Alexandra Epp, an OPIRG Board member and a fourth-year Arts and Science student with combined honours in Economics, is making impressive contributions to the world. She is a cofounder and OPIRG working group volunteer/coordinator of Threadwork which promotes sustainable clothing economy at McMaster, mainly through a semi-annual clothing swap. It happens in the atrium of the student centre and approximately 100 swappers take part.
This year Threadwork is also offering DIY eco-friendly fashion workshops in collaboration with RevWear which explores creative solutions to environmental sustainability and social justice issues. RevWear’s fashion show inspires and challenges the audience to “Create Change and Reuse Everything.” Threadwork operates on a consensus basis and has non-oppressive and non-hierarchical values.
Alex worked with the Public Intellectuals Project from May 2012 until December 2012 and still helps out occasionally with social media or events. The project seeks to foster and develop a community of scholar-activists speaking about the pressing issues of our time. Through an integrated social media strategy and web platform they try to get academics to engage with topical and crucial issues in a timely fashion, rather than spending years in the lengthy publishing process and not contributing to current debate on many political and social issues. There is also a speaker series at McMaster that the project is involved in, which has included David Theo Goldberg, Chris Newfield, and Carol Becker. In March they are hosting Angela Davis.
In Alex’s words: I’m from Waterloo most recently having lived there since I was seven. I’m originally from Winnipeg, but I was born in Cyprus. My parents worked for international development agencies and travelled a lot before they had kids. After I was born we moved back to Winnipeg.
My family is of Mennonite heritage (modern Mennonites, no horses or bonnets! We’re just like everyone else!). I got to tag along occasionally with my dad on various trips to see his projects--Micro-finance in Mozambique, child labour programs in Egypt, female-oriented community garden projects in Afghanistan, and more. This has given me a unique perspective on globalization and social justice.
My parents raised me to be an independent thinker and to take action where action is due. They’ve always supported me in anything I’ve decided is right for me, and have never pressured me to be anything that I am not.
Finding time for projects can be difficult, but being organized (I’m not always the best at this!) and only doing things that you feel passionately about helps. If I didn’t believe in the initiatives I am involved in, I would not be involved in them. Even with all of these things going on though, I still have time to have an active social life and down time when I need it.
Interviewed by Margot Rosenberg