Earlier this month we cautiously reopened our studio on Bainbridge Island. Our production assistant, Hannah, returned to work from Seattle via ferry and bike commute. James joined her and they are masked up with safety protocols in place as they work on building furniture and shipping out orders.
As grateful as we are to be back to work in this new and strange setup, like many, our heads and hearts are elsewhere. We are deeply disturbed by the systemic racism at work in America. From police violence and mass incarceration to how the pandemic hits certain communities harder to the long-standing racist policies built into housing and lending practices, Black people in America experience traumatic injustice every day. This includes living in the neighborhoods most affected by the climate crisis, pollution, contaminated drinking water and lack of food security.
We have been part of the frenetic protesting, donating, workshop taking, petition signing and information gathering and sharing over the past several weeks. We have felt an urgency to educate ourselves further and speak up. Black Lives Matter. Human rights are not optional.
We also know that we cannot act meaningfully from a place of emotion alone. Antiracist work is intensely personal. It requires time, reflection and commitment.
Grain has always made social and environmental responsibility the metric for measuring success, from materials and finishes, sourcing, production and artisan partnerships, to our carbon footprint and investment in environmental non-profits. As designers, we approach everything through a process of continuous improvement. We are actively at work to transition our business into a B Corporation making these commitments to progress more transparent and ourselves more accountable.
These are some of the questions we are asking ourselves as we do this work:
> How do we amplify the voices of BIPOC artists and designers?
> How do we better invest in BIPOC individuals and small businesses?
> How do we ensure we are not unknowingly investing in businesses that support racism or hate of any kind?
> How does our annual giving to environmental non-profits serve BIPOC communities?
> How do we acknowledge the ancestral land of the Suquamish Tribe where we live and work?
> How are we inspired by the creative work of cultures and traditions outside of our own and how do we ensure we do not appropriate from them in this process?
> How do we demand diversity, equity and inclusion in design education and the architectural and design community as a whole?
> How do we widen our lens beyond our predominantly white educational, professional and personal connections when we search for new employees or collaborators?
> How do we continue to educate ourselves and strengthen our antiracist knowledge and practices over the lifetime of our business?
> How do we support antiracist policy in our local community?
We are a tiny business on an island in the woods and we know that our reach is small, but that has never stopped us in our belief that it is important to show up imperfectly with our values as our guide in each step that we take.
Thank you for reading all this, for supporting our work and for doing your own.