One of the most widely shared articles over the last few weeks has been David Brooks’ piece in The New York Times, A Nation of Weavers. He describes the climate of disintegration of the social fabric here in the US, and how to be a “weaver” rather than a “ripper”. Connection, or at least the prospect of it, is what gets most of us out of bed in the morning.
My first thought when I read Brooks’ article was of 21 women in Astillero, Nicaragua - Las Tejedoras, which quite literally means “The Weavers”. Rockflower was introduced to Las Tejedoras by one of our social enterprise partners, Casa Congo, whose mission is to “empower communities with skills and resources for sustainable development”. Our part has been to support these women in their vision for expansion and growth. Casa Congo works to introduce the whole community to regenerative models of conservation on offer to the rest of the world by building with bamboo, designing water and sanitation systems and protecting the natural environment.
Las Tejedoras, formed as a group 12 years ago, with the goal to recycle plastic bags and trash, weaving them into wallets, bags and other items for sale. They have since collected over 400,000 plastic bags discarded on the streets and beaches of Astillero. Their slogan, “Una Bolsa Menos, Una Tortuga Mas” translates to “One Less Bag, One More Turtle.”
They took what was garbage and weaved their way to a sustainable business model. But, the model centered around one key ingredient – shared intent. Knowing that in order for this to succeed, they needed to work as a team. The women didn’t try to do it alone, they did it as a group, they understood intuitively that the real value of their endeavor lay in the shared commitment, the connection.
In a country like Nicaragua where the patriarchy is alive and well, how does a group like Las Tejedoras succeed? They quite literally “weave” – their goods, their lives, their commitment, their intent so that all benefit from the shared social fabric. Their early attempts to start this business were met with resistance from the local community, in particular the men. However through perseverance and determination, they have established themselves as successful social entrepreneurs, expanding their business to include a juice and smoothie bar which opened in December 2017
Rockflower exists to find, fund and support grassroots community-based organizations and social entrepreneurs improving the lives of women and girls all over the world.
We operate on a philosophy of radical idealism, practically realized. Radical idealism is the catalyst to drive all other concepts, ideas and principles that define Rockflower, resulting in the practical application of funds to projects and programs.
The United Nations' theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. Rockflower is grateful to work with a diverse group of individuals and organizations all over world, who get up every day with this concept at the forefront of their minds. We work with extraordinary women who have defied the odds and press forward with their vision for a more just and equal world.
Yet, in a fund devoted to improving the lives of women and girls, it is extremely encouraging to know that some of our most ardent partners and collaborators are men. The founding team of Sol, Luca, Tomaso and Nick from Casa Congo, Siddique from Community Programs Pakistan, Dancan from Jiwo Paro, Dr. Chris and Somto Ugwu from SIRP, and Twisi from Footsteps Africa to name just a few. If we are to truly “Think Equal, Build Smart and Innovate for Change”, we must do so with a truly balanced and integrated approach.
Las Tejedoras and the small fishing community of Astillero demonstrates this in ways, large and small. They work to conserve the environment and provide a future for their children. Like so many at the sharp end of climate change, they have no choice, because their lives and that of their children, quite literally depend on it.
Women and in particular mothers understand the regenerative effect of connectivity.
When we talk of connection and connectivity we think of sources of power and energy, electricity, the internet, off grid solar, but in fact the greatest source of connective power is the power of ideas and how that translates to our relationships with each other. We call this the Currency of Mind™.
Rockflower uses the Currency of Mind™ as the ultimate source of power and connection. This is based on the premise that the mind is the most valuable and powerful means of exchange that exists. Everything of value starts with an idea created in someone's mind. When you share an idea it increases, it expands and takes on energy – becomes currency.
Let us celebrate International Women’s Day 2019 with respect and appreciation for this currency that will provide opportunities for every single thread of humanity to be valued in order to weave a more just and equitable world.