Monday, November 05, 2007

"Radical Retail"

When I travel around the country (which I love to do but it makes me a such a sporadic blog writer!), I'm always motivated by the people committed to using Fair Trade to confront poverty, create sustainable communities, and protect our dear planet. AND, I am also always surprised at how few people really know anything about Fair Trade. I don't mean that in a nasty way, but I forget sometimes that there are MILLIONS of folks that haven't yet encountered Fair Trade. One of my favorite sayings that I use in my book is "Fish don't know they are wet." Sometimes, even though I did write the book because I knew more and more people needed access to info and inspiration about the movement, I forget that I am lucky to be surrounded on a daily basis by people and institutions committed to economic justice.

When I was in Kiawah Island, South Carolina this weekend I was surprised to read a review in the local weekly about a new Fair Trade shop. The article was titled "Radical Retail: Will a new shop awaken Holy City shoppers to fair trade consumerism?" The article was very encouraging and supportive about the new store, Global Awakening, but I couldn't help shaking my head about how the author tried to tease the reader. Is something RADICAL coming to South Carolina??? Halloween horrors! But as an educator I know that the "hook" is important. The author wanted to make sure that people read about this great new shopping and learning opportunity in the town of Charleston. The only problem is that if you read the article you'd think Global Awakening was the only Fair Trade store on the planet instead of part of a exciting, evolving movement

I think this is a reminder of how important it is to stay connected to other Fair Traders. I haven't yet met the good folks in Charleston who are committed to Fair Trade commerce, but if the newspaper story was any indication, they may have a feeling they are going it alone. All over the country people are hungering for opportunities to make their professional skills or their vocational talents serve others, but they don't necessarily realize that there have been trailblazers ahead of them, current resources to utilize, or a whole mass of people hoping to shape a movement together. That's why it is so important to be connected as an individual to groups such as the Fair Trade Resource Network and Co-op America's Fair Trade Alliance and for businesses to seek out association with the Fair Trade Federation.

When we get passionate about Fair Trade we sometimes feel like we are going it alone.... Swimming upstream (there's that fish analogy again) in a hyper-materialistic culture that doesn't always recognize the need nor the power of individual and community action for economic justice. But when we search each other out we can find knowledge, support and networks. Whether as a traveling consumer like me, a business owner, college student (check out United Students for Fair Trade for their listing of upcoming regional conferences) or a producer, Fair Trade can be part of your daily lives and involvements.

And if you happen to live or work near Indianapolis, please join me this Saturday, Nov 11, for the Helping Hands Festival. A few dozen vendors committed to small scale producers will be gathered to showcase products and discuss Fair Trade principles. It will be good to learn from each other we are not alone!

No comments:

Post a Comment