Well, it is here–Blog Action Day 2008. The day that bloggers all over the world take time out to write about a topic that matters. This year’s topic: POVERTY. This is a long post that I’ll hope you’ll take the time to read since I took the time to write it. 🙂
Perhaps, given the financial crisis in the United States, poverty may seem even more resonant to some. But I’m not talking about people who make 100K/yr and are worried about higher taxes. I’m talking about the people in the United States and all over the world who don’t even ONE full meal every day, who don’t have any shelter, any love. They are men, women, and children for whom a “stock portfolio” is not even a blip on the radar screen. And then there are other kinds of poverty: poverty of culture, poverty of education…
Incidentally, I don’t want to appear sanctimonious about the financial problems facing most Americans at the moment. It is definitely a legitimate concern. But I heard a woman who makes a combined income of over 100K a year complain that she was in “abject poverty” due to the financial crisis. I think that’s insulting to people who REALLY know poverty and are dying every day because of it.
So, since this is a craft blog, I did some research on how crafting can help poverty. I hope you will take some time out to look at the links I’ve provided. I’d encourage us all to think of ways we might help. Some of this links are focused on the U.S., but I’d encourage you to consider the ways to help poverty and learn about poverty in your part of the world!
- Next up, read about Direct Trade and Fair Trade. This is very important in the import of materials produced by low-income farmers and craftspeople around the world. If you buy handmade from commercial retailers (e.g. NOT Etsy), you’ll want to know where they stand on Fair Trade and Direct Trade. The latter, Direct Trade, applies mostly to coffee at this point, like Intelligenstia, sold at my local coffee shop (yay!)
- Here’s some UNESCO information on how handicrafts can lead to economic sustainability.
- Check out SERRV. They used to be “A Greater Gift,” now Serrv works with artisans around the world to integrate fair trade handicrafts into poor economies. From their website:
Our goal is to alleviate poverty and empower low-income people through trade, training and other forms of capacity building as they work to improve their lives. SERRV has worked to assist artisans and farmers for more than 55 years through the following:
* Marketing their handcrafts and food products in a just and direct manner.
* Educating consumers in the United States about economic justice and other cultures.
* Providing development assistance to low-income craftspeople through their community-based organizations.
- Global Exchange has an online store that sells Fair Trade handicrafts from all over the world.
HELPING POVERTY ON ETSY
I did some surfing on Etsy, near and dear to many a crafters heart to see what was being done in terms of sending proceeds to help poverty (and related causes: hunger, sustainability, etc). Top causes seem to be cancer research and animal rescue–both REALLY important. However, the thing about poverty is that it is at ground level…poverty snowballs into so many other problems (health, political, overpopulation, etc). Here are a few sellers and Etsy teams who are trying to help:
- SewShaz, who is sending proceeds to help fight hunger locally (Chicago) and globally (UN)
- Our public school system is impoverished in more ways than one, and organizations like the Etsy New England Street Team are trying to help…and they are promoting crafting at the same time!
Finally, I’d like to link to one of my favorite blogs, Crafting a Green World. Being responsible about resources and the materials you use as a crafter IS relevant to poverty. That’s what I meant when I said poverty is a ground level problem…you can look at almost any environmental issue, health issue, etc. and trace it all the way down to poverty and sustainability issues. There is nothing quite like repurposing, upcycling, and recycling materials (aka “crafting”) to demonstrate the unused abundance around us.
Thank you for reading!