March 18, 2000-- A story with a moral.
Three years ago I fell in love with a small village in the center of Turkey and I go there two or three times a year to hide out from my New York telephone and work on my books. But a dream of mine has been growing, and now it's on a full boil. This website is the heart of the dream.
The older women in this village -- fun, friendly people who wear half-veils, baggy pants and ride donkeys -- are the most incredible weavers of kilims I've ever seen. But they don't weave anymore. They gave it up years ago because they felt ripped off by the rug dealers who came from the big cities to buy for their shops. Almost none of that money went to the artisans. So, although they are quite poor, they simply stopped weaving. (These are very proud and independent people. I've never seen anyone looking for a handout, and storekeepers will chase you down the street to return forgotten change.)
Their refusal to weave their kilims bothered me for two reasons. First, I hate to see ancient arts lost. Second, I hate to see women unable to send their kids to good schools because they lack the money. (Been there, done that.) So I decided to teach them e-commerce. Why not set up some computers in the village, rescue a few of the old looms and invite the women to start weaving again, but this time they could let the whole world see their beautiful work? In fact, why not have a web-cam so viewers can actually watch them weave? Then they can sell directly to the buyer and keep the money!