Social goodness: climbing the ladder of social goodness

Maimonides, a twelfth century scholar, defines eight levels of what we today call “social goodness”.  The top rung on the ladder is to support a person with a gift or loan or by entering into a partnership or finding employment for a person in order to give them the assist they need to become independent.

Global Mamas is a company whose work operates at that top level each and every day. If you want to understand what social goodness is all about, what Fair Trade is about, how worldwide gender inequality depresses economic advancement for all of us and how focusing efforts like Global Mamas on women can benefit us all, or the tremendous power of cooperation, visit their excellent and informative website.

One set of statements that grabbed my attention was the following: “Gender inequality contributes to a cycle of discrimination in both the private and public sphere. Inside the home, women may lack voice in household decision-making and girls are often the first to be denied access to education and good nutrition if the household budget is insufficient to cover expenses. Outside the home, women experience diminished options for work, most often limited to low-paying, low-skill jobs with little opportunity for advancement. In fact, while women’s work represents 66% of the world’s working hours and produces half of the world’s food, women earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property. Thus, women bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty, a phenomenon termed the “feminization of poverty”. According to some estimates, females represent 70% of the world’s poor….

“Research has shown that men are more likely to spend disposable income on consumables, while women tend to make investments for the longer-term well being of their family. The World Bank found that extra income controlled by women correlates with increased probability that children go to school and maintain good health than if income had been controlled by fathers. Thus, financial resources put into the hands of women can be seen as an investment into the overall nutritional, health and educational status of the family unit.”

The thoughtfulness and expertise behind Global Mamas is impressive on every page of their website, where we are introduced to eight founders, six women producers from Ghana and two consulting on business and management from North America. We learn of their clearly defined mission and how each step they take furthers that mission. We can track the success of the organization, measured both in numbers and in “dreams realized”. That 2003 founding group of eight women is today more than 550 Ghanian producers in eight Ghanian locations and one additional office in the U.S.

Each Ghanian producer earns on average 75% more than the minimum wage. Each of the 116 Mama business owners employs an average of 2 more women. Each woman cares for several family members and purchases goods and services on their behalf in the community. Many women work from home or go into production facilities owned by Global Mamas.

All of this came from the efforts of six strong and enterprising but struggling women in Ghana and two young women who came to their country through the Peace Corps and fell in love with it and with them. This business model demonstrates not only the strength and clarity of purpose of these women of vision but the tremendous power of cooperation.

We congratulate Ghanian founders, Alise Korsah, Elizabeth Ampiah, Emma Myers, Esther Gyiepi Garbrah, Florence Thompson, Hannah Dodor, and American founders, Renae Adam and Kristin Johnson on creating a business that is contributing in such positive ways to the world, one woman at a time.

We are proud to carry Global Mamas products at Green Box Boutique and hope to have more soon. Stop in to check out these delightful boys and girls clothing items and accessories. There’s lots more room up there on the eighth rung of the ladder!

Wines to discover and share with friends: Ryan Patrick Vineyards

Jeremy Santo, winemaker, Ryan Patrick Vineyards
Jeremy Santo, winemaker, Ryan Patrick Vineyards

For two weeks in a row, the last Saturday in March and the first in April, Green Box Boutique offers free wine tastings. We bring you wines to discover and share with your friends. Here’s a little about one of our new, incoming wine labels:

Family-run wineries seem like an artifact in the U.S., where all of agriculture seems on the stampede toward factory-style operations. And “batch tinkering”? Unheard of. When you have a winning formula for food or beverages, you stick with it, working by the recipe.

Not so at Ryan Patrick Vineyards, where the touch of the winemaker counts: “Intuitive winemaking is the art of letting the fruit speak for itself. It’s minimalist intervention combined with consistency of style. That’s the heart of the Ryan Patrick promise: artisanal winemaking where the grape is at the center.”

Named for the grape-growing family founders’ two sons, Ryan and Patrick, Ryan Patrick Wineries is known for its Naked Chardonnay, Redhead Red and Rock Island Red labels and for its Reserve wines, consistently out-performing its price-point. The wineries source fruit from local single vineyards in Wahluke Slope and Sagemoor Farms in Washington State.

In 1951 Sid Flanagan began farming native land near Quincy, Washington as part of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. Forty years later, in 1996, Sid’s son Terry, with wife Vivian, founded Ryan Patrick Vineyards. They were pioneer wine growers in what is now “Washington State’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA), Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley. The state’s thirteenth AVA runs along a stretch of steep cliffs above the Columbia River and surrounds the town of Quincy, Washington. A combination of unique growing conditions including a cooler climate, a thin soil layer and vineyard elevations of 1,200 – 1,400 feet contribute to the area’s unique character”.  Ryan Patrick Vineyards is on the Leavenworth-Cashmere Wine Trail.

Their estate wines use fruit grown in two family-owned vineyards: The Bishop’s Vineyard, containing 20 acres of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc; and The Homestead Vineyard, with its 25 acres of exquisite chardonnay. Low yields in the vineyard, combined with prime locations for heat and sunlight, produce concentrated fruit.

Of winemaker Jeremy Santo’s Naked Chardonnay, Wine Press Northwest says, “This vintage marks his second as head winemaker for Ryan Patrick Vineyards, and he’s created a marvelous stainless steel Chardonnay with fruit from Sagemoor, Wautoma Winds and Sundance vineyards. Aromas of fresh-cut pineapple, guava, There’s complexity to the structure that opens with a pleasing mouth feel from stirring on the lees as flavors of Asian pear and dried apricot transition to a crisp finish with Gala apple. Rated “Outstanding!” by Great Northwest Wine. (13.5% alc.)

Jeremy Santo “does daily fermentations with different yeast or temperatures to achieve a specific effect. A true craftsman, Jeremy pulls from his scientific education and training at Snoqualmie and Canoe Ridge wineries to create consistently great wines that people love to discover and share with their friends.

“His batch-tinkering approach has resulted in varietals and blends that have justifiably become famous for how they out-perform their price point. Ryan Patrick is known for its Naked Chardonnay, Redhead Red and Rock Island Red labels, and for its Reserve wines, which source fruit from single vineyards in Wahluke Slope and Sagemoor Farms.”

A 2012 move toward a larger operation maintained all the positives of a family-owned and operated, award-winning winery while adding potential: “The Flanagans were looking for a way to produce more wine and wanted to add other varietals to their line. At the same time, all that success in the marketplace drew the attention of the Wahluke Wine Company. Interested in adding a small quality winery to the company, they approached the Flanagans and offered to buy the winery. It would be kept as Ryan Patrick Vineyards, with both Terry and Vivian involved in daily operations. This would give them more wine and more varietals to offer their fans.

Ryan Patrick wines are from sustainably grown grapes. For specifics about the meaning of labels on wines, check out our post, Does the Emperor Have Too Many Clothes? The Confusing World of Wine Labels.

Pottery: An ancient art with modern meaning – Bryan Becker Clay Werks

Bryan Becker Clay Werks

Nostalgia for the old days won’t solve our current environmental and social problems, but recognizing things we value from our history can help.

A quick survey of American history reveals a few things Americans value about themselves: our “rugged individualism”, our pride in craftsmanship, our resourcefulness. We are proud of the beautiful land that makes up this country and memorialize it in “America the Beautiful”. We value the idea that so many came to this Land of Opportunity with nothing, worked hard and built a life for themselves and their families. We value the idea of community, the idea that a group of people can work together toward a common goal.

Some of these values and images are tarnished in recent years, but we can dust them off to address the issues that face us and to shape our future. Often returning to the images we hold of ourselves as Americans returns us to practices and ways of living that didn’t do the kind of damage to the environment that today’s lifestyle does.

Pottery is one of those practices. Pottery is the oldest synthetic material. Made from clay, it comes from the earth and returns to it. No wonder that ancient civilizations, including Greece and the Israelite civilization of biblical fame, envisioned human beings coming from the same substance: from earth to earth. Clay is relatively inexpensive and widely available. People around the world have perfected their skill to produce durable, beautiful vessels, both for aesthetic pleasure and for use in important tasks. No early American home was complete with its pottery, bowls, mugs, butter churns, pickle barrels and more.

There is something reassuring about pottery in its beauty, its practicality and usefulness, the fact that it lives so harmoniously with the natural world from which it comes. It is a thoughtful, resourceful, aesthetic use of material the earth provides in abundance. Each piece, no matter how small, is an individual expression of molding the raw materials of our world into something not just beautiful but useful.

That beautiful, comforting practicality is what Bryan Becker Clay Werks pottery represents. Handmade in Hartland, Wisconsin, this pottery is for those with a taste for handmade and custom-crafted works “that captivate and inspire”. From mugs to wine goblets to a beautiful series of bowls with thoughtful sayings (or to personalize), Bryan Becker adds to a rich tradition of American craftsmanship and encourages our appreciation for our earth in the pieces he creates from it.

The Wisconsin location hosts the work of more than 100 other artists from around the country who specialize in works of clay, metal, glass, wood, silver, mixed media and unique jewelry. Bryan Becker Clay Werks Inc. was established in 1983. It is a full service pottery studio and Gallery, housed in a 1928 dairy barn, adding to the sense of earthiness, practicality and traditional craftsmanship one gets from the work itself.

Bryan Becker Clay Werks
Bryan Becker Clay Werks

Bryan Becker Clay Werks site describes the process of creation this way: “Each bowl is hand thrown on the potter’s wheel by ceramic artist Bryan Becker. The clay used is called “high fire” stoneware. After a slight drying time, a special tool is used to inscribed the message around the rim of the bowl. Because every bowl is handcrafted, one at a time, names and dates can be added. The bowl is later trimmed of excess clay and signed by the artist. After its initial firing (bisque), the bowl is glazed with one of six custom colors, and fired to 2354 degrees F. This “high fire” process gives each piece its lasting durability, ready for food, dishwashers, microwaves and home ovens. It can also be enjoyed for years as a decorative keepsake.”

Perhaps your piece will last for centuries, even, as pottery so often does, telling its story to many future generations.

We are fortunate to carry a number of Bryan Becker’s pieces at the Green Box Boutique. Stop in to view beautiful bowls and other pottery pieces. And when you’re in Hartland, Wisconsin, stop in and say “hi” to Bryan Becker for us!

We’re all about #LovingLeoinWoodstock

#Loving Leo in Woodstock#

Leo will visit 14 locations in Woodstock over the next 2 weeks!

Stop in and take a selfie with Leo, and enter to win a gift certificate.

Having Some Fun…Little Bars of Soap


Our monthly newsletter will soon arrive in your email boxes telling you about our St. Pat’s Day give-aways, Green Soap Samples, coming just in time for the bathin’ ‘o’ the green.

In the meantime, we thought you might enjoy this delightfully fun (yet imaginary) correspondence between a hotel guest and management, a story that circulated the internet in 1995:


Dear Maid,

Please do not leave any more of those little bars of soap in my bathroom since I have brought my own bath-sized Dial. Please remove the six unopened little bars from the shelf under the medicine chest and another three in the shower soap dish. They are in my way.

Thank you,
S. Berman

Dear Room 635,

I am not your regular maid. She will be back tomorrow, Thursday, from her day off. I took the 3 hotel soaps out of the shower soap dish as you requested. The 6 bars on your shelf I took out of your way and put on top of your Kleenex dispenser in case you should change your mind. This leaves only the 3 bars I left today which my instructions from the management is to leave 3 soapsdaily.
I hope this is satisfactory.

Kathy, Relief Maid

Dear Maid — I hope you are my regular maid.

Apparently Kathy did not tell you about my note to her concerning the little bars of soap. When I got back to my room this evening I found you had added 3 little Camays to the shelf under my medicine cabinet. I am going to be here in the hotel for two weeks and have brought my own bath-size Dial so I won’t need those 6 little Camays which are on the shelf. They are in my way when shaving, brushing teeth, etc.

Please remove them.

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

My day off was last Wed. so the relief maid left 3 hotel soaps which we are instructed by the management. I took the 6 soaps which were in your way on the shelf and put them in the soap dish where your Dial was. I put the Dial in the medicine cabinet for your convenience. I didn’t remove the 3 complimentary soaps which are always placed inside the medicine cabinet for all new check-ins and which you did not object to when you checked in last Monday. Please let me know if I can of further assistance.

Your regular maid,

Dear Mr. Berman,

The assistant manager, Mr. Kensedder, informed me this A.M. that you called him last evening and said you were unhappy with your maid service. I have assigned a new girl to your room. I hope you will accept my apologies for any past inconvenience. If you have any future complaints please contact me so I can give it my personal attention. Call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM. Thank you.

Elaine Carmen

Dear Miss Carmen,

It is impossible to contact you by phone since I leave the hotel for business at 745 AM and don’t get back before 530 or 6PM. That’s the reason I called Mr. Kensedder last night. You were already off duty. I only asked Mr. Kensedder if he could do anything about those little bars of soap. The new maid you assigned me must have thought I was a new check-in today, since she left another 3 bars of hotel soap in my medicine cabinet along with her regular delivery of 3 bars on the bath-room shelf. In just 5 days here I have accumulated 24 little bars of soap. Why are you doing this to me?

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

Your maid, Kathy, has been instructed to stop delivering soap to your room and remove the extra soaps. If I can be of further assistance, please call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM. Thank you,

Elaine Carmen,

Dear Mr. Kensedder,

My bath-size Dial is missing. Every bar of soap was taken from my room including my own bath-size Dial. I came in late last night and had to call the bellhop to bring me 4 little Cashmere Bouquets.

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

I have informed our housekeeper, Elaine Carmen, of your soap problem. I cannot understand why there was no soap in your room since our maids are instructed to leave 3 bars of soap each time they service a room. The situation will be rectified immediately. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience.

Martin L. Kensedder
Assistant Manager

Dear Mrs. Carmen,

Who the hell left 54 little bars of Camay in my room? I came in last night and found 54 little bars of soap. I don’t want 54 little bars of Camay. I want my one damn bar of bath-size Dial. Do you realize I have 54 bars of soap in here. All I want is my bath size Dial. Please give me back my bath-size Dial.

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

You complained of too much soap in your room so I had them removed. Then you complained toMr. Kensedder that all your soap was missing so I personally returned them. The 24 Camays which had been taken and the 3 Camays you are supposed to receive daily (sic). I don’t know anything about the 4 Cashmere Bouquets. Obviously your maid, Kathy, did not know I had returned your soaps so she also brought 24 Camays plus the 3 daily Camays. I don’t know where you got the idea this hotel issues bath-size Dial. I was able to locate some bath-size Ivory which I left in your room.

Elaine Carmen

Dear Mrs. Carmen,

Just a short note to bring you up-to-date on my latest soap inventory. As of today I possess:

  • On shelf under medicine cabinet – 18 Camay in 4 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.
  • On Kleenex dispenser – 11 Camay in 2 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 3.
  • On bedroom dresser – 1 stack of 3 Cashmere Bouquet, 1 stack of 4 hotel-size Ivory, and8 Camay in 2 stacks of 4.
  • Inside medicine cabinet – 14 Camay in 3 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.
  • In shower soap dish – 6 Camay, very moist.
  • On northeast corner of tub – 1 Cashmere Bouquet, slightly used.
  • On northwest corner of tub – 6 Camays in 2 stacks of 3.

Please ask Kathy when she services my room to make sure the stacks are neatly piled and dusted. Also, please advise her that stacks of more than 4 have a tendency to tip. May I suggest that my bedroom window sill is not in use and will make an excellent spot for future soap deliveries. One more item, I have purchased another bar of bath-sized Dial which I am keeping in the hotel vault in order to avoid further misunderstandings.

S. Berman