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The Cove – One More Reason To Get Involved

After Harold and I put our two kids to bed, we usually have, oh, about 20 minutes to chill on the couch together before I pass out from exhaustion. Lately we’ve been watching some great movies in “installments” – the latest of which is the documentary The Cove. If you care about the environment, animals, the ocean, or simply want to see something really good, go out and rent this film now! On the movie level, it’s a fabulous film – suspenseful, beautiful filming, funny at times, inspiring, touching. A group of activists sneak into a restricted cove in Japan to film (using really cool high tech equipment) the annual slaughtering of dolphins. There are some great quotes (“There are 2 kinds of people – activists and inactivists.”) There are these hard core environmentalists of an older generation wondering who is going to take their place when they’re gone? There are convincing arguments about why you should never support or buy into swimming with dolphins in captivity. There is some tricky unspoken cultural stuff, too – look at how we Americans treat our cows and pigs and chickens…are we any better?

The Cove

Along with Food Inc. and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, this seems like one more reason to go vegetarian, or at least to know who is raising your food and how they are raising your food. Some of the best scenes in The Cove are simply the underwater scenes with dolphins in the wild – and seeing them interact with humans in the open ocean. They’re beautiful, smart, playful creatures and one scientist argues maybe they’re even more intelligent than we are. At least they don’t go around slaughtering us using inhumane methods and then trying to feed our mercury poisoned meat to school children, right? I was hoping for some happy real life Hollywood ending (i.e. the dolphins are saved!), but sounds like the slaughter is still continuing. Read what you can do here.

{Photo from The Cove via A.V. Club}

Doing Good in Life & Work

If I wasn’t running a letterpress invitation company, I would love to be Nicholas Kristof. He’s an editorial writer for the NY Times who is a wonderful example of using one’s life – and job – to bring about concrete change in the world. One of his focuses has been bringing attention to women’s plights around the world – childhood prostitution, for instance, or the crazy high mortality rates for women in childbirth, or the lack of education of girls. He writes, “In the 19th Century, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape. Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater. ‘Women hold up half the sky,’ in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos.” What a guy. How can we, as women, not care about this?

His latest column in last Sunday’s paper deals with those suffering from obstetric fistulas – 3 to 4 million women in Asia and Africa, often injured in childbirth while teenagers because they gave birth before their pelvises were fully grown. After giving birth, a young woman with obstetric fistulas is “incontinent,” Kristof writes, “steadily trickling urine and sometimes feces through her vagina.” These young women are then usually abandoned by their husbands – “scorned, bewildered, humiliated and desolate, often feeling cursed by God.” And to repair their bodies and their lives? A $300 surgery that takes 20 minutes. Wow.

I’m coming at this three months after an amazing birth of my second child, a birth complete with a doula and a midwife at a local birthing center. It makes me think if I wasn’t running an invitation company, I would love to go back to medical school, learn stuff, and then help women in this way. But – I don’t have a medical degree, can’t do medical school right now, so what I can do is this. We’re running a free invitation envelope printing promotion through Smock. Buy a letterpress invitation set, get free envelope printing on your outer envelopes through December 31, 2009. This saves you about $300 for a quantity of 100 invitations. Sure, you can pocket the money, or use it to buy some nice organic sheets, or shoes, or books, or – you can donate the savings to the Worldwide Fistula Fund (or pick another cause that you care about) and really make a difference in someone’s life. Even if you’re not shopping for invitations – make a difference, forgo that Starbucks coffee for a while, and then make a donation. Read more about what you can do to help those suffering from fistula on Nicholas Kristof’s blog.

Smock Eco Partner Spotlight – Amazon Conservation Association

Here at Smock we’re not only in love with printing beautiful letterpress invitations (and letterpress business cards, letterpress thank you notes, letterpress greeting cards…you get the picture), we’re also in love with the earth. Really really in love with the earth. We’re always working on improving our eco practices to do our part to help protect the environment for future generations. The Amazon Conservation Association is just one of the organizations we partner up with in our effort to promote

What is the ACA?
“Our mission is to conserve the biological diversity of the Amazon. Road construction, logging, and land clearing for agriculture are endangering the health of the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon Conservation Association works by forging ties with governments, nonprofits and people who depend on the rainforests for their livelihood, with the goal of saving rare species and habitats and learning from the land.”

Why is the Amazon significant?
The Amazon rainforest is home to 30% of the plant and animal species on Earth and additionally, 20% of all fresh water on the planet flows through the basin’s rivers. Recognizing the importance of the Amazon rainforest to the greater ecological systems of the world as a source of countless foods, fibers and potential new medicines, the ACA works to protect these invaluable forests as they are facing increasing threats from slash and burn agriculture, wildlife poaching, mining, illegal logging, oil prospecting, and large development projects. Rainforests are also a vital force in shaping the world’s weather and climate patterns with the UN citing that 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions are related to tropical deforestation. It is estimated that at current rates, more than half of the Amazon rainforest may be destroyed or severely damaged by 2030. ACA is working together with local communities and partner organizations throughout the region to protect these precious forests.

Want to get involved?

  • Consider visiting one of the ACA’s two research centers – they welcome travelers of all types. (Talk about a cool idea for an eco honeymoon!) They have one location in the beautiful cloud forest outside of Cusco, Peru, called Wayqecha. The other location is in the Amazon, in the state of Madre de Dios, Peru, called CICRA. Both stations provide 3 meals, cabins (private or shared) and an endless amount of hiking trails. Wayqecha also houses a world class canopy walkway, which visitors are welcome to explore and enjoy the birds-eye view of the rainforest. Volunteers are also always welcome!

Smock Eco Partner - ACA Research Stations
{Top – CICRA photo by Raechel Running | Bottom – Wayqecha photos via ACA}

  • Opt to make a donation to ACA in lieu of traditional wedding favors. Those couples who make a donation to the ACA will receive beautiful letterpress favor cards designed and printed by Smock. We’re also offering free personalizing of the favor cards with a couple’s name for those participants who have worked with Smock for their letterpress wedding invitations. You can read more here.
  • Sign up for ACA’s quarterly newsletter to keep up to date on recent events and announcements
    Sponsor a small program; $40 conserves 5 acres of rainforest, $80 conserves 10 acres of rainforest, $400 buys a GPS for a park ranger, $50 sponsors a “Science Saturday” program for local children, $150 provides a uniform for park rangers, $400 buys one pair of binoculars for park rangers
  • Sponsor a program; large-scale donors can sponsor a reforestation or micro-enterprise project, starting at $10,000

For more information about the ACA and how you can get involved or to make a donation, contact Gena at

Smock Supports The 3/50 Project

Smock is proud to support The 3/50 Project, an independent movement aimed at saving the local shops and stores that make our communities unique and our local economies stronger. Have you taken the 3/50 pledge? Jump in and add your name to the list in support of the 3/50 movement today!

In support of the 3/50 project, we wanted to share some of our favorite shops to visit in Smock’s neighborhood here in Syracuse, NY…

If you’re in the market for a great read, visit Second Story – One billion books on Amazon? Overwhelming. A beautifully curated selection of novels, poetry, nonfiction, magazines, and even a few cookbooks? Much more calming. Plus this place has great sandwiches, teas and smoothies.

Chai at Roji Tea Lounge

Heavenly Cupcakes from Roji Tea Lounge
{Great chai and heavenly cupcakes at Roji Tea Lounge}

In love with a great cup of tea? Don’t miss Roji Tea Lounge, one of downtown Syracuse’s true gems. If you’re a tea junkie, you can buy some of the best loose teas ever here to take home…or simply enjoy the calming atmosphere, vegan deserts, fabulous music, and really, really good tea. Bubble tea too!

We have a bunch of chocolate lovers here at Smock so we highly recommend Sweet on Chocolate – chocolate makes some of the sweetest gifts, and this cute little shop – only a few minutes walk from Smock’s print shop – makes the best dark chocolate truffles ever.

Mint Soap from Syracuse Soapworks
{Mint boar soap from Syracuse Soapworks}

If you’re searching for the perfect Mother’s Day gift or really a gift for any occasion, you have to visit Syracuse Soapworks. Located just a few blocks down the street from Smock’s print shop, their soaps are fragrant and amazing.

When you realize your entire house looks like an Ikea showroom, Smith Interiors is the place to go for slightly more upmarket modern furniture. We try to stop by this place every so often just to oooh and ahhhh over the cool lights and crazy cool couches.

What are your favorite shops in your community? Share them with us so we can visit if we’re ever in town and be sure to pay a visit yourself sometime soon. If you’re looking for cool stores that carry stationery/invitations in your own town, check out our list of great shops that also happen to carry Smock invitations & paper goods. And, don’t forget to visit The 3/50 Project and start spreading the word to help support local shops!

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