Eliza Strode, Founder
Eliza Strode, the owner, is a clinical social worker who went to Guatemala in 1997 to learn Spanish. Previously a food co-op manager in Cambridge, MA, she visited a number of artisans’ cooperatives in Guatemala after meeting Mark Camp (now of Cultural Survival) who then had a Fair Trade business, at a bus stop. He gave her the names of artisan cooperatives to visit on her weekends off from school. This is when she first visited Asociacion Maya.
A few years later, the co-op asked Eliza to sell their weavings at the Cultural Survival Craft Fair in Cambridge. She found that people loved the products and that having this business served the function of re-connecting her with Guatemala and more importantly helping to provide well-paid work to the artisans. For years she ran the business in addition to working as a full-time clinical social worker (psychiatric crisis work and work with people who were homeless).
For several years starting in 2007, she did part-time clinical work and spent three to four months per year in Guatemala working on a volunteer basis providing technical assistance to Asociacion Maya de Desarrollo in Solola and other groups, and networking with other cooperatives, groups, and Fair Traders. For the past several years she has traveled to Guatemala two or three times per year for several weeks at a time, to continue her accompaniment of the artisan groups with whom she works. And, of course, some time is spent working with designers and choosing and ordering products to sell in the States.
Feel free to write if you would like informal advice regarding traveling to Guatemala for pleasure or volunteer work or to attend Spanish school there, or if you have any questions.
We also urge you to refer to the Guatemala page (click here) to learn more about Eliza's passion, Guatemala and human rights.
Some of Eliza's other interests:
PRISON VOLUNTEER WORK:
Alternatives to Violence Project. Please write to me if you would like information about participating in a workshop or becoming a facilitator.
The National Priorities Project
Food For Thought Bookstore, Amherst, MA