This year’s Jewlicious Festival, our 6th in as many years, is going to be an Open Source event. What does that mean? Well, allow me to explain. From day one, it was our fondest hope to run similar festivals in other cities. To date however, the only Jewish community that has been able to get it together enough to host a Jewlicious Festival has been that of Long Beach, CA (and this year Los Angeles as well). The Festival has been otherwise successful beyond all our original expectations, attracting young Jews from across the US and Canada and top notch speakers and musical acts from around the world. Why hasn’t Jewlicious spread beyond Long Beach? Maybe it’s because we’re just exhausted. Maybe only Long Beach can muster the necessary, albeit modest resources and communal will to make it happen. Maybe it’s because people continue to assume we’re a Chabad Kiruv organization. Maybe we just suck at writing grant proposals. I don’t know.
But this year, we’re going to do something different. We’re going Open Source so that anyone who cares to can follow along and learn about what it takes to run the largest Jewish Student and Young Adult Festival in the world. And I promise you, it’ll be interesting. Seriously.
So what am I working on now? About a zillion things, but for my first Open Source Post I decided I’d write about t-shirts. Seems like a pretty straight forward issue, right? Wrong. Every year we print up a mess of commemorative t-shirts, hoodies and other apparel. Everyone loves a good t-shirt and we figure if folks wear the shirts after the festival, the wearer essentially becomes a walking advertisement for us, the organization.
Everyone gives away t-shirts using the same logic and so do we. We even try to make the shirts cool in and of themselves and that informs our design decisions and our decision to use American Apparel products. Those shirts are hot – well designed, comfy and beloved. But every year it’s a struggle as there are cheaper alternatives to American Apparel and we are an extremely budget conscious Festival – I spent an hour today trying to find Chinese Parasols priced $1 less than commonly available, thus saving us… $50.
I told you we were budget conscious.
But I digress. So the formula for a successful organizational shirt is 1) great design – something that is reflective of the organization but that is also cool to wear on its own after the Festival 2) great t-shirt, one that people will want to wear after the Festival and finally 3) Politically correct/Environmentally friendly. It wouldn’t do to have Festival goers wearing t-shirts manufactured in 3rd world sweat shops.
This year I looked for alternatives, just so I could say I did my due diligence. The Progressive Jewish Alliance publishes a list of Apparel manufacturers that are Sweat Shop Free. Curiously, the list does not include American Apparel. But it does include manufacturers whose unionized workers get paid less than the non-unionized workers at American Apparel. It includes manufacturers with boring, unimaginative and really expensive shirts, or manufacturers who do not make t-shirts, or manufacturers who are slowly winding down their business etc. etc. Basically, no one on the list was a suitable alternative. No wonder so many otherwise progressive Jewish organizations also use American Apparel. And I think we’re going to be one of them. Again.
Right now I’m negotiating with American Apparel for as good a price as possible on shirts. And I am working on a t-shirt design inspired by something I saw on Yellow Rat Bastard. Soon maybe you’ll see it. We’re also going to print some of the ever popular “I <3 Hashem” shirts and maybe some new “I Am Jewlicious” shirts that’ll help alter the impression that we’re Chabadniks. Because we’re not. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…