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Style: Roseville Granite Bay Rocklin

Cause & Effect: Global Marketplace, Uniting Nations

01/29/2018 10:45AM and The first is a nonprofit, the other a business, both founded by Gary Bond and Jan Merrill of Rocklin, because they “wanted to help make the world better.” The .com business, through trade shows and online, markets Fair Trade-certified products crafted by artisans and farmers in remote South American and African villages. The Fair Trade designation ensures crafters are paid living wages and work in safe environments. “The people who make these crafts are poor,” Bond says, “and our retail helps them get out of poverty.” 

The business, in turn, inspires and helps support the nonprofit, which the couple established, and whose mission statement reads: “to provide opportunities for people to open their hearts toward creating a world of equality,” both racially and economically.  “It’s amazing what people have experienced in this community,” Merrill says. The Rocklin-based operates two local programs as steps to achieve that goal—Conversations on Racial Healing, and Rocklin Character Club—both free through the City of Rocklin Parks and Recreation Department—and partners with a third, Kiva, to offer microcredit business loans.

Conversations on Racial Healing is a nine-week series of discussions on racism and racial bias, an emerging issue for the changing demographics of this area. “We want to help people get more familiar with each other so they’re not fearful or on guard,” Bond says. Today’s racism, he adds, “is not KKK (Ku Klux Klan) stuff.” It’s more that people simply don’t know one another. “Black people feel invisible,” he says. “White people don’t understand why people of color are so angry. The class gives them a different perspective.” 

Rocklin Character Club is an after-school program for kids ages 9-12 that employs fun activities to help the youngsters appreciate their innate gifts and develop such character traits as integrity, joyfulness, respect, and tactfulness. “We teach children compassionate qualities from the beginning so they don’t become racist,” Bond says. The group meets once a week for 10 weeks at Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin, and each session includes a service project. Although the program started last month, kids are welcome to join any time.

Kiva, a San Francisco-based international nonprofit, makes small to modest loans—microcredit—to help enterprising entrepreneurs start or expand a business. While most of these loans go to third-world residents, enabling women in particular to work their way out of poverty, a number also go to U.S. citizens.  “The main purpose is social justice,” Bond says. “Kiva loans help eliminate poverty through equality.” The loans come from supporters who choose their recipients and correspond with them. All are eventually paid back, with a minuscule default rate, Bond says. Rather than duplicate Kiva’s effort, joined with Kiva and sponsors an information and account page on its website. 

A salesman 15 years ago, Bond made a good living but not a very fulfilling one, he says. “I wanted to do something to make the world better. Now I feel I am.”;

By Linda Holderness

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