Posts

We spoke to Fancy Tiger owners Jamie Jennings and Amber Corcoran.

Tell us a little about Fancy Tiger.

We are Fancy Tiger Crafts, which is a retail craft supply store in Denver, Colorado, that opened in 2006. We’ve been around for 13 years and we’re located just south of downtown in the South Broadway shopping district. We sell supplies for textile related crafts such as sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery, weaving, macramé, punch needle sewing and spinning and we also teach classes in all of those crafts.

How did corporate social responsibility emerge – what was the inspiration for this action?

I think it emerged in two ways for us. One, the business has been growing since we opened. It used to just be Amber and I, the two owners, but as we grow we have more people working here and we’ve realized that we can have an impact on our employees lives and make this a really great place for people to want to work.

Also, we have been developing relationships with a lot of the companies that we carry here and a lot of them are doing really great things, either for the environment or for the people who work for them, so being able to highlight and seek out those types of companies for the products we carry has become more and more important.

Moving forward I hope we can be an inspiration for companies we work with to be more conscientious of their practices as well. That is one of our goals, to find a way to be able to influence how people are making the products we carry and to look at the way they run their businesses and hopefully inspire them to become a better business both socially and ecologically.

 Can you talk more about all of the social and environmental policies you have listed on your website? For example, eco-conscious shipping materials, cleaning supplies, supporting minority owned businesses, you work with local organizations, and donation Fridays, etc.?

We have been changing a lot of our environmental policies as a result of becoming Certifiably Green Denver. Working with them was a really great experience and it really helped us examine everything about our store and the impact it has on the environment. Some of the things that have happened as a result are; becoming 100% wind powered, enrolling and becoming a partner with 1% for the planet, we have done a lot of research and have switched over our shipping supplies to be mostly post-consumer waste and recyclable and compostable even down to the tape we use on our packaging. Around the store things like toilet paper and paper towels are made from post-consumer waste and so is the paper we use when we print things. They really helped us examine all aspects in regards to our environmental impact and suggest simple fixes we could change quickly. It was a really cool experience.

Some of the other things we are working on is really trying to develop a community and being welcome to all crafters, regardless of their race, religion, gender orientation, or craft ability. We really just want to make this a place that is great for our employees to work and our customers. 

Can you expand on the resources you have used and found helpful throughout this transition?

We look at the B Corp Assessment pretty frequently. A lot of the things we do for the staff we have learned from the B Corp Assessment and really wouldn’t have thought about before. For example things like offering paid volunteer hours and including more staff surveys and feedback questioners. These were really easy things to implement and we just learned about them from looking at the Impact Assessment.

What is the value for your business to start this journey? What areas are your most concentrated on right now and why?

I think the value to our business is feeling good about knowing that we are trying to make positive changes in the world. I also think it’s really valuable to make the staff happy so they stay here longer and they enjoy working here and then it trickles down to the customers. But, I think more importantly the value is knowing that we are trying to do the best that we can. I think a large percent of our customers also really appreciate knowing the types of things we are doing and I hope that makes them want to support us as loyal customers.

We just finished with Certifiable Green Denver and we were very concentrated on the environmental impact aspect of the business. Now we are working on benefits for our employees. We are trying to make our benefits package more enticing and really trying to raise our minimum wage of where we start people so that everyone here is making a living wage for Denver, Colorado, or above.

The other thing I see in the near future for us is focusing on the products that we carry and curating them to be more aligned with what we believe in. I think as we put that together a vendor code of conduct, it going to be a really great way to start the conversation with the current suppliers we have and encourage them to look at their business practices and how they are creating their products if they haven’t already. We want to know if companies are already doing positive things or are looking to improve the way they create their products so we can focus on carrying those lines. And we want our customers to be able to learn about how they can make choices with their craft supplies to have a positive impact on the world. We hope sharing that kind of information will perpetuate better and better practices.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your suppliers?

There are some suppliers we use that are doing some really great and innovative things that we want to support even if we can’t implement those practices into our own business. For instance, several of our yarn companies can trace their wool back to a single farm that they so they know how the sheep were treated, where the sheep came from, and they have been with the wool through every step in the process of it becoming yarn. We really love seeing that kind of traceability. There are also yarn makers that are doing things like reusing dye water and coming up with a variety of practices to be more environmentally friendly that we didn’t even know could be done. Once we hear of one person doing that, we now know we can ask other companies if they too are doing it.

We do try to act locally but it is a lot harder with the production of fabric and yarn because we have outsourced so much of that industry, it’s impossible to make a Colorado fabric that hasn’t left the state. We don’t have that industry.  For us, it’s more about being traceable. It’s nice if products can be all U.S. made but we are really ok with importing products from other countries if we know that it’s a closed production system in the country that is providing good jobs and taking care of the animals. For instance, we carry Shutland wool from the Shutland islands in the UK and Icelandic Yarn. Even though those are coming from far away, those products are doing a really great job in their country.

What is most rewarding/challenging about this aspect of your organization’s work?

The most rewarding thing is sharing with the staff the types of changes that we are making or that we want to make and seeing them be really excited about it and giving us feedback and ideas to help us implement those changes.

The most challenging is definitely that we have a lot of ambitious ideas and not really  the time to get them all done. It’s hard to prioritize what we to do and finding the time to make it happen.

As a company going through this transition to be more socially and environmentally conscious, do you have any recommendations for other companies looking to do the same?

I definitely think taking the B Corp Assessment is very helpful and a really great first step because there are so many things in there that we didn’t think about but were really easy to implement. There are a lot of things that are basically free to do but it’s just a matter of knowing it’s important, and doing it. One thing we did after taking the B Corp Assessment is we put together a spreadsheet with all of the things we wanted to do as a company and thought would be beneficial to do. We marked their priority of importance and how hard it would be and expensive it would be for us do them so that we had a good idea of where we could start and where we could easily begin to make progress. We took it step by step and that made it a lot easier to get going. We started with the really simple and easy things like changing to all eco-friendly cleaning supplies and reusable cleaning supplies rather than disposable or chemical based supplies. We started with the easier things and are working towards the harder ones.

Why did you join Best for Colorado? And what are you hoping to gain from this partnership?

We are excited about being part of a network of other businesses that share similar values. We are excited to get to know them and what they are doing. Best For Colorado also has some really awesome resources we are excited to use, especially when it comes to helping us create a supplier code of conduct. We are excited to work with volunteers and students that are eager to work with us have the time and know-how to help us. It’s all exiting.

Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 4. On this day of giving, thousands of Coloradans come together to support nonprofit organizations across the state. The Alliance Center has set a goal of raising $25,000. You can help us reach this goal! A gift of any amount helps us continue our work toward an inclusive, equitable and sustainable future for all. Visit our Colorado Gives Day page to learn more and schedule your gift. Make sure to check our list of Colorado companies who match their employees’ donations, and reach out to your HR department to double your impact!

You can also help spread the word! Click here to download our Colorado Gives Day social media toolkit, which includes ideas for social media posts and emails to your network. Right click on graphics below to download and share on social media.

Instagram Graphics

         

Facebook Graphics

         

Download full toolkit here.

Why is a sustainability-focused nonprofit weighing in on the ballot measures up for a vote in 2018? Because our democracy, our environment, and our economy are at risk, and now is the time for us to stand up and fight for them.

In 2014, the last time we held a midterm in our country, only 36 percent of eligible American voters turned out to vote. That means 64 percent of voting Americans willingly silenced themselves. Look where that got us. Fortunately, since the 2016 election, a record number of women and minorities are running for office in 2018, hoping to change the demographics of our elected positions across the country. They cannot win with without your vote.

The health of our global, national, and local environments are at stake. President Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accords. We are the only country in the world to refuse to sign the accord that is designed to tackle climate change. Our storms are getting stronger, our global temperatures are rising, and our federal leadership is attempting to revive the failing coal industry. No one thinks coal is a solution for the future. Hurricane Florence illustrated this point perfectly. The hurricane crippled electricity and coal – but solar and wind were back online the next day. Fortunately, climate action didn’t stop when Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accords. Local and regional governments are taking the lead on greenhouse gas reductions, implementing ambitious and strategic emission reduction goals. Initiatives like Proposition 110 aim to increase our ability to manage more traffic on our roads while also providing low-emission transportation options like expanded public transportation and bike lanes.

Finally, let’s talk about our economy – our president’s plan to escalate economic protectionism, heightening political and trade tensions, and waning popular support for global economic integration all point toward a softening in the world economy after 2019. Businesses and our economy can be a force for good in the world, but in irresponsible hands, they can also undermine many environmental and democratic gains. Here in Colorado, we have one of the highest concentrations of B Corps (certified socially-responsible businesses) anywhere in the world. These companies are leading the way integrating profits, people, and the planet.

Back to the ballot measures up for a vote in Colorado in 2018. Many of these measures affect the future health of our environment, our economy, and our communities. Below is a brief description of a selection of ballot measures up for a vote this year as well as our stance on each of these measures. To learn about all of the 2018 ballot measures, please click here.

The good news – it is not too late to turn this ship around. Our democracy is only as strong as its citizens. It’s time to step up, raise your voice, and be counted.

Amendment Y – Independent Commission for Congressional Redistricting Amendment – Vote YES

Amendment Y establishes an independent commission for congressional redistricting in the state.

  • By voting yes, you support this amendment to create a 12-member commission responsible for approving district maps for Colorado’s congressional districts.
  • We think you should vote yes this amendment because a fair and democratic districting process (as opposed to gerrymandering) is a core component to our sustainable democracy.

Learn more

Amendment Z – Independent Commission for State Legislative Redistricting Amendment – Vote YES

Amendment Z establishes an independent commission for state legislative redistricting.

  • By voting yes, you support this amendment to create a 12-member commission responsible for approving district maps for Colorado’s state House of Representatives and state Senate districts; establish qualifying criteria for members and restrictions on prior or current elected officials, candidates or lobbyists being members; and enact requirements for district maps.
  • We think you should vote yes on this amendment because the goal of redistricting should be to draw districts that fairly represent the interests of the communities in our state. Districts should not be drawn to advantage incumbents or to favor a political party. We argue that the best way to accomplish this goal in Colorado is through an independent commission process that is transparent, accessible to, and inclusive of, Colorado citizens.

Learn more

Amendment 73 – Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative – Vote YES

Amendment 73 establishes income tax brackets and raises taxes for an education initiative.

  • By voting yes, you support the creation of a tax bracket system instead of a flat tax rate. Taxes would be raised for individuals making more than $150,000 per year, the corporate tax would also rise, and these taxes would go into the Quality Public Education Fund to fund public schools in Colorado.
  • We think you should vote yes on this amendment because it will raise $1.6 billion a year in additional revenue for Colorado’s public schools. Revenue will be deposited in the Quality Public Education Fund to increase the statewide base per-pupil funding for all students and increase spending for special education, preschool, English language proficiency, and gifted programs, among other things.

Learn more

Amendment 74 – Compensation to Owners for Decreased Property Value Due to State Regulation Initiative – Vote NO

Amendment 74 requires that property owners be compensated for any reduction in property value caused by state laws or regulations.

  • By voting no, you do not support a measure that would charge taxpayers to compensate private property owners for virtually any decrease in the fair market value of their property traceable to any government law or regulation. While expanding property rights may sound good, this measure is incredibly broad and would have sweeping negative implications on local governments and communities across the state.
  • We think you should vote no on this measure because under this amendment taxpayers would have to pay large corporations and special interests to have reasonable rules requiring clean water or clean air, properly zoning industrial activity, or any other regulation they think is beneficial for their neighborhoods or communities.

Learn more

Proposition 109 – “Fix Our Damn Roads” Transportation Bond Initiative- Vote NO

Proposition 109 authorizes bonds for transportation projects without raising taxes.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to authorize $3.5 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects including bridge expansion, construction, maintenance, and repairs, and require that the state repay the debt from the general fund without raising taxes.
  • We think you should vote no on this measure because it does not identify where these funds will come from out of the current tax base and has the potential to take money away from public schools and other public services paid for by state tax dollars.

Learn more

Proposition 110 – “Let’s Go Colorado” Transportation Bond and Sales Tax Increase Initiative – Vote YES

Proposition 110 authorizes bonds to pay for transportation projects and raises taxes to repay the debt

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to authorize $6 billion in bonds to fund transportation projects, establish the Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes Citizen Oversight Committee, and raise the state sales tax rate by 0.62 percent from 2.9 percent (2018) to 3.52 percent for 20 years starting on January 1, 2019, through January 1, 2039.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because this it will provide a stable, on-going revenue source for transportation needs throughout the state and will reduce state-wide greenhouse gas reductions in the transportation sector through the inclusion of dedicated multimodal (walk, bike, public transit) dollars (the Multimodal Transportation Options Fund).

Learn more

Proposition 111 – Limits on Payday Loan Charges Initiative- Vote YES

Proposition 111 Restricts the charges on payday loans to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminate all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to reduce the annual interest rate on payday loans to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminate all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because payday lenders trap Coloradans in outrageously high-cost debt. Triple-digit rates and multiple fees strip millions of dollars annually from the pockets of people across the state. Voting yes on this measure provides basic guardrails for low income families from being preyed upon by predatory lenders.

Learn more

Proposition 112 – Minimum Distance Requirements for New Oil, Gas, and Fracking Projects Initiative- Vote YES

Proposition 112 Mandates that new oil and gas development projects, including fracking, be a minimum distance of 2,500 feet from occupied buildings and other areas designated as vulnerable.

  • By voting yes, you support this initiative to set new oil and gas development, including fracking operations, to be set at least 2,500 feet away from homes, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, permanent sports fields, amphitheaters, public parks, public open space, public and community drinking water sources, irrigation canals, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, perennial or intermittent streams, and creeks, and any additional vulnerable areas designated by the state or a local government.
  • We support voting yes on this measure because it works toward safer neighborhoods, schools, and communities in Colorado. By setting oil and gas operations a safe distance away from these areas, we can reduce air pollution that affects some of our most vulnerable populations, especially children.

Learn more

The Alliance Center is thrilled to announce Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, former Director of Programs, as our new Executive Director! Read more about the exciting transition in a letter from Brenna below.

Dear Friends,

Sustainability to me is more than a buzzword. It is not just recycling or installing LED lights. It is a set of values. It’s a lifestyle, one that honors the connectedness, finds balance, and strives for harmony in all systems — living and human generated.

The Alliance Center is sustainability in action. It is my great honor to step into the role of Executive Director and work with the amazing team who have been my close colleagues for the past three years to help create a truly sustainable and inclusive future. A future that works for all.

I joined The Alliance Center in 2015 after a very intentional career change. I had been working at the Brown Palace Hotel heading up their sustainability initiatives and wanted to find a place where I could have a deeper impact; where I could live and breathe sustainability — nothing less. After a ten-year career in the hospitality industry creating and leading sustainability programs for some of the premier hotel brands at the corporate and property level, I made a dramatic change in my professional life. I made it my mission to join the organization that is central to the sustainability movement in Colorado.

It is an honor beyond words to be working with our passionate and dedicated team and board, and collaborating with our extremely high-caliber tenants and partners. I feel a natural high every time I walk into The Alliance Center, and I can feel the energy seeped in passion, action and impact. To me, The Alliance Center is the most inspirational organization, housed in the most innovative building in Colorado. We are LEED V4.1 Platinum certified and are working to change the paradigm for how buildings interact with our energy grid, while driving collaborative solutions in our economy, our environment and our communities.

Over the last few years we have intentionally taken the time to clearly define our vision and the impact we want to make in the world, and we have developed a comprehensive strategy to achieve our lofty goals. We are now ready to implement our plan and help create a world where our communities are inclusive, our democracy is strong, our economy thrives, and our planet is healthy. 

The challenges we face today are existential and threaten our very survival. We simply do not have time for petty squabbles, partisan politics, tribalistic narratives, or 20th century band-aid solutions. Now is the time when we must come together in deep solidarity to co-create solutions for the 21st century and beyond.

I am elated to lead an organization that will play a mighty role in this paradigm shift. I personally invite you to join us on this journey. It will take each and every one of us, working together, to create the world we are proud to pass along to our children and grandchildren.

From the front lines of the sustainability movement, and with my deepest gratitude,

Brenna Simmons-St. Onge

Check out our three reasons why you should vote in the Colorado Primary election – and how to do it!

Why Are We Talking About This?

Why is a sustainability-focused non-profit writing about and working on civic engagement? Because a strong democracy is a core piece of our sustainable future.

There are three tiers of holistic sustainability – our environment, our economy, and our communities. The health and diversity of our communities are often over-looked and under-appreciated pieces of the sustainability movement. Without strong and informed civic engagement, our democracy falters and our voices are lost amid the chaos of the 24-hour news cycle, political propaganda, and the grind of our everyday lives.

While the 2008 presidential elections boasted the highest U.S. turnout since the 1968 elections, more than 4 in 10 Americans aged 18 or older still stayed home. The latest presidential election had a similar overall turnout, but the number of voters between the ages of 18-29 dropped from over 50% in 2008 to just over 46% in 2016. Why does this matter? Because younger generations are silencing their voices by not turning out to the polls.

Most people know that they should vote in the presidential elections – but what about elections in the years when we are not choosing our commander-in-chief? In 2018 we have the potential to dramatically change the political make-up of Colorado. A major piece of that puzzle is voting in the primary elections. Primary elections (or “the primaries”) are elections that determine who is on the ballot for our votes in November.

Why You Should Vote

Here are three reasons why you should vote in the primaries in CO this Spring:

1.Voting in the primaries makes our democracy more representative.

This is the first (ever) primary election where unaffiliated voters can participate in Colorado. There are more unaffiliated voters in CO than democrats or republicans. If unaffiliated voters make their voice heard this year they actually have more sway than either of the entrenched political parties. Even though Colorado is a ‘blue state’ in many of our political leanings (ahem legalized marijuana) overall the state is solidly purple. The voting power of unaffiliated voters in Colorado significantly determines how the state leans. In other words we are approximately 1/3 republicans, 1/3 democrats and 1/3 unaffiliated voters in Colorado. The candidates that win elected office in Colorado are the ones that can win-over the unaffiliated voters and this is the first time they can vote to determine who makes the final ballot in November, 2018.

The primaries are your REAL chance to put your vote toward the candidate that shares your values, and prioritizes your issues. If you don’t participate in the primaries you don’t have a say in who makes the final ballot and ultimately is elected to office.

2. Generations of Americans struggled to win the right to vote.

Today, many people may take their right to vote for granted, but it wasn’t truly that long ago when entire swaths of the population ― like women ― were denied that right. Native Americans, African Americans, Asians and Latinos still face discrimination today (cite).

3. Voting Gives You a Voice

Voting is an important, meaningful way to give a voice to the issues you care about ― and the representatives you vote into office can create the changes you want to see. In the 2018 elections we have the following offices up for election at the state level: Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, US House/Senate and State House/Senate. Your vote is a license to justifiably complain about your elected officials. Your grievances will carry more weight if you speak out as a voter trying to hold your candidates accountable for promises they made.

When You Can Vote + How

We know that voting and civic engagement in general can be overwhelming, which is why we want to share the best tools for making your voice heard. Below you can find a timeline of steps for voting in the 2018 primary elections in CO – big thanks to our friends at Just Vote Colorado* for this information. If you want to find out more about the voting process or if you have other questions, please visit their website.

If you are new to the state or have not voted before, you can register to vote by following this link.

June 4th – Ballots are sent out via mail.

**If you are unaffiliated you will receive a republican and a democratic ballot and you will have to choose which party to affiliate with. Unaffiliated voters may only vote and return ONE BALLOT! If you vote any or all races on more than one ballot, none of your votes will be counted. To find your nearest dropbox where you can return your ballot, visit www.justvotecolorado.org or return your ballot by mail.

June 19th – Voter Services and Polling Centers open their doors, this is also the LAST DAY to return your ballot by mail.

June 26th – The polling period for the primary elections closes.

What Else You Can Do

*Just Vote! Colorado Election Protection is a non-partisan voter assistance program and is not affiliated with or promoting any party, candidate or ballot issue. Just Vote is not affiliated with or responsible for the content of this piece.