Slow Textiles

The slow movement began in the 1990s as an international protest against the accelerating speed of modern life.

The movement was initiated by the slow food movement, which opposed the culture of fast food by encouraging a renewed consideration for the responsibilities and pleasures inherent in the foods we consume.

Because the parallel industries of factory farming and the fashion trade rely on toxic fertilizers and chemicals, questions of biodiversity and whole-systems thinking apply equally to both.

Like food, textiles and clothing are basic needs, but also function as a mode of personal and cultural expression. In essence, we are what we eat and what we wear.


Through experimentation with locally grown fibers and dyes -- with a particular investment in products derived from edible plants -- the Textiles Program’s Soil to Studio course investigates the relationship between slow textiles and slow food, and advocates for nature and nurture through the revival of nontoxic, organic, and place-based recipes.

See Soil to Studio students in action »

The study of slow textiles is a cross-pollination between fashion, textiles, and environmental systems thinking, inspired by ecological principles found in permaculture and regenerative design for food, clothing, and shelter.

Soil to Studio, taught by Sasha Duerr, follows the tenets of “soil to studio" in its pedagogical approaches. From slow food to slow fashion, a political culture of stewardship is being reborn that incorporates responsible modes of production, connection to the source of our materials, and a sense of the “commons.”

The course, taught each spring semester, maintains a community garden on the Oakland campus where plants for dyes and fibers are cultivated and harvested.

Fiber & Dye Walk

The Fiber & Dye Walk map and the larger project of which it is a part are intended to enhance the public's understanding of fiber and dye-producing plants and to help raise awareness and eco-literacy.

Eco-literacy projects offer opportunities to celebrate culture, ethno-botany, and a sense of place.

Learn about select fiber and dye plants, including where they're located on CCA's Oakland campus. But please do not pick them -- these plants are here to thrive and to teach.

This map is a collaboration among CCA's Textiles Program, the Permacouture Institute, and the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley.

Special thanks to the individuals at CCA and the Botanical Garden who helped identify these important and useful plants.

Many thanks also to the students in the fall 2008 Soil to Studio course for their hard work, to Jamie Lee and CCA's Sputnik Design Studio for the design of this beautiful map, and to the California Initiative for their much-appreciated support grant.

To learn more about CCA's commitment to eco-friendly art making, see Sustainability at CCA.