Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Tribute to Thistle Farms

Not sure where this post belongs - here or on Hamida the Herbalist. It actually bridges both blogs. While reading Victoria magazine January/February issue, I came upon a story about a business and project that is fantastic.

It's called Thistle Farms and it's a non-profit that assists women survivors of violence of all sorts, who learn to produce natural beauty products. This is similar to an idea I had many years ago while working at a women's shelter as a client advocate.

While the services we provided assisted women and children to get away from domestic violence, we were not able to help them much after they left. Many of them depended on the income from the violent partner. The "luckier" ones were on welfare before they came into the shelter. All they had to do was change their address. The ones with no means of support often felt forced to go back to the bad situation because someone was paying the bills. I always thought that we needed to provide or create programs where women could both acquire skills and earn a living while still being in a semi-protected situation.

Thistle Farms in conjunction with other organizations appears to have made my dream a reality. At least for women in Tennessee.

I would love to help create something like that here where I live. It should include a farm where the residents could grow the herbs used in the products and as much of their own food as possible. There would be so many benefits.

When I worked at the shelter, I found that many of the women did not know much about nutrition or cooking from scratch. They ate a lot of fast food or prepared food - both bad for them and their children in so many ways. But they just didn't know any different. These foods are not only useless nutritionally, but also expensive. I managed to bring in Nutritionists from the Agricultural Extension Office to teach food preparation and healthier eating habits. We also got free organic vegetables from a local farm. Half the time the women didn't have a clue about what things were or what to do with them. I don't blame them. Our modern lifestyle encourages media consumption at the expense of living full lives.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar for Christmas

Yes, I have put up another ad for the Christmas season. I have no problem promoting Amazon, because I totally support reading. I love movies too and you can buy them there as well. In fact, I just watched an incredible movie, one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. I will buy a copy for sure.

It's from India and is in an Indian language with English or Arabic subtitles. It is 3 hours and 45 minutes yet I was sorry to see it end. Jodhaa Akbar is based on the lives of real people and takes place during an opulent period in Indian history.

The music, costumes, and sets are so incredible. It made me want to be young and in love for the first time. Of course, in their case, it helps that they were the richest people in the land as well.

Basically the Emperor Akbar, a Muslim, marries Jodhaa, a Hindu princess during a time when there was much war and strife around issues of land and religion. Yet, Akbar allows her to keep her own religion and culture while living in a Muslim palace. In fact, in time he rules that there will be total religious tolerance in his empire.

Perhaps India needs to go back to its own history (and so do we Americans) to remember these founding principles of tolerance and acceptance. They both respect each other and therefore expand themselves and learn new ways of being, without sacrificing their own traditions. Others try to force them to reject or limit, but they don't go along with that. Instead their love grows as they come to understand each other more. Inspiring.