Sustainable Gifts at Touched by Green Help Keep Cultural Traditions Alive

By S. Mathur

Gifts from Touched by Green have the power to connect different worlds. The store carries handmade items from artisans around South America and the US, each with the intangible value of authenticity. The artisans are personally known to owner and founder Maria Patricia Duque, and she wants to ensure that each transaction benefits the artist. Duque personally curates the selection of objects, chosen on her travels to remote South American communities.

By introducing the work of these artisans to a new audience, Duque helps them to keep their cultural traditions alive.

“Touched by Green is committed to connecting our community with the rich traditions of communities that we might never otherwise have the privilege of reaching,” Duque said, “These artists pour their hearts into their work. Their art tells us their story and through it we feel an ancient quality.”

Sustainability and fair trade are the guiding principles when it comes to choosing the hand crafted items for the store.Most of the items available in the store originate in South America or the US.

“At Touched by Green we sell items that are hand-made by designers, artisans, artists and members of indigenous communities,” Duque said, “We carry wearable art as well as art, both functional and decorative, for the home. Everything in our store is fair-trade and made with sustainability in mind.”

Visitors to the store will find art, jewelry, scarves and beautiful and practical items like cutting boards and bowls. Much of the selection is also available online via the store’s website. As well as being hand made, the art is as eco-sustainable as possible. Duque is a native of Colombia and used to sell wholesale products to boutiques around New England. Opening the store on South Main Street allowed her to connect the progressive and arts-oriented community in Providence, and the rest of Rhode Island, with artists and craftsmen in remote communities.

Over time the store has built up a loyal support base of customers. Duque finds that there is a surprising demand for art and for the kinds of objects she showcases. This is a connection that benefits the people at both ends, and it is Duque’s genius to make it happen.

“When I am considering an item or collection for Touched by Green I not only think about our clientele but about the item’s environmental footprint, social impact and cultural significance,” she said “I want to be certain all items are authentic and that my business transactions support the well-being the artist and their community. We also carry work created through collaboration between modern designers and indigenous groups.”

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