Sarah Sophie Flicker by Rana Toofanian

A founding member of the New York-based political cabaret troupe The Citizens Band, Sarah Sophie Flicker is a performance artist, activist and an award-winning film director.

A renaissance woman, and a mother of three kids, Sarah believes that by encouraging consciousness and participation we plant the seeds for social and environmental change.

Nature & Nurture

Do you vote?
I have always found voting to be the most beautiful act of non-violent activism that you can do. I think it’s the smallest things that make the biggest differences on some levels. If you’re talking about voting, that’s just a few hours out of your day.

What daily act would you do to make the world a better place?
I think that just has to do with what you’re interested in, and for me, that changes all the time. I’m a mother of three kids, so for me the biggest thing is creating a future where not only do they have the same rights and the same freedoms that I’ve always enjoyed, but that the world is a little bit better for them. When you’re a parent, you think about those things. It’s everything: it’s the environment; it’s how women are treated; it’s how girls are taught to think of themselves; and then I think of my sons - in one way, we also have to think about how we raise our boys in a non-violent and feminist way.

Is it a luxury to live in a sustainable household?
Absolutely. That’s the one really hard thing about being an activist or living a sustainable life and shopping in a conscious way – those are all quite privileged things. If we’re talking about organic food, it’s more expensive. As much as I want to put forth the idea that one should try to support organic and local farmers, a lot of people can’t afford that. It all comes down to the economics. On Black Friday, a lot of people were tweeting that they weren’t going to shop, and I certainly didn’t — even Michael Moore tweeted not to shop. It’s a pretty ugly part of America that puts out this very consumerist, fast, cheap and non-sustainable ideal. On the other side, that’s probably how the bulk of people can afford to buy the thing that they really want. Is it a privileged position to take? And who wants to deny those people the privileges that we, at least us in this room, take for granted?

Are there any elements in how you lead your life that you’d like to change but haven’t been able to? What are the things that stop you from being able to?
Of course, always. My husband and I had to think about having three kids. It’s not exactly environmentally friendly. We have a population problem, and each human has more impact on this Earth; but we made the decision to go ahead. So we try to make the most conscious decisions we can. I’m embarrassed about this, but I’ve not made the big leap into cloth diapers. It makes you want to stick your head in the sand, but at the same time, that just seems like more than I can handle right now.

I’d say the most alienating thing about living a sustainable, politically-active or conscious life is the idea that you have to be perfect at it.

I think it’s really important to admit.
You have to, because no one is living a perfect life. If there was anything, I’d say the most alienating thing about living a sustainable, politically-active or conscious life is the idea that you have to be perfect at it. You have to really choose the things that are important and recognise and give yourself a little break to not be perfect all the time – that’s another thing that being a parent has really taught me.

Transparency is another focus of this project. Another question I have is what do you feel guilty about?
I feel guilty about everything.

I’m a major optimist. How would you get out of bed in the morning otherwise? You have to be optimistic. And honestly, my optimism is what keeps me active.

What role do you think celebrities can play in educating people around issues of the environment and sustainability?
If you’re a public figure, the less perfect you can appear is, in itself, being an activist. Honestly, we live in a culture that pays so much attention to celebrities, and we can all see what we’re all doing all the time because of social media. By airing dirty laundry, we can connect to each other and to them.

What’s your personal interpretation of conscious consumerism?
Personally, I love vintage clothes. I love shopping and wearing clothes by people I know — and I am lucky to know a lot of local designers. I know about where things are made, and how they’re made. But that said, I understand how important it is for people to be able to buy affordable stuff. So things like H&M taking a more conscious and transparent approach to how things are made is certainly a step in the right direction, because even vintage has gotten expensive, which is such a drag.

Are you an optimist?
I’m a major optimist. How would you get out of bed in the morning otherwise? You have to be optimistic, and honestly, my optimism is what keeps me active, otherwise it would be too depressing.

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