What do Joeys & Thailand have in common?


We are working with these beautiful people to create a custom 2-pocket Joey made from handwoven silk and natural cotton.  Look for our new product launch this summer complete with wholesale pricing to approved buyers!!  In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to our new friends . . .

Akha History and Culture 

The Akha hilltribe people have immigrated from Burma and China over the last 100 years to the country of Thailand. They also reside in Laos and some in Vietnam. They have come seeking freedom from the conditions in Burma and China. Perhaps originally from Tibet, they are a gentle people who live off the land. They have survived by hunting, gathering, and “slash and burn” agriculture. Today, an Akha traveling to Bangkok some 500 miles from Chiang Rai to work for six months is not unusual. If an Akha person can get a Thai citizenship card, it is considered to be a great achievement within the Akha village community.

Lifestyle

Growing rice on hillsides is still practiced throughout Thailand, but much has changed as the Akha have moved to a cash economy. Today the Akha make a living by growing cash crops such as cabbage, corn, rice, soybean, coffee, and tomatoes. It was about thirty years ago in Thailand that the growing of opium was a great problem, but through the efforts of many people including Thai government program officials and agricultural experts, opium has been replaced with other crops since then. Today, the Akha can make much more money by (for example) growing coffee instead of opium. However, addiction to opium and other drugs is still a problem in Thailand as these illegal substances are still coming in from Burma and Laos.

Akha hilltribe people like to live higher up on mountains sides around 3000 feet, but many Akha villages have moved to the lowlands for convenience. Today, there are about 75,000 Akha hilltribe people living in Thailand.

Clothing

There are three major styles of Akha dress. An Akha woman’s special costume consists of a headdress, a jacket, short skirt, beaded sashes, and leggings. An Akha man’s special outfit usually includes an ornate jacket and dark pants. In Thailand, there are three major styles of Akha dress — U Lo, Loi Mi, and Pa Mi. More recently, more of the Akha are adopting the global “western style” of a T-shirt and bluejeans. In most Akha villages, Akha people are dressing in this western style now except for special occasions. However, many of the older Akha women still wear their headdress daily. Akha men who don’t dress in western style wear a “longi” that’s common in Burma.

The Village Gate

Some Akha mountain villages have a special “village gate” that is thought can protect the village from bad spirits. Inside the gate is the “safe spiritual realm” of the village, where outside the gate is the realm of spirits who are thought capable of doing harm to an Akha person. It is used mainly at special times of the year such as the New Year festival. Today, most Christian Akha villages do not have a village gate.

Beliefs

The Akha religion involves nine ancestral offerings. The Akha uphold their ancestors because it is believed that they can give blessings on those still alive. Also, mixed in with the ancestral Akha ceremonies are evil-spirit beliefs. Making offerings for protection from the evil spirits is still a practice among non-Christian Akha. One belief is that divinity spirits who created this world control all sickness and bad things that may happen, so often sacrifices must be made to “keep the spirits happy”. If there’s an accident, tragedy, or death in the village, an explanation must be found by the Akha villagers. Usually, the village “shaman” (who could be the village “headman”) is consulted, and a reason is sought from the shaman as to why the bad event has happened.

Information on the Akha People was provided courtesy of our friends at Izaara Arts ~

 

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Don’t we make a cute (Sony Bloggie) Duo?


 

Ready to buy one yet?  You better be ’cause the Sony Bloggie Duo is truly an awesome product.  To be honest I was amazed at the difference in quality when I switched to my Handycam (granted it’s about 7 years old ~ ancient by electronic standards ~ and isn’t HD but . . . WOW!) and then back to the Duo.  The video quality is amazingly clear and like I said so very, very simple to operate.  Almost forgot . . . the screen auto-rotates too! 

Sony was also one of our great sponsors at the SITS Bloggy Boot Camp in Seattle, WA and that’s where I was introduced to both the Sony Bloggie Touch and Bloggie Duo.  In fact, 3 Bloggie Touch cameras were given away at the conference but Sony must have known if I got one I wouldn’t get the Duo. They’re obviously psychic at Sony ’cause they knew just what vloggers needed!

Can’t wait to take this little beauty to Kauai! I’ll be packing my Sony Bloggie Duo too! ; )))

Special thanks to our featured guests:
Sony Bloggie Duo
Sony Electronics
SITS The secret to success truly is support!

Remember . . . everyone loves to be Liked!  Check them out on Facebook!
Sony Electronics
SITS

Follow them on Twitter
@SonyElectronics
@SITSGirls

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Do you have a bright idea? Mirassou Winery wants to know!


Want to help support this fantastic program?
Visit Mirassou Winery on the web
Like them on Facebook
Apply for the Bright Ideas GrantProgram                     
Spread the word about Mirassou and their bright idea

Vote for your favorite Bright Idea (hopefully mine!) in November

Posted in Contest, Food, Food & Wine, Green living, green weddings, Holidays, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh Maya! Goodwill + Tang Soo Do!


As some of you know, my sister business, S.A.F.E. Training is a proud member and supporter of Tang Soo Do and I am even more proud that the US Goodwill Tang Soo Do Assn is helping me spread the word about good deeds, social consciousness and support of fair trade artisans and countries.  I can’t believe how lucky I am have two totally different businesses that have such similar values!  

Oh Maya!  Not only can I support Guatemala through my martial arts connection but also through my online retail business.  Each of our Mayan designs from Guatemala is specific to the village that creates them.  In Guatemala we work with more than 100 Maya women in five established groups in rural villages.  Read more . . .


And now with much fanfare see how my martial arts family supports the same cause:  

Working with fair trade and traveling to what we consider to be “poor” countries, I too have found that the people are incredibly happy.  We can learn alot from these beautiful people on how to be happy without what we in America consider “necessities”.  Something as simple as scrambled eggs and the love of martial arts can bring smiles and faith in what we can accomplish both as individuals and as a group.

You can find out more about the Tang Soo Do organization and its members through my sister vlog’s recent post Tang Soo Do = Goodwill

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#BBCSEA


I wish I could have posted this earlier but then fun and knowledge never grows old.  Right after I taped this vlog my computers crashed, were repaired, crashed again and then they told me I needed a new one!  A few weeks (rather than my original week) has gone by but what can one do (well, short of blasting off to her home planet where one does not have to worry about such things as computers, geeks, and hard drives).  But then if I did that I wouldn’t have had the fun I had with my SITStahs!!!  Can you find my Joey? I’ll give you a hint . . . I’m on the far left.  Life is good when you can be handsfree enjoying the fabulous Mirassou Winery wines while surrounded by love and laughter!

 

All of our sponsors are on Facebook . . . just search their name ~ they LOVE Likes!

Invisalign Beautiful smiles for a beautiful world.  Check out this promo!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CollectiveBias Connecting social media and brands (isn’t that a nice thing to do?)

Truvia Their all natural sweetener is to die for! 

And they produce their stevia supply with strong environmental, economic and social standards just like my line of Joey purses!!  As promised, here’s a pic of the super sweetened strawberries!

Mirassou Winery  We love their Bright Ideas Grant Program!

And yes, we’ve applied already and hope they think our Joeys are a Bright Idea!!


Sony Electronics  The Sony Blogger is very, very cool but I’m holding out for the even cooler Duo!!  Either one will go great with all my other Sony products but the Duo . . . well, all I can say is we’d make a great Duo!!  ; ))   

And now for ….

OK so you’ve heard all about them, now Follow our fantastic, beautiful, phenomal SITStahs on Twitter!

Tiffany Romero @TiffanyRom
Francesca Banducci @SITSGirls
Jenny Ingram @JennyOnTheSpot
Carol Schiller @CarolSchiller
DeNae Handy @FedExMyLife
Sarah Hawkins @Saving4Someday
Lisa Leonard @LisaLeonard
Jyl Johnson Pattee @JylMomIf
Marlynn Schotland @DesignMama

Remember . . . Attendance at SITS Bloggy Camps is limited (but not the fun!) so if you haven’t registered for one, don’t wait!! 

Come prepared and bring lots (and I mean LOTS!!!!) of business cards!!!  Hope to see you there!

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What do Joeys & the Akha People of Thailand have in common?


We are working with these beautiful people to create a custom 2-pocket Joey made from handwoven silk and natural cotton.  Look for our new product launch this summer complete with wholesale pricing to approved buyers!!  In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to our new friends . . .

Akha History and Culture 

The Akha hilltribe people have immigrated from Burma and China over the last 100 years to the country of Thailand. They also reside in Laos and some in Vietnam. They have come seeking freedom from the conditions in Burma and China. Perhaps originally from Tibet, they are a gentle people who live off the land. They have survived by hunting, gathering, and “slash and burn” agriculture. Today, an Akha traveling to Bangkok some 500 miles from Chiang Rai to work for six months is not unusual. If an Akha person can get a Thai citizenship card, it is considered to be a great achievement within the Akha village community.

 

Lifestyle

Growing rice on hillsides is still practiced throughout Thailand, but much has changed as the Akha have moved to a cash economy. Today the Akha make a living by growing cash crops such as cabbage, corn, rice, soybean, coffee, and tomatoes. It was about thirty years ago in Thailand that the growing of opium was a great problem, but through the efforts of many people including Thai government program officials and agricultural experts, opium has been replaced with other crops since then. Today, the Akha can make much more money by (for example) growing coffee instead of opium. However, addiction to opium and other drugs is still a problem in Thailand as these illegal substances are still coming in from Burma and Laos.

Akha hilltribe people like to live higher up on mountains sides around 3000 feet, but many Akha villages have moved to the lowlands for convenience. Today, there are about 75,000 Akha hilltribe people living in Thailand.

 

Clothing

There are three major styles of Akha dress. An Akha woman’s special costume consists of a headdress, a jacket, short skirt, beaded sashes, and leggings. An Akha man’s special outfit usually includes an ornate jacket and dark pants. In Thailand, there are three major styles of Akha dress — U Lo, Loi Mi, and Pa Mi. More recently, more of the Akha are adopting the global “western style” of a T-shirt and bluejeans. In most Akha villages, Akha people are dressing in this western style now except for special occasions. However, many of the older Akha women still wear their headdress daily. Akha men who don’t dress in western style wear a “longi” that’s common in Burma.

The Village Gate

Some Akha mountain villages have a special “village gate” that is thought can protect the village from bad spirits. Inside the gate is the “safe spiritual realm” of the village, where outside the gate is the realm of spirits who are thought capable of doing harm to an Akha person. It is used mainly at special times of the year such as the New Year festival. Today, most Christian Akha villages do not have a village gate.

Beliefs

The Akha religion involves nine ancestral offerings. The Akha uphold their ancestors because it is believed that they can give blessings on those still alive. Also, mixed in with the ancestral Akha ceremonies are evil-spirit beliefs. Making offerings for protection from the evil spirits is still a practice among non-Christian Akha. One belief is that divinity spirits who created this world control all sickness and bad things that may happen, so often sacrifices must be made to “keep the spirits happy”. If there’s an accident, tragedy, or death in the village, an explanation must be found by the Akha villagers. Usually, the village “shaman” (who could be the village “headman”) is consulted, and a reason is sought from the shaman as to why the bad event has happened.

Information on the Akha People was provided courtesy of our friends at Izaara Arts ~

 

Posted in Fair Trade Gifts, Green living, green weddings, Holidays, Reuse & recycle, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peru-se these fair trade artisans


Our Manta Pouch from Peru is twice as nice with two pockets.  Its colorful design matches the vibrancy of the Peruvian people and your purchase gives them hope for the future. 

The organization:

Bridge of Hope was created by Joining Hands Against Poverty, an ecumenical network made up of 14 community groups, churches and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who believe that, in this era of globalization, it is important to work on the international level as well as local to have a real impact on the policies which define the context within which poor and marginalized people live. To find out more . . .

www.fairtradeperu.com

The Artisans:

La Esperanza

Located in the Hualhuas District near Huancayo, a group of five women formed the artisan group, La Esperanza which means “Hope” in Spanish. In the house of one of the members, La Esperanza works on three small looms producing products with traditional Andean motifs. The members include: Graciela Damaza Maldonado, a dynamic and creative artisan who weaves attractive pillow covers; Margot Karin Lazo, the eldest of Graciela’s siblings; Georgina Elizabeth Lazo, an optimistic and engaging weaver; and Maria Tomaza Inga, a knowledgeable weaver who also helps her husband in his brick-making workshop.

Members  Luz Vásquez, Graciela Damaza, Margot Lazo, Georgina Lazo, Maria Tomaza

Huayanay 

In the 1960’s and 70’s a Swiss family lived in Huancayo and helped weavers adapt colors and designs for the European market. They assisted in constructing looms and obtaining materials for many weavers in order to make products for that market. The art of weaving continued and expanded. However, when the family left during the terrorism of the eighties, many weavers were left with weaving skills and a loom but little business skills or connections for buying materials or selling goods. Twenty years later one sees dilapidated looms throughout Huancayo and Huancavelica. Very few weavers have been able to market their weavings.

Twenty years ago Huayanay was a typical community: all farmed, raised animals, and wove. Each month they would go to Huancayo to pick up materials and deliver their finished products. They had to shear their llamas and sheep; the wives would spin the material into yarn; they would dye the yarn with natural berries, roots and leaves; and make a colorful woolen bedspread. They didn’t have a market and would simply take the product to the city of Huancavelica, hoping to sell there. At that time it was difficult to sell even 10 bedspreads a year. Yet, this was their principal source of cash income so they kept at it.

ATIYPAQ, one of the institutions of the Joining Hands Against Poverty Network, worked near Huayanay and knew that most were weavers who weren’t weaving much anymore. ATIYPAQ introduced some of the weavers to the Bridge of Hope Fair Trade project. Members of the group were invited to Lima so they could learn about buying materials. Given the traditional designs they wanted to incorporate, they decided to try to weave 100% cotton baby blankets. Weaving cotton has proven to be a challenge because it’s very different from weaving wool but after numerous attempts, the group has had a very successful product!

Today, Huayanay is a small settlement of houses perched at over 14,500 feet, a four-hour walk outside of Huancavelica city. In these homes are looms where beautiful and soft baby blankets and shawls are being produced in this community.

Through the Bridge of Hope Fair Trade project this community is realizing its dream of revitalizing the weaving that once was produced there. Grupo Huayanay is intergenerational with male artisans that have many years of experience and four young adults (one of whom is a woman!).

Members  Leoncio de la Cruz Quispe, Alberto de la Cruz Solano, Godofredo de la Cruz Ccente, Misael Chocca Fernandez, Agustin Ccente Hilario, Wilber de la Cruz Ccente, Gonzalo Ccente López, Teodoro Chocco de la Cruz, Flor de la Cruz Melchor, Delia de la Cruz Melchor, Siméon Chocca Ccente, Santiago Ccente Lopez, Emiliano Chocca Fernandez, Alfonso Inga Castellano.

Mana

Maná sews all sorts of products including the colorful mantas which women in the Andes Mountains use to carry their babies. They make placemats, table centers, wine bags, coasters, purses, conference bags, yoga bags, pastoral stoles, bookmarks and much more. Their creativity continues in developing new successful products. They have bought 5 sewing machines with their sales and have a well-lit, organized workshop in one of their homes. They rotate the workshop every year and it is now in its 4th location – each year it is larger and better equipped. Not only do they live out the criteria of Fair Trade, they demonstrate problem solving skills when facing challenges.

They serve as a model to other groups. For example, when one of the artisans, Glendi, broke her arm, she was unable to sew for 3 weeks. The group decided to divide her share of the work between themselves, and give her the same distribution of income that they would receive. By addressing the situation in this way, they created their own “insurance”. Being sick or laid up didn’t mean Glendi was without pay: the others pitched in her behalf.

Maná works 6-8 hours per day and has been working together for three years. Their goal is to increase the amount of orders they receive so that they can add five more members (i.e. their daughters). Three have adult-aged, unemployed daughters who are currently being trained.

The other two daughters are younger and will have an opportunity to work when they finish high school. Maná also worked together many years in a community soup kitchen. None were employed, and their economic needs pushed them to think about sewing together.

They decided to pool their resources and talents: one woman had finished high school and could keep the books; another knew a little about sewing; two had very old, used machines that had been passed down in their families; and one knew where to buy materials in Lima. With the support of the Bridge of Hope Project, they learned about taxes, bookkeeping, and took sewing lessons. In turn, being a part of Maná’s development has provided experience after experience that affirms that Fair Trade works! The women point out that not only have each of them had a stable family income of $225 per month from their work, but they are able to walk to work, have flexibility in times of emergency, and have the support and friendship of one another.

Members  Patricia Avila, Bertha Flores, Emilia Serrano.

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