Hundreds of sessions to educate the public on the benefits of fair trade and provide samples of products from around the globe
Posted: May 04, 2011 – 01:30 PM EST
WASHINGTON, D.C., May. 04 /CSRwire/ – A record 100,000 people across the US and Canada are expected to participate in hundreds of events over the next two weeks to mark World Fair Trade Day, which is May 14, 2011. Cities, towns, churches, groups and individuals are planning events to highlight social, economic, and environmental benefits to buying Fair Trade. The events include Fair Trade festivals, Fair Trade coffee breaks, webinars and Fair Trade artisan tours among others.
For information about World Fair Trade Day events in your area or to find out more information about the benefits of buying Fair Trade, go to http://www.fairtraderesource.org/wftd/.
Many Americans are unaware how many day-to-day items are produced in abusive labor conditions which include sweatshops and child labor. These items include clothing, furniture, and foods such as coffee, chocolate, and sugar. The Fair Trade system helps producers and suppliers earn a living wage and take steps to protect the environment. It also serves to empower individuals and communities, support women’s and children’s rights, promote dignity and respect, and connect developing nations with developed nations and markets.
World Fair Trade Day national campaign coordinator, and Executive Director, Fair Trade Resource Network Jeff Goldman, said: “the meaningful activities comprising this largest Fair Trade event in North America allow adults and kids to learn about empowering marginalized people while celebrating justice and sustainability with hundreds of thousands worldwide.“
Examples of World Fair Trade Day events around the U.S. include:
- Texas. Austin Fair Trade Film Festival, May 12-14 at various locations. Events include a short film competition, a Fair Trade wine and chocolate pairing event, and the Fair Trade film festival and global market.
- Illinois. Chicago World Fair Trade Day celebration, May 6, 2011 at Daly Plaza. Companies will be selling Fair Trade gifts, coffee, chocolate, and more and there will be programs and world music played throughout the day. Additionally there will be a Fair Trade pavilion at the Chicago Green Festival on May 14-15 at McCormick Place in Lakeside, IL where non-profits and Fair Trade vendors will be on hand.
- New York State. Several upstate events are planned, including a World Fair Trade Day celebration in Albany on May 13th at the Ten Thousand Villages store, and a Fair Trade/Coffee Break Celebration in Rochester on May 14th at One World Goods.
- Oregon. A variety of events in Portland to include an informational Fair Trade 101 Panel Discussion at Kells Irish Pub on May 9th, and the St. Andrew/Catholic Relief Services World Fair Trade Day celebration on May 15th featuring music, food, crafts, and informational talks.
- Florida. A Fair Trade wine tasting in Orlando on May 15, at the Lake Eola Farmers Market. This event will also feature food, live music, and local craft vendors.
Major sponsors of World Fair Trade Day include nonprofit and faith-based organizations, such as Green America, Catholic Relief Services, Fair Trade Towns and Fair Trade USA, as well as retail companies, such as Ben and Jerry’s, Fair Trade Apparel, Green Mountain Coffee, Lucuma Designs, Wholesome Sweeteners, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Regular sponsors include Fair for Life Social & Fairtrade Certified, Fair World Project, Global Exchange, Indigenous Designs, Maggie’s Organics, Theo Chocolate and WorldofGood.com by eBay.
ABOUT FAIR TRADE RESOURCE NETWORK
Founded in 1999, the Fair Trade Resource Network (FTRN) seeks to build a more just and sustainable world by gathering, developing, and disseminating educational resources about Fair Trade. FTRN is the only non-profit organization in the world focused exclusively on Fair Trade education, helping people to better understand the impact of their buying decisions.
2nd Annual Fair Trade Film Festival Gets a Makeover!
Thanks to Alan Bird Graphic Design, the AFTFF ’11 has a sweet new look!
Check out our beautiful new flyer for the 2011 Film Festival!
Film Fest T-Shirts Arrive Just In Time!
It’s always good to “talk the talk,” but it’s even better to “walk the walk”!
This year, the Film Fest t-shirts are ethically sourced and FAIRLY TRADED
by Maquiladora Dignidad y Justicia presented by North Country!
We know you want to be a trendsetter at the Film Fest on Saturday, so come and buy yours at the store ASAP!
Longtime Ten Thousand Villages volunteer and current board member Taylor Overstreet wrote this article for MISSION DRIVEN, the blog for Greenlights for NonProfit Success. Taylor shared her excitement (and OURS) for the Austin Fair Trade Film Festival and detailed the process of planning such an event.
Posted on May 7, 2010 by Taylor Overstreet
Disclaimer: I’m a longtime volunteer and current board member at Ten Thousand Villages of Austin, so please forgive me in advance for swelling with pride during this post!
For nonprofit fair trade organization Ten Thousand Villages of Austin, the big idea was a film festival to raise awareness about fair trade. A few months ago, board member and volunteer Sharon Matheny had the idea to hold the first annual fair trade film festival in Austin, in conjunction with World Fair Trade Day, held on the second Saturday in May each year. Ten Thousand Villages of Austin has celebrated for the past several years, but this year, we decided to go big.
But first, we needed to answer three big questions – what, who and how?
1. What do we want to accomplish? Awareness? Fundraising? Recruiting? For this event, awareness was our primary goal. World Fair Trade Day has connected us year after year to people and celebrations all over the world. It’s a special opportunity to celebrate with our local community and to build awareness about fair trade products and the artisans behind them. There are still lots of folks who don’t know about fair trade, so it was important for us to educate in an informal way that is fun for everyone. Film seemed like a natural conduit because of the vibrant film community that already exists in Austin. We decided to include a panel discussion following each film to create a true dialogue as part of raising awareness.
2. Who should be involved? We love our local partners, and the idea of a film festival in Austin just didn’t make sense at any other place than the Alamo Drafthouse. Our timing coincided perfectly with the campaign to secure the Fair Trade Towndesignation for Austin, and that group has played a tremendous role. We turned to our existing partnerships and made new relationships in the process to secure sponsorships from Texas Coffee Traders, Handmade Expressions, The Progressive Populist, Transfair USA, Novica, Texas Fair Trade Coalition, Eastside Cafe, Dominican Joe, Nada Moo, Maine Root Handcrafted Beverages, Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera,Austin Local & Fair Trade, Ethical City, Marigold-Gateway to India, Fair Trade a Day, and Etnik Fashions. Finally, nothing happens without our volunteers. They have been instrumental leading up to the big day and will be a big part of our success.
3. How do we get there? While the film festival is not a fundraiser, we needed funds to make it happen. We set up a KickStarter fundraising page and set a modest fundraising goal that basically covered our costs. We asked a local designer to donate his time designing a logo for our festival t-shirts, and our fabulous volunteer crew galvanized into action to spread the word via Facebook, e-mail, and good old-fashioned word of mouth.
In an effort to build more connections with the nonprofit community, Ten Thousand Villages of Austin recently became a member of Greenlights. Big ideas aren’t so daunting when you have the support that this community provides. It’s our first time trying this experiment, but that’s what big ideas are all about. How big? The festival, the first of its kind, includes three documentary films, panel discussions, a Fair Trade Market, artisan demonstrations, and (because it’s Austin) live music.
What’s your big idea?
We are so thrilled with the local news coverage of the Austin Fair Trade Film Festival. The Austin Chronicle ran this story Thursday and our thanks to the Chronicle and to Richard Whittaker for helping spread the word – and the facts.
The Politics of Food Production
Austin’s first Fair Trade Film Festival sparks controversy
If you’ve ever seen the Fair Trade logo on your coffee and wondered what it meant, then Austin’s first ever Fair Trade Film Festival might clear up what’s in your cup.
So what is Fair Trade? Employers and exporters in developing nations who agree to abide by certain good employment and trade practices – such as allowing democratic collectives and opposing child labor – can put the Fair Trade logo on their products. That means ethical shoppers in developed nations know which products to buy to support the right firms and keep their money away from the bad ones. Festival organizer Sharon Matheny explained, “[Fair Trade] recognizes that the majority of goods that Americans buy and consume are produced outside the United States, and the people who produce it are usually not paid a living wage.” Even though the first Fair Trade supply chains were established in the 1940s and more than $4 billion worth of certified goods are sold every year, Matheny said, “most Americans are not aware of this type of economic practice.” That’s why she’s organizing this film festival – to get the word out.
While she hopes this will be an annual event, it’s starting small, with three films, panel discussions, artisan demonstrations, and a Fair Trade market. In selecting the lineup, Matheny said, “We wanted to show films that deal with the major topics in Fair Trade.” Buyer Be Fair: The Promise of Product Certification tracks the path of coffee from Mexican growers to European consumers, while Maquilapolis (City of Factories) uses footage shot by female factory workers along the Mexican border. Matheny said: “It concentrates on the sweatshops that manufacture most American electronics that do not come from Asia. They’re the source of considerable economic instability right in our own backyard.”
There was a shadow hanging over the third film: The Price of Sugar, the Paul Newman-narrated, South by Southwest 2007 Emerging Visions audience award-winning documentary about sugar harvesters in the Dominican Republic. “Most people don’t realize that the majority of sugarcane in the United States comes from the plantations dealt with in this film,” said Matheny. It contains serious allegations about how one family of plantation owners, the Vicinis, treats its laborers. On April 8, Washington, D.C.-based lobbyists Patton Boggs sent letters to the festival organizers claiming that the film is “rife with errors.” It noted that they are suing the filmmakers on the Vicinis’ behalf for defamation and claimed its distributors, New Yorker Films, suspended DVD production “to avoid being sued and possible ‘repeater’ liability.” (In fact, the producers told Matheny that the distributors went bust, and the film is available for group screenings viawww.thepriceofsugar.com.)
Initially, the festival organizers feared they might end up in court if they screened the doc (see “Naked City,” News, April 23). In the last week, Patton Boggs clarified that it just wanted one of its people to take part in the panel discussion and include the Vicinis’ side of things. Matheny said, “We’ll absolutely extend them the courtesy.”
KVUE News also interviewed Sharon Methany, a Ten Thousand Villages Board Member who is on the film festival’s planning committee. Our thanks to Sharon, and to all those working so hard to make this festival a reality.
Suing Over ‘Price of Sugar’
D.C.-based lobby firm Patton Boggs is pressuring a local nonprofit to cancel its planned screening of an award-winning documentary. The Price of Sugar is among the films scheduled at the Austin Fair Trade Film Festival, a May 8 event to be held by Ten Thousand Villages of Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse South. The documentary, which won the South by Southwest 2007 Emerging Visions audience award and is available through Netflix, examines human rights abuses in the Dominican Republic. The Austin store received a letter on April 8 from Patton Boggs asking them to cancel the screening, claiming the film contains inaccuracies about its clients the Vicini family and noting that the film’s producers are currently being sued for defamation. Attorneys told festival organizers that they, too, could be sued if the screening goes ahead. The store’s board of directors will meet May 2 to consider its options. Board member Sharon Matheny said she worries that, even though Patton Boggs cannot legally block the screening, the festival may dump the film to avoid being sued. She explained, “If you’re standing in the way of a speeding semi, and everyone’s telling you, ‘It’s ridiculous, but he’s going to keep going and run over you,’ are you just going to stand there?” – Richard Whittaker
Our thanks to Hilltop Views, the student newspaper of St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, for their article on Ten Thousand Villages of Austin and the Ten Thousand Villages mission!
Local shop thinks globally
by Megan Ganey
As people walk into Ten Thousand Villages from the bustle of South Congress Avenue on a Saturday afternoon, they are transported from a trendy shopping strip in Austin to a variety of countries around the world.
Some people find themselves plinking wooden instruments from Africa or adorning their ears, wrists and necks with silver and turquoise from Mexico. One woman, carrying potted red flowers, buys blue embroidered cloth napkins from Nepal to complete her set. A young woman finds a brown, yellow and red woven bracelet from Bangladesh.
Although these curious wanderers of the handcrafted world are spending their dollars in Austin, their money is directly stimulating and supporting local economies in towns and villages in more than 30 countries across the globe. That is the mission of Ten Thousand Villages.
Ten Thousand Villages was founded more than 60 years ago by Edna Ruth Byler, who, after seeing poverty in Puerto Rico in 1946, decided to sell handmade crafts from the trunk of her car. With the help from the Mennonite Central Committee, the store is now a non-profit franchise with 155 stores across North America. All revenue is retained within Ten Thousand Villages and used to expand retail services and purchases from artisans. Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans from Third World countries to sell their handmade products at a fair and sustainable price.
The franchise sends out buyers who work as consultants and marketing advisors for artisans to make sure their products will sell in the North American market as well as ensure fair trade practices in the villages. Because each artisan’s situation may be different from another, based on skill level, standards of living and how many people are involved, individual agreements are made. However, all artisans are paid 50 percent up front before their items are sold in stores.
Polly Monear, who trains volunteers at the South Congress store, said that she took the position at Ten Thousand Villages five years ago because of the connection to the arts as well as the global impact. Monear graduated with a bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of Iowa. After spending years in the corporate world, she wanted a change to what she considered a more ethical form of business. The day she decided to look for jobs the Ten Thousand Villages position was posted and, as she said, “it all just fell into place.”
“This is the first nonprofit that I have worked for, and I have been really blown away by how hard people will work for a cause that they believe in,” Monear said. “That’s a daily inspiration.”
One of the volunteers, Lisa Georing, a biology professor at St. Edward’s University, got involved with the store through the Mennonite church. During a semester at Bethel College in Kansas, she studied in Israel and Palestine. She said that her travels to Mexico and Central America has raised her global awareness.
“It’s our duty to help people that need it no matter the situation, whether it’s fair trade or health care or whatever,” Georing said.
“It’s very obvious to me how my volunteering is directly helping people,” Georing said. “There is a very short connection between when I sell a product that these people made with their own hands, I know that that is directly helping them have a better life.”
Georing also draws connections between St. Edward’s, Holy Cross and Ten Thousand Villages.
“There is an emphasis on social justice,” Georing said. “St. Edward’s has this push of wanting students to be globally aware and understand the world that they are apart of and so I think Ten Thousand Villages is a natural fit for that because you have the social justice aspect of which is important to Holy Cross and St. Edward’s and you’ve got this opportunity to learn about people and how Ten Thousand Villages makes a difference.”
Global impact is an important message of Ten Thousand Villages and how it translates through buying fair trade handmade products.
“It’s real easy to feel powerless and get discouraged, so I hope that by coming in here and seeing that they can buy things that don’t represent the exploitation of others, that that gives them some hope and kind of turns a little light on,” Monear said.