Whether it comes to fighting climate change, giving back to marginalized groups or uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, there are always creatives and companies that focus on social and political justice. As we report on these movements, we tag each story with the words Good Measure, curating a resource for ourselves and our readers to refer to whenever hope, encouragement and empowerment is needed. This year—between the Russo-Ukrainian War, the overturning of Roe v Wade and attacks on queer people’s rights—these stories rose to the occasion, reminded us to stay resilient and showed us how to keep going. The following are a few favorites from 2023 that demonstrate how change was and always is possible.
Walid Raad’s “Festival of Gratitude” Uses Birthday Cakes to Examine Worldwide Fascism
On 28 July, the same day former and controversial president of Venezuela Hugo Chávez was born, art series Festival of Gratitude launched with decadent birthday cakes for Vladimir Putin, Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Chavez himself. The mystifying NFT project is the inaugural series from new art platform Artwrld and stems from artist and co-founder of the platform Walid Raad whose performances, installations and photography often address politics. Through ostentatious and seemingly absurd digital cakes, Raad’s festival celebrates the birthday of tyrannical and controversial world leaders as a means of depicting the global state of fascism in an incisive manner… Read More.
Inspired by California and Owned by Women, LA’s Future Gin
Within the expansive category of gin distillation, few embody the juicy and refreshing taste of California and even fewer are fully owned and operated by women. These distinctions are just part of what makes Future Gin so exceptional. Founded by four friends—Amy Atwood, Mary Bartlett, Freya Estreller and Natasha Case—Future Gin bottles the 50+ combined years of expertise in the food, wine and spirits industry that the team holds. Together the quartet created one of the first fully women-owned and -operated distilled gins in existence, an optimistic spirit in taste and values… Read More.
Meal-Delivery Platform Shef Empowers Immigrants and Refugees
When Alvin Salehi worked as a senior technology advisor under President Obama, he visited the Syrian border to learn more about the refugee crisis and, in doing so, found himself looking into something of a mirror. As a child of Iranian immigrants who came to the US in the 1970s, Salehi knew firsthand that whether one has the privilege of a safe and stable life or not begins with where you happen to be born. Having grown up in motel rooms, watching his family struggle to build a new life in a new country, Salehi doesn’t take that privilege lightly. So when he met with seven-year-old refugee kids who looked almost identical to him, he saw himself and his younger brother reflected in them. “After a trip like that, there’s just so much that compels you to want to do something to help,” he tells us… Read More.
The Ali Forney Center’s We Are Family Dance-A-Thon
On Trans Day of Remembrance, this 20 November, the Ali Forney Center (AFC)—the nation’s largest non-profit committed to housing, feeding and supporting homeless LGBTQ+ youth—will host the WE ARE FAMILY DANCE-A-THON at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY. Funds from the culinary-oriented, energetic and optimistic event will directly benefit AFC’s meals program and the organization’s critical efforts at assisting the food insecure… Read More.
Cxffeeblack’s Mission to Decolonize The Coffee Industry
Coffee is a $430 billion dollar industry amassed off the labor of Black and Brown people. Yet, African countries—where the plant has always grown or was forced to grow due to colonialism—make almost two percent of that money cumulatively. While the industry has increasingly tried to re-think its practices, particularly where sustainability is concerned, it has yet to reconcile the history of violence, theft and slavery that built one of the most consumed beverages in the world. On a mission to rectify this is the Memphis, Tennessee-based brand Cxffeeblack… Read More.
Chef Nornie Bero Makes Australian Native Ingredients Accessible
A professional chef for more than 25 years, Nornie Bero—who is from the Komet People of Mer Island in the Torres Strait—has just released her first cookbook, Mabu Mabu. The book is named after her company Mabu Mabu, which comprises a catering service, small-batch products and two venues—Tuckshop and Big Esso—in Melbourne, Australia, but that name itself originates from a phrase in Meriam Mir (spoken in the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait, and Bero’s first language) which means “help yourself.” Mabu Mabu’s overall mission is to make Indigenous food and Australian native ingredients accessible. More than that, Bero wants to change people’s perspectives and set an example for kids who grew up like her… Read More.
Interview: Photographer Vlad Zorin on His Powerful Debut Book, With Love From Russia
Moscow-based fashion and fine art photographer Vlad Zorin published his debut book, With Love from Russia, in December 2021. Across 256 pages, through intimate portraits of queer men and deeply personal corresponding text about their sexual awakenings, the photographer explores the questions “What is sex?” and “What role did it play in defining me as a person?” Zorin—whose debut photographic exhibition, Hare, was held at Cube.Moscow in 2019—uses his artistry to upend stereotypes and break down barriers in a country devoid of protections for the LGBTQ community… Read More.
Grain’s “Clover” Collection Reveals The Playfulness and Sustainability of Cork
Comprising a series of floral-shaped side and coffee tables made from renewable and carbon positive cork, Clover is an elegant and playful execution of sustainable furniture—but it’s also much more. Crafted by Chelsea and James Minola’s Washington-based design practice, Grain, and debuting in NYC at Jean Lin’s design co-op, Colony (on display until 30 September), the collection weaves together innovative materials and technological research while paying tribute to nature’s resources. The culmination is an exhibition that harmonizes organic structure and substance… Read More.
Experimental Farm Network’s Rare, Unique Produce Fights Climate Change
While an array of grains, vegetables and fruits line grocery stores, farmers markets and health food stores, they are mainly alike, with a limit on their taste and quality. For one, these selections always adhere to conventionally popular produce—the same species of strawberries, avocados or lettuce, for example. While these selections can vary in quality with organic and natural options, in reality many of them come from the same place, as the majority of the world’s seeds are owned by a select few companies… Read More.
The World’s Only Single-Varietal Rum Distillers, Kō Hana, Revive Hawaiian Sugarcane
In 600 CE, Polynesians set sail for the Hawaiian islands on canoes and brought with them select varietals of sugarcane. This was centuries before Christopher Columbus ever got to the New World and spread the crop throughout Europe. Hawaiians valued the plant holistically and medicinally, using its sweet juice to maintain gum and teeth health, relying on its leaves for thatching, and honoring the plant in ancient religious and love ceremonies. It’s a history and concept of sugar that existed long before European contact—a legacy that Kō Hana seeks to celebrate… Read More.
Hero image courtesy of Patrick Arias for the Ali Forney Center