Monday, April 25, 2011

Web Development Interns and Graphic Designers Wanted for Portland E-commerce Social Enterprise.

Build your resume by getting real world experience using your skills and helping low-income communities in India!

AWAZ Voice for Empowerment is a small business based in Portland OR. Our business focuses on expanding the market for handmade Fair Trade goods and textiles from artisan communities in India.

We are currently seeking creative interns or volunteers to help with designing and maintaing our e-commerce website. We have the Magento CMS installed so experience with this CMS or similar is preferred but not required. Potential applicants must have experience with HTML/CSS and graphic design. Knowledge of e-commerce design would be an added bonus.
It would be great for the individual to have both skills, but if you have only one, do not be discouraged to apply.

If interested send a resume and cover letter detailing how your skills are applicable and why you would be a good fit to Attachments will not be opened.

Currently this is an unpaid part-time position. Our office is located in NW Portland but most work can be done through Google docs, Skype or through e-mail. As long as you are meeting the requirements we agree upon we are happy to accommodate you.

We are looking for someone to start immediately.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Video of the women at Stree Shakti

Following our post below about Jaya's visit to Stree Shakti, I thought you'd enjoy a great video of Stree Shakti's work that takes you inside the production center, shows you their community and beautiful work. I've lived, worked and shared with these women who I've seen grow stronger and more confident over the years. Chinni and her team are really making a difference!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

AWAZ participates in Northwest Fair Trade Coalition World Fair Trade Day Celebration!

Two Week World Fair Trade Day Celebration May 1-17th to Join 100,000 People Taking a Fair Trade Coffee Break Across the Country
“Fun, family packed Scavenger Hunt, Mother’s Day Fair Trade Bazaar and Artisan Tour from Peru”

May 1-17th, 2011 - Portland, Oregon

AWAZ is helping to lead a coalition of local business owners and community advocates to help make Portland a Fair Trade Town!

Join our community celebration and bring Fair Trade into your daily life through your every day purchases of fairly traded apparel, food, drinks, home decor, fashion items and more!

Participate in our Scavenger Hunt and have three chances to win a $100 gift basket!

Starting May 1st, the Northwest Fair Trade Coalition will join thousands of people around the world to celebrate World Fair Trade Day on May 14th with a two week celebration of community events that praises the people who grow our food and produce our goods.

N. Americans will gather from May 1-15, to invite friends, coworkers and neighbors to support economic justice in our trading system by taking a Fair Trade Coffee Break for World Fair Trade Day, the largest Fair Trade event of the year.

Hundreds of thousands of people in 80 countries worldwide will hold events to mark World Fair Trade Day to highlight the importance of fair wages and healthy working conditions for producers around the globe.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hear stories about Stree Shakti's growth after a visit from our Textile Designer

After breaking away from their parent organization, The Purkal Youth Development Society, Stree Shakti has stepped up to the plate.

Stree Shakti - Infinite Possibilities
Jaya Bhatt - Textile Design Consultant

Stree Shakti – is a women’s income generation program which was kick started by The Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS) with a modest home training given to a few village women in Purkal village, Dehradun. Today Stree Shakti comprises of about 80 women members. The program formally began in the year 2004 and has gradually grown into a successful handicraft enterprise since then. Just this year they registered as their own individual entity apart from their parent organization, PYDS, and are learning to stand on their own.

Stree Shakti and Sarah Mitts, the founder of AWAZ Voice for Empowerment share a five year long relationship. Some of the first few products at AWAZ in fact came from the women artisans at Purkal, after Sarah spent 6 months living and working with the society in 2008. The organization has been working towards developing their organizational structure, working methodology, designs and products and AWAZ has been a constant supporter towards these efforts. I am thankful to AWAZ for having introduced me to Stree Shakti, and the women’s organization for giving me a chance to assist and use my skills and experiences to help them improvise on some of their areas of work.

My first visit to Stree Shakti was in the summer of 2010 along with Sarah. The experience was exhilarating. I have had earlier experiences of having worked with similar women’s cooperatives and artisan groups, but there was something fresh about Stree Shakti. The organization is still in a nascent stage and that gives a whole lot of room for changes, improvisations and developments. The people are cooperative and open to accepting new ideas and changes.

The various challenges that Stree Shakti faces at this stage is quite similar across most such organizations. The few problem areas that were discussed were mostly with regards to group structure, monitoring, product development, raw material sourcing and many other day to day issues. Sarah has expressed quality concerns with their products and I've worked with them to improve upon that. Time is always a constraint in such projects, the discussions and debates are never ending, but yet we managed to arrive on various conclusions for design development, structural re-organization, sourcing database, marketing etc. Here, you can see a new sample for a jewelry and make-up organizer and felt Christmas ornaments we worked with the women to develop.

Over time, I’ve had a chance to work with Stree Shakti on most of these issues. Though, some of the most important concerns included fabric and raw material sourcing, group organization and re-structuring and product development. Today, Stree Shakti has successfully managed to tie up with a few raw material suppliers of handmade fabrics, who specialize in vegetable dye block prints, which has helped them achieve a new and unique look for their products and promise a consistent supply. The women were re-organized into small groups and are led by a group leader, this has increased production capacity, better quality and a healthy competitive spirit amongst the artisans. The last of the many efforts up till now included design and product development, introducing new ideas to the existing product line that would help tap a larger market and increase the interest of returning buyers.

It was unbelievable how a new place and a set of complete strangers became so close and a consistent name on the daily phone call list!!! Even though my stay was short, just for about 5 days each time, the impact seemed large enough to have bonded me with Stree Shakti forever. I hope that all our combined efforts, in the form of discussions and actions will bear fruit for Stree Shakti and that both AWAZ and Stree Shakti will continue to share this close bond and go a long way together.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Spring/Summer Community Shows around Portland

Come out and see us this year!

Our Spring shipment will be arriving by May 1st and we’ll have loads of new products and stories to share!

Learn more about:

  • · 2012 Work Delegation and Volunteer Tour to India
  • · Our Fundraising Program for local organizations

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

11th Annual City Repair Earth Day Celebration

Washington High School Field

SE 12th and Stark

Earth Day in Portland is an annual, daylong fun filled celebration that brings together groups and individuals to celebrate and communicate about our love of the earth and all that live upon it.

Hosted by The City Repair Project and the Buckman Neighborhood Association

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Northwest Fair Trade Coalition World Fair Trade Day Kick-off Celebration

Mother's Day Spring Fair Trade Bazaar

First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Ave, Portland

The perfect place to find something special for your mom this holiday. Some of Portland’s most unique businesses and organizations gather to share about their work and offer fairly traded food, products and gifts from around the globe for purchase. Fair Trade products that reflect your values. Enjoy fairly traded coffee, tea and snacks and short producer stories and testimonials from around the globe.

Hosted by Northwest Fair Trade Coalition and Economic Justice Action Group of Unitarian Church

Learn more about our fun, packed two week celebration featuring a Fair Trade Scavenger Hunt and Fair Trade Artisan Tour from Peru!

Friday, May 6, 2011

6:00-9:00 p.m.

“Social Justice in The Village”

Multnomah Village First Friday World Fair Trade Day Celebration at Topanien Global Gifts

7832 SW Capitol Hwy. Portland, OR 97219

AWAZ will have a table and be on hand in support of this great event.

Lend a hand to create a SW Portland Fair Trade Banner at Topanien Global Gifts with fair trade wooden printing blocks from India. Bring the entire family for an interactive evening of fun. Prepare an Amnesty International Mother’s Day Card for our leaders demanding a woman’s right to maternal health. This First Friday learn about Fair Trade and Maternal Health as you enjoy international treats and explore new cultures through their crafts and artisan information while supporting Fair Trade.

Monday, May 9th, 2011

6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Fair Trade 101 Panel Discussion

Kells Irish Pub and Restaurant, 112 Southwest 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

Learn more about the Fair Trade movement and what it means to you at the Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans (OATH) Speaker Series at Kells Irish Pub. Sarah Mitts from AWAZ Voice for Empowerment and representatives from the Northwest Fair Trade Coalition (NWFTC) share the basics to shopping fairly, certification and more about this powerful movement that’s creating solutions to fight global poverty. Fair Trade products will be available for sale from NWFTC members.

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sunday Parkways East Celebration

Enjoy this annual neighborhood celebration of city streets open to walk, bike, roll, run, jump and skip - without having to watch out for cars! With all the outdoor fun you can imagine in the parks and along the route that include Marketplace, Games, Bike riding, Sports, Art, Music, Food and more!! Over 20,000 people in attendance last year.

This year Sunday Parkways connects Lents, Bloomington, Ed Benedict and Gilbert Heights Parks with a 7 mile traffic-free route that includes a long section of the Springwater Trail.

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sunday Parkways North Celebration

A 2-way route of city streets open to walk, bike, roll, run, jump and skip - without having to watch out for cars! The 8-mile North Portland Sunday Parkways route will have two loops, connecting Peninsula, Arbor Lodge, Kenton, and McCoy Parks, plus the Willamette Bluff. Food, music, marketplace and activities are located in the parks and along the route. Over 20,000 people in attendance last year.

July 15-17th, 2011

  • Friday, 15th – 5 p.m. -10 p.m.
  • Saturday, 16th – 11a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Sunday, 17th – 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

55th Annual West Linn Old Time Fair

Willamette Park at the foot of 12th Street

West Linn's home-grown community festival, the Old Time Fair in beautiful Willamette Park will feature great food, musical entertainment, carnival rides, custom car show, games and activities for the whole family.

July 25, 2011

11 am to 4 pm

Northwest Sunday Parkways

A 2-way route of city streets open to walk, bike, roll, run, jump, and skip - without having to watch out for cars! The 6.4-mile NW/Downtown Portland Sunday Parkways route will have two loops, connecting Downtown, Old Town Chinatown, Pearl District and Northwest neighborhoods. Activities, food, and entertainment will be in Shemanski Square, Wallace, Couch, Waterfront Parks, plus along the route.

August 13, 2011

11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

14th Annual Alberta Street Fair

20-40th Blocks of NE Alberta Street

Enjoy an eclectic mix of entertainment and craft along the streets of Alberta with this annual, fun family event! Local musicians, artisans, vendors, crafts, games and more!

August 20, 2011

4 p.m. - 8 p.m.

St. Mark's Presbyterian Church, 9750 SW Terwilliger Blvd

Portland, OR 97219

St. Mark's is hosting a charity fundraiser for Neighborhood House at their church on August 20. AWAZ will be there selling our handmade, fairly traded everyday goods so come on out because some of the proceeds support the cause, a non-profit supporting low-income and other people in need of housing.

Every Sunday*

11 am - 3 pm

Aurora Sunday Farmer's Market

Aurora Movement and Healing Arts
3rd and Main, Aurora, Oregon

*Unless there is a conflicting event - please contact Sarah ( if you are planning on coming a certain day

Aurora is the antique capital of Oregon, so head down to the shops, wineries and Movement and Healing Arts Yoga Studio to enjoy local, organic, fairly traded food, treats and gifts.

September 25, 2011

10 am to 5 pm

Green Sprouts Natural Baby and Family Fest

The ReDirect Guide Green Sprouts Festival is a fun, festive and educational one-day event for the whole family that celebrates and promotes the nurturing of life through nature. From pregnancy to childhood, parents can learn about and explore eco-friendly, community-involved, natural, and healthy options to raising their families.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hello Spring!! New things Happening for AWAZ

We’re kicking off the Spring with great aspirations for the year – and already good things are happening for AWAZ!

We’ve got a team of Volunteers and Interns who have joined us to help:
• Set up our Wholesale Program
• Revamp and optimize our website
• Promote our Fundraiser Sales to local organizations and Donations for our Indian Partners
• conduct Spring/Summer shows and events around Portland

Thank you Stuart, Christina, Judy and Trina!

Our Spring/Summer shipment will be here by the end of the month!

The last few months have been busy coordinating our new Spring/Summer collection with the artisan groups in India – our friend, Jaya, the Textile Designer we work with, was in India from Jan – March and spent a few weeks helping our groups with new developments for our order. From the dust and art of Rajasthan, to the mountains of the Himalayas and back to Delhi and Mumbai, she maneuvered the train, plane and bus to visit our groups. We’ve been doing various developments with groups that are ongoing, such as helping to source fabrics and improve products and also help with production planning. (Look for Jaya’s blog post soon about her work!)

This year we developed a product line with collections that focused on the craft traditions from different groups we work with. Our goal was to create a line of beautiful, practical, everyday use items to inspire your home and fashion for the Spring!

Our new Spring collection will feature:
• Handwoven Table Linens with matching Tablecloth, Napkins and Aprons
• Natural Dye Block Printed Handbags and Toiletry Bags
• Traditional Indian Batik Wall Hangings
• Khadi and Block Print Men’s Fair Trade Shirts
• Block Print and Embroidered Women’s Fair Trade Skirts
• Silk and Cotton Woven Spring Scarves
• Glass Bead Jewelry with matching sets for Young Girls and Women
• Soft Toys and Embroidered Wall Organizers for Kids

So come out to our shows starting May 1st and shop for the season!

Sunday, May 1st , 10:00-3:00
Mother’s Day Fair Trade Day Bazaar at the downtown Portland Unitarian Church
Northwest Fair Trade Coalition World Fair Trade Day launch celebration with testimonials, reception and Scavenger Hunt Passport!