This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser, Buy Art Not People, an evening benefiting the Not For Sale Campaign. I was deeply moved by the commitment of the volunteers who orchestrated this event, as well as relieved to see a large turnout in a small venue for a very worthy cause.
Buy Art Not People (www.buyartnotpeople.org) is an initiative by artists to raise awareness and funds to combat modern slavery (human trafficking, child labor, and forced labor). This group is committed to using the power of art to raise awareness of the plight of modern slaves and those at risk of entering slavery. The Not for Sale Campaign (www.notforsalecampaign.org) aims to educate and mobilize an international social movement that “effectively combats human trafficking and slavery through ‘"Smart Activism"’. It deploys innovative solutions for every individual to re-abolish slavery - in their own backyards and across the globe.”
A perfect example of an innovative solution is the silent auction that took place on December 4th, an evening of art, film, and music. The event hosted the work of 27 Chicago artists (a symbolic reminder of the 27 million people in slavery today) in a raw, industrial space - with 70% of proceeds benefiting the NFS Campaign.
Joshua MacFarlane, of Buy Art Not People, and Catherine Anderson, of Hope for Chicago, offered a number of ways that each of us can be a part of the solution. We can take action by purchasing fair trade products and by refusing to buy merchandise from companies that use forced or child labor. As consumers, you and I make decisions everyday that have a global impact.
Here is a sample of the fabulous, fair trade products that are available right at our fingertips: Ananas (109 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL) has beautiful, handcrafted fair trade jewelry available; Jeanine Gunchen Gallery Etcetera (7349 W. Madison St., Forest Park, IL) offers unique and uncommon free trade gifts and houseware; Ten Thousand Villages (121 N. Marion Street, Oak Park, IL) provides a range of exotic merchandise – all items handmade, all fair trade; American Artworks Gallery (7314 W. Madison St., Forest Park, IL) features merchandise, all handmade, by local artists (Lisa and Lisa can tell you how each and every product was born!).
The skill level and craftsmanship of each fair trade or handmade product never ceases to amaze me. I often I wonder about the time and thought that has gone into these creations. I handle an item, with curiosity and wonderment, and imagine someone else handling the same piece with pride - sometimes halfway around the world.
Not For Sale believes that everyone has a skill to contribute that can free an individual living in bondage, and together we can stop human trafficking and end slavery in our lifetime. Like Free2Work (visit www.Free2Work.org for information on publicly available information on the production of products), I also believe that our supply chain “goes beyond our shopping carts.” During this gift-giving season, and beyond, I truly hope you do too.