Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Tenement Museum: Sonja's Visit

As a cast, we went to visit the amazing Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side on Sunday, Sept. 7.  It was an eye-opening experience.  I invited the cast to share their thoughts and experiences and I encourage you, my faithful reader, to both read their words and to visit the museum when you can!

The Tenement Museum was fascinating!  I'm really looking forward to checking out the other tours. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to stand in the reconstructed apartments and take a step back in time and really get a sense of what life, this hard, hard life, was like for these people.  The story about the three sons who slept with their heads on the sofa and their feet on chairs, seeing the living room that doubled as a sewing factory, the fact that these residents had no electricity or running water or toilets, that 2,000 people coexisted on one block! -- these images really stuck with me.  Also, one of the big lessons I took away was looking at the conditions then from the perspective of today.  While I may be aware that sweatshops still exist in the world today, I was shocked to learn that there are sweatshops still in that very neighborhood and that the majority of the clothes are shipped overseas.  And also, that the sweatshop conditions in other countries today could be just as bad as they were in the U.S. over a hundred years ago, that we have actually made very little progress.  This made a strong impression on me and the kind of consumer I want to be and the importance of really stopping to think just what went into making that shirt or that pair of pants that I get on sale.  It was less about statistics and more about the personal, that's what really made an impact on me.

- Sonja Sweeney, Cast Member

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