This week I learned of something taking place at Starfish that was to me, pretty amazing. I spoke with Philippa about some of the practices that take place at the store in China and love the sense of belonging that they appear to hold. The women, all of the women, want to succeed and they know the way to do this is through working together. Chinese or American, it matters not in the end for they are all working towards the success of the individual in an intimate group environment. As Scott Russell Sanders explains in The Common Life;
There is much talk of diversity and difference. This is all to the good, insofar as it encourages us to welcome the many distinctive traditions and visions that have flowed into America from around the world. But if, while respecting how we differ, we do not also recognize how much we have in common, we will have climbed out of the melting pot into the fire.
This idea of a common understanding and common life, a community that doesn’t take advantage, rather works to make the whole strong. The women’s path they choose at Starfish is up to them once they walk through the doors. They can leave if they want, they can work it they want and if they feel they belong and wish to stay longer they can learn more and move up the hierarchal ladder. The more they develop the more responsibility they have which in turn brings them a sense of pride and ownership in the project as a whole. They are offered sustainable salaries, and no woman is turned away if she comes and asks to stay.
The job they learn, of course, is making the jewelry. However, there is another side of the jewelry that takes place. Just as the Third Principle for a Sustainable Society states we should work to “eliminate our contribution to the progressive physical degradation and destruction of nature and natural processes (for example, over harvesting forests and paving over critical wildlife habitat” they at Starfish work on reusing. If a piece is discontinued or older and enough of them are left over, they take the jewelry apart to shape into a new design. When there are fewer pieces, they either reduce the price or will soon be selling them on Overstock. They look to the most productive uses of the materials and make sure to use everything they have, wasting nothing and keeping the product made to a minimum. They are quality pieces that may not be exactly alike, but are nonetheless beautiful. Next week…here we come!