by Ashley Lodato
I have been an exceptionally good girl this year (some might call me downright virtuous, at which I modestly blush). And so it seems appropriate that I write to you. Although sending you a list of things one wishes to receive for Christmas is a privilege indulged in only by--well--the privileged, it is nonetheless a tradition in some circles and represents both naivete and optimism that are, frankly, refreshing in these times. And so I respectfully submit my Christmas list to you for your perusal and, I hope, your serious consideration.
As you read my Christmas list, Santa, please bear in mind that I have not written you in nearly 40 years, and thus presumably have some goodwill banked on my own behalf. I'm not saying that you are morally obligated to fulfill my every wish because I ask so infrequently, but should you choose to interpret it that way you will hear no cries of outrage from me.
Bronwen's wish list for Santa:
#1) Survival of the world's coral reefs
Earth's coral reefs are, as you well have witnessed from your unique vantage point in the sky, disappearing at an alarming rate due to human-caused climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution, as well as increased consumer demand. Bronwen Jewelry is a sponsor of the Too Precious to Wear Campaign, which helps raise awareness about threats facing corals and takes action to conserve corals for the future of our ocean planet. Bronwen Jewelry offers instead of coral jewelry, knock-out red alternatives for women who are drawn to that fiery hue: the Condesa Double Wrap Bracelet and Condesa Disc Necklace with scarlet Czech glass beads; the Mala Necklace, with crimson small batch handmade Tibetan beads; and when nothing but the flaming red shade of Rudolph's nose will satisfy, our garnet Ribbon Wrap Bracelet answers the call.
#2) Elimination of open pit mining
Open pit mining has an irrevocable environmental impact. Erosion. Sinkhole formation. Loss of biodiversity. Groundwater contamination. Small-scale mining (or "artisanal mining," as it's becoming known) tends to use rudimentary techniques, which make impossible the type of widespread destruction caused by open-pit mining. That's why Bronwen Jewelry uses only American-mined turquoise, which is extracted in small batches. We believe that artisanal mining is the only ethical and responsible method of mineral extraction and we're willing to pay higher prices for turquoise mined on a small scale. So when you see handcrafted artisan pieces like our Turquoise Isis Necklace or our Turquoise Trail Necklace, you can rest assured that you're getting high-quality authentic turquoise mined in an environmentally responsible manner.
#3) Sweeping change in gold mining practices
Gold mines are notorious sites of some of the world's worst human rights abuses; child labor, slavery, and sexual exploitation are ubiquitous. Most retailers may not realize it but there is a powerful and direct link between the gold mining industry and the jewelry business. Because the gold mining industry is dependent on jewelry sales, retailers are in a unique position to drive change in the mining industry. We believe that jewelry retailers have a powerful role to play in helping to clean up the way gold is mined, so we champion the cause of No Dirty Gold, which is an international campaign working to ensure that gold mining operations respect human rights and the environment. Bronwen Jewelry's Mixed Metal Semplice Earrings and Mixed Metal Bhakti Necklace represent our promise to you that the gold and silver we use in our artisan jewelry was not acquired via the exploitation of a fellow human.
A lofty goal, yes, but attaining true equality requires only an attitude shift. If we changed the collective mindset from one of suspicion and intolerance to one of acceptance and compassion, we would start a snowball of increasingly enlightened attitudes about equality. Photographer, climber, and Bronwen ambassador Nikki Smith touches on some of these ideas in a recent interview. Civil rights in America are in a more precarious position than they've been since the 1960s. At Bronwen, we say "indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
#5) Protection for special places
Never in our nation's history have our wild spaces been so much at risk. Corporate greed, a lack of connection to the environment, and the insatiable human quest for dominance over nature have resulted in legislation and practices that threaten some of the most pristine areas left in the United States.
That's why the Conservation Alliance is working to protect wild places. Located right here, where Bronwen Jewelry is located, in Bend, OR, the Conservation Alliance engages businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values. It's the 1989 brainchild of leadership at REI, Patagonia, The North Face, and Kelty, who wanted to increase outdoor industry support for conservation efforts by funding community-based grassroots campaigns to protect threatened wild habitat. Bronwen Jewelry is a proud supporter of the Conservation Alliance because they are dedicated to protecting the landscapes we love. And so we dedicate our Landscape Necklace Line to them.
Santa, in reviewing my behavior over the past four decades since I last wrote you, I admit that there have been times when I was naughty, but for the most part, I've been nice. During college and when my daughter was a baby I was awake far too often, but now I'm asleep whenever I get the opportunity. I was bad on occasion (chalk it up to the aforementioned sleep deprivation), but in general, I've been good. And most importantly, I've been good for goodness's sake--because being good for the sake of goodness in our world is the right thing to do.
That's it, Santa, just 5 little things on my list--5 little things that I hope will become your priorities. People always say that Christmas is the time when miracles can happen, so I'll stay optimistic. After all, stranger things have happened (many of them in the 25 months since the last presidential election).
So Merry Christmas to you, Santa. Your gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, egg-free cookies baked by Buddhist monks in a clay oven burning sustainably harvested wood will be waiting on our hearth for you on Christmas Eve, as always.