crackpot gardener

The profusion of roadway ruts left in the wake of the Northeast’s harsh winter weather perturbed many a New Yorker this spring. But, instead of simply swearing and swerving around the holes, Schenectady resident Elaine Santore decided to take action and fill them herself.

This go-getter gal didn’t use asphalt.

She packed at least 10 local potholes with potting soil and—(how farmgirl is this?)—flowers!

Pansies, to be precise.

Photo by James Petts via Wikimedia Commons

“I’m not an avid gardener … but I do like to put things in the ground. It’s spring, and I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time,” Santore told Modern Farmer. “You could go down and complain at city hall. You could walk around with a picket and protest. There are other reasons to need to do that, much bigger issues. But something like this is just a simple no-harm way of getting the point across.”

She knew her little gardens wouldn’t last (most have now been restored to blacktop by the city), but she planted them anyway. The point, ultimately, was to move others with a simple gesture of gentleness.

“And I think it worked because people reacted to it,” she said. “I’m touched that people took notice and that I was able to draw attention to something that needs to be addressed in a kind way. With a little ingenuity, you can do something small and make a big difference.”











Soko is …

  • THE online destination to discover stunning and ethically produced handcrafted accessories from all over the world
  • empowering women in developing countries by providing direct consumer access to the global marketplace
  • ensuring that the majority of artisans’ profits stay with their local community
  • owned and operated by women for women to help “fashion a better world”
  • in a word: BEAUTIFUL

Photo by Sku1 via Wikimedia Commons

A trio of savvy women named Ella Peinovich, Gwendolyn Floyd, and Catherine Mahugu co-founded Soko in 2011 after recognizing “a global need, as well as global opportunity, to disrupt the systemic patterns of poverty found across the developing world’s creative economy.”

Photo by Petr Berka via Wikimedia Commons

“Style can be smart,” says the Soko team. “Soko brings you the opportunity to dazzle your wardrobe with stunning ethically produced jewelry never before available on the international marketplace. Our artisans design their own products, and we encourage them to use natural, locally-sourced recycled and upcycled materials. Not only are the creations unique and exquisite, they demonstrate the resourcefulness of our artisans and encourage a sustainable future.”

Smart, indeed.

As if you hadn’t guessed, Soko is just the sort of entrepreneurial effort that lights my fire, and one of its hottest aspects is the Designing a Difference program.

Heads up: this is farmgirl territory for sure.

Designing a Difference gives experienced designers (YOU??) the opportunity to share skills with small-scale artisans.

How rewarding would that be?

Soko describes it as a two-way learning opportunity. “You can impart technical and trend expertise, while learning about traditional techniques, local materials, and the incredible resourcefulness and ingenuity found in emerging markets. To learn more about this unique opportunity, get in touch with our team at”

And to shop for some feel-good, look-amazing accessories, peruse Soko’s gorgeous goods at