Catching Courage

Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other and press on. I climbed the hills near my house today, and tried to put the Costco lady out of my mind. You're 30 years too late. Such a defeatist attitude. If courage is contagious so is negativity and apathy. It's easy to listen to someone like that and give up. After all, no one's looking over my shoulder, ordering me to stick with this one-year Buy American journey. It's a free country. Isn't that what we used to say when we were kids and someone tried to boss us around? "It's a free country! Leave me alone!"

"Our system is so complicated now," a well-meaning friend told me this morning. "It's not that simple to buy American because nothing is purely from one place any more." Yes, true. There's so much cross-pollination of products. Even the cotton fabric in American made Cat's Pajamas comes from across the globe. You try, but it's tough to buy products 100% Made in USA. And when strangers and friends alike shrug their shoulders, you have to push on. You have to act as if things are going your way. Just pretend. Hey, it's a free country. Leave me alone to do this.

And so after my walk I went to my local grocery store. I bought canned organic tomatoes, fresh local basil, leeks, rosemary, parsley and chicken broth. I bought whole wheat pasta. And boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I bought beautiful fruits: strawberries, raspberries, apples and oranges. Out of these ingredients came the most delicious dinner: Baked chicken (drizzled with olive oil and topped with chopped parsley and rosemary); pasta with a light tomato sauce (lots of garlic and basil added). And for dessert, a fruit salad. All this bounty produced and sold here in our own country, placed on a table for dinner. I figured, for now, that's blessings a plenty. So what if 95% of our apparel is made offshore. We have sweet, leafy basil. We have plump, juicy raspberries. Let the naysayers hush.

I was about to put this day to rest when I received an email from my sister-in-law, Suzanne, in Kansas. "Hi ho, Tina. Tonight on Nightly Business Report on PBS, they highlighted a fashion designer in NY City – Nanette Lepore. Check out the info. She really wants to change the trend in clothing and manufacture in the US…"

And just like that, I caught courage. Suzanne couldn't have known I'd hit a bump in the Buy USA road and had been feeling out of place with the rest of the world. But she sews quilts; maybe those talented, nimble fingers of hers picked up psychic energy between her part of America and mine. Whatever the reason, she saved me. Nanette Lepore, Nanette Lepore…Where have I heard that name…? I checked out PBS's Nightly News online, found the piece on Ms. Lepore, watched it. And as soon as I saw her face I remembered her interview in "Schmatta," an HBO documentary about the disappearing New York garment district.

As I watched Ms. Lepore speak with passion and conviction about keeping manufacturing in the heart of New York City, I sat up straighter, wanted to talk to her, at the very least wanted to get the word out about who she is and what she's {with great courage} doing. Hey, it's a free country. And she's not going to let any offshore bullies push her around. More to come.