where ideas can sprout, pride in the community can flourish, and the message of the South Bend Collective will take flight in each product and project.
South Bend Collective – the impetus for creating and sustaining a healthy community through responsible design; a catalyst for social good.
“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.”
-Harry S. Truman, 1958