Home PageUnited StatesCreating Connected Textile Communities

Jul 14

Creating Connected Textile Communities

World cultures gathered in Santa Fe last week to celebrate artisans and their amazing range of handcrafted products at the International Folk Art Festival. This cross cultural collaboration brought Weave A Real Peace (WARP) members to the market to volunteer, learn, share, support and celebrate the artisans in their pursuit of elevating their work and livelihoods.

Weave A Real Peace (WARP) is a non-profit founded by Deborah Chandler in 1992, dedicated to supporting textile artisans around the world. The organization seeks to fulfill a mission that fosters a global network of enthusiasts who value the importance of textiles to grassroots economies. WARP supports the principles of fair trade as does ClothRoads.


I cannot begin to share everything that happened at the market or at the WARP meeting. (I’ve been a member of WARP since 2005; this is the first time WARP was held in conjunction with the FAM.) There is so much sharing and building community among members who support textile cooperatives that images may be the best way to make this connection. 

Members arrived on Friday, July 8th and were given tips by Mary Littrell, chair of the market’s artist selection committee, on how best to experience the two-day market. A film by Janet Darrow, the Peruvian Weaving Revival, introduced the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and gave members an introduction to what they would hear from the Center’s founder Nilda Callañaupa during Monday’s program. Saturday and Sunday were full of market activities followed by WARP-sponsored, university scholarship winner presentations, book signings and sharing of treasures found at the market.


Keynote speakers were anthropologists Christine Eber and Jeanne Simonelli. Christine described her work with weavers in Chiapas, Mexico, and the Weaving for Justice cooperative in Las Cruces, NM that markets these textiles. A short film by Janet Darrow about the building of the weaving house in Chiapas, gave members insight to the workings of the cooperative and culturally important traditions. Monday afternoon featured a talk by Nilda Callañaupa, Marilyn Murphy of ClothRoads and Linda Ligon of Thrums Books.

Eric Mindling, author of a soon-to-be released book Oaxaca Stories in Cloth and head honcho of Traditions Mexico, was the final speaker on the WARP program. He proposed a thoughtful and serendipitous question to the group: “What does a tumbleweed know that a sagebrush doesn’t?” Like Eric, I have spent much of my life tumbling around the world and Western U.S. deserts full of tumbleweeds and sagebrush, so I grabbed onto this idea with delight. Those of us who tumble from place to place know a beautiful, multicolored, ever-changing world. But many of our textile communities have lived grounded in their ancient communities for generations. They have a sage knowledge and sense of place that often goes unnoticed and unacknowledged by tumbleweeds. Growing up on an Iowa farm planted me in a landscape of which I felt a part. As I have moved around the West, it is that sense of place that finally settles me onto the new land I have adopted. And so I wonder, can tumbleweeds and sagebrush share their knowledge? Perhaps the tumbleweeds can reach out to the sagebrush embedded communities we love who can give us another perspective on life?

If we can value the knowledge carried in the sagebrush, perhaps we can create the world we all seek. Creating connected textile communities – that is what we do. Join Weave A Real Peace to be part of the fabric of life. 

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