Sharon Vipond's Blog

Hong Kong
Sharon is Canadian, and came to Hong Kong in 2008 from “tree-hugging” Vancouver For the past 15 years, Sharon has been involved with volun-tourism and community-based projects while focusing on building networks with like-minded individuals through education and international development (ID) communities. Keeping the DIY motive at heart, Sharon is in her element when she is working “in the field,” side by side with those tackling pressing environmental and livelihood issues through the implementation of sustainable solutions. Sharon feels that spending a vast amount of her time in direct contact with those in rural villages allows her to stay connected with sustainability initiatives and complexities in those places. Through her trade and travel social enterprise, Common Connections, and her online artisan goods marketplace, Knots & Strokes, Sharon provides the Hong Kong community with true and real opportunities for those seeking meaningful travel and a marketplace for eco-friendly textile products and art. As you connect through this blog, Sharon invites you to share your ideas of new ways to increase awareness for fair trade and to develop eco-friendly alternatives for travel and fashion in Hong Kong. Favorite Quote: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” 
--Victor Hugo

Small gift: Big impact
November 24, 2014

Need some suggestions for small evening gifts?

Here are some ideas so you can join the growing number of globally and socially aware, green consumers willing to pay a premium for top quality gifts which have been ethically made, fairly traded and carry a social benefit for the under privileged.   They are "even-ing" gifts: even-ing wealth, even-ing opportunity, even-ing equality.
Lets begin with Christmas decorations and help refugees
How about a trio of red, white and green recycled newspaper reindeer to add a festive touch for your table or bookshelf?  Or, buy a dozen to help decorate the tree?  Add a few adorable angels also made of newspaper.  They come with a loop attached, ready for the tree or equally sweet sitting beside your nativity scene or the reindeer.  Both of these sturdy and thoughtfully made products are environmentally friendly and make a significant social impact for a Sri Lankan community of internally...

John Hardy's Legacy: Jewelry or Green School?
October 7, 2014

John Hardy’s trail blazing Green School hit the news again!
No question, in the circles of New York, London, Hong Kong, and Jakarta, John Hardy, the sterling silver jewelry giant is well known and the creations desired by many.  In as much as this brand is a feather in this Canadian designer’s hat and no doubt put mega dollars in his pocket (he sold the company in 2007), will his most important and lasting legacy be jewelry or, The Green School, founded in Bali eight years ago by he and his wife, Cynthia?  Jewelry is adornment: Green School is about providing the “green key” to sustainable living. If it can be viewed as an indication of good things to come, Green School has the attention of influencers such Dr. Jane Goodall and, most recently, UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon.
If you are unfamiliar with the Green School, I suggest you watch John Hardy (TED Talks, “My green school dream”...

Do Something.Org
September 19, 2014

Check out this organization, Do Something.Org,
An organization for 13-25yr olds with their expectation to be in 10 countries by 2015!  Let’s collaborate with HK youth and help Do Something meet their challenge:  let's make Hong Kong their 10th country!
These young people have great ideas are managing very successful campaigns to make a difference on many fronts.... the environment, food sustainability, equality, poverty alleviation, suffrage, education and more... in fact, do something .org really is working to “makes the world suck less”

Canada-Sapa Tourism Project
August 9, 2014

In case you missed it, and you are interested in eco-tourism and sustainability, I was just catching up on Vancouver news and read the exciting announcement by PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) for their 2014 Grand Award Winner for Education and Training: it was awarded to Vancouver’s Capilano University and their CBT Vietnam Project!
The first reason I am so excited about this award being given to this particular international program, is because of the attention it will bring to a successful collaborative sustainable community development model.  This major success was based on replicating a model they (Capilano University and Hanoi Open University) co-developed for the first joint project, 2010-2012 in the Sapa region, Vietnam.  The fact they have now proven the model can work in another community gives not only credibility to the method but also to the soundness of the practice and,...

life changing vacations
July 16, 2014

Maybe you have heard someone mention volun-tourism or travel for cause? But then again, maybe you quickly dismissed it with thoughts such as, “How could a volunteer holiday be fun; it means you are going on vacation to work? That is an oxymoron! Why would anyone do that?”
I am asked this question frequently and I simply echo what 99% of our participants say:  “it is fun, meaningful and rewarding. Can’t figure out why I didn’t do this sooner! “
In fact, that is why the number of people choosing volunteer travel for their vacation plan not only once but also repeatedly, is growing annually! The repeats are really high and to us at Common Connections, that speaks volumes for the success of the volunteer programs we, and others, lead or sponsor. Recently, this past February, the Habitat Guatemala trip had a whopping 9 of the 12 participants completing their second build, if not more.

Why is it growing...

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