What Is Fair Trade?
Fair trade is the opposite of sweat shop labor that still exists today. Fairly traded goods are made by people who work together in cooperatives that govern themselves democratically and assure that strict guidelines are met:
Work conditions are safe.
Child labor is prevented.
Good environmental practices are used.
Men and women receive equal treatment.
Members of a cooperative equally share the work, the decision-making, and the profits.
Entire villages can be brought out of poverty when fairly traded goods provide a stable source of income and social services to farmers and handcrafters.
2003 – WIMNI offered hand-sewn goods from St. Julie’s Workshop near Lima, Peru, and sold enough to sustain several families through a difficult rainy season.
2004 – WIMNI opened a volunteer-run demonstration store which carried fairly traded handmade goods from 38 developing countries.
2006 – WIMNI held the Global Heart concert series that provided occasions for a fair trade bazaar in the social hall of the Reformed Church of Highland Park.
2007 – WIMNI engaged the nonprofit fair trade retailer, Ten Thousand Villages, to open a store in Highland Park.
2008 – WIMNI assisted local school bands, choirs, and orchestras to raise money through fair trade fundraisers.
2009 – WIMNI co-founded the Highland Park Fair Trade Coalition, along with Main Street Highland Park (through MSHP’s director, James McCrone) and Borough Council (through Councilman Jon Erickson). WIMNI sponsored Highland Park’s application to TransFair USA to be designated as a Fair Trade Town, documenting that the town meets all requirements. In September, TransFair USA awarded Highland Park, NJ the title of Fair Trade Town. HP is the 13th town in the USA to earn this status.
2009 – WIMNI opened A Better World Cafe in partnership with Elijah’s Promise culinary school. Along with it’s locally grown, multi-cultural, healthy fare, the cafe serves organic coffee that is always fair trade.
WIMNI continues to educate consumers about the power of fair trade to improve the lives of struggling people in distant countries. Current initiatives are listed in the News section.
External Links: http://www.fairtradeusa.org
In the News
September 2009: Congratulations, Highland Park, on becoming a Fair Trade Town!
Of more than 700 Fair Trade towns and cities in the world, Highland Park NJ is only the 13th in the USA. This distinction is recognized by Fair Trade Towns USA, an Oakland, CA-based organization that coordinates the Fair Trade Towns movement across the country. Highland Park has met a set of five criteria designed to advance fair trade.
One of the criteria is having an active local coalition. Borough Council member Jon Erickson and Main Street Highland Park director James McCrone joined with Who Is My Neighbor to create the Highland Park Fair Trade Coalition, a steering committee to increase fair trade locally. The coalition meets on the 1st Fri. of the month at 1 pm at the office of Main Street Highland Park and welcomes all volunteers.
Three other requirements for gaining the status of FT Town involved documenting the range of Fair trade products available at multiple stores in Highland Park, documenting that local organizations have policies to use fair trade products, and obtaining passage of a municipal resolution. Borough Council resolved on April 7, 2009 to maximize its own purchase of fair trade products, in line with its sustainability goals.
The fifth requirement was to illustrate extensive media attention and public support for fair trade. Who Is My Neighbor’s record of its fair trade initiatives since 2003 helped Highland Park to qualify.
A market-based model for alleviating global poverty through direct trade with small-scale farmers and artisans in developing countries, the fair trade movement has the motto of “trade not aid.” Empowering the poor to develop themselves and their communities, fair trade provides them with access to markets. Through a certification and monitoring process, it offers to co-operatives of farm workers or artisans fair wages, safe working conditions, access to credit, and direct trade relationships, eliminating “middle men” and delivering more of the purchase price into the hands of those who labored to make or grow the goods. It assures no child labor, and guarantees all production processes are environmentally sound.
The coalition will work on increasing the variety of fair trade certified goods available in local stores. A goal is to give consumers in Highland Park opportunities to purchase fairly traded food products such as coffee, bananas, nuts, herbs, tea, vanilla, cocoa, chocolate, rice, sugar, flowers and honey. Another goal is to expand the availability of fair trade goods manufactured by hand, such as toys, furniture, clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, and home furnishings.
The world’s first Fair Trade Town was Garstang, in the United Kingdom, certified in the year 2000. In the past nine years the movement has spread to eighteen countries. Besides Highland Park (NJ), the other confirmed Fair Trade Towns in the USA are San Francisco, Milwaukee, Taos (NM), Burlington (VT), Brattleboro (VT), Amherst (MA), Northampton (MA), Montclair (NJ), Bluffton (OH), Chico (CA), Ballston Spa (NY), and Media (PA). Many places that have campaigns in progress to become Fair Trade Towns include Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Orlando, Berkeley, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Missoula, Red Bank, Teaneck, Fayetteville, and Washington, DC.