When I started collecting dolls, I did it because of the storytelling. I liked learning about the Laurel and Hardy comedy team that sat on my shelf, and I liked learning about Mrs. Beasley from Family Affair. I still light up when I see my doll collection because I'm touching a part of history, a part of society's larger story.
I get the same feeling when I visit One World Goods in Pittsford, where every item in the gift shop has a tale to tell. Take the dainty — and fragrant — boxes made out of orange peels. A woman in Bolivia figured out how to make something beautiful from what was once garbage and now several women are employed and their children are able to go to school.
Then there's the woman in Bangladesh whose husband divorced her because she had a daughter and not a son. Alone and unemployed, the woman went to a workshop that partners with stores like One World Goods and she learned the art of making colorful batik fabric. Eventually, she was able to bring the fabric home and care for her daughter while earning a living.
"When you buy something from here, you know you are making someone's life better," says Mary Palmer, one of more than 90 volunteers who make it possible for the store to pay its artisans a fair wage and ensure that no one, young or old, was exploited in the manufacturing process.
The idea for the store started more than 20 years ago, when a group of dedicated women carted handmade items from church sale to church sale to raise awareness. On Saturday, volunteers will continue the tradition of educating the community by hosting a Fair Trade Day celebration. Visitors can listen to live drumming; sample coffee, chocolate and nuts; and try a little something from Healthy Sisters' Soup & Bean Works.
"It's amazing the power consumers have to effect the lives of poor people throughout the world," says Palmer.
Each time I pull that wallet out, I smile. I know its story, and I'm helping to write a happy ending.
As featured in the D&C