Thursday, March 28, 2013

Weaving a Future in San Antonio
Wednesday, February 27
Today at 2:00 we’re meeting with the San Antonio weavers.  Jacqueline has spent a month helping them create new scarf designs in spring and winter colours. In San Antonio there are now two women’s weaving co-ops: Mujeres Unidas (Women United) and Artesania Palopó (Palopó Handicraft). Most of their members are widows; all are poor. As well, there are several family weaving groups. 

Jacqueline has called this meeting to talk about fair trade.

By 2:00, just one woman has arrived at the casa. But this is Guatemala; by 2:20 the room is packed with weavers in their matching blue huipiles. We talk about fair trade. What would be a fair price for a handwoven scarf 6 inches by 70 inches? There is intense discussion, most of it in kaqchikel, one of the Mayan languages. Our ‘Scarves for Stoves’ group is paying well above the going rate, but we realize that it’s still not really enough for a scarf that has taken a whole day to weave on a backstrap loom. We discuss the need for a tag to explain to buyers the importance of paying a fair price, the importance of working together. But most of all, we talk about markets.

“This is our work. This is what we do!” says Sandra, the founder of one of the co-ops. “But who will buy it? How can we feed our children?”

When we started selling the scarves several years ago, we thought of them mainly as a way to raise money for clean-burning stoves. Now, increasingly, we realize that creating a market for these weavings and paying a fair price, is key in helping these women raise themselves out of poverty. In the end, several of us will head back to Canada, our suitcases bulging with scarves, and our hearts filled with a determination to try to expand the market for these beautiful weavings, each of them representing a small step forward for these weavers and their families.

Posted by Susan Gage

Monday, March 25, 2013


1648 ROCKLAND (at the corner of Terrace)

Artist Carole Sabiston is co-hosting, with the ICO Guatemalan Scarves-for-Stoves Team, a scarf sale in her beautiful home. We did a sale together two years ago and we are delighted that Carole has generously offered to host one again, as it was a great success - everyone loved it. This year we are especially excited as four of our team, who have been working with the weavers on new designs, have just returned from Guatemala with a whole new shipment of scarves and shawls. 

Many of you are already familiar with the work we’ve been doing in small impoverished Mayan villages, replacing open hearths (which are so bad for the health of families and for the planet) with clean-burning, made-in-Guatemala stoves. When you buy a hand-woven Mayan scarf for $20 to $40, you help provide a living for a village weaver, and also contribute towards a stove. And every penny we make goes towards the project: we pay all our own travel costs.

The Scarf Sale will be held a month before Mother's Day, so it is a great opportunity to buy a meaningful Mother's Day gift ... or a gift for yourself.

Our goal for this sale is to raise enough for 25 stoves - $3,200. Please join us and pass this on to any interested friends. Please note there is limited parking.