I knew from the first day of One Spark that something magical and unexpected was happening. At the opening ceremonies five people were chosen to do a 90-second pitch in front of the crowd. Miraculously, out of hundreds of people, I was chosen as one of those five.
Kristin Keen, far left
I knew from the first day of One Spark that something magical and unexpected was happening. At the opening ceremonies five people were chosen to do a 90-second pitch in front of the crowd. Miraculously, out of hundreds of people, I was chosen as one of those five. I spoke excitedly about our mission: “Rethreaded loves people affected by the sex trade by fostering relationship and life-giving community. Our vision is to unravel the effects of the sex trade by fighting business with business on global and local levels. As an organization we want to provide safe, viable, and dignity-giving work to survivors of the sex trade. Globally we have partnered with over nine different companies that give women freedom from the sex trade through business. We buy from those companies and with the profits we make selling their products, we reinvest in our up-cycled t-shirt company that gives women from Jacksonville training and safe, viable employment as artisan seamstresses. We provide these women with a four-month, paid holistic training program that includes sewing, art and life skills.” Whew . . . was that 90 seconds? Did I get it all in?
While the five of us were pitching, One Spark staff handed out $1,000 in increments of 1’s and 5’s to the audience. After our pitch, we were told to wait by the Creator’s Tent and the crowd was instructed to give their envelopes to the Creator they most believed in. People, by the droves, started handing me their envelopes, and I couldn’t stop crying. I had a woman come up to me and give me a hug and whisper in my ear, “Thank you for doing this, my sister is in this situation. Thank you.” It was the deepest, most profound moment of hope for me in years. I felt like God was saying to me, “This is for every time in India when you had no hope. When you couldn’t see a way out for all the women you worked with there. This is your healing. This is the restoration of your hope from me.” Through those envelopes and the love of our community, hope was re-sparked in my heart.
And that was only the first part of the first day! The energy and hope and excitement were everywhere. I felt it in and around the big, yellow t-shirt house we created for the event. Everyone who came in was full of love and enthusiasm for Rethreaded. During the festival, I would walk around downtown and see so many people wearing the threads of hope that we were passing out. Our street teams would come back saying that at least half of the people they talked to at the festival had already voted for Rethreaded. It was crazy to see how many people knew about our little non-profit in the big T-shirt house!
Then the truly unbelievable happened—we won! Rethreaded got the most votes and the biggest piece of the $250,000 crowd fund. We won over $6,500 in prize money. Needless to say, we were blown away.
I am learning more each day how our participation at One Spark could be game changer for us. The exposure that we got has put us on the map in a way that we could never have imagined. We made the news, the newspaper, and the Melissa Ross radio show all in a week! But more than all of the publicity we received, I believe the real game changer was the public’s response to Rethreaded. Out of over 400 creators with innovative, beautiful, and life-giving ideas, the public voted for us! The public voted for Rethreaded. They voted for relationship, community, hope and love’s power to change our world! It’s a testament to the heart of our city, to what we really do value and hold dear.
Perhaps above all else, One Spark sparked hope in me for Jacksonville. For five days the streets of Jacksonville were filled with anticipation, creativity, and lots of people! It sparked a vision for me and for so many others in the city of what is possible. We can be a city where people come to have their dreams come true, a city that embraces the underdog, where new innovations in business and art have a place to grow and receiving funding, and where a high value is placed on people who take risks and follow their passions. We can be a city that makes a difference in the lives of the people who live here and beyond. One Spark made me dream of the “more” for myself, for Rethreaded and for our city.
Written by Kristin Keen, Director of Rethreaded
Rethreaded is keeping that spark alive in many ways. You can join them for their June 8th event “One Spark Sale and Celebration” from 2:00 to 9:00PM at their warehouse at 820 Barnett Avenue in Jacksonville.
There will be live bands including Chopp and Four families, spoken word by Al Letson, a tour of our edible garden from the “Food Park Project”, food trucks and Intuition Beer. We invite you to take a tour of the warehouse and see why Jacksonville voted Rethreaded the winner of One Spark.
Learn more at: http://www.rethreaded.com.
More images of the T-shirt house on the next page