His hair was windblown and full of raindrops. He wore sandals and a smile unlike any I had ever seen. He sat down on the piano bench and began to talk to me.
I told my family that night that I had met the man I wanted to marry. The two were married in It is said that, during that time, he suffered two nervous breakdowns — which Becky gracefully helped him through.
Becky and Sam had two sons, Jerry and Knox, but motherhood never took away her desire to work in radio. At WHER, Becky was able to shine — writing scripts, organizing segments, managing the station, and presenting in her own beautiful way. She was in charge of approving each record that was played.
Though her husband was a rock and roll legend, there were no rocking records at WHER. There were few like her, a true pioneer in her field.
Her fearlessness and her devotion to her family and her profession are inspirational. We are proud to be part of a community that fostered a woman like Becky Phillips, a pioneer in spirit and part of the heart and soul of Alabama Chanin. My loss. Resolution: take time to work less and belong more. Lost and Found Sound changed my perception of storytelling in the Autumn of I remember the first moment I heard their tracks: in the third story of a rented house on a green square in Savannah, Georgia.
Life changed. These women are my heroes. Along with a slew of others you will meet this year. Through a Peabody Award winning Lost and Found Sound broadcast, The Kitchen Sisters spurred my interest in this relatively unknown, yet groundbreaking group of women.
In October , Shoals native and founder of Sun Records, Sam Phillips and his wife, Becky, took an original concept and made it reality: an all-female radio station. Dive bars, back porches, and BBQs are all likely places for impromptu jam sessions.
Phillips has credited the station as inspiration and influence on his later work. This once legendary music scene has experienced resurgence recently with artists like Bettye LaVette, the Black Keys see video below , Band of Horses, and Alicia Keys traveling to the Shoals to produce, record, and work.
And while we love that our great history, amazing engineers, and studios are attracting big names, it is our local musicians that we adore — the hometown heroes that are pursuing their dreams and doing what they love, all while dealing with the daily grind. Those of you who are frequent visitors to our blog may have read about the incredible Tom Hendrix and his beautiful tribute to his great-grandmother, The Wichahpi Commemorative Wall known around here as simply, The Wall.
Tom not only built an incredible monument for his great-grandmother, but he also took the time to tell her story in his book, If the Legends Fade. All of us here at Alabama Chanin spent some days in the last months in a cotton field, picking our organic cotton.
The work is difficult, repetitive, and, at the same time beautiful in that it brings out a meditative state. Slowing down and being conscious of your actions can be a way to honor the past. So often we are swept up in modern convenience that it is almost impossible to appreciate the struggles our ancestors endured. Tom, his vision, and his actions constantly inspire me. I hope that, like each stone that he places on The Wall, our work is part of something larger.
I hope that our efforts create beautiful and sustainable things, while honoring those that came before us. Many years ago, a Yuchi woman inspired Mr. Lay a stone for every step she made…We shall pass this earth.
Only the stones will remain. May we each spend some time today pondering what we are thankful for and what we want to leave behind. The skies were blue; the fields were alive with eager hands; we were standing in high cotton. Thank you to Katherine at Eggton for this beautiful film about our day. Tomorrow, we will meet at the cotton field with friends, colleagues, family, and community to harvest our cotton. This harvest marks an exciting moment for us in our efforts to grow a sustainable and chemical-free crop.
It has allowed us to learn more about the beautiful white fiber, the hardships of farming, and the difference organic makes.
Uncertain of whether or not the Alabama soil and climate would be suitable for our cottonseed varieties, the bolls are evidence of a successful yield. We are currently waiting for staple length test results to see if the fibers can be spun into yarn, which will then be knit into jersey fabric. More and more volunteers continue to visit the field.
Bolls are opening by the day. In the studio, we are preparing for the quickly approaching Picking Party and field work day. Look for details soon. I took a trip out last weekend with my daughter Maggie, my friends the Champagnes and their four kids.
In just a couple of hours of laughing, talking, and picking we had a pile that amounted to almost 70 pounds and the funny thing was… it was FUN. As I wrote in an earlier post , it is fun for those of us who know we can leave in a few hours, sit down for breaks as we feel like it, and laugh with our kids while working.
So, the few hours were filled with looking for bugs, talk of seeds and pods, and the life of farming. The kids were amazed to see how much cotton comes from each little boll. Check back for updates from the city and the field. I was thinking of you this morning and took a few pictures at the cotton field so you can feel like you are here this morning.
My photos are nothing to these that you have sent, but perhaps you will like to see your cotton babies. I am so happy you found Kacie.
She gave Jimmy a business card before he left the field yesterday and gave him the most beautiful garden stakes that she had made!
I had already left the field because I was exhausted. She was a dynamo and pulled weeds on her knees in that hot humid sticky field. She farms herself in Tennessee. I really think she is an angel. I will make a point to go to Huntsville and see her business someday. She will always be a very important part of this little cotton field.
She left her mark on the field and in my heart. I noticed the article in Saturdays edition of Times Daily. My interest in your cotton field is to simply place a boll weevil trap nearby, and monitor it until mid-November.
The eradication has also reduced pesticide use dramatically, and actually saved several million in costs and increased yield. The only way to guarantee that we do not get a re-infestation is to monitor ALL cotton that is in the eradicated zones.
We receive information from USDA each season to locate each cotton field so that we can accomplish a successful monitoring program. I do imagine that your cotton was not reported to the local USDA Service center because of its nature, but there is a state AL and federal law that the cotton must be monitored. Thank you. These small bolls are more than just crops in a field; rather, they hold a fiber that has shaped the history of our community and, as we have seen in our growing process, binds our community together.
We began our search for organic non-GMO, non-treated cottonseed back in March. We worked with Lynda Grose and the Textile Exchange to educate ourselves about the growing process and the many details surrounding the growing of organic cotton. As we pushed forward, we were told by some farmers that March was too late into the growing season to prepare and plant crops. Numerous internet searches and phone calls left us wondering if this endeavor would be possible.
Soggy, sopping wet Cocker Spaniels. That is what the cotton looks like right now. It is droopy and matted and dirty with rainwater and splashed mud from the storms we had.
When I was a little girl my dearest friend was a Cocker Spaniel, and he and I spent many hours wading in the creek. The creek was over knee deep for me and up to his chin and his beautiful long ears would float out beside him as we walked along in the creek.
We would both be covered with sand and mud and creek water, but those times were heavenly to us. The cotton bolls that were white fluffy clouds on Sunday afternoon are a memory now. The rain and storms yesterday evening continued to send rain until this morning. About am the rain was coming in waves and it sounded like the ocean. Yesterday I was picking the beautiful first bolls that have opened on each plant. It was so light and fluffy and gorgeous.
The cotton struggled to grow and survive without a drop of water for 6 weeks. In the final days suddenly one night it rained 6 inches and flooded creeks in the area and roadways.
The rain brought forth giant weeds but it brought the cotton from knee high and shriveled to waist high and loaded with bolls! The first blooms on the lowest branch are the first bolls to open, and then the next level node of branches will have their bolls open and then the next and so on. The first bolls are the ones that receive the most nutrients and are the best. The top of the plants have blooms that will probably be killed by frost before they ever open into cotton.
People who picked cotton always picked a field twice. The large machinery that harvests cotton picks once and leaves a tremendous amount on the ground. Love always, — Lisa Poet Laureate of Cotton. Keep your fingers crossed for our little field. More on the Official Picking Party coming this week. I was at the cotton field this morning when a car pulled up and a tiny young lady got out and put on her work gloves and went to work!!
She is still there working!!! I sent a photo from my phone to your phone with her name. Can you believe she drove from Giles County Tennessee to Lawrence County Alabama to work in the hot steamy cotton field!
She is a wonderful person. I hope she will be in touch with you so that you can know her. Jimmy and I were so touched that she came such a long way and is such a hard worker. She is devoted and she is one in a million. I walked in covered with sweat from head to toe and carrying a pillow sack with a lump of cotton in it. I picked 2 pounds and 9 ounces of cotton this morning. Imagine bending and stooping and sweating and gnats up your nose and ants biting your legs and stinging weeds with thorns..
Oh my god it makes my back hurt to think about it….. Having survived the terrible drought , the cotton has been carried through the summer by equal parts rainfall and sunshine. Right now, the bolls are looking healthy, but so are the weeds.
Following the organic guidelines , we did not use any chemicals to eradicate the weeds. The next few weeks are crucial to a successful harvest of the first ever organic cotton crop in North Alabama that is, since the invention of pesticides and genetically modified seeds. Our plants need ample light, air circulation, and nutrients from the soil to continue to develop and open. We were overjoyed when Lisa sent images on Saturday morning of the first bolls that have opened.
But some of the weeds have still got to go. With rubber boots, loppers, and gloves in hand, we were there helping our organic cotton bolls survive after a long summer of drought and heat followed by excessive rain and weed growth. We walked the rows, hoed, chopped, and pulled until the sun and heat forced us out of the field. Hard to imagine the days in Alabama heat where people were not allowed out of the field. Makes me think about how things were, how things are, and how things will be.
Nine of us barely made a dent in the work that needs to be done. As we documented the day with black and white images, it looked so romantic and felt like a moment from a Willa Cather novel.
But the reality behind the black and white is a sordid, ugly history. Jimmy and Lisa have been the determined and loving caretakers of our cotton these last months. Living near what we understand to be the FIRST privately owned organic cotton field in North Alabama if not the entire state , they stop by each day to keep a watchful eye on our crop and monitor its progress.
Jimmy grew up less than a mile from the site of the field. Recently retired, and a friend of K. He offered to plow, plant, and cultivate the cotton field. He and K. Having chopped and picked cotton growing up, Jimmy expressed with some disdain he did not want a role in those later processes. He knew better. I was driving through the desert of New Mexico en route to Taos talking about our cotton. In the last weeks, temperatures have consistently been over If we have a few more summers like this one, our landscape might morph into something more like the desert.
While a desert can be a beautiful landscape, it is much different from our home here in Alabama. Once home to Tee Jays Manufacturing Co. There are many strong companies that still find their homes here in this park on the edge of Florence and one, especially relevant to the upcoming 4 th of July celebrations, is TNT Fireworks. Anderson, founder of a successful book and magazine business, was seeking to sell seasonal products as a way of expanding his business.
Fireworks were a successful fit. Over the years, TNT has become the largest distributor of consumer fireworks in the nation, possibly the world; however, they continue to maintain strong local roots. I scoured the internet trying to find out where parades originated, or why. There are cave drawings from over ten thousand years ago that depict prehistoric men marching wild game home to cook in a wild and celebratory manner. Perhaps it is human nature — a group of people with a common cause just tend to rally around one another and rejoice.
When you think about the concept of people, musicians, floats, horses, waving pageant queens — it seems as though one would be overwhelmed at having every sense stimulated all at once. The week before, Jimmy, K. However, the soil needed to be broken up more finely in order to allow the planter to properly cover the seed.
This set us back a few days, but after another day of plowing to break the soil, Jimmy was finally ready to plant. We left off two weeks ago in search of a two-row planter that will help get our cottonseed in the ground. Fortunately, we were able to find one locally.
The soil has been finely chopped. More thanks to Kelly Pepper. Upon receiving our soil test results, we are determining the proper nutrients needed and the best organic fertilizers for the field. We started with the seed, and now we move on to the land. We are learning as we go, and taking every experience to heart. The search for seed began and taught us some of the important facts of organic cotton and cottonseed. In our conversation with Lynda Grose at Sustainable Cotton Project, Lynda shared her thoughts on organic, sustainable textiles, and the importance of knowing and working with your local farmers.
However, over the last few weeks, I feel that I made real progress and worked out a growth chart and mission statement that is a good fit for both me and for our staff more on that soon. Part of our Alabama Chanin growth mission includes committing ourselves to education on all levels and to finding even more ways to give back to our community.
Last month, we found a company — just around the corner from our own factory — who is doing just that. As Alabama Chanin has grown and evolved, we have built a business model that I strongly believe in. Many of you have been with us from the beginning, and many of you have found us along the way.
On a daily basis, we receive a bounty of emails, phone calls, and letters. Here we have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions.
Included are the mission and some history of Alabama Chanin. We invite you to explore, share, and of course let us know if there is something that we missed. We sincerely appreciate every email, query, and compliment that comes our way; we look forward to continuing the conversation.
While our FAQs is not meant to replace old-fashioned interaction we hope it gives anyone interested the opportunity to learn more about our company, just as we hope for opportunities to learn more about all of you. At the Factory, we play music to help set an inspiring tone for our work environment, and sometimes to just get us through the day. At any given time, you will hear a range of genres including folk, classical, rock, country, and independent artists.
The songs are sometimes bluesy, sometimes haunting, and always powerful. Their voices simply sound natural and right together. Organic cotton is the heart of Alabama Chanin. It binds all aspects of the company: sustainability, fashion, DIY, and craft. All of our garments- couture or DIY- are made with these naturally grown fibers. We have examined the influence cotton has had on our community. We have thought about its global impact. I have spent countless hours contemplating major business decisions because I feel it is vital to my own ethical truths and the philosophy of our company to buy and sell only organic cotton.
But, we have our own supply chain issues that affect commitment to organic cotton more to come on this very soon. It is no secret that I feel a commitment to my community; it is equally evident the role that growing up in Florence, Alabama, had on my development as a designer.
Textiles — the growing, picking, spinning, knitting, cutting, and sewing — were a part of the vernacular of small southern towns from the late s until the signing of NAFTA. My community has been no different. This textile history is present in our studio today and we are surrounded by friends, colleagues, and families who have worked textiles, their parents worked textiles, and their grandparents worked textiles.
I would ask Mr. It always worked. Eventually the wall came to change my entire life — but that is a story for later. Come back in a few weeks to read the rest. Any plans I may have had seemed to fall away into something far larger than I ever anticipated. It is easy to feel overwhelmed in such a position and I readily admit that, at times, I was incredibly overwhelmed. I have often said that I am not a quick learner, but I finally realized that my community has such a wealth of knowledge as to the workings of cotton AND manufacturing.
These two things had been part of the vernacular of this community for a century. When I was writing the proposal for the project, I called my aunt Elaine to ask if she might help me find a house to rent near her, in the community where my grandparents had been raised. She had just moved back herself, after years of living and working abroad and I thought — who better to help? As a newborn baby, I was brought home to this house.
It has been the only constant in my life since my birth. Growing up, I spend a LOT of time with my grandparents and knew their land like the back of my hand. We have heard from all but one of our Alabama Chanin family and all are safe but stunned. Thank you for all of your emails, texts, and calls. Our internet service in the office is out; however, the good news is that we have an office. For a decade, my work at Alabama Chanin has been made possible by our artisans.
Without them and our amazing staff, there would be no Alabama Chanin. Many of the artisans working with us today are the very same women who sewed those first deconstructed t-shirts. I want to express my deep gratitude. Wielding needle and thread for a decade, they have brought beauty, laughter, amazement and joy to my life and company not to mention all the garments, home-furnishings and projects along the way.
Over the decade, they have ranged in age from 20 to 80; among them have been secretaries, students, former textile mill employees, retired school teachers, and single mothers. Thanks to each and every one of you who has passed through our door- it has been a wonderful and still growing adventure…. It was staggering to see this iconic venue from my childhood develop to fantastic music venue.
The place was packed with friends, family, fans. What a great, and well deserved, honor. Learn more. Please visit the U. EPA website for questions regarding lead-safe work practices. I am interested in receiving promotions and information. Updating results. Any paid HVAC repair or maintenance service performed as of January 1, is automatically credited to your account. It never expires. Heating and cooling replacement and installation Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning HVAC are crucial to maintaining your comfort while in your home.
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