Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Bootstrap Project - Global Design/Doing Good

As we're constantly in the midst of some project or enhancement or renovation at our place, I'm constantly in the midst of searching for design ideas, inspiration, unique pieces, resources for unique home decor, etc. Have you ever heard of/shopped at Ten Thousand Villages? One of the world's largest fair trade organizations, the company works to improve the livelihood of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries around the world through their established sustainable market for handmade products in North America, and by building long-term buying relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. My parents introduced me to this store several years ago, and I immediately fell in love with what is truly an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor, art, sculpture, textiles, serving ware, and accessories, representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. I was thrilled to discover they have stores around the country - and especially excited to discover one in Evanston, just north of Chicago.

Today I discovered The Bootstrap Project, another great organization with a similar and extraordinarily lovely goal (discovered by way of The City Sage). Per their Mission Statement:

The Bootstrap Project's mission is to create a sustainable platform to promote and retain centuries-old crafts and customs. We create the outlet for the local artisans. The profits of the sales go back to the artists and their communities, through our development partners, to empower them by providing the education and opportunity to retain, preserve and advance their fast-dying crafts, customs and way of life. By purchasing through Bootstrap you allow artisans—who act as the catalyst for their whole communities—to end their own poverty. It’s trade not aid.

In the Project's online shop, each item is displayed above a picture of the artisan. Click on an item and you'll read more about it and its creator, including that 100% of the profits go back to that individual and his or her community. For example:

(Poofs by Rose in Zambia)
(Baskets by Raphael in Zambia, who hopes that sales of his baskets will enable him build a home with a permanent roof that can keep his children warm and dry in the rainy season. )
(Artisan Robiya Qayumova, from Tajikistan, makes several items sold through The Bootstrap Project, including the kurpacha in the two photos above, which is the Tajik answer to the the chair, but can clearly be used in several cool design/function ways)
If you're changing up your own home decor, or just want a new, unique item, this is a pretty cool way to accessorize your home and help the true artists enjoy the benefits of the sales of their work. I'm definitely going to keep checking back in to this site for new items, and I'm sure we'll find something(s) that would really work in our home.

What do you think?

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