One half of Stacy’s job is to connect the Lindblad ships’ Galleries and markets to the local craft cultures in the places we explore. The other half is running the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Artisan Fund. Through the Fund, Stacy is able to visit communities in the regions where we travel to meet craft people and discover how we can support and help them—to better connect to the tourism industry that’s encroaching in their regions. Often, they don’t have the skill sets or the training to avoid being left behind in the global economy.
In exploring new craft terrain, Stacy has indeed helped. The programs she has implemented in Galapagos are perfect examples. Due to the isolation of the islands, artisans need to import many of their materials. The Galápagos is also 97% National Park, so all consumer waste has to be exported to the mainland. The Artisan Fund’s training programs and support help turned motivated locals into skilled artisans, adaptively reusing Galápagos’ trash—specifically paper waste and bulky glass—by turning them into works of art.
Now 40% of the galleries and shops on Santa Cruz island in the Galápagos offer recycled glass and paper objects of beauty and utility. The Artisan Fund also conducted several workshops including a “Recycled Materials Jewelry Making Workshop” and a “Glass Adaptive Reuse Workshop” for the emerging artisans of San Cristobal Island, helping them improve their craft.
She has been instrumental in helping Haida Gwaii artists restore their craft traditions. And she is blazing new trails—working to help new craft communities develop their potentials in the Peruvian Amazon and soon, Panama. A founding member of the State Department’s Alliance for Artisan Enterprises, a public/private partnership between the Aspen Institute and the State Department, Stacy was also inducted in 2016 into the Society of Women Geographers for her work.
It’s a constant education. You never stop learning. It feels like continual growth. It forces you to keep an open mind and reassess old thought patterns, beliefs and the way you see the world. I feel like I’m constantly being challenged and evolving.
Haida Gwaii off the coast of Vancouver. It’s a gorgeous archipelago, the hereditary home of the Haida First Nation people, and a stunningly beautiful place geographically. I think I feel so connected to Haida Gwaii and the Haida because they are all artists, it’s in their DNA. When you meet someone there, you can pretty much count on the fact that within the first 20 minutes of conversation, they’re going to let you know which art form is their favorite. As someone who appreciates art and craft so much, it is amazing to me to interact with people for whom art is their core, and who, within their art, glorify nature. If a Haida artist is going to make a raven tail weaving, they first go to the forest and pick a tree, and ask the tree if it’s ok to take the wood, and they thank the tree for the wood. And they do that through the whole process— with the dyes, everything. It’s probably a month before they even build the loom and start to weave. And the process of weaving is a spiritual quest, connecting them to ancestors, the spirit world, and so much more.
The Darien Rainforest in Panama— because they make the most outrageous baskets. They’re extraordinary, among some of the finest in the world. They’re woven so tightly they can actually hold water. And all of the dyes and materials used in making them come from the forest. Not even the needles are store-bought, they’re carved from bone. One day I’d like to see for myself, deep in the jungle, where these baskets are made.
Clare Brett Smith! She is the mother of handcraft development as a means to poverty alleviation in many parts of the developing world, and I’ m very fortunate to call her my mentor and friend.
That although the Artisan Fund is very altruistic—out there lending a hand to the communities through which Lindblad ships travel—the secret is how much I’m benefiting. I’m getting so much from the interaction and relationships!
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