The Gathering

Beginning this month, one little world will host a monthly gathering in the spirit of bringing together neighbors, friends and community to learn and grow from one another. We will listen, engage and take action on specific ideas to help support the people and organizations who work to make our communities a better place to live. We encourage you to bring a chair, picnic basket, and notebook, and learn something new!

Schedule: starting at 6pm

August 25: Invasive Plant Management in the James River Park System presented by Megan Lowe from Americorp

The James River Park System houses 600 acres of rocks, rapids, meadows, forests, and an abundance of plant and animal life. It's an important and beloved part of the city. As a fair trade business, protecting the environment is a key part of how our products are made. Hear how Megan’s work as an AmeriCorp volunteer within the James River Park Systems with invasive species that injure our precious local ecosystems is changing the landscape of the park. Learn what we can each do within our own backyards to support this cause and help make the RVA community a better and healthier place to be.

As an AmeriCorps member, Megan Lowe has been assisting the James River Park System for the past year with their invasive plant management. Through this role she helps educate volunteers on the impact that invasive plants have on the environment, and how people can make a difference in their own homes, work places, and communities. Alongside trained volunteers, Megan and her coworkers work throughout the year removing and managing invasive species in an effort to encourage native habitat restoration and biodiversity in JRPS. 

September 22: How to be a Good Neighbor presented by Kate Ayers, Executive Director of ReEstablish Richmond

Some of the artisans we work with were refugees fleeing conflict to create a better life for themselves. As Richmond continues to be a home for resettled families, we wanted to highlight how we can learn to become better neighborhoods with Kate Ayers from ReEstablish Richmond. She will be helping the community understand terms we commonly hear on the news including refugee, asylum seeker, and migrant and how we can get involved. ReEstablish Richmond focuses on helping refugees settle in Richmond while maintaining ties to their home culture. They provide bridges of support for longer periods and fill gaps beyond initial resettlement services, listen and respond to the changing needs of refugee and new immigrant communities, and connect newcomers with the right resources so they can exercise their full capabilities as providers, parents, and community members.

Kate Ayers joined ReEstablish Richmond in 2013, which was motivated by her participation in the “Just Faith” program, a class focusing on social justice issues around the world. Holding a Master’s degree in Teaching, she previously worked for the Office of New Americans Advisory Board, and her dedicated efforts continue to build a supportive, trustworthy community for refugees and new immigrants living in Richmond.

October 20: The Role and Stories of Fair Trade presented by Aisha Eqbal from Ten Thousand Villages; Guadalupe Ramirez from AlterNatives Boutique; and Jodie Vieira from one little world

October is officially recognized as Fair Trade Month. We are bringing together our friends from the local fair trade shops AlterNatives and Ten Thousand Villages to talk about what fair trade looks like both locally and globally. Both of these businesses are pillars of the fair trade community here in Richmond and we couldn't be more excited to talk about what fair trade is and how we built our companies.

Guadalupe Ramírez is the the owner of AlterNatives, a store that carries fairly and directly traded, handmade gifts and jewelry, and, whether she’s at a wrestling match, lacrosse, or a football game, she is the best sideline support her two sons could ask for. She was born in the town of Tejutla, San Marcos, in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Descendants of slaves, Guadalupe and her family struggled to maintain their health and well-being in a poverty-stricken community until their lives were transformed when nuns from Belgium arrived after Vatican II to foster liberation through education and empowerment. Guadalupe’s father was selected to participate in a cooperative leader training program, subsequently becoming a leader in the cooperative movement. The change fostered by the organization of cooperatives was substantial and long lasting, one generation later, her family now contains one sister who is an accountant, another sister a schoolteacher, the third sister has her MBA, and the youngest is working on a postgraduate degree in chemical engineering. Spending much of her childhood in cooperatives meetings, Guadalupe learned that people could change their lives for the better by working together. While there are serious challenges confronting indigenous communities, the practices of consensus and community action have allowed her people to survive centuries of injustice and marginalization.

Aisha Eqbal is the Executive Director and Store Manager of Ten Thousand Villages in Richmond. She comes from a background in Art & Design and has over fourteen years of experience in client relations, customer service, sales, and management. Her education in Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University has played a significant role in her career, as it has fostered her knowledge and understanding of Art & Design practices throughout various Ages and cultures. Ten Thousand Villages’ mission of working with aritsans in developing countries parallels Ms. Eqbal’s career objective of bridging western, contemporary markets with eastern, traditional practices. Ms. Eqbal was born in Karachi, Pakistan to a painter and a textile designer and grew up around printing tables, pattern makers, wood carvers. Growing up in Pakistan, she learned the value of fundamental craft and material processes, and her parents taught her the importance of raw materials and organic methods, and the art of the hand-made. As masters in their field with extensive experience in fair-trade, her parents provided the platform, which served as a catalyst, contributing significantly to the diversity in her career, and has shaped her as a social connector. Through these experiences she has come to appreciate the value of the hand-made and the value of the individual contribution to a material. She has seen, first-hand, the experience, dedication, and hard-work that it takes, and is essential to the production and development of the artisan’s product, understanding the labor of love that is required to bring such beauty into the hands of consumers. It is more than the product. It is about the individual, the people, the communities, and the connectivity that is created throughout the world. The experience she has gained over fourteen years in sales, management, and customer service have been an extension of her parent’s dedication, there for creating a strong passion in her to bridge and unite cultures and traditional trade practices and sustaining them in a rapidly changing, modern retail era.


November 3:  Fighting Food Insecurity in Richmond presented by Taylor Scott founder of RVA Community Fridges

In Richmond, 20.3 of city residents experience food insecurity, meaning a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. Hear what RVA Community Fridges is doing to tackle this problem through their city network of community fridges which are publicly accessible with fresh food for people facing hunger and hard times. We'll learn about how we can support their mission and help serve our community

Taylor Scott is the founder of RVA Community Fridges, an organization fighting food insecurity with a network of community fridges filled with free, fresh food for those in need. The idea began when Taylor found herself with an overabundance of tomatoes an no way to share them with the community. A community fridge was suggested, but while they were plentiful in her home city of New Orleans, Richmond had no such thing. After opening the first fridge in January 2020, Taylor working together with business owners, farms, and community members to set up, stock, and expand her network of free fridges, the number of community fridges has grown to 13.

December 15: Sacred Pause: Inhabiting Practices of Mindfulness as Soul Care presented by Suzanne Vinson, Richmond Artist and minister.

As caring professionals, students, clergy, and human beings, we long for connection and belonging. We often long for a break in the pace of our daily living. During this talk, those gathered will be invited to experience mindfulness as soul care through micro practices of free writing, guided meditation, mark-making & doodling, while listening to inner wisdom.  We will encounter ourselves as we are in this moment and reflect on the spaces of care we recognize need for ourselves and those we offer care to. Through experience, you will have a toolkit with which to engage in soul care for yourself and share with others. 

Reverend Suzanne L. Vinson (she/her/hers)  is an artist, retreat leader, and minister living an intentional life toward wholeness, kindhearted listening, and compassionate care.  Suzanne has served in roles as a pastor, chaplain, bereavement group facilitator, and minister over the last 20 years.  At the heart of her ministry is walking alongside others in times of grief, crisis, and every day living as they experience healing through creativity, reflection, and mindful practices.  Find her art, book, Broken Wide Whole: Prayers for Daily Living, and info at