A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:
What a fun, spirited conversation I had with my guests Valerie Soe and Kristina Wong! We could certainly use more conversations like this in this post-COVID-19 world. We talked about the Auntie Sewing Squad, a sewing circle formed during the global Coronavirus pandemic, that has taken on making masks first for frontline medical and essential workers, and now for vulnerable marginalized communities, who have no financial means to purchase masks.
My guests are Valerie Soe, an Asian American Studies Professor and Film maker, and Kristina Wong, a performance artist. comedian, writer and elected representative.
Valerie has been on Talking Taiwan previously to talk about her documentary film Love Boat: Taiwan and she recently made a microdocumentary, “Sewing in the Time of Coronavirus,” which incidentally, is how I learned about the Auntie Sewing Squad.
Kristina, is the force behind the Auntie Sewing Squad. She recently streamed a live performance, “Kristina Wong Sweatshop Overlord” over Zoom and YouTube. It’s her latest work born out of the current COVID-19 lockdown, about how she went from volunteer sewist to a “sweatshop” overlord in ten days.
Listen in and enjoy our conversation!
Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:
- The mission/purpose of the Auntie Sewing Squad
- Why Kristina was initially reluctant to wear a mask herself when the pandemic first hit Los Angeles
- How the Auntie Sewing Squad grew from a dozen members to over 600
- Writing Auntie Rebecca Solnit’s piece for The Guardian which mentions the Auntie Sewing Squad
- “Aunties” located in states other than California
- What funds donated to the Auntie Sewing Squad (via Kristina) used for
- The unfortunate acronym that represents to the Auntie Sewing Squad
- What “Auntie Care” is
- Does Kristina plan on making the Auntie Sewing Squad into a non-profit organization
- The microdocumentary film that Valerie made for A-Doc (Asian American Documentary Network)
- How Kristina helped an LA hospital fix broken N95 masks that were given to them by the Federal government
- Stories about the amazing dedication of the sewing aunties
- How you can support the Auntie Sewing Squad even if you don’t sew
- How much longer the Auntie Sewing Squad will continue sewing masks
- Kristina’s connection to the “Love Boat program”
- Kristina and Valerie’s advice for how to deal with lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic
The Auntie Sewing Squad on Instagram: www.Instagram.com/AuntieSewing
The Auntie Sewing Squad Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2764362993676831/
Ways to donate to the Auntie Sewing Squad:
Tax-deductible donation link thanks to Art2Action who has waived the fiscal sponsor fees: https://donorbox.org/auntie-sewing-squad
Kristina Wong PayPal General Donations using (Friends & Family): firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristina Wong Venmo General Donations HERE: “GiveKristinaWongMoney”
“Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord” (May 6, 2020 performance). This performance is a preview of Kristina’s new work born out of the current lockdown and about how she went from volunteer sewist to overlord of a volunteer sewing factory in ten days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmSWdH1BnjE
Kristina Wong’s website: http://kristinawong.com/
Kristina Wong’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ilovekristinawong/
Kristina Wong’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYVB9LCGQewhp4LxlachKPQ
Valerie Soe’s blog post about the Auntie Sewing Squad and microdocumentary “Sewing in the Time of Coronavirus”: https://beyondasiaphilia.com/2020/05/07/fire-in-the-rain-sewing-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/
Valerie Soe’s microdocumentary, “Sewing in the Time of Coronavirus”: https://youtu.be/1H7jrmD3JC4
Writing Auntie Rebecca Solnit’s article for The Guardian, “The way we get through this is together: the rise of mutual aid under coronavirus,” which features a mention of the Auntie Sewing Squad: https://bit.ly/2LDuK8d
Valerie’s previous Talking Taiwan interview about her documentary film, Love Boat Taiwan: https://talkingtaiwan.com/love-boat-taiwan-interview-asian-american-studies-professor-film-maker-valerie-soe-ep-66/
Here’s a Special You Tube video we created showcasing all of the wonderful related images from Auntie Sewing Squad: