Becca wanted to provide women survivors the time and space for transformative, sustainable healing from trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. The program includes two years of housing, healthcare, counseling, job training, and meaningful employment in a trauma-informed care setting.
It started with 5 women and 1 house, and has grown to 5 houses and 28 beds. In addition, Thistle Farms partners with the Tennessee Prison for Women to allow women to begin their healing journey within prison walls.
Five years after program completion, 75% of its graduates are living healthy, independent lives.
Becca began leading an annual trip to the small rural community of San Eduardo, Ecuador to run a medical clinic. One year later, she helped found a school to serve the village throughout the year. To honor Becca, the community named it Escuela Anne Stevens, after her mother, the former Executive Director of St. Luke’s Community House in Nashville. Beginning with only one grade originally, the school now teaches grades K-8 and serves 125 students and their families.
The CCJ supports the school by paying salary, retirement contribution, and health care benefits for the six full time teachers, as well as sponsoring ongoing trips to this day to help with capital improvement projects.
In 2001, Becca founded the social enterprise side of Thistle Farms. The goal was to create an entrepreneurial income stream for the residential program, and to provide gateway jobs for program participants and graduates.
It is the only program of its kind that offers survivors the opportunity for economic freedom, in addition to physical and mental recovery.
Becca helped found the Center for Contemplative Justice as a forum for contemplative practices and thoughtful activism. CCJ helps foster social justice initiatives, serving as an incubator for people holding a vision, allowing them to birth, nurture and grow the idea.
Three programs have launched through CCJ, with 4 more still in development. Programs range from food banks, a medical initiative, a documentary, and a theatrical musical, and a mindfulness awareness practice for children.
A coordinated movement of survivors, customers, advocates, and communities who collaborate on innovative ways to deliver justice and challenge systems that commodify and abuse women.
This survivor-led network includes 59 sister organizations based on Thistle Farms’ model, creating a referral system to house and heal up to 309 women survivors across the country.
The education department offers seminars and resources to help groups considering founding a program like Thistle Farms learn more about the model and how to launch a social enterprise.
To provide jobs and opportunities to women in San Eduardo, Becca began a sewing co-operative in collaboration with the community that pairs anestorial sewing skills with vocational training. Sibimbe provides economic freedom for women in an area where most of the jobs are heavy manual labor, with limited options for economic independence for women.
The cooperative is comprised of five women, determined to create a better future for themselves and their families. The women can now be self-sustaining and expand to the U.S. markets that otherwise would be inaccessible. The women can now provide education for their children, and then grandchildren. The introduction of education and resource into a poverty-stricken community has a ripple effect that flows infinitely through generations.
Trauma, trafficking, addiction, and extreme poverty are universal issues. Thistle Farms Global is a network of artisan groups who transform their futures through social justice enterprises. The shared trade mode is based on purchasing directly, bypassing distributors, and passing 40-60% of profits back to the artisan group for maximum economic impact.
Today the network has over 36 organizations in 20 countries, supporting the employment of over 1,400 women survivors worldwide. The program has launched 3 enterprises, and partnered with nearly 10 to accelerate growth.
Thistle Farms global partners also provide development programs ranging from healthcare, vocational training, education, childcare, food security, residential homes, agriculture development, or legal advocacy.
Moringa is known worldwide for its astounding health benefits, but is becoming newly popularized in Western Culture. Based in Juan Cosala, Mexico, Moringa Madres (spanish for “mother”), is a justice enterprise employing survivors who grow, harvest and sell the nutrient-rich leaf to gain economic freedom for their families.
The enterprise began when friends of Becca’s, Weezie & Jim Burgess, moved to the mountains of Mexico. Conversations among the three quickly moved to how best to assist the local community. An initial food distribution program became the Moringa Madres, with the help of five women from the program. Becca helped raise funds and develop core principles alongside Weezie Burgess, Gisela and the survivors.
The moringa leaf has powerful healing properties topically or ingested, and is in many of the Thistle Farms Body and Home products in addition to being available as a tea.
Larkspur Conservation is a nonprofit dedicated to the stewardship of the natural environment through earth-friendly, natural burial practices. Becca serves as a co-founder and Board Chair.
Its nature preserves are protected by a conservation overlay which allows for natural burial to occur on a portion of the land while fostering and restoring the local ecosystem.
This historic practice of natural burial eliminates the use of embalming chemicals, plastics, metals, and concrete. With each burial, an investment is made to our natural home, creating a living memorial to be enjoyed by everyone, forever.
Becca visited Greece with a team from Thistle Farms with a desire to respond to the refugee crisis impacting Europe. Hundreds of women and children were fleeing war ravaged homes and seeking sanctuary at Ritsona Refugee Camp in Greece, often arriving with little more than life jackets from the crowded boats, and blankets from relief agencies. Becca and Abi Hewitt, in collaboration with women from the camp, began the enterprise by transforming these items into welcome mats, table runners and other textiles.
Love Welcomes provides the opportunity to generate an income in the camp by weaving the fibers of sanctuary into symbols of welcome and hospitality. Within a few short months, each artisan earns enough for her family to begin a new life. Over 70 women have been employed through the program. The program also funds legal assistance and food security for the entire camp.
The program has garnered support and product collaborations from international artist, Bansky, as well as UK designer Margo Selby.