Peace Fleece Smile Card

Posted by Nipun Mehta on May 17, 2008
21346 reads  
Silas's parents run a rather incredible wool company, from their backyard barn in Maine.  It's a mom-and-pop outfit, with a deeply social mission, that started long before social entrepreneurship ever became a buzz word.

The Peace Fleece office is a barn on a sheep farm in Maine. Peter Hagerty and his wife Marty Tracy started buying wool from the Soviet Union back in 1985 in hopes that through trade they could help diffuse the threat of nuclear war. Since then they have worked with shepherds in Russia, Kyrgyzia, Israel and the West Bank, as well as in Montana, Ohio, Texas and Maine. By working with people who tend livestock every day, they hope to find a common ground that slowly leads to mutual understanding and economic interdependence. After twenty-one years, their goals remain the same.

Peter feels grateful that he can work at home on the farm with his family and at the same time have the opportunity to work overseas. To him, agriculture is a medium to bring people closer together.

Marty believes that promoting crafts in our hectic society is important. By inspiring people to work with their hands, she hopes that they can find more time to discover their own inner solutions for peace. A favorite part of the job for Marty is dreaming up new yarn colors.

Peter and I know each other quite well, although we've never communicated directly.  Today, I get his first email, indicating a generosity experiment they're doing with one order every week:

Your order was randomly selected by the Peace Fleece staff at our weekly Tuesday meeting and thanks to your ordering with us, we have the opportunity of partaking with you in a random act of kindness. Your payment has been voided, your order shipped and we are having fun. There is no pressure to pass on the kindness. We have no expectations. Our pleasure has been in the giving. 
Starting in September of 2003, smile cards began appearing all around the world. They are markers of a newfangled game of tag, where "you're it" because someone has done something nice for you. Then, only if you want to, it's your turn to do something nice for someone else and, in the process, pass the card along. Thanks for being part of the Peace Fleece family.

To learn more about the gift economy go to

When I first read this, it took me several minutes to recover from gratefulness.  I'm so glad we've never compromised our principles, because I sense that without that unwavering commitment, we wouldn't be witness to this beautiful connection with Peace Fleece.

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Comments (3)

  • CFM wrote ...

    What a concept! Connecting thru agriculture and By inspiring people to work with their hands, and to discover one's own inner solutions for peace via using hands and arts and crats! Beautiful.

    And now random act of kindness ...every week...very inspiring.

    It just shows one can find ways to be kind anywhere....

  • Peter Hagerty wrote ...

    Just a short note to include the below reply from our first experiment in the gift economy:

    I wanted to say thank you (although I'm sure it's not necessary) for your Smile Program. I just wanted to let you know that it has been passed on. I donated the amount I would have spent on the yarn, including shipping, to 2 farmers in Azerbaijan and Samoa through, which is a cause I think Peace Fleece would be behind in that it helps small businesspeople around the world fund microcredit loans.

    I know this is supposed to be anonymous, so I'm using a different email address that doesn't have my name attached, and I'm not writing you for any recognition or response. I simply wanted to let you know that you're doing a great thing (and not just with your Smile cards--with your business practice in general), and that it is not going unrewarded.

    Thanks for making a better business and for helping people in need, thanks for the stunning yarn, and thanks for "paying it forward" and helping others do the same.

  • Siddharth wrote ...

    This is an unbelievable story! Thanks for sharing :)