Weaving a Real Peace (WARP) is a network of weavers, academics, and those interested in preserving traditional textiles with a mission to "foster a global network of enthusiasts who value the importance of textiles to grassroots economies". Many members are involved in small projects in artisan communities, and like Ruraq Maki, are working to preserve traditional textiles while also creating fair paying economic opportunities for artisans.
On May 30th, I attended and presented at WARP's Annual Meeting and Conference on the importance of intentional product design and development in the field of fair trade. The talk focused on low cost yet effective ways small scale organizations can build a design strategy into their products. I discussed various tips and tricks I've learned along the way in my journey with Ruraq Maki.
Attending the conference was a truly inspirational! There are so many people working to support artisans, preserve cultural traditions, and maintain environmental integrity in a multitude of ways. Some of the highlights of the day included:
- Rebecca Burgess from Fibershed spent a year wearing clothing and accessories entirely sourced from within 150 miles of the Bay Area. Her presentation included beautiful photos of the makers of her clothing, from farmers to fashion designs, all of which utilized local fibers, dyes, and labor.
- Rocio Mena Gutierrez worked with Mayan weavers in Guatemala in a natural dyes project. Through the project, this small group of weavers strengthened their dyeing skills to achieve consistent natural dye baths and created yarn kits to sell to weavers in the U.S. The project was so successful that the women made more money from selling the kits in a few months than they earn in a year!
- Maren Beck and Josh Hirschstein from Above the Frey work with traditional hill tribe weavers from Laos and Vietnam. The presentation included a fascinating history of Laos along with the challenges many traditional artisans are facing.
- Deborah Chandler and Teresa Condon discussing their new book Traditional Weavers of Guatemala, a stunning book that shares the life stories of traditional Maya weavers and includes portraits of artisans working in the ancient traditions. Chandler discussed several photos from the book and shared the stories behind the photos and artisans. Truly a treasure!
The conference concluded with a dinner and silent and live auction which helps support WARP’s operating costs throughout the year. It was wonderful to meet such a dedicated group of people and Ruraq Maki is thrilled to be a member of WARP. We look forward to attending again next year.