Shabbat for a Fair Trade Cause

This article originally appeared on Reconstructing Judaism on June 15, 2018.

On the Friday night before World Fair Trade Day, people from across Philadelphia gathered in the reception hall of the Philadelphia Ethical Society for a night of Jewish learning, locally-sourced food, and provoking conversation about ethical purchasing. Inspired by her work in our Fair Trade Reconstructionist Learning Network, Jessica Herrmann, team leader at Repair the World Philadelphia, crafted a Fair Trade Shabbat dinner to coincide with the worldwide celebration. World Fair Trade Day, which occurs annually on the second Saturday in May, celebrates fair trade learning and practice. For many Jewish communities across North America, the holiday offers a chance to take a closer look at Jewish values present in fair trade, and Repair the World’s Fair Trade Shabbat dinner took this opportunity in stride.

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Essay: Reflections on #ActNowHouston

This article originally appeared in The Jewish News on June 14, 2018.

By Max Feber

I got involved with Repair the World through the PeerCorps program when I was only a sophomore in high school. Since then, I’ve volunteered dozens of times with RTW and have worked hard to help bridge the gap between the city and the suburbs. The work was always very hard. Whether we were building an ice rink, farming at one of the urban gardens or painting a mural, we always left feeling tired and rewarded. Tired after a long day’s work, I would go home, eat dinner and crawl right into bed.

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How We Answer the Storm in Houston

This article originally appeared in eJewish Philanthropy on June 14, 2018.

By Jeremy Wood

Eight months after Hurricane Harvey swept through Houston, the major news networks’ focus has moved on. Yet amid national silence, the local crisis continues, festering like the mold behind flooded walls that were covered up too quickly while their foundations rotted inside. Many Houstonians remain unable to return home and the city predicts a 10-year recovery, barring future calamities.

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Detroit Group Helps In Recovery From Harvey

This article originally appeared in the Jewish Herald-Voice on June 7, 2018.

A group of alumni from Repair the World’s PeerCorps Detroit went to Houston May 30, Memorial Day Weekend, to volunteer and aid in the continued recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey. They volunteered with Door l’Door (which provides new mezuzahs to families that may have lost them in disaster), Undies for everyone, SBP and West Street Recovery.

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Memorial Day Weekend: Repair The World PeerCorps Alumni From Detroit To Aid Hurricane Harvey Recovery

This article originally appeared on This Week in Texas on May 30, 2018.

By Steve Pardue

A group of alumni from Repair the World’s PeerCorps Detroit (they were high school students during the program and now are college students) went to Houston for volunteer service and learning to aid in the continued recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey. In Houston they volunteered with Door l’door, Undies for everyone, SBP, and West Street Recovery.

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Repair the World’s PeerCorps Detroit Visits Houston to Aid in Hurricane Repairs

This article originally appeared on Hot in Houston on June 3, 2018.

When hurricane recovery is still in progress months later after the huge disaster, Repair the World’s PeerCorps Detroit alumni decided to make Houston their destination for volunteer service in continued recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey.

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US College Graduates Take Up Faith-Based Service

This story originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor on May 31, 2018.

By Dan Lothian

From New York City to Los Angeles, college graduates are signing up for faith-based service before hitting the job market. Faith service groups are often more trusted in inner city communities, have ties to well-established leaders, and have a built-in network of local supporters. “I’m really not taking a year off, I’m taking a year on,” says Miriam Lipschutz, a volunteer growing fresh produce at the Jewish non-profit organization Repair the World.

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Reflections and Learnings on 10 Months of “Act Now”

This article originally appeared in eJewish Philanthropy on May 25, 2018.

By Laura Belinfante

Act Now. It’s vague but attention-grabbing. It is a command to do something. The “what,” of course, is open to interpretation. For years, Repair the World has used the words, “Act Now,” in the context of MLK Day to call on and to empower young Jews to engage in local service opportunities and learn about racial justice (the campaign name itself derived from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s repeated call to act with “the fierce urgency of now”). On each MLK Day, a national day of service, we helped organize and curate volunteer service throughout the country and offered relevant resources to help spur challenging conversations and reflections. By most measures, the campaigns were successful.

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Diana G. | Repair the World

This article originally appeared on Charm City Spotlight on May 22, 2018.

What brought you to Baltimore?
I grew up in Baltimore County. In 2016, I began working in the city, and I moved to Remington in the summer of 2017. I have loved every minute of it! I love spending time by the harbor, going to the numerous parks, and checking out new restaurants or hole-in-the-wall bars.

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Repair the World Highlight: Nisha Blackwell of Knotzland

By Rachel Bukowitz

Nisha Blackwell is a self-taught seamstress and founder of Knotzland, a company dedicated to sourcing and rescuing high quality materials and repurposing them into unique, handcrafted bow ties. Born and raised in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Nisha now works with local women in the community by teaching them to sew and make bow ties for Knotzland. Nisha has created a business that supports people and the environment, all the while creating fabulous bowties!

What was your inspiration in starting Knotzland?

I love reuse and reclaiming. Essentially, I’m really passionate about using things that exist already to make things that we want to exist. I initially made a hair bow for friends daughter, and then one thing lead to another and now I’ve ended up in bowtie space.

Can you share a story or example of the impact that Knotzland has had?

There are so many stories, one of my favorite impact areas is working with local women in the seamstress industry. I train women [to make bow ties]. They come in and pick up their supplies and then do their pieces at their home and then they bring them back. The community of women is really special and has impact on the outside community.

What has been the biggest challenge you faced in founding and running Knotzland?

It’s challenging to always be thinking about what growth looks like. People want to scale fast, but I want to scale intentionally and ethically. The bowtie world doesn’t mean scaling fast.

How has investing in sustainability been good for your business?

It’s refreshing for people to see and hear how impactful it is to reuse things that already exist. There has been a huge education component involved. This is slow fashion; it’s not at your doorstep like Amazon Prime. I usually have to have that conversation with customers, explaining why slow fashion is good for the environment.

What is something you are working on now that you are proud of or excited about?

My most recent project was commissioned by City of Pittsburgh through Innovation and Performance (IMP) Inclusive Innovation Week. On the project I was proud to continue working with Darrell Kinsel, a local artist from BOOM Concepts, to make bow ties that were very direct and powerful. We got together and made bow ties with words on them like “Collaborate”, “Peace”, “Equity”, “Innovation”, and “Inclusion” The bowties were then purchased by the City for the ambassadors to wear during Inclusive Innovation Week.

I am proud to make a statement with a brand. Knotzland focuses not just on environmental aspects of the world, but also on social good.

What was it like to be chosen for Facebook’s Small Business council?

[Nisha was chosen to be in the 5th class of Facebook’s Small Business Council which is a private group that consists of 60 members from all types of different companies]

It was a crazy experience! I flew to the Facebook headquarters in San Francisco and had two days of intensive training on topics ranging from creating great content, to advertising, to actually using products. They provided us with a lot of Instagram insight on how to capture audiences and create effective content. Overall, they advised us on tools that help small businesses. Since small business owners usually do a little bit of everything, there is not as much time to learn some of these things like there is in a large business where they can hire a person to do one thing full-time. They answered a lot of our questions and offered us amazing networking opportunities.

Is there anything else you (Nisha) would like me to know, or have included in Repair the World’s blog?

I would like to say that I really appreciate Repair the World. Repair the World provides a platform and space for social justice. Also, Fellows have been customers of Knotzland! Zack [Block, Repair the World Pittsburgh’s Executive Director] and the Fellows have been really supportive of Knotzland.