This tragic disaster is a reminder that the whole world is now tied together in a way that cannot be unwound, no matter the rhetoric of politicians the world over. As a citizen of the world, and a Fair Trade business owner, my vision is to help cement those ties in a way that no one "drowns" (physically or metaphorically) when disaster strikes anywhere in the world.By Rikki Quintana
Right now, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Anaheim, California, contemplating the global impact of what seems like only a local disaster, even if one of epic proportions for the modern US:Hurricane Harvey, in southeast Texas and Louisiana. The regional economic impact is expected to be in the tens of billions of dollars. But even that can't really be evaluated yet, because Harvey is still dumping rain in its painfully slow travel route, the waters are still rising in much of Southeast Texas and Louisiana, and more rainfall is expected to fall next week.
|Photo: Wikimedia Commons|
So, what does that have to do with a business like HoonArts Fair Trade, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico (many hundreds of miles away and safely dry)? How could it possibly impact artisans living in Central Asia on the other side of the globe?
I am scheduled to be an exhibitor at the Houston International Quilt Festival the first week of November, a short 2 months away. This event was anticipated to be our biggest show of the year, and probably our biggest show ever, since the show normally draws 55,000 to 60,000 people.
Right now, the downtown Convention Center where the Festival is scheduled to be held is atemporary shelter occupied by over 10,000 people who had to evacuate their homes due to life-threatening flooding. There is no estimate of when the Convention Center will be back in operation hosting events. Right now, all highways into the city are closed, and rescue and recovery vehicles will probably be occupying those highways for a long time after they become passable.
We don't know the status of the hotel where I have reserved a room. We don't know how long it will take the local airports to become operational again. Even if the Quilt Festival does go forward, we don't know how many local people will be able to attend, given the new economic reality of the area. Orhow many out-of-towners will brave the unknown, so soon after a disaster of this magnitude.
Other Fair Trade businesses are also affected, no matter where they are located. For example, Albuquerque-based Baskets of Africa receives many of its shipments from Africa through the Houston port. No one knows yet when the port will be fully operational again. And no one is in a position yet to evaluate the cascade of impacts that will have on businesses at either end of the supply chain. Businesses all over the world will be affected.
While the direct impact of Harvey on HoonArts Fair Trade is something I can expect to weather over the coming year, the impact on artisans who already live very close to the margin is exponentially more difficult. This tragic disaster is a reminder that the whole world is now tied together in a way that cannot be unwound, no matter the rhetoric of politicians the world over.
I'll keep you posted on Quilt Festival updates. Maybe by next month, we'll have a better idea about the immediate future.
(The author is owner and CEO of HoonArts Fair Trade and editor of the Beyond Tourism and Fair Trade Caravan blogs)