Wow, I'm just back from the Windy City Gift Show, and let me just say that for me, driving and parking in the Chicago suburbs in freezing rain takes a lot more courage than tootling around northern Uganda on a motor bike!
It was lots of fun to meet so many people doing really wonderful things in the world! From fellow fair trade wholesalers to gift store buyers...I'm impressed with the Passionate People in this world. Who would have thought community could form in a setting like this? But by the second day, we were watching each other's booths, sharing advice about products, and planning ways we could collaborate in the future!
Next to Tulia's was Moriya, and its Passionate Person, Amber Steffens. Moriya works with women in Ethoipia who have had to become prostitutes in order to support their children. By making beautiful bags from handwoven fabric and leather, they are able to make a living with dignity. Amber and I had many good talks, and since she is also in Indiana, we hope to collaborate on organizing some fair trade events together in the future in Fort Wayne. Amber would make a great speaker for your church.
Next to Moriya was Revy Fair Trade, and its Passionate People, Ron and Mary. They work with lots and lots of groups in El Salvador, and they sell very cool bags and wallets from recycled tires, plus jewelry of all kinds of natural materials, and gorgeous indigo tie-dye scarves. They were kind of the old-timers, having done a few trade shows before, so whenever any of us newbies had a question, we ran to Ron and Mary.
One more Passionate Person I met was a buyer, Irene, from Footprints of the Mind. She has started an amazing organization to help kids learn about other cultures in fun, hands-on ways, which is also kind of a passion of mine.
I also met several fair trade store owners, hospital gift shop volunteers, people who sell religious gifts (they want paper bead rosaries! paper bead stars of David!), and a doctor who's organizing subscription boxes for cancer patients, called Thriveosity.
I spend a lot of time working at home in the company of cats, so it was great to find the world so full of Passionate People working to make it a better place!