The mission of Fibershed is to change the way we clothe ourselves by supporting the creation of local textile cultures that enhance ecological balance, and utilize regional agriculture while strengthening local economies and communities.

Vision
We envision the emergence of an international system of regional textile supply chains that enliven individual community connection and ownership of ‘Soil-to-Skin’ processes.  These diverse textile cultures are designed to regenerate the natural systems on which they depend, while directly enhancing the strength of regional economies.  Fiber systems–like food systems, are dependent upon agricultural processes that now face a drastically changing climate, and must utilize the best of time-honored knowledge and available science for their long-term ability to thrive.

As each Fibershed manages their resources with an eye toward creating a permanent and lasting textile culture; these efforts to take full responsibility for a garment’s lifecycle will diminish pressure on highly polluted and ecologically undermined areas of the world.  (China produces 52% of the world’s textiles.  The industry is the third largest fresh water polluter in the country.)

Future Fibershed communities will rely upon renewable energy powered mills that will exist in close proximity to where the fibers are grown. Through strategic grazing, integrated systems management, and conservation tillage our farming practices will create climate beneficial clothing that will become the new standard in a world looking to rapidly mitigate the effects of climate change. We see a nourishing tradition emerging… one that connects the wearer to the local field where the clothes were grown, building a system that can last for countless generations into the future…re-defining what it means to be truly sustainable.

How did the Fibershed project start?

The project began with a commitment by its founder, Rebecca Burgess to develop and wear a prototype wardrobe whose dyes, fibers, and labor were sourced from a region no larger than 150 miles from the project’s headquarters.  Burgess had no expected outcomes from the personal challenge other than to reduce her own ecological footprint and maybe inspire a few others.  Burgess teamed up with a talented group of farmers and artisans to build the wardrobe by hand, as manufacturing equipment had all been lost from the landscape more than 20 years ago.  The goal was to illuminate that regionally grown fibers, natural dyes, and local talent was still in great enough existence to provide this most basic human necessity– our clothes.  Within months, the project became a movement, and the word Fibershed and the working concept behind it spread to regions across the globe, with at least 15 similar projects now underway in different parts of the world.  Burgess founded the Fibershed Marketplace in 2011 to inspire the team of artisans and farmers to stay together in a state of collaboration through a cooperatively run green business model.  In 2012, Burgess founded Fibershed’s 501c3 to address and educate the public on the environmental, economic, and social benefits of de-centralizing the textile supply chain, for the purpose of creating regional, resilient, and community organized textile cultures that support rural and urban cross-collaboration.

Prototype Wardrobe Impact:

  • Zero toxic dye effluent
  • Zero pesticides or herbicides, genetically modified organisms, or synthetic biology
  • Sustained a regional community of artisans and farmers that continue to collaborate and grow in number
  • Reduced CO2 impact in the cases we were able to measure by 6X that of conventional equivalents, proving to us that clothing can be made in a climate sensitive manner.

 

57 Responses to About

  1. Stacy says:

    You are amazing Rebecca and a true inspiration to us all!

  2. Martha Whitt says:

    I heard about this project through the interview with Cultural Energy Radio. I think it is the most fabulous project I’ve heard of in a long time and I believe in it with all my heart!

    • ecologicalartist says:

      Thank you Martha! So nice to hear from you, it is so refreshing to read your inspired words. I look forward to sharing more Fibershed stories with you!

  3. Hello,

    Do you sell socks? Handknit wool socks are so hard to find.

    Thank you.

    All My Best,
    Stephanie

    • ecologicalartist says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      I don’t currently sell socks.. we are working on creating a database now of artisans (who can knit you socks) and all the farms that can supply the local fibers for your artisans of choice…

      Stay tuned!

      Thanks for checking in!

  4. [...] first step for Rebecca’s Fibershed challenge is to process all of the locally sourced wool and cotton that the local fiber artists [...]

    • margaret reeve panahi says:

      We need more wool processing infrastructure here in the Eastern part of the US dearly! Carding,scouring etc. Do you know of any projects that are working on this?
      Thank you,
      Margaret

  5. [...] is what Fibershed means. It means wearing locally grown, spun, designed and produced clothes that look and feel [...]

  6. [...] of fabrics, I came upon this website the other day http://fibershed.wordpress.com/about/ wherein an artist and clothesmaker named Rebecca Burgess is attempting–with very very classy [...]

  7. Jo Newman says:

    Rebecca,
    I have been trying to reach you since I took a class with you at the Sangati center but I got no reply from Depa and your contact form didn’t work for me. If you have time I would love to talk to you about further workshops.
    Thanks so much!

  8. [...] is one of the talented fiber artists contributing to Rebecca’s fibershed [...]

  9. Asif Iqubal says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Really inspiring work you are doing there. Really happy to came across your blog. I’m from Bangladesh where I work as a general manager for a garments manufacturing plant which export to USA. and came to realize day by day just how much we are polluting the fresh water resources among other things. I went to school in KY, USA. After I got back I started to see the contrast between the first world and the third world.

    Well, hoping the best for you.

    Asif.

  10. Heather says:

    Found your blog by way of the CCA article (I studied graphic design there in the early 90′s). I’m currently making bags and accessories… not yet using local or organic products, but plan to in the future. I recommend that you stop by or call Roots Collaborative in Mill Valley, I think they would be very interested in your work! Their blog: http://rootscollaborative.wordpress.com

    • ecologicalartist says:

      Hi there!
      Thank you for the tip on the roots collaborative! Do you have a link to the CCA article?
      Let me know if you want tips on local and or organic material sources.. we are soon to have a database up with virtual links to the whole Fibershed– ‘soon’ meaning as the year closes, and when we’ve got everybody’s details transcribed.. Thank you for reading, supporting, and checking in, all very appreciated!!

  11. [...] Many challenges are out there right now to live a more simple fashion life but when I saw this Fibershed challenge I realized I needed to step it up.The Fibershed challenge “Is inspired by the need [...]

  12. [...] dyes event on January 3rd, organized by Rebecca Burgess, teacher, writer, and founder of the Fibershed Project. After weeks of rainy weather, the sun shone brightly on our gathering of Fibershed artisans, [...]

  13. Kristin says:

    Rebecca,

    You are truly amazing. I would absolutely love to talk with you about a project I’m working on — a very small, minimalist clothing line. We’re researching manufacturing options, and it seems like you might be in the know. We’re baffled about the lack of cotton mills and spinning operations, and we want to change things in America.

    I’d love to chat and change the world! Thanks for your inspiration, and for sharing.

    Best + Much Love

  14. Lori says:

    Would you like to speak at Greenlife May 21-22nd at the Grass Valley Fairgrounds about dressing locally? Let me know – Thanks – Lori

  15. Elle Emmiss says:

    Hello! I’ve been reading your blog for the last six months. I have to congratulate you, because I didn’t think it was possible to have an entire wardrobe that was community grown and manufactured. It isn’t possible here in central Florida (I checked).

    I look forward to reading more about your cause and method.

  16. Greg Heilers says:

    New to this website. I find your idea wonderful! I focus on food production at the moment. Your focus is so important! Last year I decided to purchase only previously-used clothing from stores such as Goodwill, knowing there are plenty of garments out there that could be used again and again. I like your idea because it goes right to the source- learning how to produce for ourselves in a manner that is less harmful to our planet than our current mode of living is an important process in this day! Good luck with your project and I hope you are able to inspire others and yourselves to continue longer than this year!

  17. I would like to get in touch with you because I manufacture knitwear using certified organic wool in my studio in Oakland. I would like to support and contribute to your project. I am elated to see that a local, solar mill is in the works, since at this time I get my wool from Maine. I would like to start a supply-line with local wool producers. Please send me an email, or give me a call.

  18. Hi, great stuff! Are you selling wholesale? If so we would like to carry some at our surf shop in Mill Valley. We heard about you through Marin Organic.

    Thanks!

  19. Amazing blog and amazing project. Thanks for doing this. I’ve seen a 100 mile suit, in crafts report, but it was ugly and ill fitting and the wool was itchy. It gave local fiber and local textile crafts a bad name. Thanks for proving that local fiber and local designers can create beautiful, functional clothing given the right materials and enough time.

    Joybilee Farm (www.fiberarts.ca) has been growing mohair, wool, angora and llama fiber for 10 years and has been producing 100% local hats, socks, mittens, sweaters and slippers from these fabulous fibers, bred for clothing. But we’ve been a lonely voice crying in the wilderness. So happy to see that there are other voices out there, much stronger than ours. I’m blogging about you today. Best wishes for success in your project.
    Chris

  20. Tammie says:

    Beautiful and inspiring blog. Thank you

  21. Nancy McKee-Jolda says:

    The photos and stories of the fashion show are wonderful – full of life, and a strong, affirming understanding of ourselves and the world we live in! Thank you for all the details of foods, dyes, makers, wearers. The good work of the Febershed community inspires and encourages Rob and me.

    Perhaps you are already thinking of expanding this work to include clothing for men. They hold up half the sky too! We’d love to hear what you are thinking of for our friends, husbands, partners, sons, uncles, fathers, grandfathers.

    with much appreciation for the work and heart you all so generously weave into Febershed,
    Nancy

    • ecologicalartist says:

      Hi Nancy! We did have a lovely men’s line geared up to go! Our designer fell very ill, and was unable to complete the project in time… we will just have to have another event with his wares, when he is well again! xo

  22. Paul Ahearn says:

    Our local Dixon Lamb Festival has wool grower/processor folks that should be a great resource for this crowd. While living and working with thousands of sheep during my teens and 20′s, my family has been focused on cattle production and general farming for past 3 decades. The low impact and relative ease of growing sheep, goats, and llamas should make this agri-hobby-profession a true growth opportunity. Good luck to all, and thanks for the warm woolens !!! :):):)

  23. [...] it’s food and fiber production. Check out Fibershed for an intriguing project and a few educational stats. She also has some beautiful [...]

  24. Jude says:

    lovely blog… i am inspired by your mission. i to am passionate about natural fibers and textiles. i wish i lived closer! blessings, jude

  25. Margie G says:

    What a fascinating, informative, lovely site to look at & read thru. A real feast for the senses. I look forward to seeing more soon! All the best from another fibre fanatic, mixed media artist from Downunder Australia!! Margie G

  26. susan evans says:

    i want to be on a list to hear more about these isssues and future fashion shows
    Thanks
    Susan

    • ecologicalartist says:

      Hi Susan!

      If you go to Facebook– and search for Fibershed– there is a fan page. If you ‘like’ us it is one way to hear about our events. Simultaneously, there is a ‘join our mailing list’ option on the left hand column of our fan page. Clicking on this is the best way!

  27. rae says:

    This is such a cool project. I’m a high school student and i just started learning to weave and use a loom. This is inspiring!

  28. virginia rinehart says:

    I am so excited to have heard about this. I have worked in and around the garment industry my entire career and I recently have been seeking locally sourced linen, cotton and silk only to constantly be told- there is none.

    Your mission statement speaks to everything I have been so anxious to understand.

    Having just returned from Italy and lived in Ireland- I see amazing textiles and garments produced locally for centuries in those nations. When I question why there is no longer any production in the US- I am told it moved offshore due to the polluting . And I immediately ask what is the pollution cost of shipping product halfway around the world and back again.

    For the past several years I have watched young “designers” purchase garments ( made overseas), pack the garment up- send it overseas again ( to be copied overseas) , and then get it back 6 months later- badly sewn and ill fitting. And we sell it and people purchase it ( without understanding the real cost of it.)

    None of this makes any sense to me from an economic, environmental or excellence perspective.

    I am so grateful for this. Thank you.

    Virginia Rinehart

  29. Allison McInerney says:

    Wow! What an amazing and inspired idea! Thank you so much for spreading the news of what you are doing to address your local needs and problems! I wish you all the very best in the future, and hope to do the same in my township here in Australia :)

  30. Margie G says:

    Thanks for inspiring me to do some natural dying with Gum tree leaves and bark, mistletoe etc. while on a Spirutuality Retreat in the beautiful Simpson Desert, Central Australia. I dyed a variety of pure silk, cotton and hemp fabrics in a milo tin on the open camp fire. It was a great experience made even better by doing the dying. I will be doing a lot more back home in South Australia! I am going to be encouraging others to do some natural dying and will be teaching the basics at an Artists Retreat I am hosting in October. Thanks again. Cheers. Margie G

  31. Krissy says:

    I am a local mother, yoga and dance teacher in Sonoma, Ca. I would love to model these gorgeous and heartfelt clothes in my classes in an effort to get the word out. I teach over 100 students a week ages 0-80, who always ask me what I’m wearing and wear did I find it. Outside of the studio, I wear mostly vintage, hand me downs and organic cotton products. I’m a small, but mighty 5’3″. I think I could really sell and advertise for this valuable project and collective group of insanely talented artists! Please contact me a.s.a.p. and let me know how I can help. Krissymarchus@gmail.com. Thank you!
    Krissy

  32. I would LOVE to add your blog to my igoogle homepage but you don’t have an RSS feed button anywhere I can find – Or an email sign-up list? Am I missing it somewhere? Thanks for doing what you’re doing though!

  33. Trace says:

    I have made you my blog of the week.
    Love this concept.
    x te

  34. I love your work. You are really an artist.

  35. Kaliya says:

    Love this!
    I am interested in starting this type of project where ever I live. How do I get started?
    I would like to know a book or place I can learn about the natural dyes you know about. ( also need common names along with latin names)
    On a side note, I am an artist and one of my arts is handmake paper. I am interested in sources of fiber for this art, especially cotton.
    thanks

    • ecologicalartist says:

      Hi Kaliya,

      We are launching our website in about a week or so… and we’ll have info on how to start a fibershed project on the website. The book Harvesting Color, that I wrote has latin and common names of dye plants across the country, as well as the Navajo name, where appropriate. I think there are many ways of utilizing fabric scraps for paper… although I know very little about the process– I think linen and hemp fiber are such great sources for paper, but again I’m not sure where to purchase those fibers locally… but I’m looking forward to those fibers being farmed soon!

  36. Kaliya says:

    Please let me know when your website goes up with the information on how to start a fibershed
    project locally. I will also look up the book on natural dyes. thanks

    • ecologicalartist says:

      To receive email announcements, please sign up for our mailing list. There’s a link at the bottom of the page on the left. Thanks!

  37. Kaliya says:

    I tried to subscribe via the wordpress “follow ” thing but the link was not working.
    I would like to get the posts, etc. Please put me on the list. Thanks.,

    • ecologicalartist says:

      If you scroll down to the bottom of the page there are 3 social networking icons on the right. The orange one is for RSS feed, and if you click it you will be able to subscribe. After the RSS feed window appears, look in the right hand column where it says “Subscribe in Mail.” Hope that helps!

  38. [...] How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess. Have you heard of her? She started the Fibershed project where she challenged herself for one year, to wear only clothes that were locally produced. And [...]

  39. [...] more about their mission statement here. They also have a link devoted to starting your own fibershed. I will definitely be going back and [...]

  40. [...] her Fibershed experiment, Burgess founded a nonprofit of the same name, with the goal of building “a thriving bioregional textile culture that functions hand in hand [...]

  41. [...] Folk Art* in San Francisco that they were offering a workshop in collaboration with Etsy Labs and Fibershed on shibori, a very accessible way for me to finally get some experience in this centuries-old [...]

  42. [...] The Fibershed main page:  http://www.fibershed.com/about/ [...]

  43. Micah says:

    Wonderful post! We are linking to this particularly great article on our site.
    Keep up the good writing.

  44. […] why the story of Fibershed–a California-based project aimed at localizing clothing and reminding consumers of its ties […]

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Upcoming Events

  1. Work Party: Biodynamic Cotton Initiative & Fibershed Indigo Project

    July 28 @ 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    Healdsburg CA
  2. Fibershed Marketplace @ Sebastopol Farmers’ Market

    August 3 @ 10:00 am - 1:30 pm
    |Recurring Event (See all)
    Every month on the first Sunday until December 31, 2014
    Sebastopol CA
  3. Farmer’s Market @ Marin Country Mart

    August 9 @ 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
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    Every month on the second Saturday until December 31, 2014
    Larkspur CA
  4. Farmer’s Market @ Temescal, Oakland

    August 10 @ 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
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    Every month on the second Sunday until December 31, 2014
    Oakland CA
  5. Fibershed Marketplace @ Sebastopol Farmers’ Market

    September 7 @ 10:00 am - 1:30 pm
    |Recurring Event (See all)
    Every month on the first Sunday until December 31, 2014
    Sebastopol CA
  6. Woolgathering: Spin, Weave, Knit, Dye, Felt

    September 11 @ 8:00 am - September 14 @ 4:00 pm
    Cedarville