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Rachel Slade, "Making It In America"

A moving and eye-opening look at the story of manufacturing in America, whether it can ever successfully return to our shores, and why our nation depends on it, told through the experience of one young couple in Maine as they attempt to rebuild a lost industry, ethically. 

Meet Ben and Whitney Waxman, two tireless idealists attempting to do the impossible: produce an American-made, union-made, all American-sourced sweatshirt—an American hoodie.

Ben spent a decade organizing workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin, fighting for Americans at a time when national support for unions had sunk to an all-time low. Struggling with depression and a drug dependency, Ben lands back in his hometown of Portland, Maine, desperate to prove that ethical manufacturing is possible. There, he meets Whitney, a bartender wrestling with her own complicated past. In each other they see a better future, a version of the American dream they can build together.

Making It in America is a deeply personal account of one couple’s quest to change the world. As they navigate private struggles, international trade wars, and a global pandemic, their story carries us across the nation and across time, from the cotton fields of Mississippi to New York City’s hollowed-out garment district to a family-owned zipper company in Los Angeles to the enormous knit-and-dye factories in North Carolina. Throughout, we grapple with what “Made in the USA” really means to Americans in the twenty-first century.

Making It in America also offers a unique look at global politics, economics, and labor through the story of textile manufacturing. It was the demand for cheap cloth that sparked the industrial revolution. It was the brutality of the textile industry that first drove workers to organize.

Making It in America reveals how profoundly manufacturing shapes all of us. Each twist and turn of the Waxmans’ quest tells us how we got here, where we are now, and where we’re headed—through the people that produce the fabric of our lives.

Rachel Slade will be joined in conversation by founder and CEO of Recast City Ilana Preuss. 

About the Author: 

Rachel Slade is the acclaimed author of Into the Raging Sea, a national bestseller, New York Times Notable Book, and winner of the Maine Literary Award for nonfiction. She spent a decade in the city magazine trenches at Boston—first as the design editor, ultimately as executive editor. Her editing and writing have won national awards in civic journalism, reporting, criticism, and reader service. She has been a lecturer in political science and journalism at Tufts University.

About the Moderator: 

Ilana Preuss is the founder and CEO of Recast City and the author of  Recast Your City: How to Save Your Downtown with Small-Scale Manufacturing.  She previously led the technical assistance program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Growth Program and served as the vice president and chief of staff at Smart Growth America.

About the Program: 

  • To attend in person please register here
  • Doors will open to registered attendees at 6 pm. 
  • Snug Books will be on-site and have books available for purchase.
  • Free parking vouchers are available to program attendees who park at the Franklin Street Garage (15 W. Franklin Street) after 4pm.  Ask Pratt event staff for your parking voucher prior to or after the program. 
  • This free event will be presented in-person and virtually.   

Virtual Meeting Information

There is no registration required for virtual attendance, simply visit the Enoch Pratt Free Library's Facebook or Youtube page. 

Wednesday, June 26 at 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Central Library, Wheeler Auditorium
400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Event Type

Writers LIVE!, Virtual Event

Age Group

Adults

Compass Category

Writers LIVE at the Library

Event Publisher

Cleve Corner, Manager of Speaker & Author Engagement

Digital Signage

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