Fashion and Celebrity Stylist and Sustainability Activist
"We all have a responsibility when it comes to the clothes we wear and their impact on the environment."
"Our pillars at Legacies are History. Healing. Hope. Of these, HOPE is what keeps us moving forward despite all the obstacles that we face and the tremendous task of clearing 80 million cluster bombs. Nearly 5 decades has passed since the American Secret War (1964-73) ended..."
Business is neither a force for good nor a force for evil. But like any tool, it can be used to create or destroy. As more and more people are becoming aware of the damage done to the natural environment and to communities by our current systems, there is a growing drive to use businesses as a force for good. A look at how social enterprises work can provide us insight into how businesses can...
There is not only contradiction inherent in the snake, but also transformation, ultimate renewal: if we use our responsibility triumphantly, we can be like the perceptive snake, which sheds its skin annually, replacing the old beautiful layer with a fresh, beautiful one. Let our renewal grow back for a future more brilliant, enduring, greener, and stronger.
Jessica Pearce Rotondi, the trailblazing author of 'What We Inherit', speaks with our own Elizabeth Suda over Zoom. Discussing her book, Jessica shares heartbreaking details about her (and her family's) lived experiences from several decades of searching for the son, brother, and uncle that never returned from the Vietnam War after his plane was shot down in Laos.
Leading up to the International Jazz Day celebration with National Jazz Museum in Harlem and Legacies of War, we here at ARTICLE22 were connected with Jazz Festival Vientiane founder and director, Micka Perrier. Micka and our founder, Elizabeth Suda meet (virtually of course) to chat about all things jazz and Laos.
Jazz has never known borders, always showing up in unexpected places at unexpected times. Similar to a tree with its complex matrix of far-reaching roots, jazz remains grounded in its heritage even as it grows and evolves. But jazz has also taken many routes in its travels to every corner of the globe, building bridges between cultures and forging new paths on its way. That brings us to a country we might not immediately associate with jazz- Laos.
Founded in 2016 by guitarist Vangthanousone “Fruity” Bouaphanh, Lao Jazzanova is the first Lao Jazz band. Lao Jazzanova is widely known throughout Laos and the ASEAN region because of their unique blend of the jazz fusion style and traditional Lao music.
In 1931, Duke Ellington wrote of his fellow jazz musicians: “What we could not say openly we expressed in music.” As the ‘20s tumbled into the ‘30s, jazz increasingly became a declaration of agency and dignity for Black Americans. Even its very existence was, in a way, an implicit protest and challenge to the status quo.
At its most basic level, art is simply a creative endeavor. Art can be functional or decorative, beautiful or utilitarian, abstract or concrete, or it can be all of these things at once. As a means to find peace in the shadow of war, art has tremendous power in its ability to mean multiple things to a variety of people. You won’t find their aluminum spoons on the walls of an art museum, but it would be a mistake to call the Lao villagers who have perfected their craft anything but artists.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from our work in Laos, it is that history is not a thing of the past. Rather, each step we take toward refashioning unexploded ordnance (UXO) is a constant reminder that it is in our power to choose how we respond to the events of yesterday.
Art is one of the most powerful responses we can have, capable of eliciting new conversations and generating new ideas. It is listening and commenting, reacting and proposing, asking and answering. Art fills in the blanks when...
Celebrate International Jazz Day with us virtually on April 30. Event hosted by The National Jazz Museum in Harlem with co-hosts, Legacies of War and ARTICLE22. Features will include two jazz groups from Laos, Rit Xu and Lao Jazzanova, a duo performance with vocalist/pianist Melvis Santa, and bassist Bam Rodriguez. This event is the first to kick off NJMH’s annual gala in June themed, “Roots and Routes of Jazz.”
It was August 1, 2010. I was standing in front of more than 1,000 people in Vientiane, Laos, doing everything I could to fight back tears: The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force, meaning the ban on cluster munitions became international law...
Your diamond necklace has a dark secret. Long associated with imperialism, today diamonds are one of the most well-known conflict commodities. The modern-day diamond obsession began in the 1800s with the founding of De Beers in colonial South Africa. Demand for the gem grew exponentially when the company marketed diamonds as an accessible luxury...
As people who seek out sustainably and ethically produced goods (I’m looking at you!), we try our best to buy according to our values. But what do we do when that isn’t possible? Let’s take a look at the hidden supply chains behind two products that American society is obsessed with: avocados and gold.
The poem "In Flanders Fields," which is written from the point of view of a soldier who has been killed in combat, references the red poppies which grew over what had once been gruesome battlefields and the graves of soldiers in WWI. This flower is now widely used as a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers everywhere. But perhaps when we see poppies, they should also serve as a reminder...
We often think of resolving armed conflict and preserving the environment as two separate but equally important issues. In reality, they are more closely linked than you might expect. As warfare and weaponry modernized, the impact of armed conflict on the environment increased. This is especially true over the last 100 years or so, during which we - the various groups and nations of the world - have been warring almost constantly.
You’ve probably heard a version of the saying: nothing important is ever simple. Sustainability is not just about the environment, although that is one important facet. It is also about the socio-cultural and the economic. A sustainable community - just such as the one we are working to build in rural Laos - must support all three. They are inextricably interlinked; we cannot pick and choose, nor would we want to.
More than 70% of Earth's surface is covered in water. But only 3% of that water is freshwater. Most of the freshwater that does exist is unreachable: found in the atmosphere, the polar icecaps, or far under the Earth's surface. Only 0.3%-0.5% of the Earth's water is fresh, useable, and available for human demand.
The clean water crisis does not look the same in any two places. That arid areas of the Southwest suffering from water-stress and drought experience difficulty in providing enough water to their residents may not come as a surprise. But even some states like Florida and Louisiana - which are surrounded, and, at times, quite literally inundated by the stuff - face infrastructure problems which make consistently providing uncontaminated water a demanding endeavor.
GoodOnYou.eco emphasizes that what is good on the planet, people, and animals is good on you! GoodOnYou offers its website and app as reference to learn more about the fashion industry, get to know ethical brands based on their rating system, and read stories, articles, tips & guides and more. One of their most interesting articles is “How Can You Tell When A Fashion Brand Is Greenwashing?”
Fashion is fun and creative, but it also has real-world impacts beyond helping us express ourselves. Most of us take this industry for granted and many do not give it much thought, thinking perhaps that it is trivial or that artists and fashion designers bear responsibility for its social, economic, or environmental effects.
ARTICLE22 reflects minimalism through care for the social, economic, cultural, and environmental factors that are embedded in sustainability. The first collection, PEACEBOMB, concentrates on the transformation of weapons - in this case already detonated bombs - and other scrap metal into heirloom jewelry.
Value. A word which, in itself, is often undervalued. It is inherently associated with money but its meaning runs much deeper; it’s a measure of regard, importance, worth, or usefulness. As with any other numerical measure, monetary value is a useful and universal indicator. But it is neither perfect nor personal. We ask: "How valuable is this?" But we often forget to ask: "How valuable is this to me?"
Think of this brand new emergency roving team like a best friend on speed dial. This is what it is now like for communities in Khammouane Province, one of the most heavily bombed regions in Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Prior, there was no immediate action for emergencies...
Sometimes you can change the world “by accident”. Channapha Khamvongsa has done just this - through a remarkable connection she made while working at the Ford Foundation, she went on to found DC-based non-profit, Legacies of War, which has raised tens of millions of dollars from the US government that goes directly to organizations in Laos, to clear some of the 80 million UXO contaminating Channapha's birth land.
Born in Tonj, Emmanuel grew up in South Sudan in the war before he was rescued and taken to Kenya. His memories and life as a child soldier growing up in South Sudan include his lowest point, embarked on a journey and only 16 out of 300 survived, gave him the energy to propel himself forwards. This formative memory shaped his life, gave him purpose and a desire to be part of a solution, restoring balance and giving without expecting anything in return, to create experiences that give people joy and connect them with their purpose to increase their mental power and create the life they want to see.
Carre Otis Sutton is a tireless activist and author who speaks out against discrimination, sexual harassment, women’ss rights, and gender inequality. Carre has been open about her past battle with eating disorders, and as a result of intensive and dedicated spiritual and personal work, she has been graced with decades of recovery. She attributes her general sense of balance and well-being to her thirty- year practice of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as her ten-year immersion in indigenous Wisdom Traditions from South America, Africa, North America, and Asia.
Sandra is the co-founder of Good On You, a social enterprise that empowers shoppers to know the impact of their clothing purchases on people, the planet and animals. Despite the challenges, she remains optimistic that business can be a powerful catalyst for positive social and environmental change. goodonyou.eco is her platform that gives people that want to buy consciously and people that want to do things that make them feel good because they know that the clothes that they're wearing have come from a good place, an opportunity to know that they're supporting brands that are doing the right thing.
Maya started her fashion brand Maya's Ideas at the the age of 8. She is also the time TED speaker, global activist, social entrepreneur, filmmaker, philanthropist, writer and author. Being a young entrepreneur, activist artist and building this career but also being a young woman of color are all things have made her very, aware of how important it is to reach back into support and to lift up , others as much as possible. Everyone has knowledge, experience, more stories that can impact, educate and lift up others.
"One day, I hurt myself. I cried out and gasped up all the air and held it in to contain my physical pain. When I looked down at her standing below me, her arms were outstretched and her eyes were puddles of tears. When I opened my eyes and made contact with hers, she wailed and reached up to give me a hug." She felt my pain. I could not help but think - "wow, that's magic". It's a sensitivity we're all born with. This is a language of beauty. It's internal. And it's innate.
It's 2019. Camille and I are pictured with Mrs. Bouakham. When I met her over ten years ago in the village where ARTICLE22 works, she graciously invited me to spend the night at her house. She was the Women's Village Chief and a weaver. A few years later, she became a MAG medic. Today, she oversees one of the all female teams. She is a mother of two, farmer, widow and sole breadwinner.
BBC Sounds tells the story of how a rural village in Laos took their local innovation to the global market through an unexpected partnership with our Founder, Elizabeth Suda 10 years ago. ARTICLE22 was born as artisans who spent over 40 years transforming shrapnel and scrap into soup spoons then began making bracelets with a first order of 500 pieces from Elizabeth.
New York, New York. #GivingTuesday 2020 gave us the opportunity to share our story in Times Square. Doing anything worthwhile is never easy, but that's the thing - it's always worth it. It's been a real adventure making it from Xieng Khouang, Laos to New York, New York! It's been 11 years since we first left NYC on a flight to Laos and had the idea to create jewelry that would buy back the bombs to raise awareness about the Secret War and funds to help MAG (Mines Advisory Group) clear its legacy of 80 million unexploded bombs. This Times Square moment truly brings us full circle and it is all made possible by the thoughtful and intrepid travelers, shoppers, and human beings who have joined our virtuous circle.
We believe in fairies. They are usually good, kind, and generous. We have many in our community (that's you!). And we are grateful to count as one of them, shero, sustainability queen, and all around thoughtful human: Emma Watson. While dropping books all across London she wore our Virtuous Circle Hoop Earrings. SWOON. ,She was beginning a global effort with @bookfairiesworldwide to hide 2,000 copies of Little Women. (She appears as Meg March in the film)
We were honored to be guests of MAG (Mines Advisory Group) - invited to celebrate HRH Prince Harry's announcement that he will walk in his mother's footsteps toward a #landminefree2025. Princess Diana had made the problem of landmines a humanitarian issue. Harry commits to carry on this legacy advocating for the removal and eradication of landmines across the world.
During my time as an undergraduate at Harvard, I became a rape survivor. Clear and accurate information about my legal rights as a survivor was hard to find. My rape kit, along with many other survivors like me, was set to be destroyed much earlier than the statute of limitations. From that experience, I fought to pass the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights through Congress.
"Sabaidee Wandering Soul". The quote is from my visual poem “s.o.s. in reverse”, inspired by my experiences meeting other Laotians. As a refugee living in America (especially one whose history had not been celebrated or even acknowledged) I had always felt lost about my identity and meeting other Lao people helped me find a sense of “home”. Sometimes it was life-changing and other times not so pleasant, but it always seems necessary to seek out other people like me, so we could learn our histories together.
“I was an adult before I learned first-hand what it truly meant to exist as a minority in America. That was a sobering lesson.” We’ve all experienced when something clicks and our life suddenly changes in a small or big way, Ryann Richardson shares some pivotal moments that prompted her to think how she thinks, live how she lives, do what she does.
We love a good double entendre and the word ‘Latitude’ was chosen because it reflects various points on a map and means freedom from restriction. The Latitude Project helps alleviate the stresses of poverty in ways that engage & empower people. From roofs to clean water and healthcare to education, together we build solutions that make sense.
'Michela what do you want to become when you grow up" A paintress, i replied. I remember some color; greenish and violet, a fence, a garden and just me formulating these 2 words. Even though it is a very delicate and almost trembling image, at the same time it is incredibly strong. I cannot be more grateful to the luck I had on being so clear and sure about my path in life.
Emmanuel Jal, former child soldier who was saved by UK Aid worker Emma McCune when he was a young boy, is now and artist and peace activist. Look for the stories. Every day you're learning new stories, because stories are the language in which we learn as human beings. With metaphors, then you get poetry, and then you have got stories.
Kulap Vilaysack is a child of refugees from Laos. Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Eagan, Minnesota, she currently resides in Los Angeles . Her debut documentary Origin Story chronicles a road trip into her complicated past. Vilaysack is also the creator, showrunner and sometimes director of the comedy series Bajillion Dollar Propertie$. She served as co-executive producer of the NBC special, A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy.” She is the founder and big sister to Laos Angeles, a community that advocates for the advancement of Laos and her diaspora in media and entertainment.
Katelyn Kopenhaver is a photographer and multimedia artist originally from Doylestown, Pennsylvania and currently works and resides in New York City where her works are exhibited by Pen & Brush Gallery. Kopenhaver is preoccupied with societal oversight, those crucial moments that are seen but forgotten, the glimpse of an act between two people that alarms us, an instant where we ask ourselves “should I intervene?” Her most recent project, NOT FOR SALE, is for anyone who has ever felt commodified. It’s for all the individuals affected directly or indirectly by traumas. You’re a human, and you aren’t for sale.
I was 13 years old and preparing for my (first) worldwide TEDTalk. I was afraid to present myself on a global platform during this vulnerable time in my life. My mom’s encouraging advice to “do it afraid” instilled strength in me and transformed my definition of confidence, and I’ve lived by those words ever since. Maya is the youngest person to give back-to-back TED Talks, three in total. Her latest TEDWomen Talk received over 1.2 million views and is one of the top 15 TEDWomen talks of all time.
Julia Butterfly Hill is an activist, author, motivational speaker, and life coach. She is best known for having lived in a 200 foot tall, over 1,000-year-old California redwood tree for 738 days without ever touching the ground. Hill lived in the tree, known as Luna, to prevent Pacific Lumber Company from cutting it down and logging the surrounding grove. She is the author of Legacy of Luna and Becoming and co-author of One Makes the Difference. Julia has had a passion for art and creativity continues to support the arts-- especially for under-served and under-represented communities.
A Bomb's Journey is a short film Red Bull made to chronicle Rebecca's return to Laos, meeting with the brave MAG women clearing the land, and the ARTICLE22 artisans of Ban Naphia producing the Be Good Collection of jewelry. Two daughters, two stories, one war.
My dad signed all his letters home from the Vietnam War with those words. Every single one said "be good, Steve". That's the purpose I took, from my trip, from the Ho Chi Minh Trail, is to be good. Interpret that however you want. Rebecca Rusch on The Rich Roll Podcast talking about the launching of The Be Good Foundation and her ARTICLE22 jewelry collaboration.
Skin cancer left a Z-shaped scar on her forehead. Embracing this personal horror, Beatrix turned it into beauty by tattooing it light purple. It was this concept of transformation that led us to create our first mantra bangles : "in your body is a good place to be." Beatrix has been an ARTICLE22 collaborator ever since. Born in Germany, she lives between New York and Charlottesville which she considers her main home today.
Lindvall has been an ardent environmentalist for the entirety of her career, and her collaboration with ARTICLE22 marks the intersection between her work revolving sustainability and her life as a mother of two teenage boys, Dakota and Sebastian. Voted the"Best Dressed Environmentalist" in 2004 and 2005 by the Sustainable Style Foundation, she lets us peek into her life and home.
The only American-born child of three, Manivone's mother was pregnant with her when she immigrated from a refugee camp in Thailand. Leaving behind a war torn past in Laos, her family arrived in Denver, Colorado. Living in America challenged her to assimilate and simultaneously afforded her educational opportunities - a dual process that developed her notion of self and sense as an artist, making her the versatile woman she is today. Now, a mother of two, Manivone lives in Brooklyn.
Kathryn Duval got the job as Development Director of MAG America (Mines Advisory Group), but left the interview convinced it was a flop. She had celebrated her mother for half of the interview when responding to the question: who inspires you? She credits her mother, Susan, not only for the job (ha!), but also for an incredible upbringing through the personal sacrifices she made.
Laura's work in disarmament started with small arms at the Cluster Munitions Coalition to ban the use and stockpiling of cluster bombs which represent a large portion of the 80 million unexploded bombs in Laos. Today, Laura's mission remains humanitarian disarmament, advocating for international commitment not to use heavy explosive weapons in populated areas such as towns and cities and the improvement of the lives of people caught in conflict. At home, she is devoted to family time with her husband and three girls, living each moment with intention, whether at home or during adventures across Europe in the family Volkswagen campervan.
Working between Barcelona and Bangkok, Jose Luis Fettolini has worked for nearly two decades in jewelry and fashion as a designer and creative director. He is the founder of Workshop R2, an educational platform for jewelry designers and entrepreneurs aimed at cultivating creativity and offering training in brand building, commercial strategies, and ethical and sustainable practices. Fettolini turned his focus to sustainability in the industry after finding a lack of reliable data and readily-accessible information on the subject. He has since collected his extensive research and case studies into his new book “Sustainable Jewellery: Principles and Processes for Creating an Ethical Brand,” featuring the Article22 story. Below he shares with us his personal journey from designer to sustainability and ethical jewelry advocate.
Magali An Berthon is a textile designer, art director, and scholar with extensive knowledge of global arts and crafts, specifically the artisanal practices of Southeast Asia. Her dual Vietnamese and French heritage led to cultural and anthropological interests, which she has pursued in her study of textile history. Magali traded her job in high-end fashion to pursue her own research, seeking to understand sustainable and quintessentially human crafts. Below, Magali delves into her own career experiences and stories of positive transformation.
In March 2017, Emma Watson wore our Dome Earrings on the Ellen Show, but the full story wasn't quite that simple.
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JESSICA PEARCE ROTONDI: WHAT WE INHERIT