Thursday, March 31, 2011

Handmade With Purpose

Did you know that many, many people involved in the handmade and blogging community love to support their communities and those in need? It’s true! The other night during the Twitter chat for #setupshop (ask me if you don’t know what this is, it’s cool!) we talked a lot about the way that handmade shops and bloggers can raise money or support charitable causes and organizations. It was so inspiring to see people excited about learning how to give and serve in different ways! At the end of the session, a few of us wondered if there was any sort of blog that highlighted the charitable endeavors of those in our community. We thought it might be something we’d like to work on in the future.

Imagine our delight when the very next day, several of us were contacted by someone within the handmade/blogging community – who has participated in these Twitter chats before – saying, “Hey, I actually have just started a blog like that and I’m about to kick off a full month of spotlighting shops and blogs that do the things you’ve been talking about!” The person who came up with this awesome blog & idea is Lindsay, who has the cutest Etsy shop called Paint Me A Picture. She also has a facebook page for her shop and you can follow her via Twitter.

We quickly jumped on board, and I immediately bulldozed my way into her project. I’ve got to hand it to her, she responded so nicely – she actually thanked me for my ideas instead of saying, “OMG STOP EMAILING ME YOU FREAK!” (Ok, no one has ever said that to me before but I’m just certain it will happen eventually). Turns out Lindsay is sweet and funny and has a heart for helping others and wants everyone to know about the shops/blogs that are giving back, so that we can support those businesses which will in turn support the organizations and causes they give to. And I am ALL ABOUT THAT.

So what’s her blog? It’s called Handmade With Purpose and starting April 2nd, there is going to be a month of posts dedicated to sharing info about shops and blogs that donate/create/fundraise/promote for worthy causes! AND! It’s likely that after April, the blog will continue and provide great content about HOW you can get started with using your shop/blog as a platform for giving back . . . or how you can tighten up your game if you’ve already started down that road.

I gotta tell you, since deciding to put more effort into this blog, since diving into the handmade/blogging world in Twitter, since getting active with my local Etsy team, I have struggled to find MY PLACE. My little niche, you know? This is something I’ve dealt with all my life, actually. I get along with everyone and have friends in all the cliques, but don’t belong to a clique myself. I’m never enough of any one thing, I’m a big mixture of a lot of things. At different points in my life I’ve found others who are like me – the mixed bag – and we got on famously. But that only happens every so often. Anyway – before I start to regale you with stories about high school, let me get back to my point. This whole “giving back” thing? That’s something I can get excited about, for reals. That’s something I can promote shamelessly and that energizes me when I was JUST complaining that I’m overwhelmed. It’s something worthwhile that feels like it’s what I was MEANT to do. It’s why I started my shop with the intent to use it not just to make money for my family, but also to make money for things I believe in and want to support.

But – enough about me! If you have a shop or a blog that gives back to your community (locally to globally), get your butt over to Handmade With Purpose and sign up so you can participate. If this isn’t something you’ve incorporated into your shop or blog, but you want to learn more about it, get over there and follow the blog. You’re gonna see some inspirational stuff during April and at the very least will be exposed to some cute shops & blogs.

Monday, March 28, 2011

This Is What Overcommitted Looks Like

I continue to be behind on life. Every aspect of my life is moving at full speed right now and I'm barely keeping up! I'm not quite sure if I just need to get more organized, carve out some time to focus on getting shop stuff made and blog posts written, or if I need to scale back my goals to something more realistic. Probably all three, right?

Here are some of the great things going on that I'm struggling to find time for:

Blog Stuff
~ Welcome blog post for my local Etsy team's new blog (launching in June!)
~ 6-part series of posts, starting in June, about using social networking to promote your Etsy shop
~ Blog posts for giveaways and the shop I'm sponsoring
~ Blog campaign to promote the Love For Japan Etsy shop (up and running, shop now, $ goes to Red Cross!)

Promo items for shop
~ Headbands & gadget cozies to people I know so they can test them for me
~ Cup cozies to a couple events either for promotion or for charity

New items for shop
~ I keep buying fabric and letting it sit there because I'm so busy I can't seem to find time to make anything with it.

Local Etsy Team
So, um, did I mention that I'm the captain of my team of over 100 members? *gulp* My team was going through a transition period and I stepped up to help us migrate to the new team space in Etsy. A captain must be assigned on the site and that ended up being me, and even though it was just a title that allowed me to send team invites to people, it's turned into a real leadership position on the team. Thankfully, there are many other people who are excited and active and who now have official leadership roles in the group. Still, I have certain responsibilities in terms of getting info to the team members and organizing certain things, and right now it feels a little heavy. I'm probably more organized on this than on any other front, but there are so many other people connected to it that I want to make as few mistakes as possible.

Plus, you know, FAMILY, FRIENDS and WORK. A month or two ago I was already feeling the need for more balance in how I spent my time, and wanting to focus more on my family and friends, yet somehow here I am, more committed to Etsy/blog stuff than ever before.

I feel like if I can take care of everything I'm currently committed to, I can relax a bit. Many of the things I listed above aren't recurring, so once they're done, they're done.

Deep breaths. I CAN DO THIS. Right?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Official Donation to Red Cross for Japan Relief

Promise I'm not a fraud, y'all! I really am donating to the Red Cross for Japan Relief efforts, and I gotta say, PayPal made it EASY. They offered a variety of organizations to donate to and it was as simple as making any other transaction via their site. Took me about 1 minute, tops.

9 cozies sold, $81 raised . . . time for round two! Spread the word, people: 100% to Red Cross and FREE SHIPPING!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Etsy Sales for Japan Relief

The devastation in Japan is overwhelming and I, like many others, want to help. I offer my prayers but other than that, I don't have the time, means or freedom to go there and help, and I don't know if that would help anyway. What I can do is make stuff and sell it and send the money to someone who DOES know what to do and CAN get there and CAN make a difference. I've already blogged, stating that 100% of my shop sales (through the end of March, at least) will be donated to the Red Cross and that I'm offering free shipping.

Here are some other Etsy shops who are also helping out. Check out their shops for details!

Set includes these perfumes: ELF PRINCESS - soft floral with notes of lavender, rose, and sandalwood
MIDNIGHT KISS - honeyed red fruits and roses

Pet ID Tag by Curious Crow Jewelry (they also have a great Dalai Lama pendant)

Monday, March 14, 2011

30 Days of Lists: A Few Things About Yourself

Have you heard about the blog 30 Days of Lists? If you love memes, you'll love this blog! A group of ladies put together list topics for you to respond to, and encourage you to get creative with the way you write your list.

Here are a couple examples I love:

Holly Knitlightly's list of DIY projects she wants to try

besu's list of favorite websites

atlanticatlantis's weekend goals

Bianca's playlist

I want to play! I want to play! But I'm not going to be able to keep up with a list a day, so I'll just do one every once in a while. Drumroll, please . . . (FYI today I'm just trying to get this cranked out, I'll make future ones pretty) . . .


I am a Mom. My husband (then boyfriend) and I had our oldest child when I was in college at Kansas State University, and when he was in the Army, stationed at Ft. Riley, KS. Our daughter Kori is now 11, our son Bennett is 9 and our son Rian is 3. I am a mixture of old & new school parenting styles. For example, you can dye your hair turquoise blue but you will not sass me. Yes, I just said sass. We can have dance parties every day of the week and make fun of each other, but you will not wear booty shorts. Let's show a little class with our experimentation, yes?

I am a Wife. Vincent and I have been through A LOT in our 10 years of marriage and still feel shocked, sometimes, that we lasted. Mainly because the odds were against us - super young, no money, kept having babies, interracial relationship . . . but - we're stubborn! And we want to give our kids the family life we didn't have growing up. I should be clear that we each had wonderful families and parents and safe, happy childhoods. But we didn't always have 2-parent households and that's something we want our kids to have. So we try, very hard. Sometimes we don't have to try.

I am a Small Business Owner. That sounds kinda weird, but I guess it's the truth! I sew and sometimes knit things for an Etsy shop. I have been pretty successful, by my standards, at least. I greatly, greatly enjoy the creativity, hard work and inventiveness starting my shop has brought out in me. These were all qualities I've displayed before but have been tugged & pulled to the forefront due to the nature of this business - the online, handmade business.

I am a Christian. Kind of. I was raised in the church (many denominations, actually) and have been semi-devout to devout most of my life. I've been through many phases of growth and exploration as a Christian. Right now, I still identify as Christian and still take comfort from scripture and prayer, but my certainty that it is the One True Way is gone, for the most part. This is a major, major change for me and it impacts so much of my life. I worry my devout friends (haven't broached it with relatives yet) and my atheist friends think another one has been "won" for their side. It's a sensitive topic for me (so why am I posting it here?!?) and most responses I've received, though well-intentioned, hurt. I still get irked when folks bash Christianity. I still get irked when Christians misuse scripture. I still like to talk theology. I don't really know where things will go for me in this regard.

Ok, running out of time:

~ I am a music lover. Seriously, it is my absolute, most favorite thing, ever, ever, ever. EVAR.
~ I enjoy animals (really, I do) but I don't want to live with them.
~ I love to dance. I was a pommie in high school and college and for several years, that was a big part of my identity.
~ I am short. Like, 4'10".
~ I love, love, love to talk about social justice issues, especially race and class and where the 2 intersect. I promise I will be nice, I would really love for you all to talk to me about this stuff. I get so excited when I post something along those lines, but most of the time, it's just *crickets*, you know?
~ My favorite color is red.
~ My favorite food is Mexican. And Cool Ranch Doritos.
~ I go crazy for any sort of "start from scratch" lifestyle, like people who live in major cities but grow rooftop veggie gardens, or stories about the pioneer settlers or the Amish.
~ I love watching an entire TV series via Netflix. So far, I've thoroughly enjoyed these series in this fashion: Rome, The Wire (best tv show, period!!!), Friday Nigh Lights (2nd best tv show, period!!!), Heroes, True Blood, Weeds, Felicity (borrowed that one from a friend, not Netflix).

And . . . that's enough for now!

Me saying Damn The Man


Me saying, Geez, lady. You are a weirdo.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shop Sales to Red Cross for Earthquake/Tsunami Relief

You have probably heard/read by now about the terrible earthquake in Japan, and the resulting tsunamis which are headed east across the Pacific.

I will be donating 100% of my shop's sales to the Red Cross's relief efforts for this devastating event. And - I'm also offering FREE SHIPPING!

Keep an eye on my shop's Facebook page, too - I'll be featuring shops I run across that are making donations to relief efforts.


311 Dance Party Friday!

Since today is 3/11, I'm going to host a 311 dance party! And one day, I will get over not being able to go on the 311 cruise. Sniff.

311 has such a great, eclectic sound. Reggae, metal, funk, rock, awesomeness. I was introduced to them on accident. I'd heard their name but was irritated with "number bands" at the time (my senior year in high school, 95-96) so when I heard they were in my small city, playing with No Doubt, I didn't go to the show. At the same time, I was listening to a cassette tape I'd found - a blank tape that someone had recorded some band's album onto. I had no idea that I was listening to 311 until I recognized the lyrics, "My bros are down for the unity - 311 is down for the unity!" I was so so bummed that I'd chosen not to see them live in such a small club - I can only imagine how great that show must have been. Sniff.

Never fear, I have seen them since then. A friend bought me tickets to see them at a big arena a couple years later. I need to see them again!

I didn't listen to this song much until my family and I learned to play it on Guitar Hero. Now it's one of my favorites (and I kill it on that little plastic guitar).

This is easily my favorite 311 song. Sigh.

A great example of their mellow side.

This is my favorite song from their first album. A good mix between their smooth sound & their hard sound.

Still, with the smooth - turns out it's my favorite of their styles. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Crafty To Do List

Like most people, I have a list of things I want to get done. I wish I cared about cleaning projects or exercise regimens, but mainly I have all these crafty things I’d like to do, but rarely get around to. None of them are too difficult, they’re simply things I haven’t done before so they seem a little daunting, and I keep putting them off.

I hope that someday soon I will be able to cross the following off of my Crafty To Do List:

Knit Socks

They don’t need to be fancy. No awesome patterns. Just plain old socks. I mainly want to do this because I have a couple pairs of socks from back in the day that I love, love love. They are very log-cabin looking, and so warm and snuggly. But as socks are known to do, they’re worn out. I’ve fixed the holes in the toes and heels but at some point, these suckers are going to fall apart. Now – unlike a few years ago, when I wanted to live on a farm with no electricity where I would knit and churn butter and grow vegetables and run through fields of wildflowers all day (because that’s what life without electricity is like, right?), I am no longer enamored with Making Everything Possible By Hand. But I can’t find this type of sock anywhere that doesn’t cost like $10 a pair. And dude, I am cheap. I am not paying $10 for a single pair of socks. Not when I can get a 6-pack of plain whites for $5. So – I will find a simple pattern, see if any of my existing yarn will work, and if not, look for yarn on sale. AND I WILL KNIT A PAIR OF SOCKS!

Decoupage Something

I know, all you crafties are looking at me, like, “You are 33 years old woman! You have an Etsy shop, and 3 kids, and you read crafty blogs, and you’re telling me you have never decoupaged anything?” Uhh . . . no. I haven’t. So yeah, I want to decoupage something. Right now, I’m thinking of really small projects so that I don’t overwhelm myself, especially if it doesn’t turn out very well the first time. I think I want to use some of my fabric scraps, and use them to decoupage an ugly picture frame. Or maybe these small lamp shades my husband bought at IKEA (the wrong ones) that we never returned. I can put them in one of the kids’ rooms. Or on my sewing table in the kitchen.

Oh, I also want to decoupage some sort of table or dresser, but I think I need to get the small projects under my belt first.

Make Jewelry

I am not going to get into jewelry design. I repeat, I am not going to get into jewelry design. I don’t need another hobby & set of supplies, I’m barely keeping up with my fabric/knitting stash. However – since I don’t need cute clasps and am not into delicate stuff, really, I’d like to go to the craft store, pick up a few strands of chunky beads, some stretchy bracelet thread, put it all together, and keep it moving. I can never seem to find stuff JUST like I want it, and – have I mentioned I’m cheap? – I’m not willing to pay an arm & a leg for something I could make myself for a fraction of the cost.

What crafty projects do you want to do? Do you think you’ll ever get around to doing them?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What to Order at a High Stakes Meal

I recently had a conversation with my kids about table manners. It’s not the only table manners conversation we’ve had, but it’s the only one we’ve had in a while that wasn’t like, “I TOLD YOU NOT TO CHEW YOUR FOOD WITH YOUR MOUTH OPEN!”

I always try to explain why something I’m teaching them is important, and this was no exception. I was raised in family that rarely had anything other than casual dining experiences. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t taught manners, it just means we didn’t often go to restaurants that offered courses other than: appetizers, entrees, desserts. As someone who favors function over form, I always thought having multiple forks was stupid. I used the right forks when they were provided, but thought, “What a waste!” I suppose fork manufacturers beg to differ.

Here’s what we covered in the recent table manners discussion . . . A few reminders about the basics:

· Open up your napkin and put it in your lap before you touch any food/drink

· Elbows off the table

· Don’t talk with food in your mouth (and keep your mouth shut when chewing)

· Don’t reach across people to get the salt/pepper/etc. – ask them to pass it

· Keep your hands in your lap when not specifically using your utensils to cut, scoop, spear or lift food to your mouth

· How to hold your knife and fork when cutting something (the don’t stab your food rule)

I also talked to them about what sort of food to order at restaurants of any type, when they’re having a meal where they’re trying to make a good impression. This could be a job interview, a meal with their boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents or any other situation where they might be a little nervous and where the reason for the meal is to have a conversation, not to focus on the food.


In this situation, it’s best to avoid anything you need to pick up with your hands. Burgers, fries, sandwiches, burritos, gyros, wraps, etc. Why? Because that food is generally messier. It can drip sauces, chopped up bits of food, grease. Something can fall out the bottom of your gyro and land right on your shirt. Also, it makes your fingers/hands messy. It may be ok for you to lick the ketchup off your fingers at home, but it’s not ok to do it in front of a potential supervisor or mother-in-law.

It’s also good to avoid any food that needs construction or deconstruction. Steak, for example – you’re going to spend a lot of time cutting it. Not the worst thing in the world, but it takes your focus off of your conversation, and what if you have a steak that’s particularly hard to cut? You can either hack at it, or not eat it. The person you’re dining with might decide you need to talk to the waiter about it and have it sent back. This isn’t the sort of thing you want happening on a job interview. Even if it’s not YOU who is sending the food back, the person you’re dining with may take away an impression of you being high-maintenance, and even if not – it’s a distraction you don’t need.


The best sort of food to order in a situation like this is something that can easily be eaten with one hand and one utensil. Depending on the menu you’re ordering from, that might be a salad. It might be a pasta dish. It might be soup, but be careful about drips and DON’T SLURP YOUR SOUP. The point is, you want something easy, that isn’t going to be a distraction to you or the person you’re dining with.

Of course, where you’re dining will dictate a lot of this, and there are definitely circumstances that will contradict everything I’ve said. If your potential boss wants to take you to his favorite steakhouse, get to cutting. If it’s a high-profile job interview and you’re being evaluated even on the type of food you order, order something more sophisticated that shows how posh you are (just make sure you can wrangle eating it without making a fool of yourself). If your potential mother-in-law wants to take you to a gyro counter where you can’t even sit down, go with it.

Just try not to drip sauce down your shirt.

Continuing the Conversation: Black History Month

A few weeks ago I wrote a short post asking what my readers thought about Black History Month. What is the purpose of the month, and has it been effective?

I received mixed responses, which were a good representation of the different conversations I’ve been a part of, as well as the articles and interviews I’ve read about Black History Month. There seems to be no consensus about whether Black History Month is a good thing, or whether it has been effective.

Black History Month was first Negro History Week, started by Carter G. Woodson, a historian and author. He felt that the history of Black folks in the U.S. wasn’t being represented, and he hoped Negro History Week would be a tool for education. This began in 1926 and in 1976, Negro History Week was expanded to Black History Month. February was selected because it’s the month when Frederick Douglass & Abraham Lincoln were born (insert joke here about February also being the shortest month of the year).

NY Times article: 4 Years After Black History Panel’s Birth, Its Work Is Still Deferred

I was born in the late 1970’s, was a child of the 1980’s and a teen in the 1990’s. I don’t know what Black History Week/Month was like before then, or what impact it had on education and society. I can say that as a White, middle class girl in a mid-sized city in the Southern Midwest, I got a lot out of Black History Month. I can’t say I remember all the facts I was taught – just as I can’t remember all the facts I was taught in my “regular” history lessons. However, what did stick was the idea that there are people in my community, country and world, who haven’t been given credit for the positive work they’ve accomplished, and whose oppression has been downplayed and overlooked. I probably can’t give all the credit to Black History Month; I seem to be drawn to these issues no matter who is involved. Still, Black History Month made an impression on me and I know it helped introduce the idea to a lot of my peers that the average American isn’t hearing the full story of what went on in our nation’s history.

Is that all Black History Month was supposed to do? Maybe so. Did Woodson know it could only be a place to start? Did he believe his week would be able to turn our society upside down and fix all the ills we have in regard to racism? I don’t know the answer to these questions. I do know that Black History Month hasn’t fixed everything.

So – where did Black History Month go wrong? Or, where did WE go wrong with Black History Month? If Black History Month was never supposed to be capable of fixing all our racism issues, what else needs to happen? Is Black History Month actually holding us back from certain progress, because people think it’s proof we’ve learned all we need to learn?

I look forward to exploring these questions in the future, here on my blog. I hope you’ll join the conversation!

Monday, March 7, 2011

What the Heck is a Chiditarod?

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me re-tweeting a bunch of tweets from my friends who were participating in Chiditarod 2011. What’s Chiditarod? Well, it just happens to be “Chicago’s very own most important shopping cart race in the universe”!

Chiditarod is a shopping cart race/team costume contest/charity fundraiser. Teams pick a theme, decorate a shopping cart and themselves, and raise money and food donations for a good cause: to the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation, a food bank that makes donated food accessible to individuals, shelters, schools and non-profits. Teams race around the North Side of Chicago and must check in at checkpoints . . . which are bars.

The Derailers, 2010 Chiditarod

I first heard of it a couple months ago from Melissa, who is part of my local Etsy team. She’s a member of the Derailers team, and this year they raised a whopping $5,000! Funny – according to their Give Forward page, they made a donation to the Loch Ness Mobsters team, for “protection” during the race.

I next heard of it through my friends at ^5 Functions (aka High Five). ^5 is a non-profit in Chicago that seeks to make philanthropy easier by tying it to social events. Here are some of the events they’ve held so far (photos stolen shamelessly from the ^5 Facebook page):

· Pub Crawls

· Climbing a skyscraper – this one was fun – whoever raised the most money HAD to rappel down the face of the Wit Hotel! Everyone’s favorite parrot won.

· City Farm Volunteer Day

^5 was founded by my co-workers and friends. Smart, funny, kind, generous professionals who like to have a good time – that’s ^5.

Learn more about the Derailers and ^5 Functions:

Derailers (Give Foward page)

^5 Functons (website)

· Facebook

· Twitter

Below are some of the photos from the Chiditarod, from the ^5 team. And here are more photos from around the blogosphere. Just google Chiditarod and you’ll be sucked into hours worth of viewing.

Parrot and Pirate Ship Captain


First Mate


(Following photos are by Jed Sullivan, photographer extraodinaire, Chiditarod Shark (above), High Fiver and soon-to-be-missed friend - he’s moving to San Fran!)

High five



Le Ship

Go peeps! I’m proud of the good work you continue to do.

*Sorry about the formatting, y'all. Blogger isn't playing nice today.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dance Party Friday!

I don't know what it's like in your neck of the woods, but round these here parts, it is gray and rainy. I'm also a little overwhelmed with work and just in general need of a pick me up. I considered doing a Wallow In Melancholy Friday but have decided to try to FIGHT THE ANGST (for now) and keep with the regular upbeat theme of Dance Party Friday.

So, without further delay, here are your Dance Party Friday tracks for today! I hope you'll get up and moving . . . I'll try to do the same.

Easily a top 10 favorite band. Incidentally, I love The Police but am not a big fan of Sting's solo work.

Do I really need to say anything? Prince. Purple Rain.

If I had a nickel for every time I drove around, screaming along to this song, well, I'd have a lot of money to consider donating to some Rage-approved Central American revolution. Angry Angst! In all seriousness, I am always down with taking a hard look at the "American Dream" and this song does a whole lot of that.

I am not 100% fists in the air, I mean, I HAVE spent hours and hours dancing on basketball courts and tossing poms around. This is easily my favorite Britney song.

Closing out the Dance Party is what I would call an "oldie" but here in Chicago, they call them "dusties". This song has swagger!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Thing Leads to Another

Today on Twitter, one of my Tweeps, @DeeshaPhilyaw (who I know of from the Love Isn’t Enough, formerly Anti-Racist Parent website) passed on a link to the NY Times article, “The Hidden Victims of Wartime Rape” which talks about the men and boys who suffer rape and sexual abuse in war times, but are so often overlooked and not reported. It’s a tough article to read, but valuable.

It made me think of a photo exhibit that was recently displayed for a few months where I work, photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik’s “Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape”.

Image from the opening reception of the collection in 2009 at Aperture Gallery in NYC (not where I work)

From the Mediastorm site: In 1994, in the East African nation of Rwanda, one million ethnic Tutsi people were slaughtered, in a genocide committed by their Hutu countrymen. But the scars left by these murderous militiamen go well beyond the numbers of the dead: they live on, in the lives of the women they held captive, raped - and left pregnant.

Intended Consequences tells the stories of some of these women, victims of the sexual violence used as a weapon of war against them. Some 20,000 children were born as a result. Photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik photographed and interviewed 30 women and their families, and has produced a piece of incredible complexity: how does a woman care for her child when it's the son or daughter of the man who raped her?

At the Mediastorm site you can watch videos, look at photos and read interviews from this collection. You can look at Torgovnik’s other incredible and moving works here.

* * *

I responded to the tweet about the NY Times article by saying I couldn’t imagine men & boys being willing to be captured in photos and stories about their abuse, the way the women had in Torgovnik’s collection. @missturman (who’d passed the link to Deesha) pointed me toward @NicoleeditsNicole Franklin, a filmmaker and journalist. Nicole produced & directed a film entitled, “Little Brother”.

From Nicole’s website: Beginning in 2010 in Camden, New Jersey, Little Brother takes an annual look at Black boys as young as nine years old in various urban environments for a one-on-one conversation demystifying what society tends to rob them of: Love.

Little Brother. A conversation that will save a generation.

“It is a rarity to see representations of black boys as they really are: beautiful, open, curious, intelligent, funny, and vulnerable. Filmmakers Nicole Franklin and Jasmin Tiggett's Little Brother, a caring documentary about the hopes, dreams, and experiences of black boys is as important as it is necessary. This endearing documentary series presents black boys as dignified and fully human, which makes Little Brother a filmic exception, rather than the rule.“

--Byron Hurt, director of I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, and Barack & Curtis.

The film is available for educational institutions, houses of worship, for-profit and not-for-profit corporations, as well as home video use. Nicole Franklin and Jasmin Tiggett are available for in-person appearances and Little Brotherforums in your community.

* * *

Finally, @missturman (mentioned above) is Aisha Turman, a writer and filmmaker. She’s raising money to expand a project she’s started called The Black Girl Project.

From Aiesha's website:
Illuminating the complexity, diversity and humanity of Black girls.

The Black Girl Project is a documentary film which asks pretty much one question: who are you? Of course that question morphed into other, follow-up questions, but that singular question lies at the heart of the film.

In a culture where Black women and girls are either venerated for their saintly accomplishments which strips them of any other character attribute except that of martyr/mammy, or demonized and used as the fall gal to explain away all that is wrong with the Black community and society-at-large, it is important to hear and see Black girls speak their truths.

In this film, we hear from nine ethnically diverse young African American women between the ages of 18 and 21. They speak of hope, triumphs, education, sex, relationships, abuse, love and more. Through them, we see the diversity of Black girls’ and women’s lives that we are often not privy to in the mainstream.

Traditional media continues to have a problem with realistic, multi-faceted portrayals of Black women and girls, and for that matter, all females of color. It is our hope that the film adds to the discussions about Black women and girls across the country and that it will contribute to a paradigm shift in how they are seen by others and how they see themselves.

It’s about time.

I love finding people who are doing great things. Please take a moment to learn more about these projects. Tell others!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Featured Artist: Craftee McGee

As I’ve become more involved on Twitter, I’ve gotten to know a number crafters & shop owners. One of my favorites is Jacqui from the Etsy shop Craftee McGee – she makes really cute jewelry and accessories. She’s also from the Chicago area (though living deep in the Wisconsin woods right now) and apparently also critiques high school cheerleaders and dancers at sporting events, just like I do! NO GUILT.

BWS tips button

You can follow her on Twitter, read her blog and like her shop’s fan page. FYI, make sure to check out her blog, she’s got a couple recent entries highlighting ways you can get free and discounted items from her shop and othersI’ve been looking for some colorful earrings and found just what I was looking for at the Craftee McGee shop. My husband tends to put my mail in different spots each day so I’m not sure how long my order from Jacqui’s shop was sitting next to my bed . . . but I eventually found it. Look what was inside!

Green Dahlias!

Please forgive my blurry phone pics . . .

I got some aqua ones, too!

And here are a few more items I love from her shop:

the dish ran away with the spoon

amber wrapped wire ring

sweet pea begonia headband

So head over and check out her shop!

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