Posts Tagged ‘basket’


Look at this thing of beauty! I ordered it direct from Ghana to replace my old laundry basket. Here’s how I learned about the amazing Baba Tree.

The story starts with Suzanne’s bicycle. She wanted a bicycle basket and went online to see what might be available. That’s when she found a company in Ghana that helps basket-making artisans sell their works in the global marketplace.

Suzanne ordered a bicycle basket, and when it arrived safe and sound a few weeks later, I happened to be at her house. I starting thinking, What kind of basket do I need? I went online.

Founder Gregory MacCarthy writes an oddly defensive blog at Baba Tree in which he explains about the company, the prices, and the reasons he is not applying for “fair trade” status. As I read it just now, I was reassured — I have a lovely basket in front of me and I like finding quirky individuals behind something good.

MacCarthy writes, “We are not a ‘project,’ a charity, a foundation or a non – governmental organization (NGO). Though we engage small acts of charity every day, we are here, in Bolgatanga, to do business and do our best to empower the folks with whom we work through the open market. …

“The people with whom we work are very capable. Though we have customers who are very committed to their charities and purchase our baskets wholesale to raise money for them, the Baba Tree chooses to empower our people in the market place.┬áIt’s not that the Baba Tree is fundamentally opposed to aid and charity, it’s that it is rarely carried out honestly, efficiently and effectively which creates further dysfunction.

“The weavers with whom the Baba Tree works are more than capable of taking care of themselves, excelling through their own sweat and creativity that ultimately produces Excellence. The Baba Tree refines and cultivates the excellence brought forth through our weavers, and does an excellent job organizing and marketing that excellence throughout the world. …

“We are not subsidized in any form at all. All that is produced, and received, by the Baba Tree, is through our own sweat and creativity. At the Baba Tree everyone gets paid.”

A card inserted with my basket describes the hours spent stripping and dying elephant grass fibers, then braiding them in the Baba Tree compound to the accompaniment of “laughter and singing … interwoven into the very folds of our baskets.”

In the picture of my new basket (created by Martha, I’m told), you can see that “Do Not Crush” was written on the box. Although neither my basket nor Suzanne’s got crushed, the boxes and the baskets inside sometimes do suffer in transit from Ghana. For that reason, a paper was enclosed telling me how to fluff out a crushed basket by soaking it first in a tub of water.

I loved tip no. 8 on that paper: “Please do your best to use the water to water a tree or plant” after finishing. That tells me so much about Africa and about this company. And it reminds me that we should all be more thoughtful and thrifty with our abundant water.

Read more at Baba Tree and enjoy the gorgeous pictures there.


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Does anyone do May baskets any more? It’s such a lovely custom, and it’s always surprising to me that florists don’t promote it. How difficult could it be to partner with a Girl Scout troop or something?

On the first of May, you fill home-made paper baskets with spring flowers, place them at the door of, say, a neighbor, an elderly person, or a teacher and run. As kids, we used to knock and go hide in the bushes to see the look of surprise on the neighbor’s face. With fewer neighbors at home during the day now, the surprise is for the person who gets home from work first.

When Suzanne and John were small, they did May Baskets every year. I remember one neighbor (who had figured out where the basket came from) telling me, “Oh, I’m going to be so sad when your children grow up!” Of course, part of the drill is to pretend you have no idea what your neighbor is talking about.

There is a really simple way to make baskets from pages of discontinued wallpaper books. I’ll tell you if you ask. Here is another way.

(P.S. The birthstone rings are from Luna & Stella.)

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