About Me

My photo
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. Shel Silverstein

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

a cause, shopping with a cause, and just plain shopping

HE(ART) for Haiti results:

The event went pretty incredibly actually. We had a blast hanging the show and getting to know the manager at Dominican Joe Coffee Shop. I was honored to have my own paintings in the mix of AWESOME artists. We had a nice large group of family, friends, and other supporters come and help us raise about $2,600!!! That's half the house! We are so excited to plan how to raise the rest :)
My Pieces

After we hung all the pieces!

Shopping with a Cause:

My friend Mackenzie was wearing some really cool sandals the other day and whenever I asked her where they were from she told me they were SSEKO's and told me a little bit about there mission (I'll share below!). I have been a huge fan of Tom's Shoes (and now sunglasses) for quite a while now and have stocked up on more than a few pairs. But, when Mackenzie told me about SSEKO's, it made me realize that there are other organizations out there that do similar things (obviously), most that aren't for profit. Two organizations I am seriously digging right now are SSEKO and Noonday.
Sseko \say-ko\ Designs was created to help these bright young women continue their education. The Ugandan school system is designed with a nine month gap between secondary school and university. These nine months are intended to allow time for students to earn money for tuition before continuing on to university. However, in an impoverished and male dominated society, many of these young women struggle to find fair work during this time.

Sseko Designs hires recent secondary school graduates for this nine month period to live and work together, while earning money that will go directly towards their university education. These women will not makesandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war.

Sseko Designs is a not-just-for-profit enterprise that recognizes the power of business and responsible consumerism to support sustainable economic development, which in turn affects a country's educational, justice, and health care systems. The goal of Sseko Designs is two-fold: provide university tuition for these promising young women through a sustainable monthly income, while also contributing to the overall economic development of Uganda.

Although consumerism makes many empty promises, responsible and proactive consumerism has the ability to change lives.
Sseko's are really cool sandals that you can tie any infinite number of ways and you can change out the ties. They are unique, trendy, comfortable, AND are a great alternative to wearing Tom's in the heat of summer!

Noonday's story: After visiting Uganda in February of 2010 and holding hundreds of children without moms and dads, Joe and Jessica Honegger (the founder) decided to adopt internationally (from Rwanda). Also on that visit, they met up with long time friends who had lived in Uganda for many years trying to create sustainable income opportunities for the Ugandan people. They asked Jessica if she would like to sell the fair-trade locally made goods in Austin, in order to raise money for the costly adoption process. Jessica agreed and the first Noonday Collection trunk show was born!
At Noonday Collection, we believe every child belongs in a family. While the owner is no longer raising money for their Rwandan adoption (though they think more adoptions will come), the vision remains the same. We advocate for the orphan by: 
  • Providing jobs that create a pathway out of poverty for women. A stable income means a family is less likely to abandon their child.
  • Help families fundraise for their own adoptions. We give10% of trunk show sales directly to the adoptive family when they host a trunk show.
  • Aside from donating 10% towards qualified adoptive families, Noonday Collection Foundation gives net proceeds towards orphan care and prevention. Watch the video to see one of our main beneficiaries.
  • The dream: Take YOU on a trip to visit artisans and visit orphans in their distress.
Noonday is an organization that makes really pretty jewelry and accessories and are JUST my style :

Unadulterated Shopping:

I am still a shopaholic and find myself drawn back to the same, purely for profit stores. BUT, I am proud of myself for keeping in my (very tight) budget for the summer and enjoying trying clothes on without purchasing them! Also, I have saved half of the money I need to go to France!! :) Anyways, here are some clothes I have stumbled across while shopping in the past month!

I really love this dress, but I did not buy it.

I thought this was really fun, but it also didn't make the cut.

This is what I purchased! It's a strapless cotton jersey pantsuit I found for only $12! I wore this to the he(ART) for Haiti benefit.

Every girl needs a fun swimsuit for summer! 

over and out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HE(ART) for Haiti- an art benefit

Okay, it's time to give FULL details on my small group's art benefit this weekend.

When: 7:00- 9:00 P.M. on Saturday, June 4, 2011.


Dominican Joe's Coffee Shop
will be donating 20% of proceeds from the benefit

Once upon a time (current day) there were Dominican and Haitian families living in poverty in the Dominican Republic, whose children had little or no access to a good education. At the same time, on the same island, there were coffee farmers growing one heck of a good coffee bean but not getting paid enough to support their families. Enter Makarios - a non-profit dedicated to helping pull families out of poverty by providing their kids with a quality education - and an idea that would help support the school and the community of farmers. What if we bought this high grade coffee (now certified by the Rainforest Alliance) directly from the farmers using fair trade practices, imported it to the US, and sold it here in order to raise money for the school? Brilliant!  

With this idea in mind, Dominican Joe Coffee Shop was birthed in Austin, Texas and Café Makarios coffee (under the Dominican Joe label) made its way into the hearts and homes of caring people all over America who want to help make a difference. It really is possible to change the world by drinking coffee! 

The Dominican Joe concept was born in early 2005, as a partnership between
Mehul Patel (local entrepreneur) and Sharla Megilligan (founder of Makarios).
Our goal was simply to make a difference in the world. The question we faced:
could we provide Austin with a high quality coffee shop in a way that made an
impact in the world through our coffee partnership? The vision took shape in early 2006, and on 
September 19th, after about 18 crazy months, we opened our doors in the heart of Austin at the corner 

of South Congress and Riverside Drive. Yay us! We breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated and then 

realized that was the easy part...

Artists: (The art shown will not be at the show, simply examples of the artist's work)

We will have artists from our small group:
Maree Haney

Taelor Russell (me)
Although I am a free lance photographer, my pieces at the benefit will be paintings!

Bethany & Levi Hanusch

Taylor Strauss

And artists from all spectrums of the art community:

Kirk Gentzel

Kate Stafford

Samantha McCrary

Amy Melsa

Sarah Brown

Daniel Davis

David Schwab

Tyler Northcutt

Ty Clark (SAMO4PREZ)

Scott Wade


nakedFOLK Collective

nakedFOLK is an artist collective designed to help songs from local songwriters find a home in the hearts of the Austin community. On any given night you will see performances by 2 or 3 of the collective. The nakedFOLK house band consists of a rhythm section, but is sometimes combined with mandolin, accordion, violin, organ, harmonica, trumpet, or sax. nakedFOLK was created to highlight the songwriting of each artist, so the venues we choose lend themselves to quiet conversation and a deep listening experience. If you like to hear the lyrics, and appreciate honesty, courage, and quality music, you need to come hear nakedFOLK.

There are so many orphans in Haiti, and the world is doing a pretty good job building and facilitating orphanages. One of the major problems happens whenever the orphans get to be too old to be taken care of. It is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible for these kids (around my age) to find homes and jobs to support them. Many of them turn to human trafficking either out of deception or out of desperation. Once caught in human trafficking, it is unfortunately a life of misery that is nearly impossible to escape. Sex trafficking is by far the most prominent and extreme form of trafficking where young women and children are bought and sold for sex. Often, they are drugged, beaten, or both into submission and obedience. Millions of these women and children die from AIDs each year, countless are severely injured through sex and torture, and all are extremely emotionally scarred.

My small group and I were presented with the opportunity to raise money to build a house in Haiti to provide shelter for three individuals at risk of being trapped in human trafficking. The organization we are partnering with, HELP (Help End Local Poverty) want to see a community build up around these aged out orphans. They will get a home and a "house mom" for a mere $5,500. They will have the opportunity to be sponsored until they secure a job, and will be offered jobs as the opportunities arise.

When we learned of the cause and how unbelievably inexpensive it would be to provide a home for three aged-out orphans, we said absolutely! This benefit is our first major fundraiser to fund this home. The cool thing about our benefit is that all of our artists, musicians, and our venue are passionate about social justice. But, the COOLEST thing is that although coming to the benefit, enjoying the music, having some coffee, and/or leaving with a piece of art would be awesome in and of itself, you will leave knowing that EVERY SINGLE CENT you put towards the benefit from 20% of your coffee, to donations, to raffle tickets, to buying art will go directly into building one house. The money we are raising will not go to a general fund, but will go specifically to one house that once built can be found on Google Maps. Therefore, if you purchase a painting for the amount that the door on the house would cost, then you will be funding the door!

Anyways, we hope that you come out to the benefit, bring a friend, drink some coffee, enjoy some music, look at some art, mingle with our participating artists and supporters, and help us build a house!

Some Links:

Restore Communities
Help End Local Povery (HELP)
HE(ART) for Haiti
Dominican Joe's Coffee Shop

over and out.