Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Thanks

Thanksgiving Week reminds me to be thankful for people in our community quietly doing good things.

Three I’ve run into recently are "Rags to Britches," Crossroads Border Project, and Jardin de los Niños.

Mountain View Co-Op not only sells healthy food but a small collection of colorful clothes for women and kids. Women in Juarez make them.

The business is called "Inspired Imports", and includes furniture, flags, and other items. The clothing line, "Rags to Britches," features mostly "hippie/patchwork designs - comfortable and fun," according to Rosario Escobedo at Mountain View.

Her mother, Siba, volunteers with the Proyecto Santo Niño, a clinic run by the Sisters of Charity for special needs children in Anapra, Mexico.

Siba, who lives in La Union, "got very acquainted with the families and their needs" and wanted to help. When Rosario wanted some clothing, and had a design in mind, her mother said she knew several seamstresses. The seamstresses made Rosario various items, those items garnered compliments from friends and acquaintances, and soon there were special orders. After less than half a year, those add up to enough to support several families in a more benign and child-care-friendly way than working twelve-hour days in a factory.

They can make "anything you can envision," Rosario says. Prices are quite moderate. The clothes are quite colorful. There’s also hand-crafted furniture, entirely from recycled wood. Another woman makes paper-mache altars for the holidays.

You can contact them at Clothes are sold at Mountain View and various outdoor events. The ladies hope other local businesses will soon step up and carry some of the items.

"Juarez is a bleeding city," Rosario notes. "A war zone, right in our backyard. This is a way to help. These are incredibly resourceful women, extremely industrious, just trying to get a leg up."

So thanks to Siba and Rosario for making it happen, to Mountain View for providing rack space, and to any of you who drop by and buy.

We also visited Ryan Bemis’s acupuncture clinic at Greenworks. One thing we liked immediately was the sliding scale for payments: treatments cost between $16 and $41 per hour, depending on what you feel you can afford. Talking to Ryan we learned of an interesting project.

A U.S. organization that has trained volunteers to provide something like acupuncture in war zones has started a program in Ciudad Juarez. Widespread violence there has traumatized survivors, many of whom can’t sleep and suffer panic attacks. Twenty Catholic parishes in Juarez now run servicios comunitarios, open to everyone, where volunteers administer an ear therapy technique known in New Mexico as acudetox. (It’s not full-body acupuncture.)

Ryan says the model has been used "in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border, Uganda for Kenyan refugees, and the Gaza Strip, as well as after natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina." He’s helped train the volunteers who provide the therapy in Juarez.

Juarez lawyer and human rights activist Maria Elizabeth Flores says the results have been good. "People say they feel better and sleep better."

To raise funds, the group also sells hand-crafted piñatas made by Juarez artisans. They’re available at Ryan’s clinic at Greenworks.

Further information on the project is available at
Finally, we visited Jardin de los Niños to drop off an electronic image we’d donated as a Christmas card. Jardin provides nurture and care for kids who are homeless or nearly so, and is conveniently located adjacent to City of Hope and other facilities.

We were impressed with what they’re trying to do there – and with the idea of a single "campus" where those truly in need can address a lot of their food, shelter, child-care, and spiritual needs. Whatever you may think of homeless folks – and I get it that many feel "it’s their own fault," etc. – their kids deserve love and a little exposure to sources of hope and education.

The one sad thing I noticed was a lonely piano standing there, with no one to teach the kids a few notes. The piano appeals to them. They bang on it now and then, but right now there’s no one to teach them anything. (Made me regret again that I lacked the patience to keep taking lessons a thousand years ago.) So if you have the skills and a little place in your heart for homeless kids, please call Jardin de los Niños.

Their web-site is
. You can make a donation or ask questions there– or order cards, by clicking on "Holiday Cards." There are several fine images to choose from.
The image we contributed, by the way, is a combination of two photographs taken on a snowy day last winter. We spotted a Santa, all dressed up in the customary red, riding an extra-tall red bicycle past the old Las Cruces city hall, and shot his picture. Then I tossed in a shot of the Organs from an hour or so earlier. It’s cheerful and seasonal. (And I don’t get any of the money from sales.)

Anyway, my version of "Black Friday" will be to buy one of the piñatas, get the ladies to make me a colorful shirt and some gifts, and buy some holiday cards with a bicycling Santa on ‘em.
[The column above appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, Sunday, November 25th.]

With regard to the Bicycling Santa photograph: an earlier post (on Christmas Day 2011) describes the circumstances.  (There's also a shot of Mrs. Claus in that post.)  I'd forgotten that I'd taken it December 24th.  I was happy to donate it to Jardin de los Niños.  I'd personally have chosen this version,
because it approximates a crayon drawing of Santa, and crayons are a kid-thing; but maybe the photograph has more impact.  If the image is a tree or a car, a kid's crayon drawing of it might have more impact under some circumstances; but with stuff we don't usually see close enough to photograph, like a unicorn or Mr. Claus, the photograph might be a better choice.  Anyway, Jardin has several fine images available from a variety of local artists.

What I liked about the "Rags to Britches" was that it's simple, direct, and sensible.  You can see some of their stuff at the Co-Op, or e-mail

Further information on Crossroads Acupuncture is readily available on-line. 

No comments:

Post a Comment