img_0103As I mentioned last week, I headed to Washington on Sunday January 18th to witness this historic inauguration as well as partake in some celebrations! I just wanted to take a moment to share my experiences with you. Without sounding too sentimental I want to say that I could not possibly express in words the feeling and buzz that engrossed that city for the four days I was there. I have never witnessed such an overwhelming and inspiring moment, especially caused by one man. And an American politician at that! But the country is ailing and this is exactly the shift we need.

img_0058The night before the inauguration I was lucky enough to attend the Manifest Hope (sponsored by MoveOn.org, Obey, and SEIU) party. The party was in celebration of the inauguration and artists had filled the gallery with some powerful pieces all inspired by Obama’s campaign. They were also themed around three major ideas that MoveOn.org is focusing on: Healthcare, Worker’s Rights, and Green Economy. The party was exciting and featured awesome performances by Santogold, Moby, and De La Soul. I even mustered up the courage to introduce myself to Moby and talk about veganism. I also briefly met Arnold Schwarzenegger as he strolled through the gallery. Even Rosario Dawson was attending and looked stunning(I’m a big fan of hers)! She was rockin out with the music and was more than nice to all of us commoners! The crowd was energized and we were all excited for tuesday’s events! We met a lot of great people from all over and we even sung Goodbye to Bush. The party raged until the wee hours of the morning as we all headed home for a few hours of rest.

img_0101The next morning I awoke and braved the crowds and frigid weather to make my way to the National Mall. It was about 17 degrees out and I had to walk about 10 miles through freeway ramps, tunnels, through bushes, and even over fences to make my way there! We stood in the cold for hours with millions of other Americans of all races, creeds, and economic status. Even though people were standing and walking for hours, the mood was jubilant. Everyone was helping and looking out for each other. Even the riot police and national guards were calm and so nice. They were not yelling at anyone, they just smiled and asked us all where we were from. I have img_0109never witnessed anything so moving. After hours of standing in the cold and being packed so tight with people we couldn’t breathe, I realized I was no where near a jumbo screen or speakers. So my friend and I decided it would be best if we jumped into a local bar so we could actually hear his speech. We experienced the best of both worlds, with the crowd raging outside and inside the bar, we watched the groundbreaking ceremony.

But really the biggest experience I had was meeting people from all over the world and the sentiment in the city. I have been to DC many times, but have never felt so connected to everyone there. No one minded the cold or the lines or the packed Metro. The police and locals were incredibly accommodating. We were interviewed by tons of press and everyone just seemed optimistic, like we had woken up out of an 8 year nightmare. I met people from as far away as Finland and as close as my neighborhood in Boston.
img_0054Obama may not be perfect and I may not agree with everything he does, but the man is competent and inspiring. To watch that many people brave the weather and travel from far off lands just to hear him speak brought tears to many eyes. He brings a new era of hope and responsibility to our country. We can only hope he lives up to his promises. I hope the optimism lasts but that people still challenge him, as he is human, and a politician at that. Let’s not forget what unwatched power can bring. And the road ahead will not be easy, but at least I feel relieved that our nation lays in the hands of an intelligent and inspirational man. I will never forget that day.
-Gina from Autonomie Project
A crowd of cheerful supporters on their way to National Mall
We took over the freeway tunnels!
Where we hung out with massive crowds!
Braving the cold for Obama!
The morning after–Obama’s house now!
Some Obama Swag from the Streets
Sporting Autonomie at the Manifest Hope Party
De La Soul working the crowds at the Manifest Hope Party
Dancing on Stage with Moby at the Manifest Hope party
Meeting Arnold as he made an appearance through the gallery
Manifest Hope Gallery
Obama inspired sculpture of wires
A New Era of Responsibility


obama-1If you are anything like us, yesterday was a total wash when it came to getting work done.  The Autonomie team was either braving the crowds at the inauguration (go Gina!) or completely glued to the tv all day long.  We were just totally intrigued by this special moment in our nation’s history and are truly excited for all that is to come in 2009 and beyond!

One thing that of course caught our attention as owners of a Fair Trade fashion company was all of the commentary on the clothing worn by the Obamas throughout the day.  Who wasn’t gossiping over Michelle Obama’s inauguration day dress made by Isabel Toledo and then the stunning gown she wore, danced in, and tripped on at all 10 inaugural balls.  If you’re not up on the fashion scoop, Michelle’s ball gown was designed and made especially for her by new up-and-coming designer Jason Wu.  It seems that critics across the board are applauding Michelle for her Big Day outfit choices for not only herself, but also for her 2 young daughters, Malia, age 10, and Sasha, age 7.

crew-cutsThe totally adorable and brightly colored winter coats donned by the girls as they watched their father be sworn in as the next leader of our country were made by none other than J.Crew’s new kid’s line Crew Cuts.  While Malia and Sasha’s coats were made especially for them and no other little girl will be able to wear the exact same thing, Michelle is still getting praised for not only how ultra cute the girls looked, but on her choice of using a very accessible and relatively affordable fashion brand unlike First Moms in the past.  While typical inaugural day fashions cost upwards of $1,000, Michelle’s use of an everyday clothing company found in malls across the nation has endeared her more to the American public than ever before.

jacketWhile we agree with the critics that it’s wonderful to see Michelle Obama not let the celebrity-dom of the White House get to her head and continue to shop in all-American locales, we are hardly handing out the accolades when we feel Mrs. Obama could have made a much bigger statement by dressing her daughters in outfits not made in sweatshops.  It’s true that Fair Trade and/or eco-friendly children’s fashions are much more difficult to find than just paying  a visit to the local mall, but they are no less adorable or affordable (like this Organic Baby Cardigan from Fair Indigo) and would have made enormous strides for the ethical fashion movement towards building more awareness and peace around the garment industry.  No doubt Crew Cuts sales of little girls’ jackets will soar through the roof after yesterday, so why not channel that celebrity power to some of the smaller, grassroots do-gooder companies that are so very aligned with Mr. Obama’s values and mission and are working tirelessly to bring positive change to both America and the world?

Now don’t get us wrong….we LOVE, love, love the Obamas.  How could you not?  They’re a beautiful, smart, loving and competent family.  The perfect face for America in 2009 and honestly, a breath of fresh air.  But we do hope that in the very near future, Mrs. Obama will start making headlines about supporting Fair Trade and eco-friendly fashions for her daughters.  Now wouldn’t that get some well-deserved attention from the media!

Washington DC is gearing up for the millions of people (myself included) heading there to partake in the inauguration celebration. With the influx of people in the city, they are buckling down for long crowds as well as tons of trash! So what will they do with all that trash? The city and inauguration event staff have taken on thousands of volunteers to ensure the trash around the city is picked up. On top of keeping the streets clean, the plan is to recycle most if not all of the trash collected during the celebration. Along with the trash collection,  this green team will be collecting the manure left behind from all the horses ridden by the police. The manure will then be sold to local farms.

On top of the recycling program, Obama’s inauguration celebration includes some great other green moves such as recycled paper used for invitations and all materials used for catering the dinner will be recyclable and biodegradable. All attendees are asked not to drive and expected to take the Metro, even in full evening gear. 

There are also several Green Inauguration Balls planned including one on Monday featuring Al Gore and one planned for tonight featuring entertainment from Wyclef Jean and hosted by several groups including Discovery Channel’s Planet Green and Green Corps

Finally, during the parade, several floats are recycled from previous parades intentionally to reduce waste of making new floats. The heat shields intended to keep the parade participants warm on the bitter winter day will be donated to local homeless shelters after the event.

So these changes may seem small and won’t stop global warming per se, but it sets an example and possibly a tone for how Obama’s administration will take Green seriously. For the very first time a president has worked along with the EPA to make sure the inauguration has the smallest impact possible. If that isn’t a sign of things to come, than I don’t know what is! See you all in DC and let’s celebrate our democracy in an eco-friendly way!

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