The Myth of the Ethical Shopper

But in the past 25 years, the apparel industry, the entire global economy, has undergone a complete transformation. The way our clothes are made and distributed and thrown away is barely recognizable compared to the way it was done in the ’90s. And yet our playbook for improving it remains exactly the same.

This year, I spoke with more than 30 company reps, factory auditors and researchers and read dozens of studies describing what has happened in those sweatshops since they became a cultural fixation three decades ago. All these sources led me to the same conclusion: Boycotts have failed. Our clothes are being made in ways that advocacy campaigns can’t affect and in places they can’t reach. So how are we going to stop sweatshops now?

Read the whole story to find out what Michael Hobbes’ proposed solution is (hint: it’s something that Brazil has been working on for 30 years). Excellent analysis and reporting.

The secret history of Portland’s weirdest neighborhood

Ralph Lloyd came from a family of Welsh ranchers. But he wanted to be a singer.

Born outside Los Angeles in 1875, Lloyd worked his way into college in San Francisco in the 1890s. He studied geology but tried making a living on his voice in the city. Lloyd stuck with it until a letter arrived from his father, saying he was needed on the ranch. At age 21, he moved back home.

He helped run the ranch for nine years. Then one day in 1905 Lloyd told his parents he was quitting to take a job at a wood-pipe factory.

His mother was baffled, but it turned out that Lloyd’s new boss was grooming him for management. Lloyd and his wife moved to Olympia, Wash., in 1907, to investigate an unprofitable factory and successfully turned it around. The next year, he was promoted to senior vice president and relocated to Portland.

The Lloyds fell head over heels for their new town.

Ever wonder who the Lloyd District was named after? Go read Jonathan Mann’s fantastic story about early Portland history (but start with Part 1, and keep an eye out for Part 3, still to come, and explains how this part of Portland is set to become a model for bike culture and transportation).