Day 162 / 365
When I was young, we didn't have a TV. At the time, it seemed like some sort of abuse, I never knew the cool quotes, characters, or lingo from the various TV shows which spanned in popularity from my birth to adulthood and often felt those lost references had hindered my development in some way.
As I grow older, I realised my mum's choice to block us from what pulp culture had to offer was, in fact, a blessing instead. Without TV, my sisters and I spent our evenings (post homework) curled up with one of many books the library or our mother provided to us. Alongside romantic fiction of the English variety, I went through various thematic obsessions, trying to understand humanity through the horrors of history: the Holocaust, Underground to Canada, Black Panthers, Martin Luther King, The Residential School System, Colonisation, The Kumar Rouge, and so on.
Around the time my curiosity moved to the Vietnam War, I found a book in a garage sale called Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work In Her Words by a woman named Mildred Lisette Norman. She was an activist against the wars of her time and believed that world peace would only come when enough people attained inner peace and dedicated her life to trying to guide nations, groups, and individuals on their path inward.
I found her utterly enchanting, this non-denominational spiritual teacher and peace activist who along with her prolific pilgrimage, held the impressive title of being the first woman to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season. She adopted the name "Peace Pilgrim" after vowing to remain a wanderer until mankind learned the way of peace, crossing the United States at least eight times with nothing but the clothes on her back, including a shirt which read "Peace Pilgrim".
Her message was both simple and profound and inspired me in my young age to look within while reaching beyond to try to make my communication about and with the outside world a true reflection of my beliefs and transmit them with diplomacy and kindness (something, despite my best efforts, I'm guilty of failing at to this day).
Since joining the blogging community I have met numerous women who have inspired me in the same way, one of whome is Hannah from Life + Style + Justice who somehow juggles her blog, The Ethical Blogger Network, and Brand Dispatch,with grace and ease. She is, along with the rest of the ethical bloggers I have buddied up with online, being the change she wishes to see and exports all her energy towards projects which inspire her and people in need.
Earlier this year, Hannah asked me if I'd be interested in working alongside her and five other ethical bloggers (Danielle, Jacqui, Ashlee, Cassandra, and Christy) on an idea she had for a project called: A Beautiful Refuge.
She had recently travelled to the Philippines and had been touched by the NGO Safe Refuge, a resource centre for women and children in crisis, based in the Philippines. For the past nine years, Safe Refuge has provided quality maternal care and childbirth services, educational opportunities and scholarships, emergency shelter, and supportive housing and aftercare for women and children in vulnerable positions due to trafficking, abuse, and lack of economic opportunity.
Hannah wanted to provide an outlet for the women Safe Refuge protects to have meaningful employment through a safe and sustainable economic endeavour and decided to do so by uniting some of her fellow bloggers to design a collection of eco-friendly tees, totes and banners the women empowered by A Beautiful Refuge would help create.
I could think of no better human to homage in my design than Mildred Lisette Norman, a women who had fought a similar battle in a different time, believing and dedicating her life to the betterment of the world through loving kindness and providing opportunities for others to find peace would help shift the axis of unkindness to balanced space.
A few months ago, that dream came to fruition at the speed only Hannah could pull off. She launched A Beautiful Refuge encompassing all the ethics and sustainability of businesses we hero on our blogs, deepened further by the friendships she's created through her experience online and with these women abroad. (check out Hannah's instagram stories for live videos from the studio in the Philippines)
Each item produced by A Beautiful Refuge is screen printed by the women Hannah selected and trained in a studio she helped build. The t-shirts and totes come from THE most eco-friendly t-shirt brand I know of, Earth Positive, who are exemplary in their demonstration of the highest possible environmental, social and ethical standards from cradle to cradle. Their t-shirts are made from 100% monsoon rain-fed Organic cotton (GOTS certified / GMO free) which is procured through low impact farming. Each t-shirt is ethically made through fair labour conditions (audited by Fair Wear Foundation) and they have 30 wind turbines powering their production, which has reduced their carbon footprint by 90% (earning them a Carbon Trust Certification). They have a ‘No Airfreight’ policy as well, using containerized ocean shipping instead, thus reducing their carbon footprint further.
My Peace Pilgrim designs alongside compositions by my fellow blogger buddies are all available online HERE: http://www.abeautifulrefuge.com/shop/ purchases of these products support the women who make these conscious creations, providing meaningful work in a healthy environment for what we hope will be years to come.
PHOTOS: SHANE WOODWARD