With Mother’s Day just around the corner, this blog post is dedicated to all of the different types of moms and what products they might enjoy best on our site. The launching of our website with easy shipping or accessible pick-up on the UW-Madison campus allows anyone to get a handcrafted, artisan piece for their moms!
Classy, Contemporary Mom
Fitting for the polished, modern mom, the Liliana necklace is a fashionable, higher neckline necklace. This jewelry item is the perfect statement for a casual, business, going-out outfit, and everything in between! Does your mom not like to wear necklaces? If so, you should check out the Carmela bracelet, which is a very similar design to the Liliana necklace. Purchasing the Liliana necklace generates revenue for the women of Presa de Barajas, Mexico.
Low-Key, Earthy Mom
For the laid-back, artsy mom, we have the perfect necklace for you to bring together any outfit! The Magdalena necklace, available in a myriad of colors, would go great with jeans or black pants and a plain top or a casual dress. Want to accessorize even more? The Monica bracelet complements this piece very well. The jewelry from this collection is made in La Calera, Ecuador by the group, Sumak Muyo from tropical seeds and nuts!
Glitz & Glam Mom
The Everest necklace is ideal for any mom who loves to get dressed up! Available in three different vibrant shades, it can be the focal point of any fancy outfit to be worn to a dinner party, out to a restaurant, to a show, or any special occasion. When purchasing this piece for your mom, you are also empowering the community of trafficking survivors in Nepal, Kathmandu who create this unique jewelry.
With the fashion show right around the corner, we thought this would be a great time to honor some of the women who have made us who we are. Moms are supportive, loving, and they empower us to be the best that we can be!
We live over 900 miles apart from each other, but my mom is still by biggest supporter and my #wcw. Despite the distance, she is the first one I go to if I have a question, problem, or just want to talk. I can always count on her to be there for me (even late at night when I forget about the time difference). I am thankful everyday that I have someone like her in my life to make me the person I am today. Love you, Mom!
My mom is my #wcw because she is my biggest supporter every day of my life. No matter what I need help with, and or what time of day or night I need her, my mom never stops giving. She will literally drop whatever she is doing if someone needs help. She inspires me because she takes care of everyone around her and always pushes me to be the best that I can be. She has taught me about strength and determination. I hope that I can be as kind and caring of a person as she is!
My mom is one of the most incredible people in my life. She raised me to be independent, to love fiercely and to always be the best person that I can be. She showed me how possible it is to have everything, as she was always around our home as a working mom who’s home office doubled as our basement. She showed me how family can ground you, but that it will forever be your home no matter where life takes you. She has always encouraged me to live out my dreams and to make mistakes. However, one of the best lessons that my mom taught me was to appreciate and believe the best in people. My mother taught me to always look for one thing you appreciate in each person you meet. That way, if they ever frustrate you in the future, you have at least one thing that grounds you. By remembering the differences and strengths of others, especially in moments of frustration, my mother helps me be patient, kind and empowering.
My #Womancrushwednesday goes out to my beautiful, creative and smart mother, Natasha Summers. She works hard and to perfection with everything she does from having her own photography business to going back to school to become a Medical Assistant and graduating with honors. She has always inspired me to be the best I can be and pushed me to try new things whether it be my first youth soccer game or heading off to college. She supported me and all my siblings at every sporting and school event possible. I would say we are a lot alike and always tend to be wearing similar styled outfits and ordering the same meal at restaurants. She is honest, caring and always knows the right thing to say even if it is not what I want to hear. I truly wouldn’t be the same without her, love you mom!
My mom is inspiring to me because she can pick anyone up when they're down. she knows how to make me smile and magically always has the right answer to solve my problems. Even with all the stuff she has to do she can always put me and my current situations first. She picks up my phone calls within the first ring and is a superwoman to me. She is so caring and kind and always a hug when you're down. My mom means the world to me and I could not live without her!
My #WCW this Wednesday and every Wednesday is my mom! She is the glue that holds our family together, has a 6th sense for when one of my siblings or I am sick, and is known by my, my brother and my sister’s friends as “the cutest and coolest mom.” The pinnacle of my admiration for my mom occurred when she noticed something was strange about my sister’s eye. Despite my dad, my brother and me making fun of her for being over concerned and paranoid, she brought her to an eye doctor in New York City. The doctor proceeded to diagnose my sister with a rare form of eye cancer, Retinoblastoma, and if it had not been for my mom’s 6th sense and genuine concern, this terrible disease would have gone undetected for much longer and could have spread. Instead, my sister able to have her eye removed very early on, can now lead a normal, heathy life. My mom’s dedication, loyalty, and braveness is why I love her so much and consider her to be my role model as well as my, my brother and my sister’s biggest fan and supporter!
My mom, Kathy Ann Schlimgen is my Woman Crush Wednesday; as her daughter, I admire her endless giving to her family, caring for her students (even into retirement), lifelong openness to learning new things and hearing different perspectives. As a professional, I have grown to appreciate my mom's professional role as a female in the field of BioMolecular Chemistry since the 1970s. Thanks for giving me my sense of curiosity and desire to understand how things truly work.
My mom is my #wcw because of how self-less and generous she is. She goes above and beyond and often out of her way to help others, a quality I hope to see in myself one day. She inspires me to do more in the community, just like her. She is my travel buddy and she always manages to find time to spend time with my sister and me, no matter how busy she is. I admire how intelligent and hardworking she is and that she always tries to do her best, even at times when the task at hand may not be enjoyable. As I have gotten older, I am amazed at how she found time do all the little extra things like being a Girl Scout leader or being on the middle school Athletic Board while still building and maintaining a career as I was growing up. I can never thank her enough for all that she has done for me and I truly hope to follow in her footsteps.
One of the most influential people in my life is my mother. She was always supportive of me and the choices I made, but would never shy away from giving me harsh feedback. If she thought I was doing something stupid or wrong, then she would be the first to tell me, usually with a joke or two. Knowing I could always rely on her advice to be honest and true has meant the world to me. I admire my mother for her strength, obnoxious humor, and loyalty, among hundreds of other things. Even though we can get on each other’s nerves from time to time, I know that she will always be in my corner to support me, and I hope she knows I will always be in her corner.
My mom is my Women crush Wednesday because she is motivated, inspiring, self-less, kind-hearted, and generous. I could go on forever describing how much my mom has been there for me and has helped me get to the place where I am today. I am forever grateful to have grown up in New York City and have had the opportunities to travel around the world. Not a day goes by without texting each other or her wishing me good luck on my next exam. I can always count on my mom to be there for me and calm me down when I am totally stressed out with work. Not only is my mom an amazing mother, but also has an amazing career. She has inspired me to follow in her footsteps and go into real estate asset management. She is very respected in her field and I hope I can be as successful as her one day. Even though she has a heavy work load job, she always makes time for me and puts her family first. My mom is my women crush Wednesday because she always makes the impossible look possible.
Since I was little a little girl, everyone has always told me that I look exactly like my mom. “She’s a ‘Mini Martha!’” her coworkers would say as they’d smile brightly in my direction. “She has your laugh, too!” They would add. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized this was the best compliment anyone could give me. My mom is my biggest supporter and role model. She is a nurse, a wife, a caregiver, and my best friend. She has been behind me through every practice, test, interview, race, breakup, broken bone, and accomplishment that I’ve ever had. She looks at the world with understanding and curiosity, and always pushes me to ask questions and challenge the status quo. She listens to people’s problems and goes out of her way to finds solutions. I am proud to have this lady in my life because she empowers me to work hard and inspires me to be a more empathetic person.
This week’s #WCW is Carolyn Kallenborn: an inspiring, motivating, and innovative design professor at UW’s School of Human Ecology who has helped The Marketplace grow immensely!
Carolyn’s interest in design began young; as a child in a family of 7 children, her mom made all their clothes. She began taking the initiative to make her own clothes, so she has been a designer for a long time! She went back to school older after her son was born with the intent of going into clothing design, but decided to focus more on textile design, because she loved the creative aspect of it.
Carolyn produces a myriad of artwork including textiles, set designs, pieces, and films. She creates art that pushes herself and that engages her audience; her work is interactive and has the intent of getting people to pause and think about why we are here.
Two pieces of Carolyn’s that excite and inspire the Marketplace most are her documentaries, Life of the Dead and Woven Lives, which about her experiences in Mexico and the lives of the people she has met there. She created Woven Lives, because after her trips to Mexico, she found herself talking about the people she met and their lives and she thought she could create art that captured their true voices. Her second film, Life of the Dead, discusses Day of the Dead and how death is celebrated. The two films are very different, the first being more tangible, but Carolyn found the second one to be more fun to film and enjoyed working to properly represent the holiday.
How We Connect with Carolyn
The Marketplace came to Carolyn after hearing about her documentaries and going to the event where she displayed Life of the Dead on various textiles in an interactive setting for over 150 people in Madison. From Carolyn’s work with artisans in Mexico, her knowledge of textiles and weaving, and the global artisans class she teaches, we knew she would be a great person to learn from and collaborate with! With her design and global artisan expertise, she has helped us create a better product by incorporating more storytelling from the artisans, developing better packaging, and having stronger displays!
Carolyn’s most important piece of advice for The Marketplace team and teams in general is to have an interdisciplinary group for optimal strength. In her class that creates the Threads Fashion Show, she has students with a retail background and she likes that they bring different perspectives than design students and make the program stronger. Her advice to The Marketplace is to make sure that we recruit designers and retail students to collaborate with business students and to be able to develop more! For those interested in developing their Spanish and maybe traveling to Spanish-speaking countries as she has, she says to not be shy, just jump in and talk, practice whenever possible and to not feel the need to always be right! Finally, for all passionate students, she suggests to get involved and find activities to actively participate in!
Near and Distant Future
Our upcoming collaboration with Carolyn is at the Threads Fashion Show, which is run and produced by her and her class she teaches in SOHE! We will be selling Marketplace products at the event on April 30th and are looking forward to working with her. Additionally, one of our beloved members, Erin Tenderholt, will be traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico as an intern through ours and Carolyn’s partnership with the Global Artisans Initiative. It is a long-term goal of Carolyn’s is to bring a class to Oaxaca, so hopefully more Marketplace members will be able to go in the future!
This week’s #wcw is Jenny Angus, a professor of apparel and textile design at UW-Madison.
Why are we crushing on Jenny? Well….at Wisconsin Without Borders, we can’t believe that we get the opportunity to work with someone as amazing as Jenny. Not only has she helped develop our artisan site in Nepal, Shakti Samuha, but her artwork has also been featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C.
As we get ready for the online store launch featuring jewelry from Shatki Samuha this Friday, we can’t help but share our appreciation for all Jenny has done for the program. Thank you Jenny for being an inspiring woman and motivating us to follow in your footsteps!
Read more about Jenny’s work at the Smithsonian below!
How Thousands of Dead Bugs Become a Mesmerizing Work of Extraordinary Beauty
With much love for the insect world, artist Jennifer Angus crafts an installation made entirely out of beetles, cicadas, katydids and weevils
Jennifer Angus’ artwork is startling, especially when it dawns on you that what is on view is not beautifully drawn, patterned wallpaper. Depending on your mindset, it's either a nightmarishly freakish, or beautifully mesmerizing assemblage, of insects.
Beyond the visceral gut reaction, a deeper provocation comes with the ideas behind her work—what is beauty? What does it say about the power of nature, or man’s quest to control nature? What about man’s impact on the planet?
Angus, whose In the Midnight Garden is on display at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., does not shy away from expressing her own thoughts about what might otherwise be taken as an abstraction. She aims to play with perceptions, to challenge hard and fast beliefs about the insect world, and to stir a broader thought process.
Over the last decade or so, she’s specialized in what she calls “a kind of over-the-top grotesque aesthetic,” pinning dead insects to gallery walls in installations that evoke a fussy but dark Victorian sensibility. The show’s curator Nicholas Bell pushed her to go beyond her routine, says Angus. “As I tried to consider it in a more contemporary way, I loosened up a bit,” she adds.
The installation has its orderly parts—neatly arranged patterns of concentric circles, squares and other shapes—all made up of a variety of insects, including thorny sticks (Heteropteryx dilatata), moving leafs (Phyllium giganteum), white-winged cicadas (Ayuthia spectabilis), clear-wing cicadas (Pompoina imperatorial), blue-winged cicadas (Tosena splendida), brown-winged cicadas (Angamiana floridula), katydids (Sanaa intermedia), green stag beetles (Phymateus saxosus) and several varieties of grasshoppers.
But it’s also animated by swarms of cicadas seemingly ready to fly off the walls. Six oversized skulls—outlined and filled in by hundreds of weevils (Eupholus species)—anchor the installation as a recurring theme at chair-rail level.
A pinkish floor-to-ceiling wash—a dye extract that comes from the cochineal, a scale insect—gives the whole scene a Day of the Dead feel. “The skull is a potent motif,” says Angus. It has become iconic in pop culture, but is also still a signifier of death. Indeed, she’s using them as a reminder to viewers.
“There are at least 5,000 dead things in here,” she says. But she wants that to be a conversation starter, and expects that many people will come in and ask—how many thousand of insects died for this show? It’s a good question, Angus says. “I want people to ask that.”
None of the insects she uses are endangered. There are disappearing species, “but most of them are threatened because of loss of habitat, not over-collection,” she says. Insects—a renewable resource—are at risk because of human incursions, Angus says. But, unlike birds, or bees, or turtles, or whales, or wolves, “insects aren’t so sexy,” she adds. They are important, however, to the ecosystem, pollinating plants that humans and animals need to survive, and decomposing matter.
“We are in a culture where insects are not very highly valued,” agrees Bell. Angus puts them in a setting that forces people to pay attention, he says. At first, they might not realize what they are seeing, but as they get closer, it becomes clearer that they are, indeed, “surrounded by very large dead insects,” says Bell. “That’s an interesting thing to watch.”
The insects in her show are perhaps less threatening than those encountered at home or in the wild, in part because they are dead, but also because she’s imposed some order on them. And, they are colorful and beautiful in their own way. Angus hopes that people “will think about insects differently when they leave,” she says.
In the process of viewing the exhibit, “people have to negotiate their preconceived concepts about what insects are, and I think that’s okay,” says Bell.
Angus has not always been the insect lady. It’s something she came to accidentally.
The Edmonton, Alberta, native’s first love was archaeology, an interest that fizzled out in her first year at the University of British Columbia. She blamed her waning focus on a boring professor and dropped out of school. While working ten days on and five days off on a ferry that ran between Vancouver Island and Vancouver, she began taking art courses—like weaving. She found a new love—patterns.
It gave her a new direction. So she pursued and won a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1984, and then a master of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1991. Ten years later, she joined the University of Wisconsin, Madison, faculty, where she is now a professor of design studies.
That position gives her the luxury to pursue her art. Her initial interest was in textiles, more specifically, the patterns that can be created with cloth and other textiles. She has designed textiles and wallpaper. And she’s studied the interweaving of culture and cloth—that is, what patterns say about the wearer or the society. During forays to Southeast Asia, for instance, Angus learned that textile patterns often signify status or tribal identity, or even that the wearer is pregnant.
On a trip to northern Thailand in the mid 1980s, she saw a woman from the Karen tribe wearing a “singing shawl,” that had fringe decorated with what appeared to be shiny green fake fingernails, but were in fact the hard exterior wings of a type of beetle.
It was a pivotal moment; she’d never thought of insects as beautiful, merely as annoyances. She was “entranced,” she says.
The notion of weaving her two loves—patterns and insects—together began to evolve over subsequent trips to the Southeast Asia in the early 90s. During an art residency in Tokyo in 1995, Angus started creating insect dioramas—complete with kimono-wearing rhino beetles. She was aided by a few schoolboys who were regular visitors to her studio, and like her, shared a fascination for insects. Angus learned that in Japan, it is not uncommon for children to keep insects as pets.
The project sort of reached a natural conclusion—over a period of five years—with, literally a three-ring Bug Circus. In that piece, created in 2000, she posed insects as strongmen lifting weights in one ring, a lion-tamer scenario in another, and two beetles at a water bowl in the third. Angus then began doing fuller installations that incorporated both insects and elaborate patterns. “Pattern can be just a visual stimulus, but it has the potential for so much more, to tell a story,” says Angus.
The stories Angus tells in her pieces are of transformation—from the unknown to the known, from off-putting to enchanting.
Each insect has a story: where it came from, how it was collected, how it ended up in her possession, how she prepared it for exhibit, and how it was chosen to be a part of her art. She has a collection of at least 30,000 insects, ranging in price from 25 cents to $20 apiece, which are re-used from show to show, and put up in storage in plastic bins (with mothballs to ward off insect predators like mites) at her university and home studios, and a one-room schoolhouse she has converted.
She purchases the insects primarily from a dealer in France, who, in turn, sources them mostly from indigenous people in Southeast Asia. If she can get farmed insects, she will use them.
“I get pretty much the same three questions all the time: are the insects real, is this their natural color, and do I collect them all myself,” she says. The insects are definitely real, none have been color enhanced, and she never collects them herself, although she does prepare them when they arrive from the dealer by humidifying them and placing them with stainless steel entomological pins on foam board.
Angus has digitized photos to scale of every insect in her collection, which she uses to design the exhibition, once she knows the floor plan. It has to be tightly designed. “I have to know how many insects to bring,” she says adding, “I can’t go, ‘oh, I wish I brought more cicadas.'”
For the Renwick show, she and two assistants drove the insects from Wisconsin. Once in the gallery, Angus and the assistants began the arduous, multiday process of hammering the pinned specimens into place according to her design plot.
Angus chooses particular species for their wow factor, but also for their durability, and how well they fit into specific patterns. Some insects will never be a part of an Angus exhibition. Cockroaches, for instance. “It’s almost like it’s so obvious that it’s not worth doing,” she says. Nor will she use any butterflies because “everybody knows butterflies are beautiful.”
They provide no chance to educate or stimulate wonder.
And that would basically defeat her mission. “I’m trying to rehabilitate the image of insects,” Angus says. She’s hoping that, “Instead of stomping on them or rolling up the newspaper,” people might consider “gently escorting them out the door instead.”
An Angus show always makes a big impression and they have proven immensely popular.
None of the insects Angus uses are endangered. But she wants people to think about that. There are disappearing species, “but most of them are threatened because of loss of habitat, not over-collection,” she says. (Ron Blunt/ Renwick Gallery/ SAAM)
The artist has exhibited in galleries and small museums in Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany and the U.S.
Being at the Renwick offers the opportunity to perhaps make an even bigger impression, in part because people who can affect environmental policy might see the show. But there’s also the general appeal in a big city. “A lot of people who have never walked into an art museum will come because they want to see the big bugs,” says Angus. She expects it to be one of the highest-attended of all of her shows so far.
But she says she’s not ready to make a life-long career of being the insect lady. “Doing these installations is very physical.” While she thinks she’ll eventually become tired of them, she adds, “obviously, this is a significant investment, so they’re going to be around for awhile.”
This article is taken from Smithsonianmag.com
The original article can be found here.
Read more about Jenny here and here.
The best teachers are the ones who empower us to be better than we ever thought we could be.
Janet Niewold is one of the best, most inspiring mentors, teachers and friends. Inspired by the popular social media hashtag (#wcw), Janet also happens to be our Woman Crush Wednesday --and everyday for that matter-- because Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace would not exist without her.
In many ways, Janet’s story, especially her impact, is the origin for the Marketplace. Our organization has humble roots of passionate people connecting. Janet has provided the solid foundation for continued growth. Global Health Institute Director Lori Diprete Brown met the women of Sumak Muyo in La Calera, Ecuador in 2010 and shortly after called Janet Niewold, who had passion and experience with artisanal work and South America.
The two women recognized the potential of a partnership in Ecuador, not only for the women of Sumak Muyo, but also for university students. The project morphed into a field study course through the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Certificate program. Janet was one of the UW staff leading the trips, and inspired the founders of the Marketplace.
Reading the letters of the students who have returned from the trips led by Janet, I am reminded of the lessons she shared while in Ecuador. Janet has taught her students to be flexible, believe in themselves, embody confidence, connect with others and always continue learning. She showed so many students on those trips, as well as numerous students in our organization, that every experience is what you make of it.
Time and time again the students wrote about how the best learning happens when you keep your eyes and ears open. Almost all of them underscored how important it is to step outside of your comfort zone. I cannot help but attribute this to Janet’s leadership and guidance. So many people have developed into today’s leaders thanks to her.
She leads by example
In a lot of ways, Janet is superwoman. She’s active and present, constantly biking, running, or in yoga class. She cooks amazing meals and appreciates the little things in life. She is a mother of two adult children and a loving wife.
When I first became a Student Director for the Marketplace, Janet had said that she was trying to center her life around balance. She manages to be exactly the person you want to be. She makes time for her friends and family and works to maintain authentic connections and relationships with the people in her life. In our organization, our work is never done. We are a part of a dynamic, constantly evolving project. That means the work day never seems to end. To achieve this balance, Janet would always set personal deadlines for herself and keep us smiling with her jokes and stories. She embraces well-being.
She kept us learning through conversations. She taught us to be bold and confident in our willingness to learn. As a reliable Spanish conversation partner and mentor, Janet has taught me to embrace mistakes and keep my eyes open to all experiences.
Janet is Candid
It’s no secret that college students want to have all the answers. Janet always managed to be patient, calm and supportive. She is the person who opens doors to us by supporting the opportunities that we never even knew existed.
She is honest and open about her life, both with love and work. Her gentle life lessons guided us to develop into the adults that we are becoming. Nothing is perfect, but it all manages to work out in the end. Janet has shown us how amazing life is by embracing opportunities and confronting challenges. She reminds us to be good people, good students and good professionals.
From spending months backpacking Latin America to raising two wonderful children to never stopping learning, connecting, teaching or inspiring, Janet is someone who I aspire to be. Without a doubt, many of the people who she’s touched share a similar sentiment.
Now, about five years after her first visit to La Calera, Ecuador, it’s time for our organization to say goodbye to Janet as she transitions out of her formal advisory role. She has empowered us to lead our group into greatness with balance and ethics considered every step of the way.
Throughout the rest of the semester, we will be honoring the women who inspire us. Janet is the first who comes to mind and deserves extra special recognition. This semester and into the future, we will continue to use the lessons Janet taught us.
Thank you for helping us be better than we ever thought possible.
Hey Madison! It’s starting to get a little warmer outside, and we can all begin to feel the first hints of spring as April begins. What better way to ring in the fresh air than to do a bit of spring cleaning and try out some new colors?
At Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace, our spring colors are inspired by the greenery and brightness that we love during this time of year.
Hazelnut, Niagara, Lapis Blue, Viridian Green, Blue Radiance
On Wednesday, March 8 this week, we will be celebrating International Women’s Day around the world; however, the Madison celebration is today, March 4.
Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace was challenged to “be bold for change,” as part of the IWD 2017 theme. Those who create change have to be empowered and emboldened to do what they believe is right. In our case, being ethical and socially responsible can be a bold act, especially when the harms of fast fashion are often overlooked and a company’s social responsibility can be diluted and under prioritized.
With passion to inspire change, I wanted to share a story of being bold for change.
Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace and our first partnership, Sumak Muyo (based out of La Calera, Ecuador), are a primary example of being bold for change.
Flora Yepez is the leader of the organization and who I want to highlight as an inspiration of a woman who is bold for change. Flora is a leader in the indigenous community, La Calera, poised three hours outside of Quito and nestled between two parental mountains, La Calera (the mother) and Imbabura (the father). In the La Calera community’s culture, the women are responsible for the cooking, cleaning and childrearing, very rarely do they deal with financial matters for their home.
Flora is different though. She started her adulthood as a passionate advocate for women’s rights, quickly rising to the ranks in a medical brigade through the health ministry in her younger years. Her supervisors questioned her success and challenged her ambitions, but eventually she was assigned to work in another indigenous community.
She mentioned that she was assigned to one of the toughest villages because they had some of the fewest resources and were severely lacking public health education and outreach, especially for women. Flora, however, had a secret way to garner trust in the new community. She gained acceptance in the community by meeting with just the women and talking to them. She would hold women-only meetings to develop a rapport with so many of the people who had gone voiceless in the community. She began to work to empower them to have their own voices to work to combat domestic abuse and talked about sexual health.
Women trust other women. She talked about how the women talked to their husbands and brothers so that the community leaders started taking her more seriously and listening to the information she was sent to share.
She spoke about how she was able to have some fun in her role too. She recalled with a smile on her face one Christmas season where she put condoms on a tree to normalize and familiarize the community with condoms in a whimsical way that would get people talking.
Even Flora, however, struggled to be positive at times. When she moved back to La Calera, she struggled to have the presence and role that she wanted. She talked about how another woman, Monica, supported her through so much.
Monica and Flora would have long conversations about how to promote women’s rights and community development efforts in La Calera, but they would also talk about their own personal struggles. Their friendship grew strong, which is exemplified when Flora had a girl and named her after her friend, Monica.
Many years have now passed and Flora’s daughter Monica now has two children of her own. Monica has moved out of her mother’s house and into a new home in Quito. Flora’s boldness to inspire change; however, has not changed over the years.
She now proudly serves as the leader of Sumak Muyo, a small business that sells jewelry made from natural palm tree seeds. The group uses its profits to provide scholarships for children in La Calera whose parents cannot provide for them. Their business came about when municipal funding disappeared for the community development efforts that the women wanted to complete. The women knew that their projects were worthwhile and needed in the community, especially after creating a successful kindergarten and daycare center, but the community no longer had money to give for their projects, despite them asking.
Flora and the other women of Sumak Muyo are passionate advocates for women’s rights. They constantly strive to end domestic violence in their community and have made a metaphorical space at the table for women in their community, most obvious during their community meetings. In La Calera, the community now turns to the women of Sumak Muyo for their expertise and financial status.
Happy International Women’s Day to women everywhere and never forget to be bold for change.
This past winter break, I had the amazing opportunity to experience first-hand the good work that WWBM is doing. I, along with a fellow coordinator, Jen Wagman, traveled to Ecuador to visit a few of the different artisan sites that we work with and help them with various projects. In the last blog post, Jen talked about where WWBM is headed this semester and how our trip to Ecuador has shaped this direction. I am going to talk a little about the artisans we worked with and the adventures we had.
We landed in Quito on New Years Day, tired, but ready to start our journey the following day. The first portion of our trip consisted of a 5-hour car ride through the Andes mountains to a small town on the coast. For the next 4 nights, we stayed in a shelter in the middle of a dry rainforest reserve and woke up to howler monkeys screaming outside our window.
The first artisan group we visited was a soap making group called Bellinas Jabones, in Camarones. We spent half a day there helping them package their soaps with banana leafs and labels we printed off for them. They showed us where they grow the plants that make the soap, and talked about how their government is sending all the soap to the Galapagos because of the large tourism market.
The remainder of our time spent on the coast was with a group called El Bolso Magico, in Tabuga, that silk screens bags and t-shirts. Here we helped them with their inventory, visual store display, and they let us try silk screening as well (which is a lot harder than it looks).
When we weren’t working, we spent our free time lying in hammocks, learning new Ecuadorian card games, and hiking through the reserve. In addition to the monkeys, the reserve is full of exotic flora and wildlife, although, thankfully, we didn’t encounter anything too dangerous!
The next half of our trip was spent in the beautiful town of La Calera, back in the mountain region. Here, we lived with Flora for 4 nights and her sister Marisol for 2 nights. Both women are part of the women’s group, Sumak Muyo, that makes jewelry from local nuts and seeds. Here we were able to help the women with their social media skills as well as assist them in preparing for a tourist group that was coming at the end of our stay. We also had the opportunity to learn how to make the jewelry (which is harder than it looks!).
While in La Calera, we attended the grand artisan market in Ottovalo, the largest in South American, eat traditional Ecuadorian food (which included guinea pig for dinner one night!), and see amazing views.
There is still more work that needs to be done, but by visiting these talented, hospitable, and hardworking artisans in Ecuador, we were able to help keep our connections alive and hopefully make them even stronger!
This was blog was written by Sophia Goldschmidt.
Every opportunity I have had that has taken me to Latin America has left me changed as the new experiences, new culture and, most of all, new people leave lasting impressions on me.
My latest adventure was no exception. This January, I had the privilege of traveling to Ecuador to visit some of our artisan partners in the South American nation with Sophia Goldschmidt, a fellow Executive from our leadership team.
We were able to spend time in a couple of different Ecuadorian provinces assessing sites that we have worked with in varying levels in the past. Hopefully, Sophia will get a chance to guest blog and talk more about the adventures we had and the organizations we worked with during our tour.
Instead, I want to focus my time discussing where we’re headed next as an organization and how our trip to Ecuador encouraged our new direction.
We met other non-profits, student groups and friends. We learned about the Ecuador team of the UW-Madison chapter of Engineers without Borders and spent some time at an ecological reserve operated by the Ceiba Foundation. We met Ecuadorians from all different walks of life. We met travelers. We met Wisconsinites. We met other Badgers. Our travels took us not only to different cities, but to different people. We were constantly learning. Through the conversations with the micro-enterprise groups we met, to the other travelers we stayed with, met, played cards with, ate with, we learned that change comes from the community. It is a collaborative effort that comes from everyone, no matter the size of the impact. The outpouring of information and passion forced us to refocus and think about what we are doing.
Wisconsin without Borders Marketplace is an international development organization, but our efforts are, for the most part, by university students, which means we are still learning. With the realization of these critical components of our organization, I returned to the United States with a lot of questions.
The biggest question I had was: are we doing good?
I don’t know the answer to that question. It’s challenging to answer with cultural differences and miscommunications. International development is a difficult game because of the challenges of understanding a local economy. Despite the complexity of the question, we intend to do good this semester. With a fresh perspective from Ecuador and the stories we learned there, Sophia and I returned with a renewed fire to change and improve an organization that will be dynamic.
As we embark on our next semester, we’re excited to take on the challenge of finding answers to questions that have gone unanswered for far too long. We’re not perfect: we’re far from it, but we are students. We are learning, but we are also surrounded by innumerable resources and opportunities being students at a large, research university. Moving forward, we’re going to keep asking questions until we get answers. We’re looking forward to a semester of learning, collaboration and adaption to make Wisconsin without Borders Marketplace the best it has been yet.
This was blog was written by Jen Wagman.
One of my favorite spots in Madison is a cozy little café called Fair Trade Coffee House. Located on State Street across from Jamba Juice, this independently owned café has provided me with the perfect environment to study, drink way too many coffees, and order countless gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.
Fair Trade Coffee House exclusively serves fair trade coffee, which is something that has become increasingly important to me. When I visit, I am satisfied in knowing that 100% of the coffee beans that Fair Trade Coffee House uses is fair trade. By just indulging in a cup of coffee at Fair Trade Coffee House and other fair trade cafés, we are simultaneously supporting small coffee farmers all around the world.
We are surrounded by small businesses everywhere we turn, yet many Americans frequent large chain stores more often than not. By buying from individual coffee farmers, rather than large corporations, we are helping to support the economic base in our communities and countries around the world. Fair trade was created to help Mexican coffee farmers after their livelihoods took a turn for the worse, following the collapse of world coffee prices in the 1980s.
When coffee is “fair trade,” it means that the producer is guaranteed to receive the fair trade minimum profit on their coffee. This minimum price is enough money to securely cover the cost of production and acts as a safety net if the market collapses again like it did in the late 1980s. So, next time you walk into a coffee shop for a little caffeine pick me up, think about visiting one that is fair trade.
This was blog was written by Leah Korn.