Two weekends ago a group of K-State students traveled to Boston, Massachusetts. These students were members of the KSU Fair Trade Advocates, whose mission is to educate and advocate the uses of Fair Trade products to the KSU and Manhattan communities. KSU Fair Trade Advocates has a long history of working closely with ECM. Fair Trade is a movement towards a consumer system that allows each purchase you make to guarantee a fair wage is being paid to the producer of that good. This system empowers farmers in developing countries to build their communities and become self-sustaining.
In Boston we met up with 780 people from across the globe to be a part of the “Fair Trade Futures Conference.” The goal of this gathering was to bring people from all parts of the Fair Trade system (producers, wholesalers, retailers, consumers, and advocates) together to discuss what positive things are happening with Fair Trade, and what parts of the system need to change.
The conference began with an inspiring welcoming speech by Kevin Danahar of Global Exchange, Green America, and Green Fest. He encouraged event participants to view Fair Trade as a “global values revolution” and to incorporate the values of fairness, justice, opportunity, and transparency to all aspect of global relationships.
Later in the weekend a panel of producers from Global Mamas, TEMA, CEPICAFE, and Candela Peru Farmers Cooperative spoke to the conference attendees about their organizations, positive outcomes their members have seen from Fair Trade, and asked conference attendees to put the focus of Fair Trade back on the producers.
Additional topics included whether or not Fair Trade’s current system was working well, and how to look toward the future of the organization.
We were able to participate in smaller, more intimate and interactive workshops throughout the weekend. These workshops covered a variety of topics-including “Fair Trade and Faith”,“Fair Trade 101”,“Social Media”, and “Answering Tough Questions”, among several other topics.
One of our favorite parts of the conference was the Fair Trade Marketplace- where over 50 vendors had Fair Trade products for sale, such as body care, jewelry, and clothing.
The conference was two-days of intense learning and growth for the Fair Trade community and for the K-State students who were able to attend. We have brought back, ideas, plans, new relationships, and a fresh perspective on the movement.
Stephanie Alderman-Oler, Senior Secondary Education
KSU Fair Trade Advocates-Marketplace Coordinator
ECM-Special Activities Coordinator