Who are you? A student, business owner, social worker, teacher, wife, mother? Are you a pastor, community leader? A medical professional or a lawyer? Do you identify yourself as a person of faith? We all have multiple roles and groups that we identify with. We may think that we have influence or power within our groups, or we may think that we are powerless to affect our surroundings.
Not for Sale's message is built around the premise that you CAN do something. If you care even a little bit about ending slavery in our lifetime, this organization wants to use you to make a difference. They want to get you connected through their Community Abolitionist Network (CAN) so you can make a difference within your sphere of influence and beyond.
I have felt crippled in the past by what I lacked. I felt like I didn't have the experience or education to make a difference. I felt that the people around me did not take me seriously and did not want to hear what I had to say. I grew up in a pretty conservative environment, so I frequently felt like being a young female with an opinion was looked down upon. I got the proverbial 'sweet little idealistic girl' pat on the head a lot. I heard "Oh to be young and to think you can change the world" more times than I can count. It was a lonely place to be. I'll admit that I can be over the top, and people don't really want to hear about slavery, poverty, or famine over dinner. I get that. I've been working on a balance, making sure I'm respectful in my causes (see my post "Everyday Sales"). But regardless, I wanted to do more, I just didn't know how.
Well, Not for Sale is mobilizing DOERS. They don't care who you are, they believe that you- that's right, YOU can make a difference. Whether you have a high school diploma or a PHD, you can make a difference. Stay at home mom, business owner? You can make a difference. Student or teacher? You can make a difference too. I heard on several occasions at the Backyard Academy that Not for Sale's founder, David Batstone, was notorious for hearing people's ideas and telling them to go do them. One couple, Brad and Lanie Beth Sinclair, shared with us their experiences working with David and developing a line of fair trade denim. I'll be sure to post the info about their jeans after they are available. Lanie Beth's blog is The Grateful Girl's guide to style, I'd highly recommend it. She and her husband are awesome and Brent and I really enjoyed meeting and talking with them. Their story is a great example of how anyone can make a difference. They've jumped right into tackling modern day slavery in a way that is unique to them. I met two girls at the conference, Casey Carroll and Amy Jo Syck who have been designing and making jewelry to fight slavery. Their website is Saving Grace, and they have an Etsy shop to sell their products. Their products are beautiful and I know they're going to do some cool stuff in the movement.
You don't have to come up with a fair trade line of jeans (although if you did, I'd probably buy a pair), and you have to travel around the world to fight slavery (it's fun though, I'd recommend it). You can use your gifts and your talents. Not for Sale's Community Abolitionist Network wants YOU to join the fight and to work alongside them. Jill Morris leads the Community Abolitionist Network in Not for Sale's main office and she is awesome. She's great at mobilizing people to action and is extremely passionate and encouraging. I loved a quote from her at the conference. "Look closer and love deeper". Examine where you are, what's going on around you, and how you can get involved. There's a great Community Abolitionist Network chapter in Georgia and there are chapters in other states as well. Check out the Action section of Not for Sale's website and see the many ways you can get involved.
A quote from the conference sums up this post quite nicely. I probably could have spared you all my words and just given you this quote, but I'll just end with it:
Whatever you do, you can do it in the direction of freedom. - Jono Hirt, Not for Sale