I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be an ethical consumer. This is likely going to be a really political, likely also emotional, message so read on at your own risk. It's also going to be long, but please read. I'm going to pour my heart out a bit here.
Like a lot of people, I'm angry about the latest school massacre in the US. I'm an American citizen, and I have said for years that I feel my son is safer being raised here in Palestine under a brutal Israeli occupation than he would be in a US elementary school. It scares me so much this gun culture in the US, and the easy access to assault weapons.
Have your own opinion, but this is how my heart feels. And I am thrilled to see the power of us, consumers in the #boycottNRA movement. I think boycotts are terribly important because they empower us to be ethical consumers and impact change on issues we care deeply about, ie Israeli military occupation and boycotting those who profit!
On the opposite hand, we have a lot of power as ethical consumers. My family doesn't eat mushrooms unless the one Palestinian producer is harvesting them. Otherwise, our option is the Israeli mushrooms, and we can go without rather than put our 10 nis into a business that pays taxes to the Israeli State, which uses that money to oppress us. It's more complicated than that, but you get the idea.
Here's an image from AlJazeera of these awesome mushrooms grown by some very cool kids in Palestine!
How does all this impact you, the supporter of Handmade Palestine? Well, to start, you are an ethical consumer. And I really truly thank you for that.
When I write Fair Trade under the logo or in a post, I really mean that. I want to share the start of a story, one that I will continue next week after going to visit the protagonists of this story.
I am the mom-of-a-teething-baby who started Little Olea. This is me and fam...
Our teething necklaces and rings are from olive wood prunings locally gathered and handmade, and then we crochet some of the beads for color and teething-relief (my little one always gnaws on the crocheted beads). It's all connected...just wait for it.
So my partner in crime in Little Olea is an amazing woman, mother of 5, Marisabel. She is so super talented and is the maker of the necklaces and rings and the crocheter of the beads. But her eyes are struggling to crochet and so she sought some help. She and her sister in law Muna found some women in the village of where she lives, Deir Ghassaneh, who crocheted.
These women were crocheting for an Israeli buyer, and they didn't like it, but sometimes work is work. A widow had to feed her children and this was her only means of income. When Muna and Marisabel inquired if they would like work crocheting beads for Little Olea, the women were thrilled. They had one request though: they asked for steady work so they could quit the Israeli gig.
I have been really struggling with this. And that's why I'm writing about it and turning to you. I'd love to support them. I'd love to get you access to these women's work, because it's really excellent.
And it's what our commitment to fair trade and supporting artisans is all about, right?!
Yesterday Muna called and told Marisabel that 10 women have come asking her for work. I honestly don't know what to do with that. It's amazing but how can I employ 10 women?!
This week, Marisabel and I are going with Muna to sit down with these women. We are going to encourage them to form a cooperative and we are going to discuss with them how we can support them in terms of design, accessing a market, pricing, and so on. And I'll definitely share with you some photos and stories after.
And now we come full circle. I'm calling on all ethical consumers who support Handmade Palestine to help.
First, please help me get the word out about our products and the artisans who make them. Share this blog post, share our web address, share, share, share!
Second, buy. Please. I'm putting the tatreez that we have online on sale for 50% off. It is made by a great women's cooperative in Bethlehem, but the thing is they have a shop and they have lots of customers. So let's move those out of our storage closet and make some space for the work these women in Deir Ghassaneh are excited to show us.
And lastly, whether from us or from any other artisans or seller, please take fair trade seriously. It allows these and other women to leave work that is exploiting them for peanuts and to truly support and sustain their families and lives.
Oh, the code. 50% off all tatreez now through March 5 2018 with the code SUSTAINWOMEN
Thanks folks. Really, I am so grateful that we have this small community who support artisans in Palestine!
It's all connected. #NRAboycott and #IsraeliBoycott are both hugely important, and we have power as buyers to do good. I have to believe that.