Reach and Teach: Get to Know the People Behind the Products

Dec. 5, 2013 Amy’s Note: For more Shaping Youth posts I’ve written about Reach and Teach’s Global Goods That Do Good and “10 under $10″ finds, as well as  year round positive picks for kids like New Moon Girls magazine, see the bounty of selections from our archives…It’s important to vote with our wallets and make purchases count!

Reach and Teach.com  has consistently hand-selected products with integrity across multiple categories of human rights, eco-consciousness, peaceful giving and sustainable practices. For more worthy suggestions and positive values like this, see the new series on Rebecca Hains’ media literacy blog with free giveaways ongoing this month from small businesses like Lottie Dolls, and PigtailPals.

We’re Thankful for the People Behind the Products

Guest Post by Craig Wiesner, Co-Founder of Reach and Teach.com (S.Y. Partner Org)

One of the greatest joys we have is getting to know the people behind the products that transform the world through teachable moments. These are people we’ve gotten to know, who treat us as though we’re their biggest customer, and treat their employees and the planet with the deepest respect, and give back to their communities and the world.

EM-Labs and Skallops

Skallops<br /><br /><br />
                                    PenguinWandering through the Maker Faire we were overwhelmed by all of the gadgets and gizmos but nothing stopped us in our tracks the way a giant Skallops contraption did. We soon learned that this creature been built out of playing cards and these little wooden thingies called “Skallops” invented by the team at E&M Labs.

The young man in the booth told us about the company he and some friends had founded. Using these little wooden pieces with slots into which you can slide cards, you can build just about anything… including a lovely company that manufactures Skallops in Mountain View California, using sustainably sourced wood, with assembly/packaging done by physically and developmentally disabled folks.

The<br /><br /><br />
                                  Skallops TeamWe love visiting the Skallops team monthly and we truly love watching children and adults playing with Skallops, building really cool things. We offer Skallops in three packages: Junior (which you can double), Builder, and Simply Skallops.

Blue Orange

We got to know the team at Blue Orange Games having booths near each other at the Green Festival. There are four things we love about them. 1. These are people who truly cared about the planet and are incredibly committed to making sure that anyone making their products is paid a living wage and would work in a safe and healthy environment. 2. The games are REALLY fun and engaged kids and adults in a way that actually took them away from their “devices.” (That’s our friend Shane from the Spot on 25th playing his favorite game.) 3. The games are beautifully made and a joy to play with. 4. Blue Orange gives back to the community.

And… their warehouse and office are just a short distance from our house! We visit the folks there all the time and in doing so we’ve gotten to know them even better. They are wonderful LOCAL people who treat us like friends, not just customers.

Each of their games is easy to learn but with enough strategy needed to be engaging for hours and hours and hours. Kids and adults keep coming back and wanting to play more. Some of our favorites are Pegoloo, Fastrack, Gobblet Gobblers, Gobblet, SpotIt, and SpotIt Jr.

InfiniToy and ZOOB

Every morning Toby gets to visit a dog park on the way to work. One morning as he was scampering we started chatting with one of the other dog’s pets. We told her about our store and she said “Well in a shop like that you’ve got to have ZOOB!”

A few days later she stopped by our shop with some ZOOB and we had to agree. ZOOB is a building kit that covers two very important types of people: those who like very clear instructions on how to build something, and those who like to be given a challenge and then use their creativity and imagination. We invited one of our young friends over to the shop and after his eyes lit up just looking at the box, he went wild building things.

ZOOB kits are really well made, incredibly fun, and the founder of the company and his team are fanatic about making sure the folks who manufacture the kits are paid a living wage, treated well, work in safe conditions, and that their work enhances the community in which they live. 

Not only that, they treat us as though we are their biggest customer rather than joining the race to the bottom in which so many other toy-makers are running.

If you’re curious, ZOOB is an acronym for Zoology, Ontology (the branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being), Ontogeny (the development of an individual organism, usually from a simple form to a more complex form), and Botany. ZOOB is all about creating a love of math, science, engineering, and art in boys and girls of all ages. Our young toy tester LOVES ZOOB.

Just a few minutes from our shop in San Mateo, I LOVE visiting the folks at InfiniToy to pick up my Zoob kits, including Zoob Inventor, Zoob Challenge, Zoob 55, and ZoobMobile Cruiser RC.

People We Know Who Treasure Our Mission

Each of the companies above has incredibly wonderful people working near us and they’ve made it clear that they not only value our business but treasure our mission of transforming the world through teachable moments. They are committed to making the world a better place and we’re proud to consider them partners in peacemaking.

If you’re struggling to figure out just the right gift for someone, please consider giving them a Reach And Teach gift certificate. Click here to buy one online and we can email it to them! We wish all of our partners in peacemaking, friends, and fans around the world a very happy holiday season and look forward to a great new year.

Amy’s note: Thank you Craig, and if you’d like to keep up with Reach and Teach.com a little more please like their Facebook page Thank you for guest posting today!

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