Bangladesh Artisans

Imagine a world where every time you made a purchase, a tree was planted.

On April 22, Earth Day, we’ll see what that world looks like. At Ten Thousand Villages locations across Canada and online, 10% of Saturday sales will be sent to Get Paper Industry, a fair trade organization from Nepal, to support their tree planting program.

Milan, Business & Community Development Facilitator at Get Paper Industry

Finding the perfect indoor and outdoor spaces to showcase new collections isn’t always easy. The Spring 2017 Lookbook was especially tricky, because we were aiming to convey a very specific feeling. Fortunately, our photography and design team are experts. Capturing the modern, elegant scenes often require DIY construction, precise angles, and a little camera trickery, but we think they pulled it off perfectly.

Here’s a peek behind the curtain.

Want to make friends, de-stress, boost confidence and self-esteem, develop new work skills, broaden your worldview – and make the world a better, kinder place?

Volunteer for a cause you believe in.

With so many personal and societal benefits that are directly or indirectly linked to volunteerism, it’s no wonder so many Canadians give their time and energy to organizations across the country. In fact, according to Statistics Canada data, volunteers devote almost 2 billion hours to their volunteer activities, or the equivalent of about 1 million full-time jobs.

At Ten Thousand Villages, we make no secret of the fact that our 1200+ volunteers are our lifeblood. Whether they’re unpacking boxes in the New Hamburg warehouse, running a bake sale in Winnipeg, or educating customers about Cambodian bombshell jewellery in Petitcodiac, N.B., they’re a major reason we can focus on our mission: to make lives better for our 20,000 makers from 27 countries.

Simply put: We love our volunteers.

“It really is truly inspiring when you come to work every day and these people just show up saying, ‘I want to be here, want to help and I don’t want you to pay me for it,’” says Michele Burnett, National Sales Manager in Winnipeg. “They bring such a sense of home and community.”

Want to join the team and make a difference? Here’s a nuts and bolts guide for getting started as a volunteer with Ten Thousand Villages now.

We need you

While some of our busiest retail stores actually have a stack of volunteer resumes to choose from, other stores are always in need of an extra set of hands. For instance, Montreal’s St. Denis store is able to draw on a large population of social justices and environmental studies students nearby looking for experience outside university. But in a place like Calgary, Alberta, where many potential volunteers take on part-time paid work instead, it can be a struggle to find enough people to help during busy times like the months leading up to Christmas, says Burnett.

All kinds of work

Have a skill or passion? Chances are there’s a job for you. While some volunteers help keep our stores tidy and unpack boxes, Ten Thousand Villages also looks for people who have professional skills too. Lawyers and company executives join our board, for instance. Others who have time, commitment and organizational skills may be best suited to running a Festival Sale in their community.

Just come in

Applying to become a volunteer is easy. Simply visit your local store and ask to speak to the manager or assistant manager (who is often in charge of running the volunteer program). You may be asked a few simple questions about why you want to volunteer and you’ll fill out an application form. To find your local store, visit our volunteer and employment opportunities page.

Commit to hours

Volunteering is a commitment, so when you apply, you’ll want to be clear about how many hours you can donate. Managers use that information when scheduling volunteers. In most cases, you’ll be asked to commit to at least four hours a week. That way you won’t forget the skills you’ve learned between shifts!

Keeping everyone safe

We’re committed to ensuring that our customers, staff and volunteers shop and work in a safe and healthy environment. Volunteers will often to be asked to provide a police check.

Enthusiasm counts

Interested in volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages? Here’s a hint: learn more about us and how fair trade impacts the lives of people around the world (even yours).  Burnett says being a “people person” who’s interested in fair trade will definitely give you an edge.

“If someone comes in and they just love what we do and they love talking to customers, they would make a phenomenal volunteer,” she says. “It’s as easy as that.”

Worldwide, the vast majority of all the wastewater from homes, farms, and businesses is flushed back to nature without being treated or reused. This pollution contaminates our already limited supply of clean freshwater. Fair trade organizations around the world are working to lower their impact on the environment. These are some of those stories.

Association of Craft Producers (ACP), NEPAL

Conscious of the fragile Himalayan ecosystem they live and work in, the team at ACP decided to install a wastewater treatment plant and a rain harvester to their workshop.

“It’s easy to certify things; it’s much harder to lift people out of poverty. We have to keep asking questions.”

With that dose of realism, Dr. Gavin Fridell stirred up the crowd during the opening plenary of the 5th annual Canadian Fair Trade Network conference in downtown Halifax. Setting the tone for the next three days, Fridell’s honest assessments of fair trade threaded through the discussion all weekend.

The CFTN Conference, held in a different city every year, draws students, academics, fair trade businesses, volunteers, municipal workers, and activists together to Learn, Share, and Connect. Promisingly, I met many people attending for the first time – including many high school and university students. They were curious about how to make a difference, how to get more involved, and how to help make fair trade mainstream.

Still, Fridell’s unvarnished look at the movement echoed throughout the conference. The big questions were ever-present: What is the goal of the fair trade movement? Is what we’re doing having the intended effect? If not, why are we doing it? How are we measuring success?

Photo: CFTN.

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate advancements made towards gender equality, while also recognizing that there is still a long way to go. At Ten Thousand Villages we believe that by economically empowering women in disadvantaged parts of the world, we help level the playing field. Freedom to make one’s own financial decisions is the first step towards self-determination, and can be the first step towards lasting grassroots change.

Recently, Tanu Dey, Director and CEO of Dhaka Handicrafts in Bangladesh visited our head office to talk about how this is working on the ground in rural Bangladesh. Ms. Dey told us that while the capital city is rapidly modernizing, the rural areas are changing much more slowly. We asked her about some of the work that Dhaka Handicrafts is doing to help Bangladeshi women.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

There are more fair trade kitchen staples available than most people realize. Many spices, from everyday basics like black pepper, to the more specialized lemongrass and garam masala, are available at Ten Thousand Villages. When it comes to spices, Cha’s Organics, formerly Arayuma, is our go-to. Their commitment to producers leads to strong, fair trade relationships and products of the highest quality.

When it’s time to reach into our spice cabinet and indulge, we love to make these hearty, satisfying pancakes. The grated apple helps to keep each pancake nicely moist, even after they spend time keeping warm in the oven while the others cook. Serve with fresh fruit, maple syrup, and apple sauce.

Great fair trading relationships are a lot like long-term romantic relationships. Both can have their ups and downs, but in the end are built day by day on a mutual commitment to a partnership that makes everyone involved feel valued, needed, and self-actualized. The security of the partnership lets both parties succeed, on their own terms, together.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we reached out to people working in fair trade to impart some wisdom gleaned during their time spent in fair trade and long-term relationships.

Stacey and Laurie, Married 25 years, 20 years working with Level Ground Trading:

February can be tough in Canada. The snow, which once made the streets and sidewalks a winter wonderland, has transformed into a crusty, icy hazard or a slushy mess. It can be dark, cloudy, and grey. For many, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year anymore.

This is why we look forward so much to our February release. After Christmas and Boxing Week sales are over, we need an injection of some fun, colourful products with amazing stories – and this release certainly delivers.

fb-link-stats-infographicWhen we talk to people about fair trade, it can sometimes be hard to get across the many different ways fair trade can impact a maker’s life. Despite the inherent complexity, fair trading relationships, not charitable ones, are the foundation we’ve built Ten Thousand Villages on. Unlike charity, fair trade isn’t working to provide one specific thing like shoes, or food, or clothing. Instead, fair trade empowers. And empowerment is a lot harder to quantify.IMG_5363