Month: April 2015

Moms Across Africa: The Gifts of Friendship

All Across Africa’s baskets are woven by talented artisans in Uganda and Rwanda, where the very skill is a product of tradition passed down from mother to child. The traditional styles, shapes, and designs hold symbolism defined in the history of the craft. Some signify Unity, while others represent Hope, but there is one that is particularly special this time of year: the Friendship basket.

Friendship Baskets

In Rwandan culture, the cathedral-shaped “friendship” basket symbolizes generosity, gratitude, and compassion, and embodies giving. Due to the rich meaning behind this basket, they’re often filled to the brim with fresh and dried foods and given to friends, family members, or hosts at significant life events as a token of love. As these crafts are woven through an art form passed from mother to child, these baskets of generosity and love make their way from mom, to child, to loved one. In honor of this convicting tradition, let us allow it to transcend into American tradition as we quickly approach the national day set aside to celebrate the influence of many of our own personal practices; the beautiful women we love, look up to, and owe some giving to after all the getting we’ve got from them – Mother’s Day!

All Across Africa in Burundi north to Ngozi

This Mother’s Day, hand your beloved mother a traditional African Friendship basket – made by our Moms Across Africa – filled with things she’ll love. Need some fun ideas? Here are a few local, fair trade, and handcrafted items you can stuff your Friendship basket with as a perfect gift for her this Mother’s Day.

Click on an image below to open carousel slideshow viewing of gift gallery

Sisal & Sweet-grass Woven Coasters

These colorful coasters are from yours truly, All Across Africa. Woven from Sisal and Sweet-grass, the same artisans than bring you Friendship baskets, also bring you some beautiful and practical coasters!

Chocolates, Chocolates, Direct- and Fair-Trade Chocolates!

David Bacco is a local chocolatier located in Mira Mesa. He is a true artist and craftsman, making aesthetically appealing and equally tasteful direct- and fair-trade chocolate creations. 

Recycled-Paper Bead & Woven Jewelry

All Across Africa‘s very own artisans fashion these bright jewelry pieces into a stylish and unique creation. The necklaces and bracelets showcased in the gallery are made from recycled paper that is shredded, crafted, and sealed into firm beads. The pink earrings are a woven creation from natural materials and dyes.

Handcrafted Candles

The fun candles can be found in San Diego’s Seaport Village. No two candles are alike because each one is individually made by the masters of wax of California Candle Gallery!

Artisan Sourced, Locally Roasted Coffee

The bags of coffee and espresso shown here come from local-to-San-Diego coffee shop, James Coffee Co. The owner, David (James) Kennedy, sources his beans from South America and Africa then uses his perfected methodology to craft quality roasted beans in shop.


“Savoring the world only takes place when you get along. The world makes no sense without friendship,” and what truer friends are there than moms?

Gifts

Buy your friendship basket online or visit us at our storefront location.

10975 San Diego Mission Rd. San Diego, CA 92108


Product Photography: Nathaniel Weir Photography

7 Ways to Liven up Any Room with Baskets

There are about a billion-and-a-half techniques interior designers will suggest for a room in need of a little extra something. You can paint, hang, throw, or coordinate different colors into strategic schemes that seem to magically and drastically alter a room. One classic and sustainable trend you can always safely turn to is the use of baskets.

There are overwhelming quantities of ways even for a basket to spice up a room, so here are just 7 of the best for any room you’re thinking of livening up!

The Living Room

It’s called “The Living Room” for a reason. This is where you, your family, your friends, and guests will end up spending majority of their time so it’s essential that you find the most optimal way to make this a room that’s enjoyable to be in; our favorite way to accomplish this?

#1 Baskets on the Wall

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baskets_bootstrapprojectThe Bootstrap Project

 The Dining Room

Whether you sit at the dining table for each meal with your family, or only get any use out of it during special holidays, this is a space meant for impressing. Why else are there so many ideas for centerpieces? – Which brings us to our next tip: Centerpieces. Above all else, dining rooms’ signify togetherness. It draws daughters from their room, sons from the dirt, and parents from their jobs, and put them all together in one place if only for a few moments of feasting together. Why not also draw a beautiful basket to the table and add it as a container bringing together multiple purposes: a buffet style, self-service, dinnerware holding, eye-pleasing centerpiece?

#2 A Self-Service Centerpiece

Self-Service CenterpieceThe Pottery Barn

 The Kitchen

Next up is likely everyone’s favorite part of any home. The kitchen is really just a labyrinth of treasures to be discovered – pop-tarts in pantries, chocolates in drawers, cold drinks in refrigerators, and fresh fruits in colorful baskets on countertops that reflect the vibrant warmth the kitchen embodies!

#3 Counter-Top Fruit Basket

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 The Master Bedroom

“Home” in general should bring a sense of comfort and relaxation, but what part of the home encapsulates those feelings more than the bedroom? This is the epitome of relaxation in your home and believe it or not, baskets can help you get your room there if it’s not already. A cluttered room is a cluttered mind so this next suggestion is an appealing clutter-catching one. Whether at the foot of your bed holding throw blankets, or all over the place storing all kinds of things, this is a sure way to add some quick clutter solutions in a beautiful way.

#4 Clutter-Catching Comfort

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 astounding-storage-ideas-for-top-bedrooms-closet-unit-and-tall-corner-shelving-and-basketsFont Hoz.

The Laundry Room

Baskets? Laundry room? I’m thinking laundry baskets! With several woven baskets, you can at least have something beautiful to look at while you separate colors into each one. This is just a simple way to add some fun texture and color to an otherwise plain room of clothe-cleaning labor.

#5 More Than a Laundry Basket

View Along The WayView Along The Way

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 The Bathroom

I know I said that the bedroom is where one hopes to find the most relaxation, but I failed to remember the bathroom! Once again, cluttered bathroom, cluttered mind. Who can relax like that? A really simple way to give your bathroom character, tuck things away nice and neatly, and optimize your space in there, is through the simple technique of hanging baskets so the tops face parallel to the floor. Store away!

#6 DIY Basket Shelves

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The Kid’s Room

A kid’s room is typically full of colors bouncing everywhere. Sometimes it’s hard to tell you’re going for one specific color scheme, so make that color pop. Grab a vibrant wicker or woven basket and make it a ‘catch-all’ to catch all those toys as they enjoy their thirty second rounds of play before being tossed aside and replaced by another. If you have boys and girls, keep their baskets identifiable with their favorite colors!

#7 The Eye-Catching, Catch-All…Toys

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 We hope you’ve found some inspiration for livening up a room or two with some baskets. There really are innumerable amounts of ways to creatively use baskets for both practical and decorative usages. Got any other fun ideas? Share them with us!

 

In a Time of Terrorism

We are getting a lot of news about terrorism these days.  It seems in some ways, my mind is shut off to headlines involving Syria, Nigeria and elsewhere.  It feels unreal and far away.  And that insensitivity makes me feel bad that I don’t put more energy, time and effort into doing something, or, at the very least, thinking and caring about it. I almost lost my life in an act of terrorism, how much more real can that get?

But today, it feels real again, as Al Shabaab waged another attack in Kenya.  Now, their focus was at a university and so far, 70 have been reported dead.  I know from my experience in previous attacks, the death toll is downplayed to not scare tourists or outsiders.  My heart mourns for the loss of these students, when something feels real and close we somehow are able to care and think more of it.

Al-Shabab was minutes away from claiming my life.  I had been in Nairobi for business (looking to partner with artisan groups to bring their products to market) and had been staying near a beautiful Western mall known as Westgate.  Thursday and Friday, Westgate was my home.  I sipped coffee, managed my emails, shopped, used the ATM and worked with a colleague.

On Saturday morning, my colleague and I went outside of Nairobi. After feeding baby elephants, I asked our driver to take me to Art Café at Westgate so I could catch up on work.  On our way there, my driver with a panicked look and urgent in movement, turned up the radio. There had been a robbery and we needed to stay away from Westgate.  One thing led to another and we later learned that “robbery” was led by Al Shabaab.

It was a ruthless 4 day, what I would call a war, which claimed more than 70 lives and injured 200. Women, children, families, authors, aid workers, Kenyans and internationals had their innocent blood spilled on the marble floors of Westgate.

For days, weeks and months I had survivor’s guilt.  I kept playing back in my head what it felt like to sit the café, outside, like I had done the two days previous, where the gunman started their rampage and opened fire.  ‘I should have been there’ I kept thinking to myself.  ‘Why wasn’t I there?’ In some ways, I was jealous they experienced something I didn’t. Survivor’s guilt is crazy that way. It’s a strange thing that makes you feel like you’ve lived it, even though you didn’t, it makes you wish you had, even though it’s something you would never want to experience in your life.  It makes you obsessed with the situation, the timelines and the ‘reasons’ why you weren’t there.

I’ve traveled to Uganda and Burundi post-Westgate, and I was obsessed with the fear, the facts, the predictions of another attack. I’ve had small voices and fear speak to me.  ‘Go home.  You’re risking your life.  It’s dangerous.’ I’ve placed staff in these countries and even tried to adopt a little boy from Uganda, placing me in traffic jams in Uganda where newspapers threatened that Al Shabaab was planning their next attack.

Westgate stopped me in my tracks and terrified me for some time.  In my fear and contemplation a friend told me, ‘Fear is the point. They want to terrify us.  To stop us.  – are you going to let them win?’

After hearing those words of wisdom that I already knew in my heart, I knew I couldn’t stop.  That terrorism, fear and security couldn’t stop me from risking what I have to give, what I love and what I want in life for others to experience justice.

Since Westgate, I’ve continued to return to East Africa. I think of many of the places there as home.  I’ve continued to hire staff, create job programs and place my time, money and energy on this region.

Why do I do this?  Because there is a significant amount of injustice in the world.  And we can do something about it.  There is hunger and suffering and while it doesn’t’t feel real to use each day, we can still do something.  Small things. For me, working in the office today, managing emails, designs, working to create markets, those things can create jobs that rule out unemployment, hunger, anger, terrorism.

I’ve made a choice that I want my life to be about stepping up and doing something, especially in the wake of horrific actions in the world that are meant to stop us.

What big or small things can you do today to create justice for someone else in the world?  Here in the US or elsewhere?

Written by: Alicia Wallace