Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale Nov. 17-18

First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton is the place to do your shopping for Christimas. We are hosting the Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale on November 17th and 18th. Here are the details:

Hours:
8 am - 3 pm Saturday, November 17th
1 pm - 3 pm Sunday, November 18th

Fair trade is a growing worldwide movement and Ten Thousand Villages has been leading this movement for over 60 years. We at First Presbyterian Church have been active participants in this worthwhile marketing strategy since the early 1990s, and are responsible for tens of thousands of dollars going directly to the Ten Thousand Villages organization and the artisans with whom it deals.

“Green” and “Fair Trade” are partners in kind with “Peace” and Justice.” They are inseparable. When you allow a person, or a village, to use traditional skills to earn living wages from materials that they can acquire locally today and tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, they are going to ensure that their livelihoods are firmly grounded in ecologically sustainable systems.

For example, Albert Espin, an artisan and workshop owner near Quito Ecuador uses tagua nuts to craft beautiful, earth-friendly jewelry. His business employs six people who earn fair wages year-round, and he works directly with nut harvesters who make twice what they would if they were selling to the middlemen. Other craftspeople use bamboo, palm leaves, wild grasses and other naturally produced materials, as well as recycled materials like aluminum and newspaper, to hand craft a variety of goods that we in this country find unique and beautiful and FUN!

We can feel good about doing our Christmas shopping at the Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale because we know the money we spend is going to help incubator businesses in small developing countries all over the world. Women in these countries are being empowered as they apply for, receive, and pay off micro-loans that help them get businesses started that employ many of their neighbors. Small companies are forming to locally produce handicrafts that simultaneously preserve age-old traditions and history while giving the rest of the world some insight into lesser known and fascinating cultures in the far corners of the world.

Meanwhile, in this country, we are seeing magazines like Natural Home advertise the new practice of planning green weddings where you can use the Ten Thousand Villages registry as a resource for couples who want to go green. In our own backyard, Dollywood has for four years welcomed the Ten Thousand Villages shop at the Festival of Nations. Additionally, Ten Thousand Villages has been ranked by “Better World Shopper” among the top ten “Small But Beautiful” companies based on its social and environmental responsibility. In short, these companies are “leading the way in building a better world.”

And you can help! Come to the sale in the John and Carolyn Martin Hall November 17th and 18th. Better yet, call Beth McPherson or Kathe Crossley and volunteer to help with the sale. We’ll also have volunteer sign-up sheets at the Peacemaking Table two weeks before the sale. Meanwhile, check out the items we’ve already received to whet our appetite. Happy shopping!

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