Hello Blog Readers!

It’s the newly established Ganesh Himal Trading Intern.

Before I begin I want to share my excitement about a product I discovered while exploring the Ganesh Himal Trading inventory: the little felted elephant bags. They had caught my eye when I was browsing the website and during my tour of Ganesh Himal Trading. Between the adorable design and the story behind them, I couldn’t resist featuring them in my blog post. The design reminds me of a bag I had as a child, a horse purse, who was a stuffed animal with a zipper across the back and the bag compartment was his stomach. Adding to the whimsical design of these bags are some wonderfully unexpected color combinations. Long story short,  I may soon be walking out  with one of these bags for some young girls who live next door.

The elephant bags are created by a group of crafters that was formed by a former employee of the Association for Craft Producers (ACP), Hari Basnet. Hari, with the help of ACP and Ganesh Himal Trading started his own business, and up until his recent death employed 15 women with steady work and fair wage. The women have been able to continue on carrying on his mission. I find his mission and commitment to women very admirable.

I had a fun time herding up some bags for this photo

In addition to Hari Basnet, I also loved hearing the individual stories of producers from Denise at the Spokane City Forum on the 17th. The stories of the women are so empowering, how through their employment they have become strong and are now advocates for their communities. I hope to bring the same empowerment to women in my career. I was very excited to attend because my dad, who works at First Presbyterian Church, has been encouraging me for months to attend City Forums and I’m glad I finally received  the opportunity.  What I loved almost as much as I loved hearing Denise and Kim speak, was seeing how the audience reacted. They were completely hooked and when Denise passed around some examples of the products made from what was considered trash (tire innertubes and recycled billboards)–the audience was tickled. Each person examined the products with glee, smiles and whispers of admiration to their colleagues.

After my first day I was given some reading to do, “An Overview of Fair Trade in North America” which gave the basics of Fair Trade: its history; its principles, importance, major names, challenges and personal impact. Everyone should read or a least skim through a copy. The pamphlet may not be every one’s cup of tea, I would say a lot fact based reading isn’t, but it gives a great overview of the subject including a conflict I found particularly interesting. The concern is over the emerging differences between certification guidelines.

The overview mentioned the specific coffee and how different groups are now allowing hired labor and plantations to have their coffee certified. I would like to avoid becoming pessimistic but I believe caution should be taken to ensure there are guidelines. The typical consumer is most likely unaware of these differences. While this may be good for business and while I am not condemning organizations for altering guidelines to encourage larger companies and corporations to apply for certification to encourage the shift to fair trade practices, I am worried this could dilute the reputation of the fair trade, much like the USDA’s organic certification and corporations strategic use of phrases such as “100% natural”.

All of this being said I fear preaching to the choir. What are your thoughts readers?

Until next time,

Lauren

The Ganesh Himal Trading Intern