Introducing Herban Crafts: Crafting a Better World!

Karen Lee of EcoKaren and I have partnered on a new social enterprise, Herban Crafts, that will offer a job and social skills training program to unemployed women in transitional housing in the DC and NY areas. To support our programming, Herban Crafts will sell DIY kits for various types of earth-friendly products. The kits will be manufactured, in part, by the trainees as part of their job skills training.

The first set of kits will teach people how to make their own organic bath and body products, and we will be adding additional types of kits in the future. We believe teaching people how to make their own products is empowering, and we also see it as an opportunity to teach people about the importance and joys of working with organic, fair trade, recycled and repurposed materials.

Our mission is multi-fold: to promote self-sufficiency while also supporting the health and wellbeing of people and the planet; and to help address the problem of unemployment, a contributing factor to homelessness, by offering a hands-on job and social skills training program for unemployed women living in transitional housing.
You can find more information about the company and our mission on our IndieGoGo campaign page where you can also pledge to help fund our initial production of kits. Suggested donations start at just $5.00, and there are lots of great rewards for our sponsors! And if this is something that you believe in as much as we do, please help spread the word to your friends on social media and via e-mail. And we hope you will follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest for updates!
For an idea of our overall mission and plan, you can view our presentation from the 2012 Global Health and Innovation Conference held at Yale University on April 22, 2012.

Join Us for Ballston Arts & Crafts Market Opening Day 5/12!

Please join us on Saturday, May 12th, from 10:00am to 4:00pm, for the first Ballston Arts & Crafts Market of the 2012 season! It’s a great opportunity to pick up some handmade goodies for Mother’s Day 🙂 The market will be held at Welburn Square, 901 North Taylor Street, between North Stuart and North 9th Streets (across the street from the Ballston Metro).

The first month’s market will be filled with uniquely wonderful handcrafted pieces perfect for those last-minute Mother’s Day gifts! The selection will include elegant jewelry by Sarah Cecelia, funky photography by Kosmoceratops – Art Squared, adorable critter plushes by RedStar East, graphic leather belts and dog collars by Jon Wye, organic bath & body products by Herban Lifestyle (yay!) and much more.

For opening day, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training will be on hand with information and an artist raffle to benefit their charitable organization. There will also be music by singer/songwriter, René Moffat (noon – 2 PM)
and free cool tote bags from Luri & Wilma, DC’s eco-chic online magazine.

Herban Lifestyle display from the 2011 Ballston Arts & Crafts Market

Held on the second Saturdays of every month from May through October, the 2012 Market dates are: May 12, June 9, July 14, August 11, September 8 & October 13. For more information, a complete vendor list, updates and a glimpse of the Market’s art, check out the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market blog.

Showing Some Love to the National Parks

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the gift of the blossoming cherry trees to Washington, DC from the Mayor of Tokyo, Japan. This year the Cherry Blossom Festival, hosted by the National Park Service, runs from March 20 to April 27, with the Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Street Festival), to be held today, April 14.

Three Fridays ago, I spent most of the afternoon at the Tidal Basin admiring the cherry blossoms at their peak along with thousands of other people from around the world who were taking advantage of the perfect weather.

On my way to the Tidal Basin, I saw several bikers and runners on the path that runs alongside the George Washington Parkway (also run by the National Park Service), which is actually pretty gorgeous as far as parkways go, with several nice spots where you can picnic among the tress along with a close-up view of the Potomac River.

Right next to the Tidal Basin sits our National Mall, which isn’t looking quite as pretty. The National Mall’s last renovation was 30 years ago, after the country’s bicentennial in 1976. Between the reduced Park Service budgets, which haven’t allowed for adequate upkeep, and the over 25 million annual visitors (more than Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon combined!), the Mall is in pretty sad condition.

Our national parks are an incredible resource, and I highly recommend visiting them. Being outdoors has so many benefits for the body, mind and spirit. Even if you don’t have a lot of vacation time, you can search the National Park Services’ website. to find a National Park near you that can be visited in just one day or afternoon.

Even if you don’t have time to visit them right now, there are a few ways you can help support the health and vitality of our National Parks. First, the Eco Etsy team is holding their Annual Handmade for Earth Day Auction. All proceeds from the year’s auction go to support the National Park Service. I highly recommend you check out the beautiful eco-friendly items being auctioned off for this good cause.

A second way you can help is by supporting The Trust for the National Mall, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, which is dedicated to “restoring and improving the National Mall while providing new educational and volunteer activities to connect visitors to the Mall’s rich history.”

You can also join the L’Enfant Society whose members support the Trust for the National Mall in its mission “to raise funds to restore the National Mall and build awareness for the current state of the country’s most visited national park.” You can download a PDF of the L’Enfant Society Membership Brochure. Another fun way to support the park is by attending the L’Enfant Society’s 4th Annual Ball on the Mall will be held on Saturday, May 5, 2012!