Liberate Your Art

This is the first year I’ve participated in the Liberate Your Art postcard swap. Such a very cool idea! I have absolutely loved it, it was such fun to receive artwork in my mailbox from all over. The swap, organized by Kat Sloma from Kat’s Eye Studio, consists of sending Kat 5 postcards along with postage and address labels. She receives postcards from all over the world (1290 of them!) and then mixes them up and sends them out all over the world. (Ok, that’s a really simple way of explaining it – it is way more work than that!) I think this was the coolest  thing I’ve been involved with and can’t wait to do it again next year!

This is a pic of the postcard I sent. I haven’t seen it posted anywhere yet, so I have no idea where it went. I would love to find out! (Info about my cards is posted at the bottom of the page.)

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The first postcard I received was from Sassy at sassyangelac.com. She shared some yoga with me: the Warrior Pose.

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My next card is a painting by Suzanne Sperlwww.sperlygirl.com. The quote on the back of the card reads: “get out of the way – step on up – step into your greatness – let your light shine – let your love show” – kebmo

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My next card reads: “Go your own way” by p’shaw design with this quote on the back: “You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.” – Georgia O’Keefe.

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My fourth card is from Deanie Houghtaling from Wildsandsphotography.blogspot.com. Deanie loves carousel horses and the horses pictured on the card are from the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix.

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The last swap card comes from Judith www.hollowjb.wordpress.com and is a colorful scene of parasols and patterns.

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And my last card came from Kat Sloma herself, thanking the participants in the Liberate Your Art 2013 postcard swap. Kat’s card is beautiful blue design called “Adorned and Alone. Kat’s website is www.kateyestudio.com.

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I plan on framing all of my postcards together with a simple black frame. I’m hoping to find a special frame at the Goodwill and give it another life. Kat has put together a slideshow of all of the artwork used in the swap. I will post a link as soon as I can. Overall this was a great opportunity and I loved participating.

Liberate Your Art Swap Participants


A little about me: I am a single mom to two redheaded teenagers. My daughter, who I lovingly refer to as “Margo”, is pictured on my postcard. This was a photo that I took of her for her senior portraits this past fall. She will be entering Northern Illinois University this coming fall and I will so miss my photo buddy. Now I will have to drag my son around for photos. He will love that, I’m sure.

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The next photo on my card is a monument in the cemetery where my father is buried. I was taking photos around my hometown last fall and the colors of the fall trees were just spectacular.

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Living in Chicagoland we get to experience all four seasons – most of the time. This past fall was when I decided to start taking photos a little more seriously, and it was a good time since I love the fall months the most. Color is very important to me – I just love bold bright vivid colors and this fall we had an abundance of color in the fall leaves.

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This final photo is kind of an homage to my daughter who is a big fan of the TV show Doctor Who. I took this photo in the same cemetery where my father is buried and I spent the better part of a beautiful fall day. Although I am not a religious person, I love sculptural angels, and photograph them every chance I get.

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In addition to photography, I am employed by the local school district, and also run a social enterprise called Blanket Statements where for each blanket purchased an additional blanket is donated to a women’s shelter to help women in need.

There are many ways to contact or follow me:

Leslie A Photography: www.leslieaphoto.com, www.facebook.com/leslieaphoto, email: leslie@leslieaphoto.com

Blanket Statements: www.blanketstatements.org, www.facebook.com/blanketstatements, email: info@blanketstatements.org

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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!