We retweeted this story from Deutsche Welle today. We grew up watching DW because our parents became newsholics after living through the 1982 coup d'état in The Old Country. As a result, I like to consume information while working virtually on this platform. This story stood out as one worth sharing in a blog post.
We tweet pieces available for purchase. We tweet about small biz. We tweet global news stories and connection points (quite a few of those have to do with sports, science and the voices of those that are marginalized). Let's connect on Twitter and continue listening and growing together: Twitter.com/LHoCreations
Hello Beautiful People,
Today we are speaking with Rosie Allenson. She is the founder of Non Traditional.
I first met Rosie when she was barely in middle school. I met her with her mother Jodie (she's the owner and founder of Curvy Girl Studio in Noblesville, IN) at a Bead & Tea class we were hosting in Downtown Noblesville. Just as a heads up, we are offering jewelry and cultural immersion classes virtually now because we've received too many requests. Rosie and Jodie happen to be some of the clients I have been meeting with for cultural immersion classes. I digress.
I think Rosie is brilliant and a breath of fresh air.
She is conscious and ready to work on making her portion of the world a better place. All this will be done while pursuing a higher education program that will allow her to pursue a career in acting, music theatre and business.
She is open to new ideas and new voices and is ready to listen, learn and apply herself.
I share Rosie's story today because we are never too young or too old to apply ourselves.
I share Rosie's story because being inclusive and being an ally can take various shapes and forms.
Today, we share a portion of our cultural immersion sessions as experienced through literature.
We are reading Nervous Conditions by Zimbabwean novelist, playwright, and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga. Nervous Conditions was first published in the United Kingdom in 1988. It was the first book published by a black woman from Zimbabwe in English. The BBC named Nervous Conditions the top 100 books that have shaped the world, in 2018.
We've had a wonderful time reading this book. Not that it has been an easy read, but rather that it has allowed us to have hard conversations. Now, pardon me for a bit while I am me and explain the usefulness of hard conversations as I mean it.
Hard conversations are unpleasant but can be immensely useful for mankind to have because the tomorrow available to others (most of whom would be considered minors or unborn), depends on what we do today as the living. We are all living in "borrowed spaces" or a "borrowed existence" of sorts. This borrowed nature will have to be passed on to others.
What we do, while here matters immensely.
Hard conversations, when birthed from ethical angles, allow for sturdy roots to be established. Those sturdy roots allow for shade trees to be established that we might never sit under but that others will one day be grateful we fought for and/ or established. Our borrowed presence is not a right, but a privilege. We need to be aware of this borrowed presence with the same attentiveness we might give to a tender houseplant that we want to live.
I take it as a form of worship.
I take it as one of the most critical forms of worship.
So when I gather for these cultural immersion experiences, I am not just gathering for the sake of gathering. I don't know everything. I am open. I am willing. I am available. I am present. I want whatever divine power allowed me life to allow us a space for growth and human connection that can continue to do good long after I am gone. I attend those meetings with the same humility I might tithe before a deity I have reverence for. During those meetings, I am doing work that he/ she/ they might ask me about.
What we do today as the living, requires an awareness birthed a lot of times by hard conversations. Jodi, Rosie and I have sat down together, shared with each other, taught and enlightened each other as we continue to find ways to establish the shade trees we are actively working to leave behind.
Are you a reader?
What version of the arts do you consume (especially in these covid times, we are all consuming the arts somehow)... so, what form of the arts do you prefer?
Is anything you consume inclusive and/ or challenging of your view of the world?
We have a tendency to want to engage across social media when it comes to growth, politics, religion and any other major world views. Perhaps, the best place to start could be personally through the content you consume before reaching out to try and dialogue with others. Are you willing to engage in learning or viewing the world from a lens you might not prefer and/ or agree with? Why or why not?
Happy Thursday and let's keep growing together,
Stay HEALTHY and safe,
The LHo Team (The Empowerment Initiative)
About the shoppable pieces below: The artwork is from The Central African Republic, Western Kenya and America.
All the selected artwork would fall under the non traditional banner that Rosie has chosen to embrace and highlight. We have artwork made from butterfly wings (no butterflies were injured), banana bark or people floating in umbrellas. The pieces capture artistic expression in an unexpected manner and we'd love for you to gift a non traditional art piece to someone you love or tell a friend about us. As always, if you have questions, concerns or comments, get in touch. xo.
We bumped into a story we wanted to share.
Traveling with a few of you (to East Africa) allowed us to reconnect with a lot of our East African upbringing.
Being on the ground reminded us just how much East Africans recycle, reduce, reuse, rot/ compost and upcycle. We are actively returning to our East African roots/ values that remind us: waste not, want not. The saying was a constant reminder in school and at home. If you live to waste, you will eventually get to a point where you do not have. Be conscious of your usage as you are only a visitor passing through these earthly streets. Just as you are passing through, leave a world for those that will visit after you. East Africans are very much philosophical thinkers and we have been for centuries. That's why some of our traditional garb is littered with proverbs and sayings.
Now, as we reconnect with our roots and find new avenues to reduce our waste footprint, we wanted to share an exciting story from IKEA that we thought quite a few of you might appreciate or would like to pass on because we all know that one person that is IKEA obsessed. Remember, we are forever learning, growing and connecting and this felt like a push in the right direction from a big business brand. It felt like the kind of push that might normalize discussing sustainable living ideas.
Here's what you need to know:
Our shopping bags and shipping materials are now 100% upcycled. You might receive a jacket you purchased from us in Kate Spade packaging. We're upcycling and a lot of our customers and friends are ready to assist with this decision.
On average, we ship out thirty five packages a month (except over the holiday season and all the way to valentines day when our online orders triple) and if we are doing our normal circuit of pop ups, we have a sale every 1 1/2 -2 minutes. Instead of creating demand for new trees to be cut down so we have enough packaging and bagging material, we've just started collecting from our customers and friends. We're choosing to use what's already available in the community so that we can reduce our waste and especially plastic footprint. This is just one of the ways we are choosing to do our part as an organization. For more, visit this link: "About Us" .
And we know, it might seem strange that a small business would write about a big business, but we are all winning in this instance. When we all do what we can, we all win. If we were more focused on caring for each other and this beautiful world we share, we'd find there can be enough resources to meet all of mankind's basic needs comfortably.
Below, are a few pieces from us that include salvaged and upcycled beads/ creations. Others are included because they are eco-friendly. Click on each image to purchase it on Shoptiques and if you need to ask us questions etc message us: +17656060777. And yes, you can meet us to pick up pieces you are interested in. If you don't spot anything for you, please share this blog with a friend that might (sharing is caring).
So in the future, should you see we've described a bead or finished design as salvaged know that either our suppliers or our team was working to reduce our waste footprint as an organization (contact us to find out how. Yes... we'll go into detail and no, you're not bothering us).
Lastly, we included a video from Ghana highlighting one social entrepreneur that is making bicycles from bamboo and in the process, creating dignified sources of income for others. How are you going to reduce your waste footprint in the remaining months of 2020? Here's the link to the rest of the IKEA story: please feel free to read the rest of the article (it's a 2-5 minute read depending on your reading speed).
Wishing you HEALTH, safety and enough
The LHo Team (The Empowerment Initiative).
Do you know how the food you consume makes it to the grocery stores you shop from?
Do you know what farms supply your local grocery stores?
Is it possible to find out? If it's difficult to find out, should this be the case? How can you change this?
There are a lot of subjects that we, as minorities, discuss in private. As part of our Forever Learning Series, we want to bring those subjects to our customer base. We will continue to present the information under a social ethics lens (this also means I am a heavy friend to have and a heavy dinner guest. I am also a heavy person to consume adult beverages with because I like to reflect and other people engage in social gatherings to decompress.
I just wanted to give a heads up because a lot of customers have actually reached out to dialogue with me... of which I appreciate. I digress).
What do you know about immigration to the United States?
How many immigrants do you know well personally?
How much of their story do you know and understand?
How many other minority group families/ individuals do you know well?
Do you know who stocks your grocery store shelves at night?
Do you know how much any of these groups earn?
Do you know how many hours a week they work?
Do you know how they ended up in these fields?
How does that compare with your story?
Do you believe in mission work? How do you feel about those who you might assist on missions coming here to better themselves?
Have you been on a mission trip? What social justice/ equality issues have you tackled within America?
Earlier this year, a former and fellow business owner and I had a lengthy discussion about our roles in the community as minorities that might be looked up to as leaders as well. We both concluded that one of our greatest sins had been silence. It made a lot of others believe, and yes... this was vocalized to both of us on various occasions, that a lot of the social justice cries we see across social media and in the news were made up, came from whiners and were given by those who just didn't want to pull themselves up via their bootstraps but instead might have preferred a handout. We just wanted our businesses to thrive. So we lay low and remained silent even though today, there are businesses I know I can't walk into in Noblesville, Indiana.
Currently, the other business owner stepped down and I turned our business into a small social enterprise because we want to do good as we turn profits. We now fall under the NGO and nonprofit banner (nonprofits do make profits, the money is simply directed to various causes and efforts across various communities selected for impact).
We want to empower. We want to inform and we believe, as an organization, we have a moral responsibility to all our customers and visitors to create a more enriching experience that allows for growth through various channels.
Please join us in reflecting and do feel free to share what you might discover as you reflect.
There shouldn't be shame associated with growing and/ or becoming a better human being. There shouldn't be shaming when it comes to inquiring for knowledge purposes (Kiswahili proverb/ African philosophical view). Admitting our faults becomes that much harder when there is shame surrounding the process. Be humble enough to notice your ills. Be humble enough to remember you will continue to make mistakes too. Forgive yourself (and others) and then become better. To fail to do this is to fail to worship That Which Allowed Us being. E. A. Wasonga
PS: We added a video from Insider News (eight minute video with subtitles) and a few sweet deals. Most pieces are $10. Happy shopping and sharing (click on image to shop design).
Given that my adviser had been an avid world travel, he allowed me to craft out my college experience with as much international exposure as I wanted (and still graduate on time). He was so dedicated to making sure I had the experience I needed that some of my classes, that were only available biennially and that he taught, he offered to teach me in private in his office when I returned. That allowed me to travel abroad (really, go back to Kenya and enjoy the familiar tastes and sounds of East Africa for a solid seven months) but also, explore my media studies from an African (and also Commonwealth) lens. There, he gave me access to GOLD. I believe a lot of what we are struggling with, on a personal, financial, emotional level, someone or a group of people somewhere in the world already has an applicable solution for. However, we are so busy exercising various versions of selfishness, being territorial, judgemental, unwilling and unfair to release ourselves from bondage. Being abroad for those months allowed me a whole other collection of perspectives, not just from my professors and how education is fashioned abroad, but from the students and the various discussions and cultural experiences I would have missed had I remained in America.
So, I am writing this now because it's necessary. I am writing this because we need more voices that have different perspectives and we need more voices that impact smaller circles across this nation.
I realize I live in a nation that I appreciate and that I call one of my many homes.
Here though, as much as an education and then a college degree determine various factors in life... we forget what all that education is for. It's not just a process. It's a process with purpose.
Here, history is based on opinions and not researched facts here, in this America I love and call one of my many homes.
Science is ignored and based on political views and not researched mainly because a lot of times, what I bump into is a lack of know how on where to go for information. As everyone is out studying various fields and going through various forms of education, it is important to birth lifelong learners.
For all the math I studied and all the science I took in and even classes like art (especially between Kenya and Botswana and my final science courses in my American high school) there was not just here is X, Y and Z... we also spent a lot of time proving and investigating what we were learning.
Here is an example from my Science and Agriculture classes in primary school (elementary school in Kenya).
Transpiration: (of a plant or leaf) transpiration can be described as the exhalation of water vapor through the stomata.
"plants lose more than 90 percent of their water through transpiration" (definition was gathered from Oxford Languages)
We not only wrote the word down, we were taught where the term stemmed from. What two or three languages married each other to birth the word.
We then spent a lesson or three, once the chapter was over, proving that what he had learnt actually takes place. In the case of transpiration, we used plastic bags. We tied a plastic bag over a few leaves on a tree or potted plant for a few days and when we returned a few days later, there would be liquid in the bag that had touches of green and brown to it. We hadn't had liquid in the bag before. The liquid was now there. We wrote what we observed and proceeded to the next subject matter and even took time to ask our teachers various questions in relation to transpiration.
Education isn't just about stating facts. The more we research, the more we learn about facts. This is why Pluto was downgraded into a dwarf planet in my lifetime and this is also why we (as a human race) discovered that plants could also use artificial light to produce food (photosynthesis). I remember the agriculture class I was in (it was 2002) when our teacher made us aware of what researchers had now discovered.
Education should empower us to think critically, learn how to research facts and weigh truth. The moment education becomes about parotting (especially unfounded information), we are then living on dangerous breeding ground.
I live in a country where the media is not understood, the way I had to take years and years of classes to understand how it works and why it matters. The media, also through it's own doing, has turned into a source of entertainment and is no longer founded on passing of unbiased information.
The media ethics courses I had to take, are disregarded because networks are no longer unbiased and thus exist under the oppression of political agendas and for ratings that bring in financial backing.
This is dangerous. I could list a zillion and one reasons why this is dangerous or I could simply begin to share pieces I think will help those who frequent our platform, have another outlook on matters.
I did not realize what role our presence in the community played until I was invited to a dinner where we discussed immigration. I was invited to help decipher what was real from what was not. I was an immigrant. I had become a citizen. They had known me for a long time and valued my presence in their lives. They felt with me, they could share their truth about what they believed when it came to immigration and why the path to citizenship was sacred. However, there were so very, many views being shared across various media platforms and a lot of them were opinion based. A lot of the channels brought in experts and naysayers to shout at each other and had stopped informing because ratings, ratings, ratings. So we spoke about DACA. We spoke about the green card which should no longer be termed as a lottery. We spoke about my life back home. We spoke about international students. We spoke about the path to citizenship and how some were left out.
We are now social distancing.
We have a blog that thousands of you visit (THANK YOU).
So, here is a link from National Geographic that breaks down the 19th amendment based on historical accounts. It's a five minute read. I/ We, as a team, don't want to continue in the insanity we all seem to be practising. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We keep barking at each other. Let's do something else. Let's return to the drawing board, as a nation, as humanity, and begin to research what we believe.
We invite those that visit our website to join us in thinking critically. What we research and decide (as citizens of the world) will determine the tomorrows others get to face. That is an important role to play.
We also added a few of our dinners, a few of our latest looks so the team and our suppliers can continue to be paid and music that was written by a Ghanaian and Kenyan artists. I never thought music that spoke of our African struggles might ever be used to highlight struggles (even in part) that we would witness and face in The West. Here we are though.
Take care of yourselves and stay healthy,
You, who is reading, matters to us. x
The LHo Team
Does institutionalized oppression continue in various ways currently? Why or why not? How did you arrive at the conclusions you did? Did you use a fair assessment of evidence to arrive at your conclusions? Are there other ways you might be able to view the issue? From relearning the 19th amendment from historical accounts, let's begin to become forever learners that think critically and hopefully, even ethically.