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Better To Give

The Uncommon Life

Protecting the Rare Kirtland’s Warbler with American Forests

February 18, 2018

*Editor’s note: Spring is almost here, and we’re celebrating by sharing a story from our longest-standing nonprofit partner, American Forests. Thanks to our Better to Give program, we’ve donated over $400,000 to American Forests, the nation’s oldest conservation organization, since 2010. Read on for a report on their efforts to conserve the habitat of the Kirtland’s warbler, courtesy of the organization’s Manager of Forest Conservation, Justin Hynicka.

A Kirtland’s warbler in Stubb’s Park, Centerville, Ohio; photo by Andrew Cannizzaro

A bright future for Kirtland’s warbler in the Northern Great Lakes

By Justin Hynicka, American Forests Manager of Forest Conservation

I have a love-hate relationship with red-eye flights. On one hand, they maximize daylight on day one to explore my destination, which I love. On the other hand, it usually takes a day or two to shake off the cobwebs from poor sleep, which I don’t love. As if one night isn’t hard enough, just imagine taking a red-eye flight for two weeks straight. Oh, and you are also the pilot.

This is the journey the Kirtland’s warbler (KW; Setophaga kirtlandii) makes twice a year, traveling 1,700 miles in 16 days from the Bahamas to Michigan in spring, and back again in fall. [1] Even though KWs pass though many eastern states, they are rarely seen outside of their wintering and breeding areas due to a low-but-rising population and because they migrate at night. After such a journey, it’s hard to blame them for being one of only a few warblers to nest on the ground.

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The Uncommon Life

Why We Keep Marching

January 14, 2018

*Editor’s note 1/19/18: In honor of the anniversary of last year’s Women’s Marches and in celebration of marches taking place across the world in 2018, we’re donating all profits from Keep Marching Necklaces purchased on January 20 and 21, 2018 directly to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti sexual-violence organization.

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, women across the world marched together to protest injustice, lift each other up, and send the powerful message that women’s rights are human rights. Thanks to the combined efforts of millions of people, it was the largest single protest day in US history. From clever signs to a well-rehearsed song, marchers came prepared to fight for equality. As a plethora of pink hats stood out among the signs, songs, and crowds, it became clear that the hat would go down in history as a symbol of female power and unity.

Recognizing that the hat makes a strong statement, our Product Development team decided to incorporate it in a design that celebrates women. The Keep Marching Necklace is a wearable reminder that while there may not be an organized demonstration every day, the march for equality continues.

Keep Marching Necklace | UncommonGoods

The necklace was designed by women who wanted to not only create a beautiful piece, but also develop a product that could make a positive impact. With that in mind, $5 from the sale of each Keep Marching Necklace supports our longtime Better to Give partner RAINN. Since partnering in 2010, we’ve donated over $350,ooo to RAINN–the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization–and hope to grow that amount when you select RAINN at checkout (our $1 donation is at no cost to you) and through givebacks on designs like our Keep Marching and Hope Shines necklaces.

As we approach a series of Women’s Marches planned for January 20 and 21, 2018, we asked the women behind this necklace to share what the pink hat symbol means to them and why they keep marching.

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The Uncommon Life

Doing Good, in Brooklyn and Beyond:
A Look Back at 2017

December 26, 2017

At UncommonGoods, we strive to be more than a business: We strive to be a force for good. In addition to providing one-of-a-kind, high-quality handmade goods to our customers, we’ve made it our mission to use our business to help improve the world we live in. As an independently-owned company with 18 years under our belt, we’re lucky to have the freedom to act according to our convictions, providing our workers with a living wage and a generous paid family leave policy, donating thousands annually to our Better to Give partners, and supporting makers who create a positive social and environmental impact wherever possible.

Of course, this isn’t all that we do each year. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we’re supporting causes we believe in as effectively as we possibly can, and we’re always trying to make sure that UG is a great place to work. (Side note: Being a great place to work, like most things, requires a lot of trial and error, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do know that being open to change and putting our employees’ needs first are key points for us.) This year, we’re letting you in on our proudest achievements, from work we’ve done within our Brooklyn warehouse to relationships we’ve built with new nonprofit partners. Read on for more on what we’ve done #InsideUG, with our Better to Give partners, and within the B Corporation community.


#InsideUG

Samples line the walls in our newly renovated office, complete with custom woodwork.

Here at UncommonGoods HQ in Sunset Park’s historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, we’ve made some improvements of our own. In June, we announced the launch of our Guiding Principles, a series of seven carefully formulated standards by which we at UG strive to lead our professional lives. With values like We Are a Force for Good, We Are Open-Minded, and We Are Always Learning, we’re encouraged to foster a culture in which we respect one another and consider our company’s impact on the world. (But more on that later.)

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The Uncommon Life

Giving Tuesday 2017:
Partner Stories & Doubled Donations

November 28, 2017

If you’ve been paying attention to our blog this month, you’ve probably noticed references to something called “Giving Tuesday” slipped in among our many holiday gift guidesBut what exactly is Giving Tuesday?

Launched in 2012, Giving Tuesday is perhaps best described as a foil for the ever-popular quasi-public holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Celebrated yearly on the Tuesday that follows Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday encourages observers to use the day to focus on giving back, both in their communities and in the world at large. Here at UncommonGoods, this will be the third year we’re toasting Giving Tuesday by doubling our donations to our Better to Give partners. That’s right: On November 28, 2017—otherwise known as today—we’ll double the donation your partner of choice receives when you select them at checkout from $1 to $2, and, as always, we’ll do so at no additional cost to you.

Not sure who to choose? We love all of our partners, so we can’t play favorites. We can, however, link you to the four stories we shared this month, one for each partner, to count down to this very day… you know, in case you need a little nudge.

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The Uncommon Life

Storytelling with 826 National:
Meet the Garcia Family

November 27, 2017

*Editor’s note: Here at UncommonGoods, we’re counting down to Giving Tuesday—an annual day of giving back observed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—by sharing stories from our Better to Give partners. Up this week, with our final story: our newest partner, 826 National, introduced in July of this year. Today, we’re proud to share a video that highlights the story of the Garcia family, whose children have flourished with help from 826LA.

Meet Katherine Garcia, her brother, and her mom, Juvenita Martinez, residents of the Mar Vista neighborhood in Los Angeles. In the above video, created by 826 National, Katherine tells us about her ambitions to write—and Juvenita shares how 826LA’s unique programs have helped her children excel in school and among their peers.

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The Uncommon Life

Sharing Survivors’ Stories with RAINN

November 13, 2017

*Editor’s note 1/18/2018: We originally shared Samantha’s story in our countdown to Giving Tuesday. Today, we celebrate Samantha’s courage to speak out and we share her story again as part of our Keep Marching campaign. All profits from our Keep Marching Necklace sold on January 20 and 21, 2018 will be donated to RAINN.

*Editor’s note: Here at UncommonGoods, we’re counting down to Giving Tuesday—an annual day of giving back observed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—by sharing stories from our Better to Give partners. Up this week: RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Through our Better to Give program, which allows you to choose a non-profit partner at checkout to receive a $1 donation at no additional cost to you, we’ve donated over $350,000 to RAINN since beginning our partnership in 2010. Today, we’re proud to share a story from Samentha Moore, a participant in RAINN’s survivor series.

“It’s a beautiful thing, to be a survivor of something so heinous.”

“I felt like a broken record. It was embarrassing for me. I told people after the first and the second…but after the third [rape] I felt like a freak show,” said Samentha Moore. Samentha’s experience with multiple incidents of sexual assault by a stranger left her feeling self-conscious and blaming herself.

“Even for the longest time after my second rape, I hated leather jackets because he had a black leather jacket on, so that was something that triggered.”

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The Uncommon Life

Counting Down to Giving Tuesday
with America’s Iconic Cats
(and American Forests)

November 6, 2017

*Editor’s note: Here at UncommonGoods, we’re counting down to Giving Tuesday—an annual day of giving back observed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—by sharing stories from our Better to Give partners. First up: American Forests, the country’s oldest conservation organization and our longest-standing not-for-profit partner, with whom we’ve recently teamed up on an initiative dubbed Wildlands for Wildlife, which aims to protect the Endangered Species Act. Through our Better to Give program, which allows you to choose a non-profit partner at checkout to receive a $1 donation at no additional cost to you, we’ve donated over $385,000 to American Forests since 2010. Today, we’re proud to share their story on ocelot recovery through forest restoration.

Biologists from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) stumbled upon an ocelot den site, where they observed a three-week-old male kitten. Credit: USFWS

Written by Eric Sprague, American Forests Director of Forest Conservation Programs

Just before Christmas last December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) posted cat photos on their website. While everyone loves cat photos, they aren’t exactly noteworthy in their own right. Except these were not your typical cat photos.

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The Uncommon Life

RAINN and the Rape Kit Backlog

September 21, 2017

Editor’s Note: Today—September 21, 2017—is RAINN Day, an annual day of action designed to raise awareness and provide education to college students about sexual violence on campus. Although we’re not exactly a campus, we’ve chosen today to pay special tribute to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, better known as RAINN, with whom we’ve proudly partnered for nearly a decade. Read on for more on how you can help RAINN with one of their most urgent, challenging initiatives: addressing the rape kit backlog in the US.

Across the US, an estimated 100,000-plus rape kits sit untested in crime labs, evidence rooms, and police headquarters. Although these kits contain DNA evidence with the potential to solve crimes of sexual violence and identify repeat offenders, they remain untouched, often for reasons that are difficult to pinpoint. In a world where 1 in 6 American women (and 1 in 33 men) has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, DNA evidence is an invaluable asset—one we can’t afford to let languish in storage. And that’s why RAINN, our Better to Give partner of seven years, needs your help.

RAINN’s work on the rape kit backlog spans years, and includes efforts to raise awareness of the issue by educating lawmakers and the general public. Still, there remains a great deal to be done in every state. Our causes page provides detailed information on the scope of the problem, with links to case studies and survivor resources and a simple form that allows you to contact your representatives directly in support of funding to address the issue.

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