Article 22: #BuyBackTheBombs

Article 22 stood out with their sleek and clean design that offers a balanced level of elegance and modernity that makes their pieces truly eye catching.

You can almost feel the cool and smooth grain of the texture from a glimpse at these ethically made pieces.

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Named after the twenty second article of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 – Article 22 seeks to promote the right to social, economic and cultural security in Laos.

Elizabeth Suda was inspired during her 2008 visit to the small country while she was working on a project for Swiss based Helvetas- when she observed artisans with a resourceful twist, melting forgotten artillery from the Vietnam and Secret War to make spoons.Article 22 Aurumeve 6

The ‘forgotten artillery’ are the leftover bombs and debris from the over 2 MILLION TONS of bombs dropped all over Laos’ countryside during the Vietnam and Secret War:

Laos is the most heavily bombed country in history per capita.

30% of the over 2 million tons of difficult to locate and costly to remove bombs dropped, did not detonate.

80 million dropped bombs are left over and still active today.

Presently, bomb remains continue to kill and injure thousands in Laos, particularly in the Xiangkhouang Province.

Elizabeth  and Camille Hautefort were inspired to work with the artisans to go beyond the spoons for personal and limited use – and to expand on the idea by creating jewelry from the metal: in essence having the global community ‘buy back’ the bombs through her earnest mission with Article 22: cultivating artisans by creatively demining bomb littered land through entrepreneurial and community development.

I realized design could become more sustainable—it could even make a difference…

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Elizabeth quickly began working to provide two keys: expanding the production potential by developing the creation of bangles (the first product Article 22 introduced) and providing the marketing link to the global market.

People don’t have to change their behavior much to do good. The artisans and consumers are doing what they already do, but better. Creating a sustainable development involves tapping into an economy without impeding, by preserving local culture.

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Every purchase supports the economic livelihoods of artisans that work according to their own environmentally and culturally sustainable traditions including: metalsmithing, natural dyeing, and heirloom weaving. Each hand cast and finished single bangle or set comes with a handwoven organic cotton drawstring pouch and story card, with arrow engraving on the outside and ‘dropped and made in Laos’ interior engraving.

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Through this partnership and Elizabeth serving as creative director, Laotians are making at least four times what they were making before with the spoons, giving many the first opportunity of disposable income. These farmers and artisans now have the opportunity and economic access to education, fuel, healthcare and electricity through this collaboration.

What is truly beautiful about Article 22 is that the same tools of destruction are not only being used to heal and rebuild decades later – but open the floor for dialogue and respectful acknowledgement of the horrors that have been committed in an effort to move forward and upward. These artisans, these buyers, become a voice for the story.

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Elizabeth drives in that it is not about disregarding the past, but about building a future:  “look back at the past and understand history but also to look forward and find the future. All of us—the artisans in Laos, the consumers all over the world, and the patient investors who support the work—are agents of change.”

Donations from each bracelet sold demine up to 18m2 of bomb littered land, and to date over 50,000 square meters of land to demine have been donated.

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The bracelet is about bringing the bombs full circle—connecting a war torn past, with the present conditions of an underdeveloped yet culturally rich population, with a future filled with potential. The … bracelet(s) give the artisans a way to tell the story and give consumers a way to join the artisans, take action, and make a difference. It is about trade not aid.

CaptureAs Article 22 grows, Elizabeth is considering expanding to other countries.  We are hopeful and excited for the growth and opportunity that lies ahead, and tip our hats to sustainable and scalable endeavors – Elizabeth and team!

Article 22, United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

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 #BUYBACKTHEBOMBS

  

All media courtesy of Article 22.

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2 Comments on Article 22: #BuyBackTheBombs

  1. Hmmm so the Laotian Civil War was known as the Secret War.
    Somethings are well kept secrets. This is the power of art in action.You learn from it.
    Its amazing that all these pieces are produced from debris. This has me re-considering what ” material ” means to me.

    • Yes @ ODOTMDOT, I think we’re in a great place now where as a whole people around the world are re-considering what material is – and what can be done with it and the transformations both personally and socially that can be made!

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