Denver Public Library

Featured Library of the Month:

Denver Public Library

I remember spending long hours in the local branch Denver Public Library when we lived in Colorado years ago. At the time I was learning about quilting; I probably read every book they had on the subject, and the children all found companions in Winnie the Pooh and the Hardy Boys. Since then, the library has grown and thrived, offering not only books on just about any subject one could want, but also hosting events for the members of all ages.

Regular programs at various branch libraries are varied and designed to bring people together based on a love of books. Stitchers, knitters, embroiderers, and crocheters can the company of other crafters while sharing their most intriguing read of the month, from novels to poetry to magazine or newspaper articles at the Virginia Village Branch. The Eugene Field Branch offers Engage Fridays, when resident wordsmiths may gather for a game of world-class Scrabble, or budding photographers might learn about preserving digital photos, among other things. Pauline Robinson Branch Library even offers a program for grandparents raising grandchildren. Different branches host book clubs for various ages as well as get-togethers featuring food, drink, and, of course, books.

The library also offers many online services, including downloads, Volume: A Local Music Project, and of Fresh City Life Events. One neat thing is that members can request a personalized reading list. I bet that at certain times of the year, high school and college students are flooding them with requests for these!

The Denver Public Library can cater to almost any mood. If you are feeling quiet, hunker down in a corner with a good book. Nostalgic? Listen to music from bygone eras. Socializing your thing? Join a book or craft club, or stop by for any of the many events offered throughout the year. Whatever you are looking for, you just may find it at the Denver Public Library!

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Vivienne Harr: Selling Lemonade to Free Child Slaves

Back in March I got to view the trailer for Stillmotion’s first feature length documentary, Stand With Me. It premiered February 1st of this year and was about a little girl in California, Vivienne Harr, who was selling lemonade on the sidewalk to free child slaves. I got to sit down with one of the co-producers, Grant Peelle, and the social media campaign director, Emily Thomas and we talked about what made this documentary so special. Here’s the summary of Stand With Me:

Only a 9-year-old would dream a lemonade stand could change the world. After seeing a photo of two enslaved boys in Nepal, Vivienne Harr is moved to help in the only way she knows how: by setting up her lemonade stand. With the goal of freeing 500 children from slavery, she sets up her stand every day, rain or shine. In telling Vivienne’s story, #standwithme examines the realities of modern-day slavery, the role we play in it as consumers, and the importance of knowing the story behind what we buy.

What is the The Power of One?

Even while I’m in the business of educating students and helping them aim high academically, the larger work at play is in developing contributing citizens. “Do you know what we all have in common? Someday we’re all going to get jobs in this world. We all get there differently.” I ask this question of every incoming and outgoing student in my building as I speak to them about their progress in school, but ultimately I learn that so many of them want what many children want: they want to change the world.

But, they think they’re just one person and how can they possibly make a difference?

Connected Storytelling

The film opens with photographer, Lisa Kristine, and how she captures stories through photography. She’s the first connection in the story that leads us, eventually, to Vivienne Harr. It was Lisa who put a face on slavery with her pictures to portray the community of humanity, but it was the burden of showing their dignity that she took on as her life work. For me, the most powerful part of the film is when she, humbly, explains that she missed seeing the obvious numerous times when she previously visited these developing countries. She hadn’t even noticed the child slaves right before her eyes.

Know+your+products_NepalYouth Source: Lisa Kristine

From there, the film shows Lisa’s work in a gallery that Vivienne’s parents visited and they shared that experience with her. Almost immediately, she wanted to do something to help. After viewing the movie, my initial reaction about dreaming big was renewed because, as Grant said to me on the phone, “If we ask the right questions as consumers, then we can end slavery.”

Let me repeat that: we can end slavery. We can make purchasing decisions that affect the conscious capitalism we’re supporting here at Little Pickle this month.

The Journey

When a 9-year old learned about the 29.8 million people enslaved in the world today, she decided to take action. When Lisa Kristine took a photograph it ended up in a film that took filmmakers from Vivienne’s home in Fairfax, CA to Namibia, Nepal, Ghana, and the Dominican Republic. When Vivienne sold lemonade for free and asked people to give what was in their heart, it brought awareness to an audience about really knowing where our products come from. And while it’s not enough to just support the anti-slavery movement, the message of this movie is that if you want to make a difference you have to know that the products don’t come from slaves. The more we buy these products the more we actually support slavery.

The Impact

Now, the Make a Stand company is on a new journey. They decided to continue raising money for anti-slavery and the company is neither a not-for-profit nor a non-profit; it’s a social purpose company. Proceeds from it go to International Justice Mission, Free the Slaves, and Fair Trade USA. Make a Stand became simply Stand and it is the first mobile crowd-funding for friction-free philanthropy. They’re coming out with an app where people can donate to make it easier to directly support.

Building the Future

Perhaps my favorite part of Stand With Me is that it explores modern day child slavery through the eyes of a 9 year old who decided to take a stand, a concept from a true-to-life story that takes conscious capitalism to children in an accessible way. It’s a film I want all of my students to view.

Take just a moment to watch the trailer and, if you rent the film directly from the site for $5.99, you can rest assured knowing that a portion of that goes to the anti-slavery movement.

Sourcephoto credits to Lisa Kristine

 

Consumer Toolbox

New Gadgets for Your Responsible Consumer Toolbox

American consumers are becoming increasingly aware of corporate behavior, both good and bad. Only a few years ago, events in remote corners of the world involving transnational corporations and local communities and the environment were largely unknown. Today, consumers in the developed world can observe the impacts of corporate behavior almost in real time. This volume of information has put companies both large and small on notice that their conduct in remote parts of the world will be noticed, often in a big way. As an example, a Canadian mining company, Barrick Gold has found itself in the midst of a public relations crisis for the way it has compensated women in a remote part of Papua New Guinea for harms done to them by security forces protecting the mining operation. Similar examples abound where companies find themselves in situations that create reputational risk with investors and consumers every day.

In response to corporate misconduct, consumers are turning away from products and services that in one way or another harm the environment or negatively impact local communities from Siberia to South Africa. Activists urge boycotts of products and services by consumers but with varying results. This “negative consumerism” may make socially conscious consumers feel engaged on issues of social importance. However, I would argue that such tactics have limited impact on future corporate behavior. On occasion, consumer boycotts of products work, most notably the boycotts of California table grapes and Coors beer. But the vast majority of boycotts and certainly conscientious consumer habits have little impact on corporate behavior and almost no impact on sales.  On the plus side are the more amorphous reputational impacts caused by well-publicized consumer campaigns. However, these sorts of consumer actions are not going away because of their effectiveness or lack thereof, but will remain a means for many consumers wanting to make a difference.

So this leaves us with the following:

A popular approach to changing corporate behavior is through the use of shareholder engagement. This is an approach using shareholder proposals calling on companies to take some action or refrain from conduct deemed socially irresponsible. A provision contained in the Security & Exchange Act of 1940 allows investors owning at least $2,000 of company stock at the time of submitting a proposal to a company to place on the ballot of the annual meeting, a resolution calling on the company to act in some manner. The company must include the proposal, if properly filed, in its proxy statement that is then voted on by all shareholders in the company in question. As a practical matter, most proposals are filed by institutional investors—pension funds, socially responsible investment funds, and religious organizations—and are then voted on by all shareholders using a proxy, which in simplest terms is a mail-in ballot that is then tabulated by a voting agent for the company. These shareholder proposals generally do not get a majority of shareholder votes but often send a strong message to company executives that changes must be made. As an example, shareholder concerns arising out of supply chain problems at major apparel companies has resulted in a marked improvement by many companies to monitor the human rights behavior of their garment suppliers. By way of example, the uproar by both investors and consumers arising out of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,129 people and injured an additional 2,515 workers resulted in new standards for the major apparel retailers.

For socially responsible consumers, opportunities for action arise for changing corporate behavior as well.

First, for individuals and families who purchase shares of stock in individual companies, they can vote their proxies, particularly where other investors have submitted socially responsible shareholder proposals. This requires people to open the large envelopes that come in the mail that contain the red and white proxy ballot, the company’s annual report, and the proxy statement, which is a rather hyper-technical document that often scares off the most informed investors. But don’t despair, all proxies are formatted the same way, with a discussion about the company executives and how much they get paid taking up the bulk of these documents, and toward the back of the proxy statement a description of proposals put to a vote and arguments pro and con about the substance of the proposals. Read this part of the proxy statement and you will have a better understanding of the issues presented for a vote. Then vote your proxies and mail them in to the vote tabulator. A postage paid envelope will be included and you can also vote by phone or on the Internet.

Second, even if you do not own stock in companies directly, you are likely to own shares in a mutual fund or two. You can find what companies a mutual fund invests in in the fund prospectus and if you spot a company of concern, you can engage the mutual fund by voting against its board of directors. Combined with an expression of your reasons, written on the proxy ballot, it will get their attention. On more than one occasion, executives have said to me that notes written on a ballot are flagged and people in the company take note of the information provided.  You can also demand that the mutual fund engage with the company in question on the issues of concern to you. As mutual funds are the largest investors in many public companies, this unwanted attention by a major investor could compel action.

By adding these tactics to your responsible consumer toolbox, you will have a few more tools that you can us to make the world a better place.

John Richardson

John Richardson is the Co-Director of the Business & Human Rights Program at the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law and a professor at AU’s School of International Service.

 

 

Photo Credit (top of post): Tiaga Company http://blog.taigacompany.com/blog/sustainability-business-life-environment/growing-business-sustainability-expectations-among-eco-educated-consumers

Northshire Bookstore

Featured Customer of the Month:

Northshire Bookstore

Northshire Bookstore is a wonderful example of how a community bookstore can be at the center of any thriving community. They have two locations, one in Saratoga Springs, New York, and the other in Manchester Center, Vermont, and both have events scheduled throughout the year to bring booklovers together.

In addition to our own Coleen Paratore, Northshire has hosted Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, Jeff Kinney of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame, and Alan Benoit with his Sustainability Series—50 Shades of Green, among others. They also have story times for children, photographic displays, and artsy afternoons.

With the holidays coming up, the spirit of giving is in the air. The Northshire Bookstore’s Book Angel Program is celebrating its twentieth year this month.  Names of children who may not otherwise have access to books are collected from twenty-one local schools, and books are chosen by booksellers and customers for each child. The books are then handed out by the schools before holiday break. This program is made possible through public and private donations, as well as funds provided directly from the bookstore.

If you’re in the area, why not stop by? It’s a little slice of reader’s Heaven for the Book Angel in all of us.

Gift Guide Ideas

Holiday Accolades:

We Wish You a Merry Gift Guide!

On the first day of Christmas, my gift guide gave to me … some awesome deals from LPP!

Yes, folks, Team Pickle is pleased to see that we’ve gotten our presents early this year, in the form of some very kind shout-outs from some of the top names in conscious capitalism. If you’re still on the lookout for great gifts this holiday season, may we suggest that you have a look through the following gift guides?

  1. ForeWord Reviews: Geared toward young readers, this list of “10 Best Indie Picture Books of 2014” will even have Mom and Dad asking for just one more story at bedtime.
  2. The Jacke Wilson Blog: When a fellow author touts your stuff, it’s definitely a feel-good moment. In the post linked here, Jacke Wilson shines a spotlight on Little Pickle Press and its status as a Certified B Corp.
  3. B Corp Store: Speaking of certified, the B Corps Store has put together a list of certifiably fabulous items for the wee ones in your life, from books (cough, smile) to blocks to backpacks.
  4. Cool Mom Picks: We can’t talk about cool gift guides without mentioning Cool Mom Picks. A handy resource for cool parents of any gender, CMP has gift-giving suggestions for kids of every age and interest.
  5. Kristen Howerton: The mind behind rageagainsttheminivan.com, Kristen offers thoughtful (and surprisingly rage-free) advice and anecdotes. She also provides regular guides that feature “gifts that give back.”
  6. Family BookshelfThe family that reads together … well, it’s a safe bet that they do plenty of other cool stuff together. Terry Doherty’s Reading Tub is just the place to find family-friendly, share-worthy books.

Of course, we couldn’t call this gift guide list complete if we didn’t guide you to our own special promotions for the holiday season. To support our theme of conscious capitalism, we’re very excited to offer a free shipping promo from now through December 14th. During that same timeframe, you can make a special book bundle purchase—our award-winning What Does It Mean To Be …? series, signed by the author and packed in a reusable tote with a gift tag and a TerraSkin poster—for only $39.95!

Gift Guide: Free Shipping!

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Reimagining Capitalism with a Consciousness

Today, we’re sharing a TED Talk video with our readers in the hopes that they’ll be as inspired as we are about what our world is evolving towards in consumerism.  Author and speaker Raj Sisodia shared a fascinating look at how we can reimagine Capitalism with Higher Consciousness and the way he discusses how humanity can and should use capitalism to pull people from poverty is rather astounding. It’s shifted my entire thinking about the way we can do capitalism when it’s connected to our higher consciousness.

A founding member of the Conscious Capitalism movement, Raj Sisodia is an FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College. He is also co-founder and co-Chairman of Conscious Capitalism Inc.

From his TED Talk: To Reimagine America, we must reimagine capitalism. Capitalism has been extraordinarily successful over the past two centuries at raising human living standards, life expectancy and life satisfaction. But the old way is not working any more. The world has changed so much and people have evolved so rapidly that we need to bring a higher level of consciousness to the world of business. When we do so, the results can be astonishing.

About Raj Sisodia

Raj has published seven books and over 100 academic articles. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, CNBC, etc.

His book Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (with John P. Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market) was published by Harvard Business Review Press in 2013, and rose to #2 on the Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller list. Earlier books include Firms of Endearment: How World Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose (named one of the best business books of 2007 by Amazon.com) and The Rule of Three: How Competition Shapes Markets (a finalist for the 2004 Best Marketing Book Award from the American Marketing Association). Other books include The 4A’s of Marketing: Creating Value for Customers, Companies and Society (with Jagdish N. Sheth, Routledge, 2011), Tectonic Shift: The Geoeconomic Realignment of Globalizing Markets (with Jagdish N. Sheth, Sage Publications, 2006) and Does Marketing Need Reform? (co-edited with Jagdish N. Sheth, M.E. Sharpe, 2006).

kevin dooley via photopin cc

First Friday Book Review: The Cat's Pajamas by Daniel Wallace

First Friday Book Review:

The Cat's Pajamas

Written and illustrated by Daniel Wallace, the subject of our First Friday book review isn’t just The Cat’s Pajamas; it’s also the bee’s knees!

Louis Fellini is one cool cat with a streak of individuality a mile wide. Much to his parents’ chagrin, he loves to display it through his wild wardrobe. Plastic jackets, grass skirts—Louis always dares to be different, rejecting the traditional kitty garb in favor of a French beret, a cape, and shoes with stars on the toes.

But one day, a “cat”-tastrophe strikes.

Everyone at school shows up wearing Louis’ signature outfit!

Will Louis decide that imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, or will he take his fashion sense in a new direction?

With  his whimsical drawings and charming story, Daniel Wallace introduces a valuable lesson. Namely, that being different is not as important as making a difference. In keeping with Little Pickle Press’ theme of conscious capitalism this month, The Cat’s Pajamas also shows that our choices can affect the world around us. Published by Inkshares, Inc., it’s a delightful way to start conversations about creativity, individualism, and having the courage to be yourself.

Conscious capitalism through fashion.

Uniting Humanity Through Fashion

There are many universal mediums today, allowing us to cross boundaries in shorter periods of time and without censorship. We’re talking about Twitter, Facebook, Google, and the networks of the future. But have you thought about the non-virtual world? It has the ability to transform our consciousness, providing knowledge of the world through the wisdom of cultures. Welcome to the world of fashion and the daily ritual of wearing a piece of apparel every day that has the potential of “defining” you.

We’re familiar with the stories and research that indicate that an unconscious judgment call is made, a perception created at some level, within the first forty seconds of physically meeting someone new. Interestingly, what you wear plays as an important part in the casting of that vote, as does the way you wear your hair or make up, your voice, and your posture. Such is the power of fashion—the ability to define one from the outside.

Now we look at the power of fashion to define and transform the individual from the inside, too. Ponder for a moment the ability to connect with people and planet through our clothes—what would you say to this? In reality, this concept is absent in our daily conversation because brands and companies that produce, market, and sell clothing today have kept this information from us; they have denied it as a priority and denounced the impact that this information can have on the overall shopping-purchasing decision we as consumers make on a daily basis.

The reality is that our clothes are just as important to our overall well-being as the food we eat. If food fuels the body, provides energy and ability to perform our work, and is a medium to celebrate seasons and festivities, then the clothes we wear have the same ability to transform ourselves both inside and out. In fact, I would say that if we are what we eat, then we wear what we stand for.

We realize that fashion has the ability to define us as edgy, classic, outdoorsy, punk-like, powerful, and bold. But it’s also a way to also transform our psyches, shape our values, and rethink our impact in this world. The brands we wear are more than just color, style, and print. Our apparel represents the work, livelihood, inspiration, and fate of real people and resources from our planet. Each person along the journey has a story to share—from where and how people live to how they have been treated, compensated, and acknowledged for the work they do. Clothing has a story of fabric and fiber that no fortune can possibly replace—one that speaks to the heart and soul of why we do what we do. These are the stories worth investigating, discovering, and sharing.

We learn more about ourselves when we connect with the world—not just virtually, but through all of the elements that lend themselves to honoring the people who make our daily lives joyful and fun. We have the ability to be more conscious in our choices. We also have the power to vote with our dollars, supporting the decisions of companies and brands that share vital information that impacts our well-being and that of the planet. It is this “triple bottom line” (people, planet, and profit) that reflects this type of business practice and is what is expected of the conscious consumer for the good of the world.

Every day we wear a piece of clothing that has touched several people along the way. It is something most of us take for granted. Perhaps it’s time to revisit this journey, to step back and ponder how aligned each piece of clothing is to our own values. Let’s celebrate the fact that fashion has the potential to connect us in deeper and more profound ways.

Dhana is a mission-driven company and offers a solution to connect people and planet through our clothes.  We strive to unite the beauty of nature, the choice of natural, organic elements, the celebration of world cultures, the creative genius of global artists, the passion of entrepreneurs, and the voices of children through the universal medium of fashion. TIMELESS FASHION. Together We’re Wearin’ the World!

Shamini Dhana is the founder and CEO of Dhana Inc. As an entrepreneur, speaker, and parent, Shamini continues to give back to the global community through educating kids on the impact of their choices every day, and through partnerships with other socially and environmentally conscious organizations. 

Practicing conscious capitalism with Dhana EcoKids

Featured B Corp of the Month:

Dhana EcoKids

This month, Little Pickle Press is focusing on conscious capitalism, the practice of using purchase and production power to implement positive changes that benefit people and the environment. To that end, we would like to direct your attention to our Featured B Corp of the Month, Dhana EcoKids.

If you have children in your life, you know that “organic” clothing is all the rage right now, as people look for clothing that is good for their kids and for the environment. Scratch below the surface of many clothing lines that claim to be organic, and things don’t always look so pretty. For one thing, the word “organic” itself has as many definitions as products it is used to describe. For another, the clothing may be organic, but is often produced in a way that is harmful to the environment—and to the people making the clothing for consumers to buy. Confused? Make it easy on yourself by taking some time to get to know Dhana EcoKids.

Dhana EcoKids sets a high standard, and as a result their customers can rely on their forthrightness and reliability while at the same time dressing their children in beautiful, well-crafted garments. Dhana doesn’t hide behind catch phrases. Instead, they clearly define all the terms they use on their website.

Want to know what Dhana means when they say “organic”?

“In simplest terms, organic means that a product is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. According to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), organic agricultural products are also “produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.”

To this end, they use only Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton to make all of their kids’ fashions. GOTS certification includes both ecological and social criteria, and is backed by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.

How about “fair trade?”

“In plain English, “fair trade” means that the workers who create our goods enjoy safe working conditions, reasonable hours, and a living wage, and are treated with respect as human beings.” 

Dhana has the certifications to back up all of their claims, including BCorp, Social Accountability International Certified, Green America Gold Certified, and others. Clearly a corporation that believes in walking their talk, just like us at Little Pickle Press!

Dhana EcoKids considers their values to be a guiding light for the company. Not only is their clothing sustainable and organic, they are dedicated to diversity and maintaining a strong connection with nature. They also donate a percentage of their to communities all over the world, and strive to raise environmental awareness in whatever way they can.

Beautiful, high quality children’s clothing from a company that truly cares about the world around them and strives to make a difference. In the words of founder and CEO Shamini Dhana, “Our kids are global ambassadors of tomorrow and towards a sustainable future.”

What are you waiting for? Visit Dhana EcoKids today!

Indie Bookstores

The Four Cs:

Why Indie Bookstores Matter to Publishing

I’ve seen the world of publishing from both sides now. Ten years working in children’s editorial and marketing departments at Chronicle Books and Tricycle Press. Seven years selling those books to readers. In the eighteen years since I entered the publishing industry we’ve seen a few disruptions—the biggest being big-box chain stores, on-line retailers, and e-books. But gratefully, writing and reading remain essentially human enterprises, and the humans at indie bookstores remain a vital link between those readers and writers.

For your local bookseller, it’s not just about commerce, it’s about community, culture, and choice.

Anyone can find and read a bestseller. There’s no challenge in selling Mockingjay or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. What drives me is introducing kids to books they’ve never heard of, pulling gems from the haystack to let them shine. I feel it’s particularly important to hand a book to a kid that he wouldn’t pick up on his own, maybe one with a girl protagonist. Or a fantasy novel for the sports fanatic. Or a verse novel for the girl with dyslexia. Or a graphic novel for the struggling reader. It’s important to remember that books are not just mirrors but also windows. They should show us the larger world, even—and especially—if it doesn’t look like ours. In a world of algorithms that will tell you what “customers who bought this item also bought,” indie booksellers strive to give you what you don’t know you want, small books from small publishers with big ideas that fit you perfectly.

Twice now I have sat on the American Bookseller Association’s “Indies Introduce New Voices” committee as one of 13 independent booksellers around the country tasked with discovering the top debut works in the middle grade and young adult genres. In 2011 we introduced Divergent to the world but also Ashfall by Mike Mullin from little-known publisher Tanglewood Press. Indies evangelized that book into a successful trilogy not because the publisher paid for placement but because we adored it. Come in, we’ll geek out with you on that book that no one else has read.

Booksellers are not only funnels but also sponges. We soak up conversations and requests from customers to pass along to authors and editors. We remember what you sent your grandkids last Christmas. We connect authors with their readers in person at signings, school fundraisers, and book clubs. We comment on early stage manuscripts. We consign local authors’ books. And we’re all different, all human, readers—the ultimate disruptors.

What better day to come in and introduce yourself than Small Business Saturday. I challenge you to challenge us.

Summer Dawn Laurie is a children’s specialist at independent bookstore Books Inc. in San Francisco where she runs the Wild Girls Mother-Daughter Book Club and a monthly critique group for children’s book writers. She is also an independent editor, chairs the Children’s Alliance of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, and sits on the executive board of the Litquake Literary Festival.

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Shopping Small in St. Louis

Today’s guest post is from Angela who writes the blog Fluid Pudding. She’s encouraging all of us to Shop Small this holiday season so we asked specifically about her community in St. Louis. 

Shopping Small

St. Louis is an amazing town with an incredibly diverse population, and I could sing songs for hours about the places to go, things to see, and cultural events to experience while you’re visiting. However, now that December is around the corner, let’s focus on holiday shopping. Sure, St. Louis has malls, and I sometimes use them as a fallback. BUT, I would much rather put my money back into the community by supporting the locally-owned shops which carry the often quirky items that are perfect for family members who already seem to have everything.

Here are my three favorite areas and the must-see shops held within. (Please know that all of these shops provide online ordering, so even if you don’t live here, you can still send some love to St. Louis by ordering something special!)

1. Maplewood is a small area in mid-St. Louis county that is filled with amazing places. The soy candles from Maven are the most creative candles I’ve seen. With scents like Don Draper and Sweet Orange & Chili Pepper, it’s impossible to leave Maven without finding something for just about everyone on your list. Less than a block away is Kakao Chocolate. Their bacon brittle has been called the perfect food!

2. The Delmar Loop is a six block shopping district in St. Louis. You could spend the entire day exploring the stores on the Loop, but my very favorite place to visit is Phoenix Rising. Do you need a unicorn horn for your aunt’s cat? Sock monkey hand warmers for your niece? A mandarin lavender soy candle poured into a recycled wine bottle? Phoenix Rising has all of these things and so much more.

3. The Central West End was recently named one of America’s Top Ten Great Neighborhoods and it’s known for architecture and artsy shops. Left Bank Books is the oldest independently-owned bookstore in St. Louis and they pride themselves on their collection of relevant and culturally diverse books. Be on the lookout for Spike (the resident cat) when you visit, and be sure to bring a LARGE shopping bag!

Finally, every year during the holiday season, local crafters unite for the Rock and Roll Craft Show. Last year I purchased teas from The ReTrailer, and this year I’ll be scoping out pillows that look like tree stumps. Many of the participating artists also sell their creations online. Feel free to follow the links to explore the vendor websites, and have a wonderful holiday season!

Angela Downing is a freelance editor and mother of two who writes for fun at Fluid Pudding. She is a resident of St. Louis and hopes that as you #ShopSmall this holiday season, you consider helping out her community. You can learn more about her here. 
Mr. Prato

The Loving Mr. Prato

When you’re in elementary school, specifically the 2nd grade, and the first day, you wonder what teacher you’ll have, right? You go to the office, get your teacher’s name, and find your room number. As I was walking to find my room, I read my paper. Mr. Prato? I have never had a boy teacher! I was very nervous. Will he be mean? Or grumpy? Or not smell just right? As I approached his room, a man stepped out. “Hello!” he said, “You must be Ryan! I’m Mr. Prato. Nice to meet you!” We shook hands. My mom happened to be with me. As usual she struck up a conversation about how I had never had a male teacher and blah, blah, blah. Before my mom left, I handed my new teacher an apple. It was a tradition for me that I had done since kindergarten.

“Bye, Mommy! See you tonight!” I said. She hugged me and replied, “Have a strong day sweetheart; I love you.” Then she walked away.

Entering the classroom, I saw my desk. I peeked inside. Aaaah, my favorite I thought as I admired my new pencils, touched the points of my new crayons, and smelled my fresh erasers. “Good morning, class!,” Mr. Prato said with a warm smile. He wrote Mr. Prato very big and clear on the board. Then, he passed out papers for us to work on. Throughout the day, we colored, ate, talked, and played. Before I knew it, the day was over. “Goodbye, Mr. Prato.” I said with much enthusiasm. “See you tomorrow!” I came back that next day, and the next, and the next. But, then, we started math. And I have never particularly liked math.

“I don’t understand, Mr. Prato.”

“It’s okay, Ryan.” He said. “You’ll get it. I’ll help you.”

“Oh, thank you, Mr. Prato. You’re the best!” I said. And from that day forth, he spent a little extra time helping me understand.

One day, I did something terribly wrong. I stole a stuffed animal from a classmate. I cried as I walked up to him. “Mr. Prato,” I said. “I’m very, very, sorry but . . .” Then I told him everything. As I looked into his calm eyes, I wondered if he was mad at all. And guess what? He wasn’t mad. He let me write my classmate an apology. He was glad that I confessed. I was very guilty.

Throughout the year little problems occurred, but Mr. Prato fixed all of them. Then, before I realized it, the year had gone by. Mr. Prato played graduation music as we said our goodbyes. I told him that I would miss him. It turns out that I will miss him a lot more because he passed away in his sleep on July 20, 2014 from a heart attack. I will remember all of the fun times we had in class. I will remember how he explained the project over, and over again just for me. I will remember his big booming voice ringing through our classroom. I will remember how he would always want us to leave class with a smile, not a frown. All I’d like to say is a big thank you to him. He understood me like no other, and I will carry these precious memories in my heart for all eternity. Thank you, Mr. Prato, and goodbye.

Ryan Francesca is a 5th grade student at Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory School in San Francisco, CA. She also happens to be the daughter of Little Pickle Press’ Chief Executive Pickle.

Small business artisans.

5 Small Business Resources

So, you’ve decided that bigger isn’t always better, especially when your budget doesn’t fit either description. You want to support small businesses, but you’re not sure where to start. Well, you’re in luck! Little Pickle Press has compiled a handy resource list to help you find small, local, and otherwise interesting independent businesses that will feed your creative spirit during the holiday season and beyond.

  1. American Express. Believe it or not, this big name deals in small business. Once you register, you can log into their Shop Small Now page to view recommendations.
  2. Cool Mom Picks. Just the thing for cool parents of any gender, this site has gift guides and suggestions for food, gear, and style. There’s even a DIY tab for you hands-on types.
  3. Etsy. Who hasn’t heard of Etsy? Okay, all three of you head over to check out the place for independent artists in every medium imaginable; the rest of us will be right behind you. Stained glass, edibles, Doctor Who scarves—if it can be made, you’ll probably find it on Etsy.
  4. Indie Gift Box. Think outside the Jelly of the Month Club; Indie Gift Box takes special deliveries to a whole new level. Each monthly shipment brings one-of-a-kind, handmade artisanal pieces, and every purchase supports independent artists.
  5. Springwise. Not ready to shop right now? Springwise features up-and-coming entrepreneurial ideas that are sure to fire your future gift-giving spirit. Explore their extensive database to discover the next big thing from a small business. Who knows? You might get inspired to create something yourself.

And there you are! Five quick stops for easy ideas. Tell us about your favorite small business; it’s worth 30% off in the Little Pickle Press shop. Visit our homepage to learn more.

Calgary Public Library

Featured library of the Month:

Calgary Public Library

Calgary Public Library in Alberta, Canada, sounds like a wonderful place to stop in and warm up this winter.  With eighteen  branches to choose from, there’s no excuse for not visiting this community-focused and dynamic library system.

Besides offering a wide array of books for readers of all ages, Calgary Public Library also offers some unique services. Newcomers to the area can find resources to help them settle into their new homes, including information on learning English and French. Their Diversity Services department provides culturally-sensitive, barrier-free collections, programs, services, and facilities to support the development of Calgarians of all ages, abilities, and origins. Perhaps neatest of all is the Living Library service, which works like your local library; however, the books you borrow are “Living Books”—volunteers who share stories about their personal experiences!

A wide range of programs makes the library an even more valuable and exciting community resource. From Baby Storytimes to 50+ Coffee Times, they have programs for everything that you’re into. Improve your computer skills, practice your English, or just have some fun. Adult offerings include career planning and a highlight on local produce in Cowtown. Or, you can some experience historical spine-tingling entertainment as they explore Murder, Mischief, and Mayhem in Alberta, or learn about all of the best local hiking trails to keep you fit in the fall. There are storytimes for children of all ages, as well as visits by local authors.

When the Autumn winds chase you inside, make sure that you spend some of that time at Calgary Public Library!

Shop Small

Top 10 Shop Small Pinterest Boards

Throughout the month of November, Little Pickle Press hopes to show you that shopping small isn’t just for one Saturday each year—it can be an “every trip” experience. To that end, we’ve done some digging on Pinterest and found lots of recipes and cute animal pictures great inspiration for small-business shopping and support.

  1. Shop Small Businesses Shop HandmadeCollaboration: Loaded with clothes, accessories, and assorted cool stuff, this group-run board is a showcase for small-business artists.
  2. Shop Small Creative BusinessesCollaboration: Also a group effort, this board has lots of beautiful jewelry and other bits and pieces. My favorite? The sea glass pendants.
  3. Shop Small Shops – ArtworkOma’s Fabric and Gifts: This board features some amazing miniature paintings, the perfect reminder that small businesses can offer big surprises.
  4. Small Business ShoppingCollaboration: Here we have a cooperative board that focuses on online shops run by women helping to support their families. Fair Trade, upcycled, and Etsy offerings can be found on this board.
  5. Shop SmallTara D’Arcy: Featuring bits of wisdom such as “Put your money where your house is,” this board is full of easy-to-share reminders of why shopping small is a big deal.
  6. Quotes – Shop local, Shop smallBarb (Country Lane Crafts): This board offers inspiration to small shoppers and business owners alike, encouraging local spending in order to foster local growth.
  7. Small Business Advice / advice for your handmade shopaftcra – handmade American products: Got a small business? This board is for you! It’s got lots of helpful tips to help you get started, get noticed, and grow your customer base.
  8. Small Business StyleCollaboration: Your small business can sport big-time style, as evidenced by this board. From bicycle-based mobile shops to treehouse-inspired storefronts, these pins prove that business can be beautiful.
  9. Small Business SenseKaren Kovolski: Built around the belief that making a customer is more important than making a sale, this board is all about creating a strong customer base.
  10. Shop Small Y’all StatesJacqueline Wolven: Near or far, shopping small starts wherever you are! Spread the word in your home state and beyond with these fun little reminder graphics.

And there you have it; a handy reference list for shopping small during the holidays and into the new year. Read, share, and enjoy, and don’t forget to tell us about your favorite small shopping experience!

StarFish necklace on Liz

To the Market: A Survivor’s Story

As we explore the topics of shopping small during November and conscious capitalism in December, we are pleased to introduce you to the work Jane is doing with To The Market. Tomorrow they are launching their e-commerce marketplace that exclusively features products to purchase that are made by survivors of abuse, conflict, and disease. 

Jane Mosbacher Morris is taking the world by storm. Even as I write that sentence about her I realize how little credit it gives to this entrepreneur who has successfully launched To The Market, an endeavor she has undertaken to impact the lives of survivors. While that’s a noble goal, she has a laser-like focus on making it work. When you make it your life mission to help people take control back in their lives, then you’re a force to be reckoned with and Jane embodies all of that.

Jane previously served as the Director of Humanitarian Action for the McCain Institute for International Leadership where she managed the Institute’s human trafficking efforts. Before that she worked in the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Counterterrorism and in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. Jane has seen a lot of the world in those previous jobs, but to understand where she wants to really go all you have to do is take a look at her current project: To The Market.

Jane at Freeset Courtesy of Neil Ruskin

This is Jane photographed at Freeset, a Calcutta-based organization that employs human trafficking survivors. TO THE MARKET partners with Freeset for custom orders, like custom t-shirts and bags.

So, what exactly is To The Market? It’s a business that sells survivor-made goods combined with the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations. To The Market has an understanding of business and the market with years of experience serving survivor populations on the ground. TTM’s employs a unique, three-pronged social enterprise model that includes:

1) Promoting survivor-made goods via multiple distribution channels, pop-up shops, custom sourcing, retail partnerships, and a soon-to-be-launched, curated online shop (Coming Winter 2014!).

2) Offering a platform for survivors and their champions to share their stories with a new, larger audience.

3) Providing business services such as sales analysis and trend forecasting to local partners to improve sales and generate highly covetable inventory.

Sari_Bari Sewing Courtesy of Neil Ruskin

This is an image of a human trafficking survivor sewing a blanket sold at To The Market.

To The Market showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease.

How is this actively helping those artisans?

By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” we are taking an active role in equipping the survivors they employ with the ultimate security of economic independence, while raising awareness about the challenges that they face.

To The Market

A woman and son who are served by the Aashiana Shelter for HIV/AIDS infected and affected women and children.  The woman in the picture makes jewelry at the shelter, which TO THE MARKET sells.

It’s not just the goods and products that drive Jane to sell their wares. It’s her strong desire to aid victims. “Remember the last time you felt like you wanted to re-gain control of your life?” Jane asked me on a phone interview. “Imagine feeling that but living in an area of conflict or being a victim of abuse. Getting control back is tenfold.”

To the Market works with organizations that employ survivors as their model for empowering them has a variety of survivor-made jewelry, home-goods (including holiday items!), bags, apparel, and shoes available.  “Existing efforts to support survivors of abuse or conflict or disease is not sufficiently focusing on long term economic independence,” Jane says. “I felt like the social service component for helping survivors needed to be on a larger scale.” Jane’s goal is to give these women strength, power, and independence.

I asked Jane what To The Market is doing to put survivors back on a track to be independent. She outlined it simply for me because even though all of us desire that kind of independency, there aren’t always clear ways to cultivate it.

When your goal in life is as clear cut as Jane’s idea for To The Market, there’s really no way to fail. Everyone wins in this system when survivors are given a voice and have agency over their lives. Everyone wins when their stories are highlighted and the narrative is powerfully in the hands of the survivors themselves. Everyone wins when goods are provided to a global marketplace that connects the world in ways that make life better.

Everyone wins. Survivors win. Jane Mosbacher Morris will make sure of it.

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Be sure to check out To The Market on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Jane’s blog on the Huffington Post.

All photograph credits go to Neil Ruskin

Kidsbooks

Featured Customer of the Month:

Kidsbooks

Kidsbooks is a full-service bookstore, staffed with knowledgeable and enthusiastic book lovers who help in select books and other materials for children of all ages.  No appointment is necessary, but if you prefer to phone in advance, they will even assign a staff member to work with you to choose just the materials you want and need. They send their staff to schools and community events so that people have the opportunity to experience firsthand the fantastic array of books for kids of all ages and preferences.  The staff loves to give customers ideas and expand their knowledge of children’s books, but first and foremost they want to listen to their customers’ concerns and requirements so they can make the best possible suggestions to each one.

Kidsbooks can customize orders as well, which is a great tool for teachers and homeschoolers.  If you are looking for books to enrich a theme, they will help you choose novels, picture books, and informational books to please every child. They frequently put together packages of selected books and ship them to destinations in Canada and the United States.  They believe that it is important to make sure that our customers have access to the books they need in a timely fashion.

They also offer reloadable gift cards so that children can come in and choose books for themselves. They say, “One of our greatest pleasures is watching a child carefully select a book after being presented with a wide array of choices!”

Among its many recognitions, Kidsbooks has received the Specialty Bookseller of the Year Award from the Canadian Booksellers Association three times. Phyllis Simon, the store’s founder, received a BC Community Achievement Award in 2007. And, they can proudly boast that they were the first store in Canada to sell the Harry Potter series way back in 1998!

From the original location on Fourth Avenue, Kidsbooks has expanded to include three locations: West Broadway, Edgemont Village in North Vancouver and South Surrey. With three store locations and an easy to navigate internet store, Kidsbooks can meet all of your book buying needs!

Little Nino's Pizzeria

First Friday Book Review:

Little Nino's Pizzeria

We’ve all talked about “devouring” a favorite book; savoring pages and chewing over certain passages. Little Nino’s Pizzeria is one such story, the kind that leaves your heart as full as your head.

Tony’s dad makes the best pizza in the world. With Tony as his number one helper, the two create an oasis of hospitality that brings in customers from miles away. Prepping dough and cheese, cleaning up, sharing extra pizzas with the homeless; it’s all in a cheerful day’s work at Little Nino’s.

When a stranger arrives with big ideas, what will happen to Little Nino’s?

Alive with vibrant illustrations, Karen Barbour’s Little Nino’s Pizzeria is a feast for the eyes. Each page doubles as an “I Spy,” with simple but evocative images that feed the imagination; the bold text at the bottom keeps the story moving without jarring the senses.

Little Nino’s Pizzeria is fun, fresh, and beautiful, as befits a Reading Rainbow book. It’s also layered with meaning. Set in a small business, the story of Little Nino’s shows that bigger isn’t always better, and that a shop full of love means more than a bucketful of cash.

Little Pickle Press is putting the spotlight on small businesses this month, and the shop in Little Nino’s Pizzeria is a perfect example. Which small businesses have earned your loyalty, and why? Tell us in the comment section; we love to hear from you!

Shop Local

Why ‘Shop Local’ Matters

One of the questions I get asked a lot is what accounts for the renaissance of independent bookstores. Business is up, new stores are opening—what gives?

There are several factors that have led to this growth, but one of the major contributors is increasing consumer awareness of the value of supporting their local community. The Shop Local First movement has exploded in recent years, as more and more people come to understand that spending their dollars in their local neighborhood or community adds greatly to their quality of life. And I’m not talking just about the convenience of a local retail “Main Street”; there is a significant economic value in shopping locally.

Several retail studies have been done across the country, in big cities and small towns, and all have come up with similar numbers. When a consumer spends $100 in locally owned retail businesses, $45 is recirculated in the local economy. When that same $100 is spent in chain stores, the local reinvestment drops to $23. Spend that same $100 at an out-of-state online retailer, the local cut is almost zero.

Why? Because an independent business buys supplies from other local businesses, hires local accountants and web designers, and attracts customers who shop at neighboring establishments. A chain has centralized buying, its own accountants and lawyers, and sends its daily revenues directly to its own bank. And an out-of-state online entity doesn’t even employ local people, so their contribution is negligible.

That message, as well as ones about the sense of community that is created and sustained by neighborhood shopping areas, is being delivered by independent bookstores and other locally owned retailers, being picked up by the media, and being noticed by politicians. The growth of farmer’s markets is an obvious indicator that folks are getting the message, but the fact that booksellers have been at the forefront of the movement has also made an impression with their customers.

The consumers have the power—they can choose where to shop and why. But more and more are recognizing that shopping for price alone carries with it other costs. If they don’t support their local businesses, they may not have them around to enjoy. If that doesn’t matter, fine. But if a vibrant community fueled by a strong local retail presence is important, then they need to support it. And they are, in increasing numbers.

In many of these neighborhoods, independent bookstores are front and center, often serving as community gathering spots with their events and store activities. And as consumers are supporting their local economy, many are also rediscovering the unparalleled experience of visiting a real bookstore, touching real books, and having real conversations with their friends and neighbors. And guess what? If they buy a book or two, that experience will always be there.

Hut Landon is the executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and a guiding hand behind Book Sense, a regional branding effort for independent bookstores that eventually became a national marketing campaign. He also serves as executive director of SFLOMA, the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchant Alliance, which was created in 2006 by local merchants. 

Raven + Lily

Featured B Corp of the Month:

Raven + Lily

E=mc2 is one of the best-known equations in the world of science, but it can also be applied to retail. Empowerment equals merchandise times conscious consumerism.

When you purchase from small businesses, especially Certified B Corps, you’re putting your money where your principles are, and giving a much-needed boost to hardworking entrepreneurs. In some cases, your purchase goes even further.

Raven + Lily is more than a supplier of artisanal merchandise; it’s a partnership that seeks to empower its artisans. From eco-friendly products to Fair Trade practices, Raven + Lily sets a social business model standard that aims to teach the women involved everything they need to know in order to one day launch their own businesses.

After realizing that women make up a majority of the world’s poor, it’s not a far step to understand that those same women, if given the opportunities and resources, can have a huge impact on the quality of life for their families and communities. To that end, the minds behind Raven + Lily partnered with professionals and native artists in various countries to create jewelry, apparel, and other gift items that can be sold around the world.

While the money from the sale of these items is vital to the women that it supports, there is nothing more precious than the self-esteem that comes with being able to provide. Women who once had no other option than to beg in the streets are now sending their children to school, gaining business savvy, and balancing growing bank accounts.

You can be a part of the big picture when you think small. The newly-opened B Corp online store has links to many empowering, enterprising, and just plain interesting small businesses that will help you “B” the change we all seek, one purchase at a time.

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The Bully Project: Working Towards a Solution

As far as social action campaigns go, The Bully Project is putting a dent in bullying with a national movement to name the problem and offer solutions. Based on the documentary, Bully, this movement starts with looking at what schools can do, but it’s really much larger than that. Schools are a place where it happens, but the effects of bullying are a social problem that extends to social media, sports, and activities in which kids are involved. With new apps come new dangers of children acting out and being mean in spaces that parents never considered.

This month, Little Pickle Press has supported October’s Anti-Bullying efforts . In these words from The Bully Project, here is what they aim to do:

The BULLY Project is the social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY. We’ve sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action.  The power of our work lies in the participation of individuals like you and the remarkable list of partners we’ve gathered who collectively work to create safe, caring, and respectful schools and communities. Our goal is to reach 10 million kids or more, causing a tipping point that ends bullying in America.

The-Bully-project

The answers, according to The Bully Project, are empathy and education. First, we have to name a problem and actually admit that we have a huge issue that is hurting our children. We have to take things out of our conversations such as “kids will be kids,” because too much of the meanness that happens is avoidable and unnecessary. Next, we have to educate people who work with children on a regular basis about the things that work to tear down structures that both encourage and support bullying.

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The Bully Project asks that we take pledges to ensure action. It’s not as if we don’t realize this is a problem, but, like many things, we see it as something that can’t be fixed. There are some clear signs, for example, that we can identify when kids are being bullied.

Signs your Kid is Bullied

  • unexplained physical markings and bruises
  • unexplained loss of money, electronics, toys, clothes
  • refuses to attend school or a fear of riding the school bus
  • a fear of being left alone and unexplained neediness
  • moody, sad, anxious, or depressed feelings
  • difficulty sleeping
  • physical complaints: headaches, stomachaches, frequent visits to school nurse
  • unexplained crying
  • a change in eating habits

These are just a few of the signs parents and caregivers can look for that point towards bullying as a problem and The Bully Project offers screenings, pledges, and ways to spread the word about joining the movement.

Bullying is a problem we can address and the lives of our children depend on it.

For more information, watch this short video and be sure to encourage your school personnel to access the Educator’s DVD Action Toolkit.