Nashville Public Radio reports that Thistle Farms has partnered with Banksy, the famous British artist known for his political pieces, and for his anonymity.
Thistle Farms, the Nashville non-profit organisation started by Becca Stevens, works with women who have survived trafficking. In a previous interview with PURE Living Nashville, Stevens spoke about the fundraising that the organization needs, and why it can sometimes be hard to find potential donors. “We may only take in 20 women a year to one of our programs in Nashville…but to those that do donate, the return on investment is huge. They can change a woman’s, a family’s life..it may cost $40,000 to keep them off the streets-but double that if they go to Prison. Then they can go onto maybe earn $400,000 over 10 years. That’s a really great investment.”
In response to the refugee crises across Europe, Stevens and Thistle Farms opened a center in Greece where refugee women are reworking their life jackets and blankets into welcome mats, which generated over $140,000 in sales in the first year. The money earned from this allows the women a greater degree of autonomy, power, economic independence and allows them to “find a safe place.”
It is this Love Welcomes project that has led to the collaboration with Banksy. As Stevens explains in her conversation with Nashville Public Radio, she cannot discuss how the partnership came to being as Banksy is fiercely protective of his anonymity, but the result is an exclusive welcome mat design. “Banksy’s mat is like a really rough, more fibrous welcome mat,” Stevens said. “It’s done completely different. Banksy’s design is similar to the typical hay-like mat you’d see in a social media ad — scripty font in the center and all. But, this one says “Welcome” in bright orange cursive, the letters formed from refugees’ life vests. The black edging is made of the buckles and straps that held the vest to a refugee’s body as they crossed into the vast unknown.” The artist will be teaching the women in the refugee camps how to make his design, and it will be available to sell in his pop up shop.
Stevens explains that the purpose of the collaboration is to raise awareness about the refugee crisis in Europe, as these women have a higher chance of being trafficked. All proceeds from the designs will go towards helping those affected find security and earn an income.
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