I (Lauren) recently made a decision to volunteer at a store called Ten Thousand Villages (Dix Mille Villages here in Quebec) in an English area here in Montreal. These stores are all over the U.S. and Canada and sell only fair trade goods: everything from household goods to clothes and jewelry to edibles such as chocolate, coffee, teas, and spices. Not only is it a retail store, but it's also a great community where I will be able to learn about fair trade through people, books, and workshops that they put on quite often.
For some time now, I've been interested in the HUGE topic of social justice and more specifically, women's issues (domestic violence, prostitution, etc.). I tried to get involved with an organization called Women Aware but, unfortunately, I have only done online research for the org. and haven't even gone in to work at all. I was hoping to learn a great deal of information that way and it just hasn't worked out. During my time here I have become increasingly aware of and interested in our economic system and the link between environmental issues and social justice. In other words, I've been really into living as "all naturally" as possible but have just recently discovered the link between the lifestyle choices I make and the direct effect it has on many, many poor people and countries. It has actually been a real source of joy discovering this, as it's such an obvious way to reconcile my desire to be a full-time momma as well as concerned with global and local social justice issues. Every purchase I do or don't make contributes to the well-being or the suffering in workers all over world.
This last week our speaker was Dave Skeen, founder of an organization called Global Youth Network (sending university students to third-world countries to teach practically on social justice issues), and his topic was on social justice. To my surprise and delight, the first three days were really all about the environment and our lifestyle choices, fair trade, etc. He spoke about making it a value and priority to buy less and buy local. He talked about making community more important than our individuality, both locally and globally: to do what is best for community and not just our own convenience. This topic touched me so much and really affirmed my decision to volunteer at Dix Mille Villages and to learn more about this subject, while doing all I can here and now.
In fact, he showed us a short video called "The Story of Stuff" that I would recommend to all of you. It was such a concise, informative video concerning these ideas and really drove the point home about our consumer culture. Just type in www.storyofstuff.com and the video will come up. I hope you can all check it out and enjoy it.
We are loving our new home and have been entertaining often while still enjoying having space and privacy. We're so excited about all we're learning here and really appreciate all your comments, support, and encouragement!