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Surviving a Salt Lake

The villages located around the Sambhar salt lake in the state of Rajasthan in India are impacted by drought and salt. Supported by the Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development, a village-based initiative to capture rainwater before it reached the salt lake and turned saline and unfit for use created rainwater storage capacity of 1.5 billion litres, making the lives of people in these villages somewhat easier. The local communities, and two community-based organisations, Manthan Sanstha and Prayatna Sansthan, worked with FORRAD to construct the rainwater harvesting systems. 

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Petén Rising: The Story of Itza Wood

From the heart of the Guatemalan jungle, Itza Wood hand crafts quality furnishings and wooden wares. Using ethically sourced, certified and responsibly harvested exotic woods, Itza Wood crafts with attention to detail, and design caring always for the environment and the lives of those involved. Itza Wood is partnered with a jungle school and committed to furthering education and enterprise.

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Meet the Social Enterprise Transforming One Guatemalan Community

Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, yet 45 million acres of forest are destroyed every year — the equivalent of 50 soccer fields per minute.

The rural inhabitants of these at-risk forests often live on less than $1.25 a day and have no claims or rights to the ancestral lands they call home. Economic desperation drives many of these communities to clear forests for subsistence agriculture, cut down trees for firewood, and sell illegally-harvested timber at prices far below market value, warn NGOs such as the Rainforest Alliance.

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Give the Gift of Education to Girls in Rural India.

Girls School in Kaliyachak, Bihar in rural India.

Too many children in rural India do not attend school during the day. They work collecting drinking water, fetching firewood, or tending animals and other essential domestic work for their families. Most often, girls are taking care of these chores and are not in school.

Whether or not a girl goes to school -- and stays in school -- has a profound effect on her and on her future family. Staying in school longer means she will likely marry later, earn a higher wage, have a healthier family and send her... read more

Mobilizing an Ecosystem of Small Industries and Communities in México to Adapt Sustainable Technologies

Procesos Proambientales Xaquixe (PPX) is the non-profit education and laboratory arm of Studio Xaquixe, established to research and adapt green technologies based on local systems and resources.

As a skills training center, consultancy and prototype lab supporting small, artisanal enterprises, the team at PPX has worked determinedly for 15... read more

The New Spirit of Mexico

Mexico is emerging as an exciting place for home-grown design. Mexico City was declared World Design Capital in 2018 and events are planned throughout the year to highlight the country’s design sector. As consumers globally become more interested in handcrafted products, a new generation of Mexican designers is looking to the country’s indigenous and mestizo cultural traditions and craft-based skills for inspiration. In collaboration with artisans from throughout the country they are reinvigorating old traditions to create products with a contemporary, modern aesthetic that are also distinctly Mexican.  read more

AVANI: The Finisher

Avani: The Finisher
When a scarf or shawl is completed, it goes straight to Deepah in Avani’s finished goods room. Deepah is the one who expertly keeps track of all the hundreds of goods the women of the cooperative create. When Avani gets an order, Deepah is responsible for knowing exactly where each item is, packing it, and sending them off to customers around the world.  Read the full story on Avani's blog.

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AVANI: The Indigo Dye Maker


One of Avani's oldest employees, Hari-Da begins work well before 7:00 am every morning. Hari-Da has been working at Avani for 5 years, mostly in the indigo dyeing process, which includes processing, fermenting and oxidizing the indigo plants collected from farms, to convert them into dye pigments.

Read the full story on the Avani blog. read more

AVANI: The Indigo Harvest

Mohani Devi has been harvesting indigo with Avani for two years, providing her with an independent source of income. Mohani lives in Chachared, a village with five households down a steep slope from the main road. Mohani carries the indigo she harvests up the slope to the road where the Avani truck can pick it up. This year, Mohani, along with help from her daughter-in-law Kabita, has harvested 116kg of indigo, worth about 2,359 rupees. Read the full story on the Avani blog

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Travels with Handcraft Nerds

Read the full story from HAND/EYE magazine 
Lost Spanish silk in the Sierra Madre. Smoke fired pottery. Cochineal, the red worn around the world. Frida Kahlo’s fashion inspirations. The last traditional shellfish dyers on earth. Sixteen native languages, 80 pottery villages, 100 indigenous dressways and 10,000 weavers.  Oh, and the tortilla was invented here as well 2,800 years ago.
                                                             ... read more

Zero Waste Fashion

tonlé has become a hit with ethical consumers worldwide.

In fashion, even the slightest imperfection on a roll of fabric can mean it is rejected, discarded and sent to an overflowing landfill. Ends of rolls are also tossed if they hold limited yardage. One fashion designer had an idea of using fabric that didn’t make the cut and creating a zero-waste line out of it. 
Rachel Faller’s tonlé line is an ethical and sustainable collection made in Cambodia, a country she visited in college and where her business idea came to fruition. Read the full story in... read more

#Projecthrive Launched by Sonica Sarna Design

#Projecthrive is an initiative to empower women so that they have a voice and the right to make choices in their lives.

Our sewing centre for women is based amidst the slum clusters surrounding the industrial area in New Delhi and trains the women from these slums in sewing, cutting, quality control and packing.

Read the full story on Sonica Sarna Design.

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Launching of the Rabha Women Weavers' Association

With our seed funding, Rabha women weavers are getting training and support for design development and marketing.

The Rabha women are from Garo Basti in Rajabhathkhawa, and Mendabari and Andu forest villages in Chilapata forest division in Alipurduar district of West Bengal.

Our partner in India for this initiative is the Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development, (FORRAD), a support organization for smaller grass root groups, working nationwide in the field of rural development since 1980.  Sarmistha Lahiri, founder and secretary of Hast Karigar Society, is the project consultant hired by FORRAD to implement the project. 

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One Designer’s Crusade to Save Oaxacan Pottery From Extinction

A few years ago (Kythzia) Barrera started a non-profit company called Innovating Tradition, and a retail arm to go with it, called Colectivo 1050º. Barrera doesn’t consider herself a ceramicist; a more apt title might be ceramics conservationist, or preservationist. Innovating Tradition and Colectivo 1050º are her institutional efforts to get the “traditional culture” of ceramics out of the jungle, and into the hands of a global audience.

Read more from Wired Magazine.

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Celebrating the Power of Artisan Enterprise to Change the World

Read the full remarks by the Secretary of State

According to research from the Inter-American Development Bank, if the creative economy, globally, were a country, it would already be equal to the fourth-largest economy in the world with the fourth-largest workforce and ranking ninth in the value of exports. That’s just the beginning. One advantage of the Information Age is the ability to be able to potentially increase markets for products that have traditionally been sold just locally, or out of a kiosk, or to tourists when they’re coming in. Not anymore. With... read more