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3….2….1…..Countdown to Launch!


Just making sure you can find us...

Just to let you know how hip and progressive we are, let me announce that we are launching a new website by way of a little story:

In April, Google announced that it would give organic ranking advantage to websites that are “responsive” to various user platforms. In plain English, this means that websites that can be viewed with equal easy on smartphones, pad, and laptops will have better placement in Google searches, though paid ads will remain at the top. Since It’s Cactus is now an online-only retailer and since our old – but beautiful! – website is not of equal viewing ease from phone to laptop, this spurred us to action! We have been working feverishly for months and we are now close, so close, to our new and improved look.

Should I go into detail about the work that this involves? No. Just consider it to be monsterous. It has included reading, learning, shopping, comparing, calling customer service, and spending hours on the phone with our guru, Dennis, of Clever Concepts. It has included trial, error, thinking and re-thinking, organizing and re-organizing, shooting hundreds upon hundreds of photos, writing copy, and inputting it all. Did I mention a significant cash investment? That too.

But it’s all going to be worth it. Soon you will be able browse “It’s Cactus” easily, whether at home in your jammies or on the go. There will be Haitian iron by the virtual (and veritable) ton, of course, but there will also be an incredible amount of other types of folk art – more than ever before. We have added a product zoom feature, lots of style photos and greater product search capability. There’s also a “Wish List” where you can save items that morph from “want” to “need.” And there are tools that we can use behind the scenes that will help us do an even better job of making great folk art available to you. It’s very exciting!

Even with the launch date now in sight, the new website will still be a work in progress. If there is something about a piece that you need to know, something that we have overlooked, or simply haven’t gotten to yet, PLEASE don’t hesitate to call or email. We’d love to hear from you. That NEVER changes!


Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

Voodoo Priests and M.D.s : Finding the right mix in Haiti

More than 5 years after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, many of the physical wounds have healed, but much of the psychological wreckage lingers. Because voodoo culture is so pervasive -with an estimated 70 percent observing its practice – mental health care as a medical concept never really took hold and no system for clinical treatment was ever really established. Haitians who are in a state of mental suffering are likely to believe themselves to be possessed and seek the ministrations of a voodoo priest or priestess whereas their condition might otherwise be clinically diagnosed as depression, psychosis or other mental illness.  (Read more in the Huffington Post.)

A metal art interpretation of spirit possession by Jean Eddy Remy

This marvelous voodoo piece illustrates possession. A one-of-a-kind sculpture by Jean Eddy Remy.

Because of the prevalence of its practice, ignoring the influence of Voodoo with regard to mental health care would be a recipe for disaster. In a paper published in 2010 by the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization entitled, “Culture and Mental Health in Haiti: A Literature Review,” the authors state that, “Voodoo encompasses the promotion of personal well- being, prevention of illness, and healing.” Practitioners of Voodoo believe that the health or illness of a particular person depends on his or her connection to tradition and place in the social and moral order as well as his/her relationships with the gods and ancestors. Voodoo and personal health are so intertwined that believers would not accept treatment of which Voodoo is not a part.

Moreover, the common strategy of seeking out a voodoo priest rather than a doctor of psychiatry is also a practical one. In Haiti, with its

Hypocrates' staff recreated by Patrick Bernard

The Rod of Asclepius – a universal symbol of the medical profession – is artfully recreated in Haitian metal by Patrick Bernard.

population of 10 million, there are an estimated 60,000 hougans and mambos. There are only 10 psychiatrists.

Max Beauvoir, a high-ranking Voodoo hougan is emphatic that Voodoo must play a role in the development of a comprehensive therapeutic model. As he sees it, “Voodoo is the soul of the Haitian people. Nothing can be achieved if we work without that cultural basis.”

Enter Akwatu Kenti, head of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Office of Transformative Global Health. He along with Catholic, Protestant and Voodoo leaders are seeking an approach that blends tradition perceptions and cultural influences with clinical practices. His goal for the collaboration is that the shared wisdom of the participating clinicians and spiritual leaders will result in a state of elevated mental health for Haiti’s population as a whole.

It seems a set of ingredients that will be tricky to blend. But whoever came up with mixing yeast, sugar, flour and milk for the very first time? And now we have bread.

Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

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