Archive for February, 2010

SAVE THE DATE! A benefit for seven non-profits

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

A Benefit for Seven Non-Profits

This party is to fundraise for seven non-profit organizations that raise awareness about education for all children, fair trade, and living in sustainable environment (think green!).

Masquerade for a Cause!

Wednesday, April 7th

Simone’s Bar 960 W. 18th St.

Time: 7pm to close 2am

Hosted by Ervin Lopez

7pm - 9pm: Looking for volunteer opportunities? internships? responsible travel tourism?

Meet and greet the seven non-profit organizations:

Los Patojos/Rising Minds, Chicago Fair Trade, Greenheart, Mayaworks,

Womancraft, Academy for Global Citizenship, UNICEF-DePaul U.

FREE appetizers: vegatable quesadillas, tortilla chip chicken fingers, empanadas, and more!

9pm - 2am: music provided by Chicago dj’s: Omar Perez, Rick Perez

21 to enter, $10 door charge

Buy your tickets in advance!

$5.50–> Cupaca Chupacabra (micro-brew from Calexico, California)
$5 –> a tall boy of PBR with a shot of Jameson


70% of proceeds will go the following seven organizations:

1. Los Patojos & Rising Minds
2. Chicago Fair Trade
3. Greenheart
4. Mayaworks
5. Womancraft
6. UNICEF-DePaul University
7. Academy for Global Citizenship

Masquerade for a cause

Paper Craft - handmade recycled paper

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Paper Craft is a group of incredible entrepreneur women who make delightful hand-made paper from natural and recycled materials. They work with banana fiber, elephant grass, pineapple tops, and recycled paper. Fair Earth has been working with them for the past couple years, and we are excited to bring you some of their new products again this year!

Paper Craft Fair Earth

Since last year, their workshop has expanded. In addition to making paper products, they are also making glass beads from recycled glass bottles and window panes. The glass is crushed to a fine powder, poured into a hand-made ceramic mold, and then fired in a wood-fueled kiln. The resulting beads are delightful!

Paper Craft Fair EarthClay molds used for making recycled glass beads

Every time I speak with Harriet, the workshop manager, I am impressed with her vision, drive, and high attention to detail and quality. Not only are Paper Crafts’ products beautiful and meticulously created, they are also made by women who 100% OWN AND RUN their entire production center. The entire enterprise is owned by the women whose talented hands bring the paper to life, and then work to market it. I find this model to be inspiring and empowering. Many business models that I have seen and worked with have a stark distinction between the producers and the managers, ultimately limiting the skills development of the artisan members. Paper Craft’s model empowers all of their women to develop their skills not only in producing hand-made paper, but also in business management, client relations, marketing, etc. I am inspired by their work, and LOVE their products!

Thanks for your support!


Holly Elzinga

Paper Craft Fair Earth

Paper Craft Fair EarthFour women from the Paper Craft team!

Paper Craft Fair EarthVats of paper pulp and dyes, and paper drying on screens in the sun

©2010 Fair Earth | Andersonville Galleria - 5247 N. Clark St. Chicago IL 60640

Meet Joyce - One of our paper beaders

Monday, February 1st, 2010

One of my favorite parts of the time I spend in Uganda working on product development is visiting the homes of our artisans.

Each time I visit I am flooded with a wealth of love, generosity, SPIRIT, and ALIVENESS that makes my heart glow.

A few days ago I visited Joyce and her three sons – Paul, Mark, and Solomon. Joyce is one of Fair Earth’s paper beaders. Incidentally, we are neighbors in Uganda, as their home is just a short walk from where I stay in Luzira.

Solomon, Holly, Paul, and Mark

Creative Christmas decorations in Joyce's home

I was greeted warmly and served a delicious lunch of matoke, pumpkin, rice, and soup upon arriving. I immediately noticed the incredibly creative Christmas decorations in their home – Paul, Joyce’s eldest son, had cut his old school papers into triangular shapes and strung them along the ceiling to create a festive holiday atmosphere. The breeze coming through the door made the papers flutter and cast sparkling shadows throughout the room – it was absolutely delightful.

Joyce with her three sons

Paul admiring his mom's paper beadwork

We spent the afternoon looking through photos, exchanging stories, and then working on new products.

“My mom is a good mom,” Paul told me proudly as we looked through their family photo album. “She takes very good care of us.”

All three boys adore their mom. I gave Joyce some glass beads for her to use in supplementing her paper bead designs, and immediately the boys were looking for colors that would compliment their mother’s dress.

As the stories kept coming, I learned more about their love and respect for her—it is based upon a very real knowledge of how hard their mom works to put them through school. Joyce did not get an education, which means her opportunities for employment are limited. Yet she has worked tirelessly so that her children will have more opportunities than she does.

Fair Earth

Joyce showing off her beadwork in front of her home

Her pathway to her current work – making beads from recycled newspapers and magazines – has not been easy. She worked for a year and a half with NO PAY for the current mayor of Uganda cleaning up the streets of developing neighborhoods. I was heart-broken by the story. With no money for transport, she would leave home before the sun rose to walk hours to their work destination, pushing forward upon the promise of pending money, which never came. After becoming weak and sickly from long days of work with no food, Joyce’s mom told her she would die if she continued and taught her how to make paper beads as an alternative. That was eight years ago. I asked her if she took any action to try to get the money she was promised, and she replied, “there is nothing we can do. We are poor and uneducated. We have no power over the government. We would maybe have a voice if we had a lawyer, but we have no money for lawyers. So we just move on.”

Joyce and Solomon

These stories of injustice fill me with frustration and ANGER. However, I am also inspired and hopeful to be a part of a fair trade movement which puts people FIRST – a movement where respect, fairness, and integrity take precedence, and where success NEVER comes at the expense of another’s exploitation.

I am also happy to be working with Joyce, and delighted to see the joy and hope not only in her face, but also in the faces of her children!

Thanks for your support,


Holly Elzinga

Joyce and Holly with the beautiful necklace/earring/bracelet set she made for me from recycled paper

©2010 Fair Earth | Andersonville Galleria - 5247 N. Clark St. Chicago IL 60640

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