Super busy snowy week

We’ve all had them. The week that just gets away from you. My kids are involved in activities at school. The girlie just finished up her last high school musical – The Wizard of Oz. Best high school production I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen quite a few, as well as played bass in a lot of them. Their technical elements and costumes were just spectacular. I wish I could have taken photos, but they had a real paid professional there taking photos and I didn’t want to intrude. Story of my life – never wanting to intrude.

And the boy is in baseball. Every day baseball. So I am spending long hours in the car waiting, mostly without internet connections because the high school seems to be in some sort of pit where no connections can be made. I did spend a lovely couple hours sleeping in the sun in my car the other day. I enjoy the sun.

It’s also been a busy week health-wise. Doctors appointments, tests I’ve been putting off for years, finally getting things taken care of. It feels good to know that is all done. Just the waiting on results now. My doctor is over an hour away (and a tank of gas) so while I was down there I took advantage of the snowy day to stop into a forest preserve I’ve never investigated before. Got some lovely photos. Tried to sneak up on the wildlife, but they heard me coming a mile away, as my 14 year old mini van is squealing something terrible. I think I need a Prius. I’d be able to sneak up on nature then for sure.

Here are a few photos:

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Social Entreprenuership

Do you support social enterprises?

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Probably the first one that jumps to mind is Toms Shoes. One for one. But there are many, many, many, many others. Yesterday I wrote about The Feed Projects and their bags and other items that support feeding the world’s hungry. Tom’s puts shoes on the feet of children worldwide that would otherwise be barefoot. But there are so many more out there – small little companies that were founded by people who envisioned a better world for all.

In reading up on the Feed Projects/Target partnership, this quote in the USA Today (March 11, 2013) caught my eye: “There’s no question that consumers globally expect companies to do more than just make money,” DaSilva says. “Companies are expected to support issues and be good citizens. That is the cost of doing business today.” That quote is by Alison DaSilva of Core Communications, a pubic relations company that helps businesses carry out cause-marketing and corporate social responsibility efforts, from a 2010 study done by Core.

They claim 81% of consumers want companies to give them a chance to buy a product that benefits a certain cause. 

As a person with a social enterprise myself (Blanket Statements), I want people to be aware of what they are purchasing and who it is benefitting. Yes, The Feed Projects collaboration with Target will undoubtably benefit people people worldwide by the additional purchases, but it will also benefit Target – a large corporation who is looking at the appeal of cause based products to younger consumers aged 18-24 years old who overwhelmingly choose products  over another based on whether or not they support a good cause. So it is a win-win on both sides here.

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But bear in mind that there are social enterprises for almost every purchase you are looking to make. It may be easier to buy that item while you’re in the big box store, but that purchase is in a lot of cases mainly affecting that corporations bottom line. And what has that big box store done for you lately?That toothbrush you just bought? If you had visited Smile Squared your purchase of a toothbrush means another is donated to a child in need. A child who otherwise wouldn’t have a toothbrush or access to any dental care.

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Rethink your purchases. Spend a few minutes and find a way to make your hard earned dollars spent go farther. A great resource is the Social Enterprise Database put together by Give to Get Jobs. There you can find thousands of companies – social enterprises, L3C’s, B-corporations, and other social businesses. You work hard for your money – make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck. And that doesn’t mean buying the cheapest items out there.

Do a bit of research – in many instances the items are of better quality, workmanship, and cost virtually the same – but do some much more good in the world. And purchasing items made in the USA means you are helping to get this country back on its feet.

The Feed Projects

Have you heard of Feed

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I posted about them at some point probably a year or two ago through Blanket Statements. The Feed Projects is a non profit social enterprise founded by Lauren Bush and Ellen Gustafson. I was immediately drawn to their burlap bags and their mission of giving.

Read about their company and history in this Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 article from 2010.

The Feed Projects mission is to create good products that help feed the world. They sell T-shirts, bags, and other accessories with a set donation built into the price to cover their mission to feed the world. The impact of each product is signified by the number printed onto the product.

This is my favorite (of course):

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This week I learned that Feed Projects products will now be carried by Target. (USA Today, March 11, 2013) As much as I respect the work Feed is doing, I’m a tiny bit concerned about this. Now don’t get me wrong, as a consumer I like Target. For the most part. I think they have a much better record of giving back to the community than some other discount big box stores that I won’t mention or set foot in. But as a former employee of Target (I worked there in 2005-2006) I am not a fan of their treatment of employees. But that is part of my story and may not pertain to everyone – I’m sure everyone has horror stories of places they’ve worked. I also worked there during one of the lowest points in my life, and truly feel it was a life changing experience for my family.

That being said, when I started Blanket Statements four year later, one of the goals I had was to find blankets made in the USA. To do what little I could to help the US economy and bring jobs back home. I mean, I am just one mom, but if not me, who?

I ran into immediate trouble trying to source items made in the USA. Most everything, and I mean – most everything – is made somewhere else now. I started reading up on textile manufacturing, and sadly, it is probably 98% gone from this country. (And did you know almost everything also contains HFCS? – thankfully not blankets, but just about all food/beverages. Ick) I searched stores…online, and in stores like Sears, Macy’s, Meijer, and even Target – and sure enough – every single blanket in their stores are made in China or elsewhere.

What does this have to do with the Feed Projects? Well, in addition to Target carrying their bags and T-shirts – they will have dinnerware, bicycles, and yes, even blankets. My first thought was, oh no, blankets too? Blankets made in China? I mean, I’m torn here – I love Feed Projects mission, but is the merchandise being made under their watchful eye? Or is it their designs/logo put onto merchandise manufactured under perhaps less than desirable conditions?

Some of The Feed Projects bags are manufactured in Guatemala and Africa by organizations employing local women to sew the items and help support their regions. But the bulk of their items are made in China using a fair trade factory. They also have Feed NYC bags that are being made in New York to support the local garment industry there. I am just hoping that now that the Feed Projects is “hitting the big time” with distribution through Target that they continue to hold onto their ideals of fair trade. I just wish that they would do more manufacturing in the US.

That being said, Blanket Statements will be debuting some all-new cotton blankets manufactured right in the middle of the heartland in Iowa very soon. Stay tuned!

Morning angst

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 8.26.01 AMToday did not get off to a good start. We had a dusting of snow overnight. Normally a dusting is no big deal, but in actuality there was quite a bit of ice underneath the dust. I travel about 20 miles one way on my commute. I am blessed to no longer have that over an hour commute I used to have – 20 minutes is long enough now.

Listening to the radio this morning I was hearing how bad the roads were to the west of us. Luckily, we were heading east. Had a bit of a rough spot getting out of the driveway and up the couple hills we have near us, but after that it was mostly smooth sailing.

Until we hit Grayslake. I drop my daughter off at school on my way in to work, and this morning was like any other morning. Except for the ice. We were almost to school when we hit our first patch of ice. Car slid right, then slid left. Luckily no one else was on the sleepy neighborhood street. I corrected and we both looked at each other. Cripes. Got to the stop sign and again, slid, antilock brakes kicking in just in the nick of time to stop. But it was close. I started to make my turn but noticed another car coming. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to have enough traction to make a quick turn, so I stopped. And was immediately honked at by the SUV behind me.

No worries, but I wasn’t going to try to attempt to turn in front of an oncoming car with the ice I’d just experienced under me. Once the car passed I made my left turn towards the school. Destination in site. And also a crash at the next corner. My daughter said – hey that looks like my friend’s car! And sure enough, it was. Luckily it wasn’t the one that had hit the tree in someone’s front yard. Her’s was the one right next to it. The kids were fine – both out on cell phones, but they were blocking the westbound lane a block from the school drop off.

The cars coming eastbound waited as we passed the accident. The SUV was still behind me as I dropped off my daughter. And the school security guard makes everyone coming out of the school head west, so once again I had to go past the accident. And now there were more cars, coming from all directions trying to get past it with only one lane open. I stopped and let the oncoming traffic come since I needed to turn at that corner. Person in the SUV once again honked impatiently.

I finally made it to work a few minutes late, which means I was about 20 minutes late in total since I’m usually in early. Listening to the news there were quite a few accident this morning. You could hear sirens everywhere. School bus hit in a neighboring town. Cars in ditches. And everywhere horns honking and impatient people. I hear comments about people not knowing how to drive, about how they don’t have any problem with the conditions.

I know I am super sensitive and this morning just taxed me. I needed a good cry by the time I got to work and especially after hearing comments by others. I just don’t understand how people got to be so impatient with each other. When did it become “all about me?” And no longer “about us?” What happened to loving your neighbor? Perhaps we all need a reminder to think of others too. Not everyone has 4 wheel drive, or even good tires. Some people are doing the best they can with what they have.