Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Nest Builders

A nonprofit enriches artisans around the world



Social-justice activists Rebecca and Chris van Bergen’s enthusiasm is infectious. Whether they are anticipating the Memorial Day opening of the local neighborhood swimming pool or the completion of a high-concept factory in India, the couple has a straightforward optimism that was celebrated onstage at the Clinton Global Initiative and has earned them national media coverage and support from foundations like Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The couple runs Nest (buildanest.org), a nonprofit that Rebecca founded just after getting her master’s in social work. Nest’s mission is to create partnerships between artisans and luxury brands to promote peace and alleviate poverty. “We believe in employment as a means of social change,” explains Rebecca. “Business can transform lives at the economic level but at the personal and community levels as well. We aim to treat every artisan as not just an individual but as a family provider and community leader.”

By putting luxury brands, including Maiyet, Reef, and Trina Turk, together with artisans in India, Africa, and South America, Nest helps to preserve crafts that have been handed down from generation to generation and can be threatened by ever-changing economic pressures. The nonprofit also helps foster independence by working with local people to create on-the-ground support that funds initiatives and environmentally sustainable practices.

One of the artisans Nest helped was a weaver in Guatemala, whose work decorates Reef sandals. In a video of the project, the weaver says, “I’m very surprised because we never thought it would be an interesting product for the world.” On seeing the finished sandals destined for the shelves of Barneys, Bloomingdales, and the Wilton Sport Shop, he says, “It’s like we’re looking at something we haven’t seen before.” Reef helped weavers understand what would sell to an international audience and maintain the consistent quality demanded by luxury consumers.

Rebecca imagines a future where people are willing to pay more for quality clothing and home goods that are ethically produced by artisans just as people are willing to pay more for organic, locally produced food. To that end, Nest developed an Ethical Source Code and encourages its corporate partners and artisans to adopt that code in their work so that consumers can be confident they are purchasing goods made to the highest quality and ethical standards.

Nest’s flagship project in Varnasi, India, aims to restore the 500-year-old weaving tradition threatened by inexpensive copies from the Far East. Working with luxury brand Maiyet and world-renowned British architect David Adjaye, Nest is helping Indian weavers build a state-of-the-art weaving center, factory, and health facility. The factory is carbon negative, relying on solar power and other green initiatives.

The Van Bergens see Nest’s approach as a way to empower women and spread religious tolerance. Nest’s other 2014 projects are located in Kenya, Swaziland (South Africa), Bali, and Mexico.

Lauren Hurst, marketing director for Maiyet and Nest board member, says the Van Bergens are “lovely, lovely people, who have a great understanding of how to communicate with different communities with patience and respect.” She saw Rebecca transform Nest from a “tiny organization to one that has a lot of impact. They’ve planted the seeds for ethically produced luxury goods and established roots in various countries.”

The Van Bergens, in search of green space, good schools, and a comfortable home for their one-year old daughter, Ella, and themselves, resettled their young family from an apartment in Brooklyn to a house in West Mountain Estates this past fall. “We didn’t grow up in New York, so we wanted a more natural environment for Ella,” says Rebecca. “Ridgefield is special. Some Westchester towns felt small but sometimes too small with just a single store or restaurant. Ridgefield has a lovely balance of lots of amazing restaurants and culture but no chains.”

Chris, who is a classical trumpet player, cites the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra and Playhouse as two big draws for him. As for his commute to Nest’s office in New York, he says, “I prefer the hour train ride where I can get a lot done over the 40-minute commute on the subway. When we come home from work or from the weeks we spend out of the country, it’s like an oasis, very relaxing.”

Their 1982 contemporary home is flooded with natural sunlight and gracefully furnished with modern furniture and paintings from the artisans they support through Nest.

Always on the move, the van Bergens are beginning to look for projects closer to home. This fall they expect to work with Colorado ranch hands to help them transform their leather skills once used to make saddles and bridles into making luxury wallets and bags.

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Catch the Vibe Newsletter

See this weekend's events in the area!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Cause and Effect

Veterans get peace of mind with equine therapy

Fast Lane of Hope

Two filmmakers help A Better Chance––an organization dedicated to helping children in the USA

Comfort Zone

Regional Hospice, an incomparable haven for life’s last journey

Kids These Days––2015

Four local teens use their time and talent to give back

Medical Mojo

Cutting Edge Advancements At Area Hospitals

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

January 2019

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
View map »


Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

More information

The temple dancer Nikiya and the warrior Solor fall deeply in love, igniting heated passions and murderous intrigues when the Rajah and his daughter Gamzatti discover their forbidden love. La...

Cost: Tickets: $25 | Members & Seniors $20 | Students $15

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: The Ridgefield Playhouse
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Join us to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year. Create your own decorative dragon using construction paper, paper towel rolls, tissue paper, and other fun materials to usher in the New...

Cost: Free for members and with Museum admission

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00 PM Create a cool yarn hat in a single evening! All materials will be provided. This event is free and no registration is required. Ages 12 and up. Hosted by North...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Grab a glass of wine and join us in exploring the basics of drawing the figure with artist and Aldrich staff member Noah Steinman. With a live model as inspiration, use a variety of materials such...

Cost: $12; $10.80 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Thursday, Jan. 24 Author Talk: Stephanie Land - Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Maid is showing up on almost every best of, must read, don't miss list of...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Original members of the Billy Joel Band featuring Liberty DeVitto on drums, Richie Cannata on saxophone and Russell Javors on rhythm guitar. The band recorded and toured extensively with Billy Joel...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: (203) 438-5795
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Winter Guided Hike @ Woodcock Nature Center Saturday January 26th, 10-11:30am, FREE ​ Join Mr. Sam for a hike where we'll investigate whats going on in nature in the winter season and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Woodcock Nature Center
Telephone: (203) 762-7280
Contact Name: Sam Nunes
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Saturday, January 26th from 1:00 - 2:00 PM, Ages 4+ Attend for groovy crafts, snacks, games, and more in celebration of the Pete the Cat book series. This event is free and no registration is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Hudson Chorale, the area’s largest mixed voice chorus, is poised to please.  The group will begin its 2019 season with two matinee concerts on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm and Sunday,...

Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

Where:
The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
Ossining, NY  10562
View map »


Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
Contact Name: Anne Norum
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags