Company / Owner Bio
The Radical Grandma Collective is a collaboration between four women from the US and the radical grandma activist-weavers of Na Nong Bong, Thailand. Villagers in Na Nong Bong have been fighting to protect their land ever since a gold mine was built on a nearby mountain ten years ago. Mine waste has leaked into the rivers and surrounding area, destroying villagers’ agricultural livelihood and access to safe drinking water. Women in the village weaving cooperative make beautiful, hand-woven scarves to generate supplemental income for their families, to help fund their legal fees against the mine, and to keep the tradition of weaving alive. Elders in the cooperative asked us if we could sell those scarves internationally to generate some extra income for the fierce lady-weavers and further share the story of their hometown. From there, the Radical Grandma Collective was born. Really, the name says it all– the grandmas are doing all of their own weaving, organizing, and fighting. Our role is to bring them to you.
How does your company reflect its ethics?
The Radical Grandma Collective aspires to be a sustainable social enterprise that contributes to sustainable development in the following ways:
1. Continuing tradition: By buying scarves from The Radical Grandma Collective, you’re providing opportunities for women to continue their cultural practices and preserve the way of life that the gold mine has threatened. Our hope is that the success of The Radical Grandma Collective will encourage the younger generation to learn this amazing craft so that the tradition lives on into the future.
2. Providing economic opportunity for women that contributes to community building: Weaving is often a social exercise. One grandma weaves while their friends, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews sit near her, talking and spinning yarn to pass the time. It’s common that when the weaver gets tired or wants to prepare lunch, her friend will pick up where she left off. They can work together, rather than alone, and their relationships strengthen their ability to protest the mine and educate others about their story.
3. Supporting the essential work to protect the community against the gold mine: A portion of the earnings from each scarf goes directly to People Who Love their Hometown, the village organization that has been tirelessly fighting the gold mine for over a decade. The money is used to pay for travel expenses when villagers have to travel to court to fight the gold mine, and to pay for food and other expenses when the community hosts awareness-raising events. The Radical Grandma Collective provides an international platform to show how incredible this community is to people around the world.
What do you hope to share and/or learn at CSIL’s Holiday Pop Up Market?
These grandmas are up against a lot. When the mine leaked cyanide and other dangerous chemicals into local streams, villagers discovered that they had dangerous levels of cyanide in their blood. They can no longer drink their own water, as they had always done before. The mining company even tried to sue villagers for slander because they protested the mine. Despite all this, they continue to fight. We are committed to helping these radical grandmas reach their goals and to working with them in solidarity.
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