Hello, everyone. I’m Chie, the founder and Director General for Diamonds for Peace (DFP).
On September 19, 2019, the conference “Making Futures 2019” was held at Plymouth College of Art in the United Kingdom.
The main theme of “Making Futures 2019” was “People, Place, Meaning: Crafting Social worlds & Social Making”. We saw artists, designers, urban planners and those who have been trying to use more ethical materials for their products taking part in the conference. They presented about their activities, talked about the society they are aiming for, and exchanged the ideas on various topics.
I gave the speaker presentation “Case Studies in Upstream and Downstream Responsibly Sourced Diamonds”. I talked about DFP’s activities on the diamond supply chain, both upstream and downstream, to make it more responsible. For example, DFP has been developing various training targeting the artisanal diamond miners and diggers to develop their capacity (upstream), and educating consumers so that they will change their behaviors when purchasing diamond jewelries (downstream).
I received some comments from the participants including: “I will definitely buy them if diamonds are exported from the cooperative in Liberia”, “The voices and the data from the local community are precious and interesting.” I was happy to make new friends as well as to hear about offers of future collaboration.
The conference had topic-based sessions as well as several general speeches.
The most prominent message was that “Now is the time to take action. Otherwise it will be too late”. The first general speech not only showed a graph of CO2 emissions and temperatures rising, but it included strong messages “How long will we have to depend on oil?”, “Do we depend on ‘cheap labor’ forever to manufacture products?” and “Is it possible to change our consumption habits?” Though we have no single answer to these questions, it is necessary that we learn from one another and change our behaviors. The purpose of “Making Futures” is to give a place to promote such mutually beneficial learning environments.
Let me introduce you to some of the interesting sessions I attended.
I heard a presentation of a project that supports a craftspeople’s cooperative in Panama. It was about a tribe called Guna living in a marginal region of Panama. The tribe’s female members produce a patchwork named Mola, and efforts have been made to introduce these products into the mainstream of the fashion industry in the western countries.
As Guna people have no alphabet, they have been using mola clothes to express everything about their tradition and culture from ancient times and to share this knowledge with the next generations. The women in the above photo live in a border area where they seldom see tourists visiting their village, so it is difficult for them to gain economic profits because there’s no other industry, which hinders the Panamanian government from supporting them.
Mola is popular as a souvenir of Panama, but the souvenir market is already too competitive and they have to sell their products at low price. On the other hand, the above women have no access to internet and information, which isolates them from the world market. The speaker was a young British designer who once came to the region and got acquainted with them, and since then, she has been engaged in providing them with technical supports in order to produce Mola products that are high quality enough to sell in the high fashion industry of Western countries. Through this partnership, the cooperative is able to export their products to Europe and North America.
I found this session interesting, because it mirrors some aspects of the situation of the artisanal diamond miners/diggers that we (Diamonds for Peace) have been supporting.
The conference had small-scale expositions between the sessions. We also had an amusement show performance after the dinner. The conference’s myriad of activities created a constantly entertaining and memorable event.
Lisa Simpson’s amusement show “playing music by making clothes” is pictured above. She is sewing a pocket on participant’s clothes It was a show to play electric sounds by using sewing tools and a sewing machine that are linked to the sound-generating mechanism.
The final general session included a presentation by college students who have been holding school strikes inspired by Greta Thunberg’s climate change movement. Adults have to confront the fact that we are in a critical stage of climate change and environmental destruction and we have to act now.
People in Japan are not yet so aware of doing what we can do to help solve the climate change problem. However, I saw many people in United Kingdom who are willing to do their best to reduce CO2 emissions. They say, for example, “Let’s reduce our consumption of meats which production requires a vast amount of water and more CO2 emissions”, “let’s avoid using single-use plastic products”, “let’s use more train than plane” etc.
”Making Futures 2019″ gave me a fresh impression that, though we can do only a little as an individual, we can do much if we gather as a group, and that each of us should fulfill our responsibilities.
The front photo: A scene from the opening ceremony of “Making Futures” (photo by DFP)