Fuse News: The Fire Next Time — Quilting Memory

By Debra Cash.

A portion of the quilt

A portion of Robin Berson’s memorial quilt on display at the Lenox Public Library.

Factory fires are nothing new. As Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium noted recently about the deaths of 1,127 workers at the Rana Plaza sweatshop in Bangladesh, we’ve known how to keep workers safe for over 100 years. The impetus for improving conditions in American sweatshops was a public outcry and labor organizing activity after 146 young women, primarily Jewish and Italian immigrants, died at the Triangle shirtwaist factory in New York on March 25, 1911. Like their Bangladeshi peers, they had been locked into the building and either jumped to their deaths through the windows or perished in the flames.

Art helps keep the horrors in sight, so if you’re in the Berkshires July 16–27, it will be well worth the trip to visit the Lenox Public Library and stand witness to Robin Berson’s memorial quilt. The quilt features the faces of the lost Triangle factory garment workers. The artist lectures at a reception on the evening of July 25.

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