Three New Experiential Eco-Fashion Trips Taking Off This Summer

This summer, three new eco-fashion-oriented package tours will offer the chance for ethical designers, makers and consumers to meet artisan communities, take workshops in craft production and see the impact of their conscious purchasing decisions.

While different in structure, these trips all offer the chance to travel along an artisan product’s supply chain, from visiting farming communities in Ecuador, to knitting with naturally dyed alpaca yarn in Peru, to shopping finished products in Guatemalan boutiques.

Even for people who don’t geek out on beautiful textiles and hand looms, these trips offer a different way to travel, one that emphasizes connections with the people behind your souvenirs.

Awamaki-Kollabora Collaborative Crafting Workshop

When: May 25 to June 2, 2013
Where: Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
Perfect for: Students, or travelers who seek an authentic off-the-beaten-path experience
What: “A cross-cultural tour pairing you with a Rumira knitter to develop a Kollabora knit item using local, hand-spun alpaca yarn. We trace the entire creation of your project through hands-on engagement: visiting alpaca farms high in the Andes to source fleece, learning to spin fleece into soft yarns, dyeing yarn skeins with native plant dyes alongside Quecha weavers, and studying the local backstrap loom.”
Accommodations: Home-stays with Awamaki’s host families.
Side trips: Incan ruins, markets in Cusco, Machu Picchu.
Organized by: Kollabora, an online community for DIY inspiration, projects, skills and supplies, in partnership with Awamaki, a non-profit that supports artisan groups in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Price: $1,799, which includes home-stay accommodations, most meals, day trips, guides and crafting materials. Fee does not cover international airfare to/from Cusco, visas, travel or health insurance, tips and personal purchases.
For more information: Visit the trip description page or email peru@kollabora.com.Mercado Global Insight Trip: Community Empowerment

When: June 30 to July 4, 2013
Where: Lake Atitlan and Antigua, Guatemala
Perfect for: People who are curious about social enterprise models and their impact on communities. Mercado Global also offers a Women Helping Women trip for women interested in mentoring and a Financial Empowerment trip for people interested in the entrepreneurial side of rural artisan businesses.
What: “An exclusive week-long journey that fuses service, leadership, and once-in-a-lifetime cultural exchange. Attendees will meet the indigenous Maya women we partner with in the Guatemalan highlands and learn about how their transformation into leaders has impacted their families and their communities.”
Accommodations: Four-star lodging in Lake Atitlan and Antigua.
Side trips: Boat trip to Santiago Atitlan, tours of colonial Antigua.
Organized by: Mercado Global, a social enterprise that links rural indigenous artisans to international markets in order to break the cycle of poverty.
Price: $1900, which includes accommodations, all meals, local transportation, guides and translation and staff support. Fee does not cover airfare.
For more information: Visit the website or contact Leah Vinton at community@mercadoglobal.org.

Fashion Designers Without Borders Immersive Sourcing Safari

When: July 22 to 28, 2013
Where: Quito, Tena and Otavalo, Ecuador
Perfect for: Fashion industry professionals who want to explore opportunities to collaborate with developing world artisans. Other sourcing safaris have taken place in Kenya and Guatemala.
What: “Climb volcanoes, trek the Amazon and get lost in cloud forests. Ecuador’s atmospheric landscapes, resources and people will enchant you. Recognize new opportunities in accessories development. Appreciate the unique resources of this truly magical place.”
Accommodations: Four- to five-star hotels in Otavalo (in the Andes), Quito and Tena (in the Amazon).
Side trips: Activities at an Amazon jungle lodge, trip to the Inga Alpaca Farm, tour of colonial Quito.
Organized by: The Supply Change, a consultancy that connects the fashion industry with global artisan communities, in partnership with The Andean Collection, a line of handcrafted accessories with a social mission.
Price: $4000, including accommodations, meals, day trips and local transportation. Fee does not cover airfare.
For more information: Visit the website or contact Chrissie Lam at chrissie@thesupplychange.org.

[Photo Credit: Mercado Global]

Museum Of Craft And Folk Art In San Francisco To Close

Museum of Craft and Folk ArtSan Francisco’s Museum of Craft And Folk Art has announced in a press release that it will close its doors forever on December 1.

Museum officials said, “Sustainability in the current economic climate, with reduced funding for the arts, was a significant factor in the decision.”

The museum tried to put a brave face on the announcement by highlighting its past achievements. It was founded in 1982 in San Francisco at a time when artists carrying on craft and folk traditions were generally overlooked by the art market. The museum was instrumental in changing that, the release said.

The closure is scheduled to coincide with the end of its current exhibition “Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers.”

There is no word yet on what will happen with the museum’s collection. The museum is the only one of its kind in northern California.

The global recession has hit museums and the arts particularly hard. Many museums are scaling back exhibitions and reducing hours. I’ve written before on how Greek museums are facing the economic crisis. They’re not alone. The Edgar Allen Poe Museum may have to close, and a Dutch museum is selling part of its collection to survive.

[Photo of guitar/record player from the museum’s collection courtesy Marshall Astor]

Photo of the Day – Matryoshka dolls

For travelers, Russia is a country that is at once fascinating and baffling. An oft-cited metaphor for Russia’s many charms and mysteries is the Matryoshka doll, a typical wooden figurine pictured in today’s photo. At first glance, the Matryoshka appears to be a single doll, but when opened, reveals a series of ever-smaller figures inside. Adding to the mystery of today’s photo, taken by Flickr user Christian Carollo Photography, is the fact the photo wasn’t taken in Russia at all – the shot is actually from Philadelphia.

Have any great travel photos you’ve taken recently? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Five ways to find there’s no seat at the table (and one way to learn there is)

Recessions lead to less time at the restaurant table, but the results have been a mixed bag for the top restaurants in the top city in the world. Manhattan‘s highest-profile establishments are still generally filling up during peak times, though you can occasionally worm your way into a great time slot on an important day. Just don’t expect to sit far from the bathroom or the kitchen.

1. Masa
There’s room at Masa, according to Bloomberg News. You’ll pay a fortune, but at least you’ll get to eat. Table for two at 8 PM on a Friday night? Done. Go for the $400 prix-fixe menu. Bar Boulud also had space on Friday at 8 PM. Jean Georges came close, with 8:30 PM available.

2. Adour Alain Ducasse
You can get close to greatness at Adour Alain Ducasse … and I’m not talking about the chef. Lili Rosboch, who went through this ordeal for Bloomberg, was told she could get a spot at 6:30 or 9 PM.

3. Babbo
Good luck: the official word is that you can hope for a cancellation or hope to get a spot at the bar. If you’re trying to plan past the end of the month, don’t bother. Babbo is only taking reservations through October 30, 2009.

4. Craft
Instead of 8 PM, try 5:30 (lunch, instead?). Or, you could get something at Craft after 9:15, it seems. Either way, 8 PM isn’t going to happen, Rosboch learned.

5. Eleven Madison Park
Eleven Madison Park had one of the best responses. Instead of being able to deliver any time on the Friday in question (or the following Saturday), the restaurant offered a time slot several weeks away. Daniel did this, as well. Le Bernardin also suggests booking a month in advance. Momofuku Ko, on the other hand, only takes reservations a week in advance – and insists that you book it online.

And, one more is worth a look …

Per Se
Per Se‘s situation (and answer) must have been a shock to Rosboch’s system. As quoted by her in Bloomberg: “For which Friday night? We are fully reserved. I can put your name on a waiting list. We’re fully booked on the 9th as well. We have nothing in October and we’re booked all the way out till November.”