The cause is just. The time is right. The shirt is ready.
Each T-shirt is manufactured by American Apparel in all the usual sizes (Men's and Women's) and emblazoned by hand with the fierce Arik Roper three-coyote design you can see above. And, as with Defend Brooklyn, who we're officially sanctioned by, every T-shirt comes with a summary of the Bill of Rights inscribed on a small tag sewn into its side seam. You won't just know your rights, you'll be wearing them, as you use them to DEFEND JOSHUA TREE.
DEFEND JOSHUA TREE. Before it's too late.
Upon funding, T-shirts will be manufactured and then hand-delivered to Joshua Tree residents and shipped via USPS to others. We expect to fill all orders no later than the end of February, 2012.
We live on unfenced land on a dirt road in Joshua Tree, not far from the national park. Our house is next to a large swath of unblemished-by-humans Bureau of Land Management land. We live amongst wild beings, in natural quiet. We're very lucky. It's nice for us here, and we're doing our best to steward the land we own.
But. Down by the four-lane highway just a few miles from the park's border, an Indian tribe wants to build a massive, off-reservation casino. A predatory out-of-state corporation wants to build a pseudo-general store on open land to make easy money off our fixed-income and low-income neighbors. The economic crash has sent the unemployment and food-stamp numbers here through the roof. People who bought homes from predatory lenders are stuck paying mortgages for much more than their homes are worth. Weird water policies have meant that we have to look beyond our own local aquifer for water. Energy companies want to build fields of solar panels and windmills to supply power to the cities that will not supply power for themselves. Off-road vehicles are driven illegally on county roads and in BLM land regularly, crushing animals and plants, disturbing the landscape and breaking the hard-won silence.
In other words, almost everybody here is hurting. Almost everything here is in danger. Needs defending.
I thought of my friend Dave Reeves. Dave wrote many great columns and articles for Arthur Magazine (which I edited) and provided much raw fuel and blazing inspiration for that project. But his real claim to fame and fortune is that he was the originator of the Defend Brooklyn T-shirt in 1996. The "Defend [where you live]" concept is a brilliant one, in and of itself — read Dave's http://www.arthurmag.com/2009/09/18/defense-industry-report-1/ if you want the background philosophy, history and some great riffs on how culture works. But the "Defend" concept is also brilliant because it can be applied anywhere, which is one of the reasons why it's been ripped off so many times.
I went to Dave to see if there was a way that we could use his Defend idea here in Joshua Tree. We figured out a deal. And now, my partner Stephanie Smith and I have started a http://defendjt.wordpress.com/ blog, which is being updated regularly with news and views on what's going down here and what we can do about it. Meanwhile, artist http://arikroper.com, who did so much gorgeous work in the pages of Arthur Magazine through the years, as well as on posters, T-shirts and album covers, has made a designs for a Defend Joshua Tree T-shirt starring a pack of local coyotes, protecting their young.
We want to start manufacturing these T-shirts as soon as possible.
With fifteen hundred dollars' worth of T-shirt orders, we can put in place a sustainable Defend Joshua Tree wholesale/retail business that won't be dependent on pre-orders, pledges and so on. If "Defend..." works here, in a town of less than 8,000... Well, we think the implications beyond this one campaign are obvious.
That's fine: we'll use your pledge money to give a shirt to a deserving neighbor.
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