Thursday, December 12, 2013

Joining Hands for a Better World: 12.12.13

On December 3, I set out on a pre-Christmas challenge — to post a tip a day we can collectively follow with the goal of making the world a better place. 

Today’s suggestion: Shop for Good  

You could shop at a museum gift shop, an online store supporting a favorite cause, or a holiday craft fair. You could purchase fair trade coffee or chocolate, either at a local store or online at Equal Exchange

…or, you could shop at Ten Thousand Villages. 
I am lucky to live just about a mile from an actual store in New Haven, CT, where I have bought countless gifts. But don’t despair if there is not a store near you. Ten Thousand Villages also has an excellent website, complete with a gift finder and store locator.

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer, founded in 1946 by Edna Ruth Byler, the wife of a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) administrator, after a trip to Puerto Rico where she met some women artisans. Struck by the poverty in which the women lived, Byler purchased their needlework, brought it home, and began selling it from the trunk of her car to her friends and neighbors in Pennsylvania. For the next 30 years, Byler worked tirelessly to connect individual entrepreneurs in developing countries with market opportunities in North America.

Ten Thousand Villages expanded over the years, becoming a 501(c)3, owned by the MCC in 2000. Ten Thousand Villages now has a network of 390 retail outlets across the US. 10,000 Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts—jewelry, home decor, art and sculpture, textiles, servingware, holiday decorations, clothing, and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. You can meet some of the artisans here

One of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, the company strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of artisans in 38 countries by establishing a sustainable market for handmade products, and building long term buying relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. The company encourages artisan partners to use environmentally friendly processes, sustainable natural resources, and recycled materials to ensure each product offered has been crafted responsibly.  Every year since 2008, Ten Thousand Villages has been named one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies" by the Ethisphere Institute and Forbes Magazine. While no longer wholly owned by the MCC, Ten Thousand Villages remains a partner of Mennonite Central Committee.

There is always something new at Ten Thousand Villages, where you can find a gift for almost everyone, no matter what their age. 

There are just 13 days to Christmas. If you still need a gift or two, check out Ten Thousand Villages ASAP. Winter wear is currently on sale at many stores, and the online site offers a deal of the day. 

Shop here and you will bring a smile to your loved one’s face AND a bit of joy to a stranger.

What a big bang for your buck!

That’s it for today. “See you tomorrow.”

“All together now,” as the Beatles once sang. Let’s see how much good we can do over the next few weeks.

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