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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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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 in... read more

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 Dyer


Kamla has been working with Avani for 6 years as a dyer. The role of a dyer can be very physically strenuous, and Kamla spends much of her day standing over boiling vats of dyes, dipping heavy rods piled with wool, silk, and linen threads.  Read the full story on the Avani 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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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

Saving Rhinos: Turning Poo into Paper

Photo credit: Chirodeep Chaudhuri

Two thousand of the world’s 2,500 Asian one-horned rhinos live in this northeastern state of Assam, but the rhino population is dwindling rapidly because of poaching and sprawl. Mahesh Bora says the farmers who live on the edge of the rhino's forest habitat often see them only as a menace to crops, or a cash opportunity with poachers.

“No amount of telling them to save the rhino is actually going to work,” he says. “But nothing works better than economic dependence. If they get some livelihood from rhinos, they’ll always try to save it.”

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La Flor de Xochistlahuaca

 La Flor de Xochistlahuaca is a story of rescue and preservation, but also one of innovation with the goal to appeal to a broader market and consumer base.

Located in the municipality of Xochistlahuaca in southeastern Guerrero, Mexico. The cooperative was formed in 1969 but legally established on February 19, 2001. Its members, all women, make high-quality textiles, using traditional techniques and designs.

-- Ana Paula Fuentes

Read the full article La Flor de Xochistlahuaca from HAND/EYE.

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