Give Love: 5 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas With Heart

Give Love: 5 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas With Heart

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and this year more than ever the need to spread the love is real. Here are five Valentine’s Day gift ideas with heart.

1.Heart of Haiti

In Haiti I stocked up on heart shaped art pieces while on my recent trip to visit artisans with the Artisan Business Network who create pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line.  The art of Haiti is beautiful, and the hearts depicted everywhere throughout are part of the reason that it resonated so much with me.  Haitian art is heavily influenced by Vodou veves, or symbols, and the heart represents the goddess of love, Erzulie. These pieces make perfect Valentine’s Day gifts because when you purchase them you are helping to support Haitian artisans and their families. It is like giving twice, and you don’t have to travel to Haiti to find them since Macy’s partners with the Artisans and carries Heart of Haiti products online and in their stores.

Heart of Haiti

2. FashionAble

While in Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow I had the opportunity to visit the FashionAble factory where I met women waving beautiful scarves and better lives. Since then FashionAble has branched out into leather goods and jewelry and I am in love with their new lines. Each piece gives back to those building a brighter future for themselves and their families.

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3. Roost Crate

Give your honey some honey!  My father was a bee keeper so I grew up harvesting and eating honey on everything. Honey and Honey bees have a special place in my heart so when I saw that the February Roost Crate “Farmer’s market in a box” was dedicated to honey I had to order one as a gift to myself!  A Roost Crate “you’re the Bee’s knees” box would also make a super sweet gift to your honey! If your sweetheart is a foodie you might just sign them up for one of the subscription options and keep the love flowing month after month!

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4. (RED)

(RED) always has fantastic partnerships and proceeds from (RED) products go to the fight against HIV/AIDS. My favorite this Valentine’s Day is the (RED) app! How cute are these emojis?!? A cute, simple gift to download on your Valentine’s phone.

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5. Alex & Ani

I love this local Rhode Island company that gives back globally. They have partnered with (RED) for a collection of bracelets that benefit The Global Fund. Perfect for your Valentine!

ALEX AND ANIl contributes 20% of the purchase price of each Heart of Strength Charm sold, with a minimum contribution of $25,000 between January 2017 and December 2017 to Global Fund to fight AIDS with (RED)®.

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A Look Back on 2016

A Look Back on 2016

PicMonkey Collage-5Reviewing the past year always helps me to move on to the new one, and here we are already heading into the last week of January! I just now feel like I’m catching up to the start of 2017!  It doesn’t usually take me this long to re-group and find the quiet time that I need to reflect after the holidays end, the kids get back to school, and visits with family and friends slow down. The election results left me distracted this January, but the Women’s March in DC last weekend has helped me to get back on track. Now I feel I can really take a look back at what unfolded over the past year and start to set some new goals for the new one ahead.

With a busy work schedule in 2016 I posted less on my blog than I would have liked.  While it was great to be busy, it left me finding less time for my own projects. I hope that in 2017 I can set aside time to do more with video and the writing that I love. Among my social media clients for the past two years I had the pleasure to work in strategic partnerships and as the Digital and Social Media Specialist for a local non-profit that I greatly admire. I worked with Edesia through the transition into a newly built factory where they produce life saving Plumpy’Nut and other ready-to-use foods to treat and prevent malnutrition in the world’s most vulnerable populations. It was exciting to witness the progress from plans to the grand opening of this amazing facility that helps to save millions of children’s lives each year from right here in Rhode Island.

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Other work highlights included attending the RESULTS conference in Washington, DC for the first time. RESULTS is a grassroots organization that builds momentum to tackle the complex and layered issues contributing to poverty. As a member of the RESULTS Social Media Corps I shared moments from the conference over digital channels highlighting the power to end poverty both at home and abroad through grassroots efforts. The United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Conference was also held in Washington, DC, and in 2016 I spoke as a Champion Leader about shaping the narrative of global health. Both conferences are opportunities for constituents to meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill to advocate for these important issues. A number of World Moms Network editors and contributors met up to attend the Social Good Summit in New York City during United Nations General Assembly week. As Managing Editor of World Moms Network I work with regional editors on each continent to support our global community of mothers and writers, During the same week I was part of a  Twitter Takeover of the GAVI  account along with a team of fellow Shot@Life Champion Leaders, keeping global vaccines front and center in the development conversation.

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By far the most amazing opportunity for me this year was to travel to Haiti where we met Artisan Business Network artisans who create pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line. This was a dream trip for me where I soaked in a glimpse of the thriving visual arts culture that is everywhere you look. The Heart of Haiti program was launched in response to the devastating 2010 earthquake as a way to help the many talented Haitian artists rebuild through economic recovery. I was deeply touched by the testament to spirit and creativity displayed in the Haitian Artisans whom we were able to meet. I still have so many great stories to write from this trip I can’t wait to share.

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Standing in the spot at the Ciragan Sarayi in Istanbul where we became engaged 20 years ago, Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy & old town Split in Croatia

50th birthday celebrations inspired my husband and I to travel to some incredible destinations in 2016.  Our travels took us to Scotland, Iceland, Italy, Norway, and Turkey. With a growing appreciate for the fact that as our kids get older, our opportunities to travel as a family are dwindling, has also inspired us to take family trips each summer while we can. Last summer the six of us had a fantastic trip to Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia.

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Coffee on the beach and meeting the author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James.

I have to include the 2016 Nantucket Book Festival  in my recap.  Aside from Nantucket being one of my favorite places, the book festival is a heavenly event for any reader and writer.

Yes, 2017 has gotten off to a slow start, but attending the Women’s March on Washington last weekend gave me hope. Being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who, despite our differences, all believe in human decency and basic human rights, made me feel that love will ultimately prevail. Bring it on 2017, I’m fired up!

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Gifts of Hope This Holiday Season

Gifts of Hope This Holiday Season

 

“Everytime that you buy a basket, know that there are about 10 people attached to your purchase.” – Janet Nkubana

My belief that we can create positive change through our purchase choices was further reinforced recently when I saw first hand the impact that “Trade not Aid” programs have on the communities in which they operate.  Many of the gifts that I am giving this holiday season are things that I brought home from my recent trip to Haiti where I could see how much our purchases meant to the artisans supporting their families through their craft.  In interviews with several of the artisans who create pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti program each mentioned the pride in their work, and in being able to provide a sustainable income to support their families. They made it clear that even in tough times, they did not want charity, what they wanted was to continue to earn an income through their art.  Giving gifts that help generate economic empowerment in communities where the need is great is really like giving twice, it becomes a gift that gives back. A gift that gives hope.  In a way my trip to Haiti actually began in Rwanda with Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace program. Read the rest of this entry

(social) Good Gift Guide

(social) Good Gift Guide
Heart of Haiti

From the Heart of Haiti line at Macy’s

Each year for the holidays I put together a gift guide of socially responsible gifts that give back. Whenever we shop, we have an opportunity to use our purchasing power to create positive change. It might be by impacting the lives of women through economic empowerment or purchasing sustainable agriculture as a way to help preserve the environment. Whatever the cause, there are opportunities to support what you believe in as you do your gift shopping.  It makes the giving even sweeter when you know your purchase makes a direct positive impact on someone else’s life somewhere in this world. It’s like giving twice.

2016 (social) Good Gift Guide

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Searching the (he)ART of Haiti

Searching the (he)ART of Haiti
"Home Is Home"

“Lakay Se Lakay” / “Home Is Home”

When I travel to a country for the first time I usually try to do some homework in preparation for my visit. I love the way that travel brings history, geography, and humanity to life, and provides a deeper understanding of the world. Still, sometimes I visit a place like Haiti, that is so enigmatic and full of surprises, that I realize no amount of advance preparation could have fully primed my understanding of the place. I loved the way Haitian Fashion Designer of Rapadou, Marie Therese Hilaire who goes by “Tetes”, expressed it:

“We have a country that has a feeling, se la pu la, You have to be there to understand it“.

It took less than two hours to fly there from Miami, but could not have felt more worlds away.

Packets of fried plantain snacks for sale

Packets of fried plantain snacks for sale

The art of any country always provides insightful cultural cues. In a country like Haiti, which is deeply infused with a visual arts culture, it can be a primer into the ethos of the population. Read the rest of this entry