There are words I wish I had written, there are people I wish I had shared time with, and there are places I wish I had been. But all this seems possible in South Africa.
I am here for just a few days to launch the very first of what we expect will be a few dozen The Body Shop stores. New stores have already opened in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and they have been so well received and popular that you can hardly move around in them.
Everyone in these stores has a story about a product. The biggest seller so far in South Africa is the Nut Body Butter. Yippeee! It's one of our Community Trade products, this one using community-traded Brazil nut oil from South America and cocoa butter and Shea nut butter from Africa.
There is no poverty of praise in this country, I can tell you. There is a joy of possibility in the air. If I were 29 or 39 ... or even 49, I would pack up everything and move here.
South Africans realize they are part of the biggest political experiment. They are, on a daily basis, making history and boldly trying to make life better. The country is exquisite. I lost my voice in Cape Town, which I think was because I was in a permanent state of gasping with wonderment.
Sure, there are plenty of problems remaining to be solved here, but this country has a brilliant attitude and has proven to be open to creative solutions.
I'm hoping to return to South Africa sometime next year to network with grassroots community organizers. I'll be looking for new community trade initiatives for The Body Shop, looking at popular arts and crafts, and networking on behalf of -- and for -- small local economic ideas.
Do you live in South Africa and know of some opportunities, or communities in need that we could trade with? Get in touch! Email me and share your brilliant ideas!