by Nic Olson
Since it’s invention, the ball cap has been the preeminent accessory of comfort and the ultimate casual lifestyle. People participating in baseball games or other leisure activities, those hiding from the harsh rays of the sun, those who don’t know how else to deal with a bad hair day, or those who don’t take themselves too seriously, wear hats. But they also wear hats simply because hats are comfortable.
HAT FARM was born out of a desperate need for simple funds for the Carmichael Outreach Housing Program, and the regular classic hat donations received by the Clothing Depot Donation Program. Carmichael’s Housing Support Team works to remove the barriers the community has in finding adequate and safe housing, which often includes small financial obstacles that aren’t covered in other budget lines or in housing clients’ budgets. The profits made here will go towards removing those barriers and thus housing people, and keeping them housed.
The hat I wear daily is one I’ve had since I was 12 years old, but only started wearing it about a decade ago. I have separation anxiety when I don’t have it for long periods of time. I have nearly lost it out the window of moving vehicles, in fist fights on the beach in Mexico, in severe gusts of prairie wind, in the rivers of Thailand, off ferries on the west coast. I’ve repaired the plastic snap three separate times, and the once body-filled hat now rests limp and tattered like a discarded pair of briefs. I have moments of panic knowing that one day it will disappear in a drunken stupor or traumatic event, some instance where losing your head and what rests upon it is possible. For that reason I began auditions for a new, future everyday hat. Like when your best friend moves away, you start flipping through your contact book dejectedly for someone that may be able to partially fill the void, if anything at least for a weekly beer.
When I began hat auditions I happened to be working at Carmichael Outreach, a community drop-in centre downtown Regina with free food, coffee, hygiene products, housing services, needle exchange, and clothing, open to anyone in the city. Hundreds of clothing donations are dropped off to the back door weekly where they are sorted and put out for the community depending on their seasonal use and if there is room in the tiny three-rack clothing depot. Community members browse daily for clothes, dishes, puzzles, Patsy Cline CDs, used printers, children’s books, all of which are free in the clothing depot, open all day Monday to Friday. Closets from all over Saskatchewan have been cleaned out after decades of storage bringing in vintage Star Wars toys, unworn embroidered cowboy shirts, antique decorative plates, slightly malfuctioning DVD players, and much more.
One day I walked into the clothing depot to find a stack of hats six feet long, the collection of hat connoisseurs around the province. Farm industry logos, country legends, family vacation destinations, family reunions, all immortalized on the unparalleled medium of the trucker hat. Several small town hat collectors dropped off their decades-old work so that hatless men in the city could feel the dignity of cranial comfort once again. Before the hats were put on the rack, I searched through the most classic, mint condition, collectors hats from all over the world, and documented the rest which have all been put back into the clothing store.
All proceeds from the hats collected and sold here will go towards the Carmichael Outreach Housing Program, including funds for damage deposits, carpet cleanings, new small household items, fees for money orders for rent payments or identification applications, or any other potential barriers that might keep community members from maintaining stable housing in the City of Regina. Because as much as a person needs a nice ball cap to feel comfortable, a roof over their head does them one better.
For more information, to buy, or to donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org