Why we chose Chris as a Fellow
A New Zealand mom with an eye for design, Chris took her kids to the Solomon Islands and found that she could make a big difference. Fearing a forest-free and culturally impoverished Pacific, Chris identified local craft traditions with potential for village livelihoods. Now, she's back in Melanesia to continue the creation of living heritage craft that provides good incomes and strengthens cultures.
For centuries Pacific Islanders lived in relative harmony with their environment. The 20th century brought rampant logging and unsustainable fishing, destructive to both native culture and ecology. Chris saw opportunity in the spectacular skills, unique imagery, and fast-disappearing cultural heritage of the Pacific Islanders, and she set about designing craft projects for the 85% who live in villages. Using simple cultural mapping and inventories of existing crafts, she identified skills, designs and materials; high value product ideas are selected, produced, and marketed, and small business management training gives the artists control of their enterprises.