Archive for November, 2015

Introducing Magna –Tiles!

Introducing Magna –Tiles!

The best toys give kids freedom to create what they see in their mind’s eye: a castle stormed by knights, a busy airport with flights arriving every minute, or a barn that’s home for Old MacDonald’s menagerie. Magna -Tiles are transformational toys that get the creative juices flowing. A set of tiles can be used to create a host of settings for imaginative play as well as obstacle courses, creatures, geometric patterns and so much more.

The colorful tiles look like stained glass but are much tougher. Tiny magnets along the edges of the tile hold pieces together and offer added stability that can support tall towers, until it’s time for them to come tumbling down. For budding architects, engineers, artists and mathematicians, designing with the tiles can help foster an intuitive understanding of some of the basic relationships between shape and stability as well as increase small muscle dexterity. And, because they stick together, they’re easy to clean up and to store out of sight.

Magna Tiles

Magna -Tiles were created in 1992 as an educational toy that helped children learn geometrical concepts and fractions, but educators soon realized that children loved playing with them. They are now among the most beloved toys at many preschools and kindergartens. Parents and teachers have access to the educational materials at the Magna –Tiles website for use at home or in the classroom. But long after the lessons are mastered, the kids will be having fun getting connected to their inventive, creative selves.

Kick Plastic with Costa Sunglasses

Kick Plastic with Costa Sunglasses

Costa, famed for their high quality sunglasses, has a problem with plastic. The company, created by fishermen, is in an excellent position to see what everyday plastic is doing to our rivers, lakes, oceans and wildlife. And what they’ve seen has spurred them to start the Kick Plastic campaign.

Each year, humans produce over 200 billion plastic bottles, 35 million in the US alone. After a few minutes of use, the bottle is discarded and spends the next 1000 years slowly degrading, if it’s not properly recycled. Over ten percent of these plastic bottles end up in our oceans. The bottles along with other plastic pieces large and small are responsible for the deaths of over a million seabirds a year, and over 2/3rds of our ocean fish now test positive for plastics. There is so much plastic in the oceans that a garbage patch twice the size of Texas has formed in the Pacific Ocean. It’s time to kick our plastic habit.

Costa manufactures products that use plastic, and they’re working on ways to reduce their dependence. One area where they found they could make immediate progress was reducing packaging when possible and using more recycled materials. Costa believes that small changes can make a big impact, and so they have a few suggestions on how we can all reduce our use of plastic and put it in its proper place.

Stop using plastic bottles. A reusable bottle is better for the environment, more cost efficient and keeps drinks cooler longer.

Say goodbye to plastic grocery bags. Plastic grocery bags can be replaced with reusable ones made of cloth or recycled materials.

Buying in bulk makes a big impact. Sometimes we don’t notice the amount of packaging that comes with each product.

Take plastic out of takeout. Decline bags and utensils when ordering takeout. Some restaurants will pack your meal in your own container.

Reel in old fishing line. Change your fishing line routinely to keep old, stretched line out of our oceans where it can harm sea life. Old monofilament line can be recycled.

As an incentive to help you get started on your own personal Kick Plastic campaign, Costa if offering a free Kick Plastic tote bag with the purchase of any new pair of Costa sunglasses. Supplies are limited.

Coming Home – Giving Back Check Presentation

Coming Home – Giving Back Check Presentation

From left to right, Ted Siff and Joanna Wolaver of the Shoal Creek Conservancy, Jack Jones of Whole Earth Provision Co., and Vicki McCuistion of The Barnabas Connection

Coming Home – Giving Back Fund Drive a Success

Coming Home – Giving Back was the theme of Whole Earth Provision Co.’s grand reopening of its store on North Lamar in Austin. Coming Home reflects the almost five months that the store was closed for repairs and remodeling after the Memorial Day flood and our pleasure at being back home and open for business again on Lamar.

Giving Back was our way of helping those still in need. Many who suffered from the Memorial Day Weekend floods, especially in the Wimberley Valley, have yet to return home. Whole Earth set aside 10% of the sales of the first two weekends of the Lamar store’s Grand Reopening, accepted donations from our customers at all three Austin locations, and added in our own contribution, to help. The grand total of the combined donations was $10,326. The Barnabas Connection Flood Relief for Wimberley and the Shoal Creek Conservancy each received checks in the amount of $5,163.

Barnabas Connection

The Barnabas Connection is working in coordination with local and state officials to respond to the devastating rain and flooding that impacted the Wimberley Valley. They have assisted 287 local families, representing almost 600 people. In addition, their volunteers have worked hundreds if not thousands of hours assisting survivors at Bridges Gym and the Barnabas table at the FEMA DRC. The Barnabas Connection funds are designated for families in the Wimberley Valley and will be distributed through a case management process to help avoid duplication of efforts and to fully identify unmet needs.

Shoal Creek Conservancy

The Shoal Creek Conservancy was founded in 2013 to improve the Shoal Creek greenway, a trail shared by runners, commuters, nature watchers, dog walkers, volleyball players and residents all along the creek who enjoy its green oasis in the midst of the city. In recent years conditions around Shoal Creek have declined from overuse and eroding banks. The greenway is owned and managed by the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department; however, there are currently no funds dedicated to the management of Shoal Creek. While the City does the best it can with limited resources, the Shoal Creek Conservancy and its volunteers provide additional, much-needed support.

We are deeply grateful to our customers for their generous support for the fund drive and hope that everyone in the Wimberley Valley who suffered from the Memorial Day Weekend floods will be able to return home soon.

SmartWool Limited Edition Charley Harper Christmas Ornaments!

SmartWool Limited Edition Charley Harper Christmas Ornaments!

Charley Harper was an American original. He combined his love of nature with a modernist art aesthetic to create iconic images of birds and wildlife that are as fresh today as when they were created in the mid-20th century. Using the fewest possible visual elements, Harper captured the essence of his subjects. His work has been growing in popularity for the past ten years and Whole Earth Provision Co. customers will have seen his work in books, puzzles and calendars in our stores. Among our favorites is the collection of limited edition Charley Harper socks created by SmartWool. The elegant geometries and vibrant colors of Harper’s art translate beautifully into SmartWool socks. And this holiday season, SmartWool is offering a gift, a Cardinal Christmas ornament, with a Charley Harper SmartWool purchase of $60 or more. Supplies are limited so please don’t wait to stock up your sock drawer or to pick out those special holiday gifts!

New Toy and Kids Book Drive 2015

New Toy and Kids Book Drive 2015

For the past four years, Whole Earth Provision Co. has collected new toys and books for children who, through no fault of their own, might not have received gifts for the holidays. Your generosity provided children in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Southlake with presents to brighten their day. The charitable organizations who distributed the gifts were very grateful for the donations.

And so, once again we are asking for your help to make this year’s Drive a success. Here’s how it works: for each new toy or new kid’s book, in its original packaging with a value of $10 or more (or very close to it), you will receive a $5 Whole Earth gift certificate. All Whole Earth stores will accept donations beginning November 21st and running through December 20th. Our beneficiaries ask that you please not wrap the gifts.

Manos de Cristo’s Christmas Party in 2014

Manos de Cristo’s Christmas Party in 2014

The toys and books will be distributed by these organizations: in Austin – Manos de Cristo; in Dallas – the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center; in Houston – Star of Hope Mission; in San Antonio – The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas; and in Southlake – GRACE, the Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange.

You may make as many contributions as you’d like, and receive a $5 gift certificate for each one worth $10, but the gift certificates cannot be combined. They must be redeemed on separate transactions.

Thank you for helping to brighten the holidays for a disadvantaged child.


Please read on to learn more about the organizations in each city who will receive your contributions.

Manos-de-Cristo-logoIn Austin: Manos de Cristo
Since 1988, Manos de Cristo has been providing services for the homeless and working poor of Austin. Manos provides basic needs like food and clothing, but they also operate a dental clinic and conduct classes for the poor in computer skills and financial literacy. Their goal is to promote dignity and self-reliance among those less fortunate.

Dallas Children's Advocacy Center LogoIn Dallas: Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center
When a child is in need of protection from abuse, the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) springs into action. DCAC coordinates the work of the police, Child Protective Services, medical, mental health, and prosecutorial agencies in the Dallas area, sparing the child from multiple, unnecessary and traumatic interviews so that healing can begin as soon as possible.

Star of Hope LogoIn Houston: Star of Hope Mission
For more than a century, the Star of Hope Mission has ministered to the greater Houston area, meeting the needs of nearly 1000 men, women and their children nightly. Star of Hope focuses on employment, life management, education, spiritual growth, and recovery from substance abuse. Whole Earth has partnered with them for the past several years.

The Children's Bereavement Center of South TexasIn San Antonio:
The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas
As the sole provider in South Texas of grief support programs for children (through young adulthood), The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas (CBCST) devotes its energies to addressing the grief and loss needs of children from every culture and social circumstance to help them heal and move forward. They foster healing for grieving youth, their families and the community through peer support programs, counseling, training, education and outreach.

GRACE LogoIn Southlake: Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange
Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange (GRACE) provides food, clothing, financial assistance and other vital necessities to people who are struggling with limited income or a recent emergency. Their Christmas Cottage creates a wonderland setting for GRACE’s clients to choose, with dignity and pride, holiday gifts for their children. More than 1600 children have been helped each year.

Nepal Recovery Fund Drive – An Update

Nepal Recovery Fund Drive – An Update

Photo ~ Catherine Mahony / Oxfam

Nepal Recovery Fund Drive – An Update

During the month of May, Whole Earth customers generously donated over $17,700 to our Nepal Recovery Fund Drive. The money was given to Oxfam America and was one of the largest single donations that the group received for Nepal Relief. They recently sent us an update on their work in Nepal.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, Oxfam America’s first priority was getting basic, life-saving supplies to individuals and communities in need. And though the humanitarian situation has improved in Nepal, the provision of shelter, food, livelihood, water and sanitation remains paramount. The cold and damp monsoon weather left survivors even more vulnerable and made reaching those in remote areas a continuing challenge. With the approach of winter, the delivery of winterization kits to those living in the mountains is a key concern.

As Oxfam America transitions to the recovery phase, they are working in four key program areas: Shelter; Food and Livelihood; Gender; and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

Shelter

Surveys show that more than 600,000 houses were totally destroyed, and a further 290,000 were damaged in the earthquakes. Emergency shelter kits of tarpaulins and ropes and improved temporary shelter kits including corrugated galvanized iron sheets, roofing accessories and toolkits, were distributed. Oxfam partners provided training to carpenters, masons and local women to construct improved temporary shelters. Shelter awareness sessions also increased community knowledge of safe construction techniques.

Their priority was to provide a roof over families in need before the rainy season. Moving towards more permanent shelters and focusing on the approaching winter, Oxfam America is providing items to insulate shelters such as thermal floor mats and groundsheets, blankets, mattresses and hot water bottles, as well as sheeting to help waterproof shelters. Shelter for livestock and household granaries are also planned where needed.

Food and Livelihood

Oxfam America has been helping people recover their livelihoods by jump starting economic activities for individuals and communities. During the emergency phase of the response, there were distributions of staple food supplies, along with rice seeds and agricultural tools for farmers whose own supplies were lost or damaged in the earthquake. Cash for work programs also aided in debris clearance.

In the recovery phase, there will be more cash-based programs for livelihood recovery. These programs will focus in areas such as: trader grants to provide capital and training for people who want to restart or rehabilitate existing businesses (which in turn will also help to restart employment opportunities for wage-earners); the reconstruction and maintenance of community infrastructure; and support for market and financial systems.

Gender

Women, the elderly, people living with disabilities and female headed households are likely to find rebuilding their houses more challenging. In response, Oxfam America has been studying how their work affects vulnerable women and men, ensuring that they are not put at further risk, and have equal access to facilities and goods.

For women who have been displaced or otherwise affected by the earthquake, the organization has provided items and amenities aimed at ensuring their security and dignity, such as gender friendly hygiene kits, separate toilets for women, safe bathing spaces, and awareness raising activities to help women get relevant legal documents. In particular, these activities have been aimed at supporting single and elderly women, women with disabilities, pregnant women, and those at risk of domestic or gender based violence.

In the recovery phase, there is a focus on providing women with targeted support through counseling and referral services, reactivating and strengthening existing women’s groups, and empowering women through life skills training and activities to strengthen their ability to provide for themselves and their families.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

The earthquakes significantly reduced access to sanitation facilities and compromised access to safe, clean water. In order to reduce the risks of WASH-related diseases, and promote better community health, Oxfam America has been repairing and rehabilitating water sources and restoring access to potable water in hard-to-reach areas. Latrines have been constructed or repaired, and hygiene kits containing essential items have been distributed.

During the first phase of the emergency response, Oxfam teams sought to reach the most vulnerable and remote communities. They were able to set up strategic bases in areas that would be inaccessible during the monsoon season with local teams and contingency stocks. They are now working towards sustainable water and sanitation provision, including water rehabilitation in schools, and major repair and rehabilitation of damaged water supplies in the hill districts.

Again, we thank you for your generous support for the people of Nepal as they recover from the devastating earthquakes and rebuild their country.

Oxfam America

Dansko Days benefitting the Texas Land Conservancy

Dansko Days benefitting the Texas Land Conservancy

In the past 10 years, Texas has lost a staggering 3,000,000 acres of open land to growth and development. Where did you love to play as a child? Does that place still exist as you remember it? For many of us, the answer sadly is no. But, thanks to the Texas Land Conservancy, the answer for some is yes.

The Texas Land Conservancy was founded in 1982 by Ned Fritz, known as the father of Texas conservation. Responding to the encroachment of development on natural areas in Texas, Fritz decided that there was a need for a land trust that would take on the preservation of small but important properties that were not large enough to be saved by other organizations. Using conservation easements the Texas Land Conservancy has preserved the physical and ecological integrity of wildlife habitat, native plant communities and scenic landscapes across the state for the benefit of present and future generations of Texans.

The Ferguson Ranch in Gillespie County

The Ferguson Ranch in Gillespie County

Dansko, through their Texas area rep, has become a big supporter of the Texas Land Conservancy. For each pair of full price Dansko shoes sold at Whole Earth Provision Co. during Dansko Days, from November 6th through November 15th, our Dansko rep will donate $5 to the Texas Land Conservancy! Dansko Shoes are loved by folks who spend many hours of the day on their feet: teachers, nurses, sales clerks, chefs and their kitchen staff. Dansko shoes are comfortable and they have style. We hope you’ll stop by your favorite Whole Earth and take a look at our Dansko shoes. You’ll find so much more than a basic clog. You may find your new favorite pair of shoes, and you’ll be supporting the Texas Land Conservancy with your purchase.

Most of the property protected by the Texas Land Conservancy is not open to the public. Conservation easements limit development and provide for restoration and land management, but the land still remains in private hands. However, there are nine sites open to the public. Two are in major Texas cities: Oak Cliff Nature Preserve in Dallas and Cibolo Creek Preserve in San Antonio. Throughout the year, some of the protected properties are open to the public. You can learn about these special days by signing for the group’s emails or social media posts on their website.