Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fair Trade & Earth Day

With Earth Day quickly approaching I feel compelled to connect the dots between Fair Trade and our Earth. Earth Day encourages greater awareness of both our planet and the forces that threaten its health and future. Fair Trade encourages not only respect for the producers but respect for the environment that produces many of the products that we rely on, purchase and consume.
Fair Trade is based on several principles that Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and monitor to ensure that these principles are upheld. One of these principles, “Respect for the Environment”, is defined as follows from the World Fair Trade Organization or WFTO:
Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.
As a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation, our entire supply chain is to “Cultivate Environmental Stewardship”. That is, to offer current generations the ability to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Producers must actively consider the implications of their decisions on the environment and promote the responsible stewardship of resources.
No doubt that if you have browsed a Fair Trade shop you have noticed how the artisans reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible. Fair Trade encourages environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire trading chain. This not only makes for beautifully creative products, but a beautiful
planet as well.
For social and environmental responsibility, we can, and should purchase locally grown produce as much as possible. But the truth is that we rely on many products not grown locally, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, coconuts, and the list continues. Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Cottonseed Oil and Palm Oil are used in the making of soaps and many cosmetics we use.
According to Fair Trade USA, for Fair Trade Certified products, the most toxic chemicals are not used and there are no GMOs. Fair Trade organizations develop a strategic approach to integrated pest management, the safe use and handling of agrochemicals, responsible waste management, protection of soil and water and biodiversity, and reduction of energy and greenhouse gas emissions.
Fair Trade not only cares for the producers, it cares for the planet and it’s growing. An estimated 30% of Fair Trade farmer organizations invest their premiums for community development into initiatives such as reforestation, water
conservation, environmental education and organic certification. In fact, over
half of all Fair Trade imports into the U.S. are certified organic.
When we think of preserving our planet there are so many small changes we can make, small changes in habits that have a positive impact on real people, animals and beautiful places. So, the next time you shut off all the lights in the house, grab that re-usable shopping bag and water bottle and hop on your bike to the market, you can look for that Fair Trade label and know you have taken one more step to respect our planet. By stepping up and making changes in our everyday habits and changes in the way we purchase, we can make a difference.
Although Earth Day 2013 is officially recognized on April 22nd, the Healdsburg High School will be sponsoring their Eleventh Annual Earth Day Festival in the Healdsburg Plaza on Saturday, April 20th from 11 – 5. If last year was any indication, this year’s event will be another great day that goes beyond high school and embraces community. This family-friendly, multi-cultural celebration will feature powerful speakers and wonderful entertainers celebrating our planet and the people who inhabit it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Not My Life" Presentation

After a brief hiatus, Fair Trade Healdsburg is back in action!  We would like to give a big thank you to the students and staff of Healdsburg High School, the Progressive Club and Rebel Fagan for inviting us to present "Not My Life" at the Black Box Theater.

Over the entire school day we completed 6 Presentations on Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery to over 500 students of Healdsburg High School.  After a brief introduction we viewed a 30 min abridged version of "NOT MY LIFE", a documentary filmed on 5 continents and 12 countries. After the viewing we discussed ways to get involved and make a difference. We talked about organizations working to make a difference, like the Polaris Proje...ct, International Justice Mission & Not For Sale.  We left feeling charged knowing that so many young people really care and want to make a difference and proud to be part of a socially responsible town that stands for global relationships based on fairness and mutual respect.
We look forward to continued outreach and promotion of businesses locally while eliminating the exploitation of producers globally. We strongly believe that poverty and lack of opportunity are the common denominators for many forms of exploitation. We believe that Fair Trade is a means to eradicate sweat shops, forced labor, child labor and debt bondage. We encourage conscience consumerism so please "Shop Local" first and "Shop Fair Trade" for those products not produced locally.
Because of such high interest we decided to put together more information and resources in the fight for freedom so together, we can end slavery.  Below we have included several organizations working to eliminate Human Trafficking and Modern Day, links to petition State & Federal Lawmakers and links to a smart phone app & shopping guides for conscience consumerism. 

Polaris Project
Polaris Project By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888), conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery. Learn more at

International Justice Mission 

IJMInternational Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems.

Not For Sale
Not For SaleNot For Sale creates tools that engage business, government and grassroots in order to incubate and grow social enterprises to benefit enslaved and vulnerable communities. Through social projects spanning the globe in countries like Peru, the Netherlands, India, Thailand and South Africa, Not For Sale works to provide restoration, challenge institutional thinking, and create new futures for survivors.
Green America
Green America Their mission is to harness economic power-the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace-to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. To work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.
Have you ever wondered where your consumer electronics come from?
The supply chain for consumer electronics is complex, composed of many layers, and involves many parties. This makes it difficult to trace where labor abuses occur. Most products travel through various parts of the world, and the making of electronics is a prime example of that. Our goal at Free2Work is to shed light on this process.
Take a look at the ongoing research the Free2Work team is conducting to decipher the consumer electronic supply chain. From conflict mines in the Congo to the electronics we rely on, follow the supply chain to see the global reach of our consumer goods.
Green America's Guide to Fair Trade
Guide to Fair Trade
Order Your Copy or
Download the PDF »
Finding Fair Trade resources has never been easier! Want to know where to get the latest Fair Trade products? Need organizing material for your business or organization? Discover all the possibilities of Fair Trade in Green America’s new full color Guide to Fair Trade! Inside you'll find descriptions of dozens of national and international Fair Trade products.
Green America's Guide to Ending Sweatshops
Guide to Fair Trade
Order Your Copy or
Download the PDF »
Finding sweat-free products has never been easier! Want to know where to get the latest sweat-free fashions? Need organizing material for your business or organization? Inside you'll find a complete guide to a sweat-free wardrobe, an interview with a former sweatshop worker, and the dirt on the worst apparel producing corporations.
The Better World Shopping Guide
The only comprehensive guide for socially and environmentally responsible consumers available, this book ranks every product on the shelf from A to F so you can quickly tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys” — turning your grocery list into a powerful tool to change the world. Representing over 15 years of distilled research, data is organized into the most common product categories including coffee, energy bars, computers, gasoline, clothing, banks, cars, water and more.
Safe Harbor Law Petition to State Lawmakers
There are better policy approaches and better options, ones that literally save the lives of children and teens.
Safe Harbor laws are that better option. These laws define these sexually exploited children as victims of abuse, help them find protection and support, and grant them immunity from prosecution for prostitution while they are under 18 years of age.
Safe Harbor laws also can increase funding for specialized services like long-term housing, mental health care, educational support, and job training to help these children recover. Thirty-nine states lack these basic Safe Harbor protections – including Texas, Michigan, Nebraska, and Louisiana. Every state can do more to increase services for child victims of sex trafficking.
Ask the President to help make Freedom Real
President Obama will begin his second term as our nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation – the great promise of freedom to America’s slaves authored by President Lincoln. As Dr Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “There is but one way to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation. That is to make its declarations of freedom real…”

Now is the perfect time to ask President Obama to use his second term to help make freedom real for children and families around the world waiting for rescue. Join us in asking the president to lead on a comprehensive plan to eradicate slavery at home and abroad.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

The History and Progress of Fair Trade

This Saturday, May 12th is World Fair Trade Day.  Celebrations and events will take place in more than 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Pacific Rim.  Leading the celebrations are groups such as the World Fair Trade Organization and the Fair Trade Resource Network.  I decided to celebrate by sharing the history of Fair Trade with you. 
So what is Fair Trade?   
The Fair Trade system ensures that people along every step of the supply chain receive fair wages.  It is a system that ensures that workers and communities are treated with dignity and respect.  It is a system that ensures that the artisans and producers take steps to preserve our environment.  Fair Trade strives to create long lasting relationships with producers in developing world and businesses and consumers in the developed world.
How did Fair Trade begin?
The Fair Trade movement began back in 1946 when a woman named Edna Ruth Byler began importing needlecrafts from low income women in South America.  She laid the groundwork for the first Fair Trade organization, the Mennonite Central Committee.  Closely followed by SERRV International, in 1949, both organizations had a goal to develop fair trade supply chains in developing countries.  The products were almost exclusively handicrafts sold by volunteers in “Charity Stores” or “Ethnic Shops”.
The modern fair trade movement began in the United States and really took shape in Europe in the 1960s and quickly gained popularity.  A movement built on a approach to economies where price is directly linked to the actual production costs and where all producers are given fair and equal access to the markets.  The slogan, “Trade not Aid”, gained international recognition by 1968.
 The first Fair Trade Label, “Max Havelaar”, was founded in 1988. This independent certification allowed the goods to be sold outside Worldshops (Fair Trade Shops) and into the mainstream, reaching a larger consumer segment and boosting fair trade sales significantly. This also allowed customers and distributors alike to track the origin of the goods to confirm that the products were really benefiting the producers at the end of the supply chain.
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), formerly the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT), was created in 1989, and the The Fair Trade Federation (FTF), formally known as the North American Trade Organization (NAATO) was formed in the late 1970s when individual alternative trade organizations began holding yearly conferences for groups working in fair trade. Both groups followed the internationally recognized Fair Trade principles of fair wage, gender equality, long-term relationships, concern for the environment, democratic decision making, safe working conditions, respect for culture, and prohibition of child exploitation.
Fair Trade USA, formally known as TransFair opened it’s first “National Headquarters” in 1998 as is now the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.  In 2002 Fairtrade International (FLO), launched the international “FairTrade” certification mark.  These two groups are currently the two main organizations that certify Fair Trade products and the Fair Trade Federation is the main network of organizations in North America fully committed to Fair Trade. 
The first fair trade agricultural products were coffee and tea.  This was quickly followed by dried fruits, cocoa, sugar, rice, grains, spices and nuts.  But it was coffee that quickly became the main growth engine behind fair trade, claiming up to 50% of the total alternative trading organization turnover in 2005.
So, where are we now?
The availability of Fair Trade products have expanded well beyond needlecrafts and coffee to include chocolate, sugar, rice, quinoa, fresh fruit, flowers and a wide variety of jewelry, housewares and apparel.  We now see Fair Trade products at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods and other large retailers.  Even fast-food merchants like McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts now sell Fair Trade Coffee. You would be surprised at how often you have a Fair Trade option when making a purchase.
According to the Fairtrade International, by 2008, products certified by FLO amounted to approximately $4.98 billion worldwide, a 22% year-to-year increase.  Although this represents only a tiny fraction of world trade in physical merchandise, over 7.5 million producers and their families were benefiting from fair trade funded infrastructure, technical assistance and community development  projects.
New data from Fair Trade USA reveals that the organization had another record setting year for coffee.  Over 138 million pounds of Fair Trade Certified coffee were imported into the United States, a 32 percent increase over 2010. This growth in imports enabled Fair Trade coffee cooperatives to earn an unprecedented $17 million in community development premiums, up 61 percent from 2010.  Since Fair Trade USA began operations in 1998, cooperatives have earned over $225MM in additional income through a combination of community development premiums and better prices.
The past five years have seen the rise of entire towns committed to raise awareness of Fair Trade, beginning with Media, Pennsylvania in 2006 to Healdsburg as the 24th town in Sept 2011.  There are now currently 26 Fair Trade Towns in the U.S. including San Francisco, Berkeley, Chico and over 500 Fair Trade Towns in the U.K.   
The Fair Trade economy is based on justice, dignity and respect for people and the planet.  We all have a choice when we make a purchase and I encourage you to think about yours.  So this Saturday, May 12th, join in to celebrate opportunity, celebrate equality, celebrate culture and celebrate a future where trade is fair.
Our local community of Healdsburg has taken action to spread the word about Fair Trade and how your participation makes a difference.  To learn more about Fair Trade or find out where you can find Fair Trade products in Healdsburg, please see their website,

Monday, April 30, 2012

Local Students Lead Healdsburg To a Bright Future

Because of our work in Fair Trade, it is not uncommon to be approached to support or sponsor a group or organization in issues involving social responsibility.  This year, we were approached by clubs from each of our local high schools to take part and sponsor public events that each were separately holding on the same weekend.
We are honored for the opportunity to support students in something they feel passionate about.  But, I must admit, giving up our Saturday and Sunday with a list of projects due was not an easy decision.  As promised, we proudly attended both events and what I experienced and learned at each event is what has inspired me to write about it.
The first event, on Saturday, was the Earth Day Festival in the Downtown Square.  This event is the product of the Progressive Club of Healdsburg High School.  The goal was to celebrate the Earth, educate and empower each other to take action in preserving the world we live in.  They invited many of the progressive elements of our community to display and present.  This included Congressional candidate Norman Solomon, KPFA’s Miguel Molina, Amy Jolly of the Climate Protection Campaign, Rosa Azucena Becerra from the Committee for Immigrant Rights, Don McEnhill from Russian River Keepers, Ivis Sanchez from the North Bay Organizing Project, C.J. Holmes from Occupy Our Homes, County Supervisor Mike McGuire and myself to represent Fair Trade Healdsburg.
They also provided a wonderful line-up of local entertainers, including Hoytus and One Heart, Happy Accident, Hannah & Sky, The Hopheads, Tricky Dick & the Hooligans, Attila Nagy, Misael Chavez, Stare at the Sun, and the HHS Jazz Hounds. As a perfect fit in celebration of our Earth they included the American Indian Movement’s Native Resistance Drum Group, Danza Azteca Xantotl.
In addition to speakers, entertainment and food they managed to have over 30 booths from various community, environmental and social justice organizations. They had a student art display, a Children’s Garden and face painting.  I even spotted Yo Yo Man in his festive green hat impressing guests with his well executed tricks and that was just day one!  
Sunday’s event was the Fair for Fairness, held on the West Plaza behind Bear Republic.  This was the creation of a group of students from the Rio Lindo Adventist Academy that call themselves REVO, short for Revolution.  The goal was to bring together organizations to raise awareness about the issues of Human Trafficking and modern-day slavery, to create a new future for survivors and to raise enough money to actually free slaves. This event featured several powerful informational booths including, the International Justice Mission, the Not for Sale Campaign, World Vision, Project AK-47, C.A.S.E. Act & Californians Against Slavery, A New Day for Children and representatives from Fair Trade Healdsburg.  
For an event sharing such heavy issues they managed to maintain a very festive and positive atmosphere through live music and featured speakers that offered practical ways to change the world for the better.  The two local bands included Trent Yaconelli and Featherweight.  Ben & Jerry's served Fair Trade Ice Cream, talented bakers made decadent treats with Fair Trade and local ingredients, faces were painted, Frisbees were flying, hacky sacks seemed to float and children were laughing.
There was a lot of valuable information to gather and learn at each event but the reason I felt compelled to write about it was not because of the information but because of the students and those that inspire them to make it all happen.  As I previously stated, I felt like I really could use the weekend to get projects done but we attended as promised and after attending I realized just how important it is to make time to support and honor these dynamic students for all their hard work.
Although each event was different, they shared many similarities.  Each event was created by students for the public.  The goal of both events was to make the world a better place for all.  Each event required months of preparation by many students to make it all happen.  There was fund raising needed to pay the $1800 fee to use each site in addition to the funds needed to support the causes they felt strongly about.  There were sponsors to obtain, car washes and bake sales to be held.  The Progressive Club held a "Movie and a Speaker" Series, weekly campus recycling and Battle of the Bands to raise funds.  
The students of the Revo Rio Lindo had to prepare their case to present to City Council for the permission to use the Plaza.  There were signs and flyers to be made, press releases to prepare and organizations to contact.  Letters, emails, phone calls and door to doors correspondence was required in order to gather the organizations participating.     
Logistical planning included layout, schedules, parking, set-up and take-down.  Banners were made, artwork was created.  Countless hours of work and preparation put in by local high school students and the staff that inspire them not including the hours spent by volunteers donating their time to make delicious bake goods.  I even learned of a mother who single-handedly made several hundred tamales to donate!  I observed the students as they worked in a well orchestrated event from set-up to take-down, all with smiles on their faces.  They did this not because they were told to, they did this because they wanted to, and from all appearances they looked to be happy doing it.
Each of these events were very worthwhile to attend on their own merit. But in learning just how much time and effort was required by everyone involved, I realized just how important it is to make the time to appreciate what our students create.  Next time you see an opportunity to attend such an event, rearrange your schedule to make it happen.  Whether just for a few minutes on your lunch break or spend the afternoon.  We know that these students are our tomorrow and from where I stood that day, our future looks bright.

To see more pictures of both events, see our One World Fair Trade Facebook Page @ and REVO Rio Lindo’s @ 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fair for Fairness 2012!

Fair Trade Healdsburg joins the Rio Lindo Academy for their Fair for Fairness Revo Event in the West Plaza, Healdsburg on April 22nd from 12-4pm.  The event will include Music, Speakers, Food and Information.  For more information check out RIOLINDO.ORG/REVO and FACEBOOK.COM/GROUPS/REVORIO

Earth Day Festival in Healdsburg

On Saturday, April 21st, Fair Trade Healdsburg joins the Progressive Club of Healdsburg High School for the 10th Annual Earth Day Festival in the downtown Healdsburg Plaza from 11am–5pm.  The goal is to host many of the progressive elements of our community in celebration.  We’re also there to educate and empower each other to take action to preserve the world we live in.

Speakers include Congressional candidate Norman Solomon, KPFA’s Miguel Molina, Amy Jolly of the Climate Protection Campaign, Rosa Azucena Becerra from the Committee for Immigrant Rights, Don McEnhill from Russian River Keepers, Ray Ballestero from Fair Trade Healdsburg, Ivis Sanchez from the North Bay Organizing Project, C.J. Holmes from Occupy Our Homes, and County Supervisor Mike McGuire.

Entertainment for the day includes Hoytus and One Heart, Happy Accident, Hannah & Sky, The Hopheads, Tricky Dick & the Hooligans, Attila Nagy, Misael Chavez, Stare at the Sun, and the HHS Jazz Hounds. As well as popular music; the American Indian Movement’s Native Resistance Drum Group, Danza Azteca Xantotl, and Yo Yo Man will perform.

The stage will be embraced by over 30 booths from various community, environmental and social justice organizations. There will be food and there will be a Children’s Garden complete with free face painting and visits from Yo Yo Man (bring your yo yos).  Art and science displays will grace one section of the plaza with student art that is available for purchase.