Highlighting Art and Green Urbanism at Chispadc

Last Thursday, February 17th, I presented on the topic Eco-art East of the River: Green Urbanism, Business and Art in Ward 7 in the winter edition of Chispa DC, a part of this year’s Intersections Art Festival, held February 17, 2011 at The Atlas Performing Arts Center, in Washington, DC. My presentation was correlated to my role as the art curator of The Center for Green Urbanism, located also in Washington, DC.

Chispa is a quarterly curated media mash-up for artists, organizers and change agents in the DC area to share what they’re thinking, dreaming and doing. The event features 8 – 10 people “who have the freedom to present anything they’re passionate about.” Chispa is an opportunity for cultural creatives to connect with each other and share what they love both in and outside of their own circles – theater, organization development, community organizing, etc.

Chispa is inspired by a presentation format that emerged in Japan as a way for architects to share their work: each speaker is limited to 20 images which automatically advance after 20 seconds. Variations of this format, called Pecha Kucha, have sprung up around the world.

I joined five other exciting presenters to address one of the overall themes of this edition of Chispa by answering “How does your work/dream/idea explore an artistic or cultural intersection?”

Chispa is a collaboration between Potomac Group, LLC and Spark Creativity, small organization development practitioners with deep roots in social justice and cultural creation. For more information about Chispa visit the website at http://chispadc.wordpress.com/.

Special thanks to the Chispa organizers for an inspiring evening featuring the “intersections” of art, culture and creativity in the DMV!

Check out the presentation below, filmed by Zandra Chestnut, co-Founder of The Center for Green Urbanism.

Check out a slide show of the speakers below, courtesy of Chispadc.



Empowered Women and Learned Lessons from Change

Here’s the latest from Marga C. Fripp, CEO of Empowered Women International:

I am writing with exciting news about our innovative programs of holistic empowerment, job creation and entrepreneurship for immigrant, refugee and other women in need.

We now are selling a selection of wearable art and other handmade products by EWI women beneficiaries at our online shop, in several retail outlets and through home and corporate parties.

But before I go on to share more about these accomplishments, I want to tell you how this happened.

Above: Women in our Micro-Enterprise program working together to produce and market the new 3-in-1 necklace

Since we lost our retail space in Old Town Alexandria two years ago, we have been working to create a model of direct sales through home parties and workplace sales sponsored by our supporters and generous businesses. We also produce several jewelry designs for wholesale to build our brand and tell our story. Whole Foods Market carries them in three of their stores, and we’re targeting other retail outlets as well.

  • To accomplish all of this, EWI spent this year testing a variety of business ideas and products, and determining what we need to focus on.
  •  We have chosen to continue to strengthen and expand our Entrepreneur Training for Success and the Micro-Enterprise program in 2011 and beyond.
  • With this direction clear, our staff and trained volunteers have been working with the women in our Micro-Enterprise program to develop a wide range of handcrafted goods that include hand-painted silk scarves, knitted scarves, jewelry designs, original fine art and prints, notecards, bags, and a natural line of body butter and lip balms.

Just recently, EWI launched two new products: the 3-in-1 necklace and felted soap. The 3-in-1 necklace is hand-beaded by EWI women and can be used as an eyeglass holder, lanyard and a fashionable necklace. The 3-in-1 necklace is available in our online store and for wholesale. The felted soap is a bar of organic soap wrapped in felt, which gives it the quality of a natural exfoliant. For now, the felt soap is available only for retail at EWI and at our upcoming events and markets.

Felt Soap, EWI’s Natural Beauty Bar!

3-in-1 Hand-beaded Necklace

With the generous help of AmeriCorps, at the beginning of the year we were able to hire Juliana Kerrest, a talented and dedicated AmeriCorps volunteer, who has been instrumental in building our online shop. Juliana is currently working on adding new products to the store and getting the store ready for the holiday season.

This year, EWI became a Green America approved organization, and we’re proud to be a socially and environmentally responsible organization.

With these elements now in place, EWI is strongly moving forward to open more markets for women and transform lives and livelihoods.

You can now see and buy handmade goods by women entrepreneurs, graduates of our programs, in our online Etsy shop, at the Whole Foods Markets in Annapolis, MD, Friendship Heights, MD, and Reston, VA, and in boutique retail stores and galleries including Village Hall Gallery, NY and Edmonds Optician in McLean, VA.

Got some time and want to help empower women?

If you have any questions, feedback or other ideas to help out, please email Marga. We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts and welcome your input.

Change doesn’t just happen. We make it happen! So we need you to act together now, and empower women!

Thank you for your continued support and investment in our work, and stay tuned for more news to follow.

Warmest Wishes,


Marga C. Fripp

EWI Founder and President