Posted by: susanrmeyer | October 3, 2007

Transformational Crafts

Fresh Arts has a wonderful idea. They sell sock monkeys. This weekend, I went to Atlantic Antic to buy one for Alejandro, who, at nine months old is transforming every day.

Volunteers and workshop participants create the monkeys out of old socks and bits of felt and trim. Each has its own unique personality and the volunteers at the booth are delighted to point out their own creations as they help you find a monkey best suited to your needs and desires. Anne was beaming when I selected her monkey (one of several that had embroidered rather than button eyes) for Alejandro.

The Fresh Arts volunteers raise money to support their Art Product Development and Marketing Program. This initiative supports at-risk youth, seniors, people with mental illness, physical disabilities, HIV and AIDS, in recovery from addiction and homeless children and adults. They guide their artists as they develop and produce hand-crafted goods and learn the marketing skills necessary to sell them in their communities.

I love this notion of practical transformation. Turning socks into cherished objects. Turning passed-over and excluded artists into entrepreneurs.

Ten Thousand Villages is another organization selling crafts that transform lives. They work with over 100 artisan groups in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to bring fair trade jewelry, home decor, gifts and more to us. As one of the world’s oldest and largest fair trade organizations, they build long-term relationships with artisans that are based on mutual understanding and respect, enabling artisans to earn a fair wage and have the opportunity for a better quality of life.

With a little imagination and creativity, organizations like these are transforming the world. All it takes for us to aid in these transformational efforts is a little cash.

Where will you buy your gifts? Who else is out there we should know about?

Sock Monkeys


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