Some of us like to wear our hearts on our sleeves. On Saturday, May 13th, two of our local businesses will offer us a chance to support and celebrate craftsmen/craftswomen from underdeveloped countries, who’ve stitched, welded, hemmed and braided part of their hearts into each of their creations. Green Hummingbird Fair Trade Clothing and Ten Thousand Villages offer a year-round opportunity for our community (a city of over 50,000 heart-showers, and dream-follower supporters) to celebrate a large variety of fair trade products. However, on this particular day each year, the entire world acknowledges the larger message of supporting fair trade artisan.

Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to purchase uniquely crafted items, encourage global aspirations, and help sustain the livelihood of craftsmen/women, in need, across the globe. Each purchase is the beginning of a butterfly effect of social justice, an artisan building confidence, and them having a chance of success (they wouldn’t have otherwise): earning a fair wage in countries which lack the very luxuries many of us count as everyday occurrences.

Sweatshops are often given deadlines to meet the high demand of a certain fashion, and that tends to put more pressure on producers to abuse their workers and work long hours for little pay. Fair Trade fashion doesn’t just follow the latest trends. The focus is on styles that are timeless and can be made easily.
— Eleanor Held, Owner of Green Hummingbird

Fair trade embodies a crucial movement which cannot be conveyed through that  familiar green symbol we recognize on the side of a coffee package or on  the front of a chocolate bar near a cash register; however, the next time you see that symbol, think change. Think of The Little Engine Who Could. Think sustainability to those whom may have little to rely on. Purchases from Ten Thousand Villages and The Green Hummingbird are a confirmation of hope to those who may have few opportunities to earn wages, or even obtain the very work needed in order to do so. Harrisonburg, we have the power to make the world a better place, through each purchase from one of these downtown businesses.

Many people might not know that Ten Thousand Villages was started in the 1940’s out of the trunk of a car. Edna Ruth Byler brought back crafts from South America to sell on her own and it has now snowballed into a nation wide nonprofit with over 80 stores across the US.
— Jessie Hess, Outreach Coordinator at Ten Thousand Villages

Although downtown Harrisonburg’s two fair trade shops are merely a minute’s walk from one another, you won’t find much overlap in the creations they carry. The Green Hummingbird has a substantial selection of clothing products and accessories (with styles/designs updating seasonally). Ten Thousand Villages primarily stocks assortments of housewares, garlands, paper/cards, jewelry, rugs and ornaments. But in both of these stores, fair trade products tell an ongoing story — one which we have the ability to co-write through our purchases on World Fair Trade Day and every day!

Promotions on World Fair Trade Day

Harrisonburg Fair Trade stores have teamed up! Make a purchase at one store and get a 10% off coupon; visit another store and the coupon increases to 15%; and the next store is 20%! Participating stores include Green Hummingbird, Ten Thousand Villages, Artisan's Hope, and New Creation.

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Jewelry is buy one,
get one 50% off

Now through Mother's Day, all jewelry is buy one, get one 50% off at Ten Thousand Villages. "We love celebrating Mother's Day because fair trade works so hard to empower women and promote gender equality," says Jessie Hess. Some of her favorite jewelry is the Bomb Casing Collection from Cambodia."Artist take these remnants of war from their fields and repurpose them into a beautiful sign on peace and healing. 

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Green Hummingbird Now Carries Fair Anita

Fair Anita is a new line of jewelry that is now available at the Green Hummingbird, and they have some pieces made in Ethiopia from old bullet casings. It's a way of taking something destructive and turning it into something beautiful.

So, How Can My Purchase Make a Difference?

Eleanor Held shared the African tale which inspired Green Hummingbird’s name, “[T]here was a huge forest fire, and all of the animals gathered around a river and watched helplessly as their homes were being burned. But a little hummingbird started taking sips of water from the river and spitting it into the fire. The animals scolded her and said, "You're not doing any good! You're just a small hummingbird!" But the little bird said "I'm doing what I can!"   

We can all do what we can to help. These are meaningful purchases which will have an immediate effect on their crafters’ lives. In addition, our purchases send a personalized message to their recipients. I like to think that every time I purchase fair trade presents for my friends that I’m sending this subliminal message:

Dear one I love:
I’m giving you this artisan’s unique creation because this purchase was equivalent to a small hummingbird taking sips of water, and using them to put out a fire...and never giving up. What I also hope it says to you is that you are worth much more than any outlet store gift could ever signify. I hope that by you receiving this gift, and learning about this artisan’s life story, that you will become a little hummingbird and help me to put out life’s fires.

Support our downtown, and help improve the places these artisans live; they might not ever have the opportunity to reside in a community as loving and supportive as our Friendly City. Let’s honor World Fair Trade Day, in celebration of the car trunk which began Ten Thousand Villages’ mission and  the Green Hummingbird — who became one fierce firefighter!


Written by Angela Carter, an author, poet, motivational speaker, spoken word performer, visual artist, art director at the Artful Dodger and a framer at The Frame Factory. Her writing in her full-length poetry memoir, Memory Chose A Woman's Body, was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. Her poetry performances have been featured in a multitude of venues including The KGB Club in Manhattan and Busboys and Poets in DC. Angela is an advocate of the healing ability of the arts. She, her husband, two daughters and two dogs reside in Harrisonburg, VA after relocating, from Bath, England, approximately 10 years ago. The Carters are proud to be a part of Harrisonburg's growing, and caring, downtown community. Read some of her work here