He is seeking partnership to take this clothing line to the next level and is currently poised
to produce some limited edition items in the United States.
As Steven notes, “I am all about repurposing in a structural way.” Steven is also about
reigniting the American imagination to the beauty of made in America and notes:
The new frontiers are not the Wild West. It’s not the Gold Rush. What can we
discover in the left behinds? What is it in our cities and urban places and our former
industrial places – in the manufacturing that is beautiful? Yes it’s neglected but it’s
not something to throw away. This is our soul. This is the essence of who we are.
We need to embrace it -- put it back together and put our future together.
Although cities and environments shape us in profound ways, Steven’s commentary is also
an example of how we shape our community by discovering beauty and opportunity where
we are. While attending my twenty-something neighbor’s housewarming in Winston-Salem,
North Carolina, I met an urban planning student studying the economic effects of textile mill
shutdowns and I suggested reading Steven’s book Ohio Knitting Mills – 26 Patterns
Celebrating Four Decades of American Sweater Style (Tatar with Gromilus, 2010). We
extended the discussion as she walked over to my house to check out the book. Her eyes
were filled with a sense of possibility and awe. This is why dialogue makes a difference
because it engages the imagination.
The Magic of Reinvention; “Elijah Drinks”
Bridging is that ah-ha moment that also prompts invention. You don’t have to be Jewish to
appreciate Marc Jaffe’s latest invention. The “Elijah Drinks” cup is a collaborative creation
and I asked him to provide backstory for a non-Jewish audience. Marc begins:
There’s a tradition at Passover Seder where a cup of wine is set up symbolically
waiting for Elijah the prophet at your table. Some time after the meal is over; you
invite Elijah in to drink with you. Most people go through a show of opening the door
to let Elijah in. And of course Elijah never comes in. We ended up not having
Passover at our house one year and this family we had it with – did something like
shaking the table and pretending that he was drinking from the wine as it was moving
around in the cup. I thought that was kind of lame. Why don’t you have something
so the wine disappears from the cup and then the light bulb went off in my head. I
thought that could be made and I went to Kerry Pollack, the friend who is a magician
(Penn & Teller/Copperfield) and could create all this stuff. We didn’t want it to
disappear gradually – it needed to go down all at once when the door was opened –
preferably without having your hands on it.