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Atlanta Ballet Costumers Become Medical Mask Makers


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I didn't respond to this earlier, because it's hard to avoid politics in touching on these issues. Of course I'm glad the companies are doing this kind of project, but I find it kind of appalling that the country isn't better prepared with medical grade protective materials for those on the medical front line....So I have a certain ambivalence about these "feel good" mask stories. If medical workers are really in need of ballet company costume shops....then, well, we're in bad shape. 

Edited by Drew
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54 minutes ago, Drew said:

I didn't respond to this earlier, because it's hard to avoid politics in touching on these issues. Of course I'm glad the companies are doing this kind of project, but I find it kind of appalling that the country isn't better prepared with medical grade protective materials for those on the medical front line....So I have a certain ambivalence about these "feel good" mask stories. If medical workers are really in need of ballet company costume shops....then, well, we're in bad shape. 

Many would agree with you. But I like the fact that there are still plenty of people immediately willing to help out in a bad situation. We're not yet that country of 'couch potatoes' waiting around to be taken care of. So that's one good thing to be reminded of.

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2 hours ago, pherank said:

Many would agree with you. But I like the fact that there are still plenty of people immediately willing to help out in a bad situation. We're not yet that country of 'couch potatoes' waiting around to be taken care of. So that's one good thing to be reminded of.

But finally this has nothing to do with being a couch potato or waiting to be taking care of — i can’t help but reject that way of framing the matter even if I think you are making a generously optimistic point. This (the need for protective gear for medical workers) concerns competent public health policy and competent political leadership. Nor do I imagine health workers prefer not to have the most sophisticated and secure protection—however grateful they (and we) may be for these efforts by the costume departments of ballet companies and others. Which are—yes, of course—altogether admirable. But what they are is not a replacement for what the country needs. And to ignore that while admiring what they do risks leading to other kinds of passivity....

Edited by Drew
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11 minutes ago, Drew said:

But finally this has nothing to do with being a couch potato or waiting to be taking care of — i can’t help but reject that way of framing the matter even if I think you are trying to make a generously optimistic point. It concerns competent public health policy and competent political leadership. Nor do I imagine health workers prefer not to have the most sophisticated and secure protection—however grateful they (and we) may be for these efforts by the costume departments of ballet companies and others. Which are—yes, of course—altogether admirable for what they are. But what they are is not a replacement for what the country needs. And to ignore that while taking pleasure in a ‘feel good’ ballet-fan moment risks leading to other kinds of passivity....

We've been talking about those very things over in the Covid-19 thread. The U.S. in particular is engaged in a huge tug-of-war between local needs and powers, and federal needs and powers. There's no fix in sight given the competing value sets. And that's why it's so important to be actively doing something positive to help things along.

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5 minutes ago, pherank said:

We've been talking about those very things over in the Covid-19 thread. The U.S. in particular is engaged in a huge tug-of-war between local needs and powers, and federal needs and powers. There's no fix in sight given the competing value sets. And that's why it's so important to be actively doing something positive to help things along.

Just a note to say that the very second you posted, I had just finished editing my post to moderate the tone a little. However, the content is the same...and your post responds to it....while...uh....preserving my earlier words....

Edited by Drew
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12 hours ago, Drew said:

If medical workers are really in need of ballet company costume shops....then, well, we're in bad shape. 

We are indeed in bad shape,  and it will take a Herculean effort to get us out of it.  First off,  we need to make sure that in future,  we don't have to import ALL of our vital medical equipment and protective gear from another country,  especially a country that is in a tug-of-war with us for economic dominance.  Meanwhile,  we can make masks. 

Most of the masks made by workshops and home sewers are used to cover medical grade N95 masks to prolong their usefulness.  More and more cities are requiring people to wear masks in public,  so many people are making them for themselves and their families.  I've been watching mask making demos on YouTube the way some people watch cat videos.  I still have my elegant Swedish sewing machine,  and plenty of unwanted clothes to cut up,  so I've been making masks for myself and people I work with.   (I've been designated an "essential employee",  which sounds like a compliment,  but really means that I risk my health traveling on trains and buses and dealing with the public.  But of course that's nothing compared to what medical personnel go through.)

The rest of the time I'm holed up in my apartment.  Making masks helps give me back a feeling of control over these terrible circumstances,  and I'm sure I'm not alone.

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Two years ago in California N95 masks were in high demand due to the California wildfires, and sold out in all the hardware stores. That should have been a warning to 3M and the Federal Government.

States and federal responsibilies are not that complicated. One of that duties of the Feds is to mantain strategic reserves of oil and rubber, grain and medical supplies for an emergency. That's what got us through WWII. They also can buy in large quantities to keep the prices down, rather as now having the states to bid against each other, making a 95c mask cost $4.00 as it did for the State of New York. Then each state can distribute them the way it sees fit. I think this fits in with Drew's point.

The War Powers Act also helps enhance this. (Factoid: During WWII Ralph K Davies, whose wife's name, Louise M. Davies, graces our symphony hall here in San Francisco, coordinated all the oil companies' production.)

It was FDR's genius to bring everyone together, local and national interests, and to tamp down all the little natural strifes people have and not amplify them, and do that for three or four years.

Anyway making masks, like Victory Gardening, seems something we can all do for everyday use in the newish normal ahead.

In that spirit, yesterday I went through all the fabrics i've collected for various projects and evaluated for their masking efficiency and their "coolness," or at least so I don't look like a bandit from an old movie! Interesting the old percale pillow case that my grandmother embroidered has an amazingly tight weave structure, but I couldn't bear to tear it up. Old soft chinos from the great 1980s J Crew catalogues were also quite good but too difficult to breathe through. Third best were some soft Indonesian batik cloth which I'll probably, festively, use.

Edited by Quiggin
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