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October 20, 2020 to January 30, 2021: Memory and Resistance: A Social Justice Art Show marks IRTF's 40th anniversary

Memory and Resistance: 40 years

Inspired by the martyrdom of Jean Donovan and Sister Dorothy Kazel in El Salvador in 1980, we will highlight, celebrate, and commemorate our collective legacies of resistance with a series of programming over the next year.

Virtual Show in October and November

view here https://scalar.case.edu/memory-and-resistance/index

     

In-person show by appointment only: December 4, 2020  - January 30, 2021

(because of  health conditions in Cuyahoga County, we are offering private viewings only)

ArtiCLE Gallery,  15316 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland OH 44110

Make your appointment with dianetheresep@hotmail.com

Any updates will be posted at Facebook.com/artincle 

 

IRTF: 40 Years of Solidarity

IRTF (InterReligious Task Force on Central America & Colombia) was formed by people of faith and conscience in Cleveland, Ohio, in response to the armed violence in El Salvador. The US-trained, -funded, and –equipped military of El Salvador killed tens of thousands of its own people over the course of 12 years. Many in the US heard of the war in El Salvador for the first time on December 4, 1980, when the bodies of four women from the US were discovered in shallow graves. That was two days after Salvadoran National Guardsmen brutally murdered Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, along with two members of the Cleveland Catholic Mission Team: Jean Donovan and Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel.  The four women lived, worked, and died in solidarity with the people of El Salvador. 

The spirit of IRTF’s 40th anniversary theme, Memory and Resistance, is seen and felt in the juried artwork expressing contemporary justice issues of our time. The  artwork honors the memories of past and present advocates on whose shoulders we have stood and who inspire us to envision a world of peace and dignity for all.

 A note of thanks: IRTF is extremely grateful to our board secretary Diane Pinchot, OSU, the former chair of the Art Department at Ursuline College, for organizing this art show. As an active artist with a studio at ArtiCLE gallery, Diane knows many artists who are excited about this opportunity to show how social justice is an integral part of their artwork.

 

About IRTF

The InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia (IRTF)  brings together people from various faith and secular communities to act in solidarity with oppressed peoples in southern Mexico, Central America, and Colombia through consciousness-raising and direct consumer and political advocacy.

IRTF was formed as a nonviolent response to the horrific violence of December 2, 1980 when two members of the Cleveland Mission Team in El Salvador were murdered (Jean Donovan and Sister Dorothy Kazel) along with two Catholic sisters from Maryknoll (Ita Ford, Maura Clarke). When they were given the chance to leave El Salvador and avoid their fate, these women chose to stay. It was at that moment that their charity transformed into solidarity.

People of faith and conscience formed IRTF to continue the women’s legacy of solidarity with oppressed peoples as they struggle for peace, dignity and justice.  After 40 years, IRTF continues to stand with marginalized and vulnerable communities in Latin America,  at our border, in immigration detention facilities, in county jails and state prisons, and on the streets of Cleveland. All people—everywhere—deserve dignity, care, and safe communities.

 

December 28, 2020 to January 28, 2021: Support the solidarity economy: Fair trade food products from Equal Exchange & IRTF
Mon-Thu 10-3 or by other arrangement
IRTF, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113

 (See product list and pricing below.)

Support the solidarity economy. Fair Trade food products available from IRTF.

Support the solidarity economy. Get your fair trade coffee, chocolate, baking cocoa, and tea from IRTF! 

Each year, IRTF provides tens of thousands of dollars in much needed income to fair trade cooperatives in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. For more than three decades, IRTF has examined and challenged the current system of global capitalism dominated by big corporations, which exploits people and the planet. We are linked across the globe with small growers and producers—as well as authentic fair trade companies and nonprofits—in building an economy based on solidarity, putting people over profits. Another world is both possible and necessary; let’s build it together. Support authentic fair trade.

Fair trade is about more than just paying a fair wage. It means that trading partnerships are based on reciprocal benefits and mutual respect; that prices paid to producers reflect the work they do; that workers have the right to organize; that national health, safety, and wage laws are enforced; and that products are environmentally sustainable and conserve natural resources. In all, there are nine principles of fair trade. Fair price is only one of them. Read the Principles of Fair Trade here.

Read more at the bottom of this post about 1- fair trade certification, 2- some differences between fair trade and ethical trade/direct trade, and 3- how to shop fair trade in Ohio. Thank you for supporting the solidarity economy.

 

Equal Exchange and IRTF = Partners in Fair Trade

Why Equal Exchange?

Equal Exchange was founded in 1986 as a 100% fair trade worker-owned cooperative. Many other big commercial coffee roasters or retailers are involved in fair trade simply as a niche item for just one of their many product lines; and that’s as far as it goes.  For companies who are fully committed to fair trade, like Equal Exchange (the first fair trade coffee company in the US) it’s about transforming the food system. Price is only a part of it. It is mostly about relationship and mutual commitment to each other. Look for products that are 100% fair trade. If only 5-10% of a company’s product line is fair trade, you should question their commitment to justice for the workers who grow, produce, and process the product.

Read about Equal Exchange’s farmer partners across the globe here.

 

 

PURCHASE EQUAL EXCHANGE FAIR TRADE PRODUCTS from IRTF.

To make a purchase, email your order to OhioFairTrade@irtfcleveland.org. Arrange for pick-up or home-delivery (in limited zip codes). Pay upon pick-up or delivery. Details at the bottom of this product list.

 

 

CHOCOLATE

Vegan Chocolate bars (listed in order of cacao %) $4 each

92% Total Eclipse

88% Extreme Dark

80% Panama Dark

67% Mint Crunch

65% Orange Infused

55% Lemon Ginger with Black Pepper

55% Toasted Almond

55% Coconut Milk

 

Milk Chocolate bars $4 each

43% Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt

 

Mini Chocolates $5

pack of 25 minis (milk or dark)

 

Chocolate Chips $5

10oz bag of semi-sweet or bittersweet chips

 

Baking cocoa $7

8oz can of 100% cacao (cocoa powder) from the Dominican Republic

 

Hot cocoa mix $7

12 oz can

regular – with non-fat milk powder and pure cane sugar

spicy – enhanced with vanilla, cayenne, cinnamon

 

FAIR FOODS

Olive Oil $15

17oz bottle, produced by Al Zawyeh cooperative on the West Bank

Freekeh $8

28oz bag of green bulgur wheat

Nuts $7

8oz bag of almonds (natural or roasted) from farms in northern California or cashews (natural or roasted) from producers in Central America, Burkina Fasso, and India

Coconut Oil $12

14oz jar from farmers in Sri Lanka

Almond Butter $11

16oz jar that is gluten-free, vegan, kosher, sodium-free, and non-GMO. 

Peanut Butter $8

16 oz jar that is certified organic peanut butter , won't separate , and requires little to no stirring. It is free of hydrogenated oils and contains no harmful additives.

Zanzibar Black Peppercorns $8

1.7 oz jar with grinder, sourced by a coperative of smallholder artisan farmers on the Zanzibar islands off of the eastern coast of Tanzania, many of whose families have been growing pepper and other spices (including their cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg) for generations.

 

Smoked Salami: red wine and garlic $8

4oz -  seasoned with cracked pepper, red wine and garlic. From Vermont Salumi, each link is hand tied, fermented, and aged for three weeks to develop superb taste and texture.

Smoked Salami: smoked paprika $8

4oz - like all Vermont Salumi products, the salami is made from simple ingredients, careful craftsmanship, and always starting with antibiotic-free pork because it is healthier for you and the environment.

TEA

$5 (box of 20 tea bags—all organic)

Tea that is grown by small-scale farmers is revolutionary in an industry dominated by large plantations. Equal Exchange partners with small growers in India, South Africa and Sri Lanka to build this alternative supply chain.

 

Black Tea

Black, Chai, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Decaf English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast

 

Green Tea

Green, Green with  Ginger, Jasmine Green, Mint Green

 

Herbal – all are caffeine free

Chamomile, Ginger, Peppermint, Rooibos (red bush), Rooibos Chai, Vanilla Rooibos

 

COFFEE

$9 – 12oz package of ground or whole bean

$10 – 12oz package of organic decaf

$52 – 5lb bag of whole bean (available: Breakfast Blend or French Roast)

 

Coffees listed in order of light roast to dark:

Toffee Caramel (light)

French Vanilla (light) 

Café Salvador (light)

Breakfast Blend (organic) (med)

Love Buzz (organic) (med)

Colombian (organic) (med)

Mind, Body & Soul (organic) (med)

French Roast (organic) (dark)

 

 

COFFEE SERVERS

Stainless steel coffee server (thermos/carafe). $33

Sup-R-Serv by Update International. This stainless steel double walled carafe with an unbreakable liner is vacuum sealed, so it will keep liquids hot or cold for hours. Press button top for easy pouring. 64 oz capacity

 

Glass coffee carafe. $12

Designed for a Bunn burner coffee maker. Branded with Equal Exchange: Small Farmer, Big Change. This is a perfect gift for the kitchen at your place of worship or employment or school. Produced by Duran Schott glass company in Munich, Germany. 12-cup capacity.

 

 

BOOKS

The History of Authentic Fair Trade, by Phyllis Robinson and Nicholas Reid. Illustrations by Vendela Larsson. $7

Graphic novel style. Paperback. 40 pages

 

A Cafecito Story, by Julia Alvarez . Illustrations are woodcuts by Belkis Ramírez. $14

Hardback. 58 pages.

Based on her experience trying to reclaim a small coffee farm in her native Dominican Republic, A Cafecito Story is a poetic, modern fable about human beings at their best. The challenge of producing coffee is a remarkable test of our ability to live more sustainably, caring for the land, growers, and consumers in an enlightened and just way. Written with Julia Alvarez's deft touch, this is a story that stimulates while it comforts, waking the mind and warming the soul like the first cup of morning coffee. Indeed, this story is best read with a strong cup of organic, shade-grown, fresh-brewed coffee.

 

PICK-UP or HOME DELIVERY

Pick up your order at IRTF, Monday-Thursday, 10am-3pm, or by other appointment. Please confirm your pick-up time before you show up. Payment: cash, check, credit card.

Home delivery might be available within a few miles of the office. Inquire.

 

IRTF is located on the campus of St Patrick Church, 3606 Bridge Ave, Cleveland 44113, at the corner of  W. 38th St. Just one block north of Lorain Ave. Parking right in front of the building. Questions? Call 216.961.0003 M-Th, 10-3.

 

---------------

 

EDUCATION CORNER

Learn more about fair trade.

1- Fair Trade Standards & Certification

2- Differences between Fair Trade and Ethical/Direct Trade

3- How to Shop Fair Trade in Ohio

 

 

1- FAIR TRADE STANDARDS & CERTIFICATION

Standards and Certification: Agricultural Products v. Handmade Products

There are two separate sets of standards. Why? Because an agricultural product (a banana, a coffee bean, a cocoa bean, etc.) is easier to trace from where it was produced to where it was processed to where it ended up on your grocer’s shelf. Handmade products have component parts (cotton, thread, dyes, metals, zippers) that are harder to trace.

 

Agricultural Products

Here is a list of standards to certify that the product is fair trade: http://fairtradeamerica.org/Resources%20Library/Standards

If an agricultural product is truly fair trade, it will ,likely carry a certification label: https://fairworldproject.org/validation-programs/ . This means they open their agricultural fields and processing centers to independent third party inspectors who investigate and make a report and recommendation to the certifying agency: Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO), Fair Trade USA, or IMO/Fair for Life.

If an agricultural product claims to be fair trade and does not have certification, you would need to investigate them. You could start by asking the folks at FairTradeAmerica.org if they know anything about the company or their claims of being fair trade.

 

Handmade Products

There is no certification for handmade products (with few exceptions, such as Maggie’s Organics based in Michigan). However, most fair trade resale operations in the US belong to the Fair Trade Federation. The Fair Trade Federation makes sure that the products they sell meet fair trade standards (i.e., the Principles of Fair Trade). If the resale operation does not belong to the Fair Trade Federation, you need to investigate them individually with a set of questions to vet them to see if they are legitimately fair trade. Contact OhioFairTrade@irtfcleveland.org  if you need a set of those questions.

 

 

2- DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FAIR TRADE & ETHICAL/DIRECT TRADE

Consumers can educate themselves about the benefits of fair trade and the benefits of other labeling systems. Here are some examples: Ethical Trade, Direct Trade, Whole Trade, Rainforest Alliance. Consumers should compare and contrast the claims of each of the labeling systems.

Direct Trade is one system that has gained popularity over the past several years. Direct Trade claims that they benefit farmers more than Fair Trade does because they know the farmer and their family, they visit, they’ve met the workers, etc.

Here is a criticism of Direct Trade: Direct Trade is a relationship between a distributor in the US (say, a coffee roaster) and a farmer in Latin America who has a privately-owned coffee plantation. This is significant. Even if the coffee roaster in the US is paying the farmer more than they were getting in the past—and even if they’re paying more than the fair trade price—the Direct Trade system is not doing anything to change the basic dominant/subordinate relationship between the farmer (plantation owner) and their workers. Direct Traders say things like, “But the farmworkers are paid more because we pay the farmers more and they pass that along in increased wages to their workers.” Maybe. Maybe not. It’s still up to the discretion of the farmer who is the plantation owner, and, however nice a person they might be, has control over the wages and working conditions of the workers on the plantation.

Authentic fair trade is different. Authentic fair trade started as a way to support farmer-owned cooperatives and give them a way into the market. A cooperative is a different model of ownership. It is not the dominant/subordinate relationship of the private owner/workers. A cooperative is a jointly-owned business. It might have 10 farmer-owners, it might have 500 in a cooperative of producers.  The significant thing about the cooperative is that it is democratically run. The members elect their leadership; they have a say-so in their working hours and conditions; they have a say-so in how much each farmer gets paid and how to spend the “social premium.” (The social premium is an amount, usually around 15-cents per pound, paid by buyers like Equal Exchange to the farm cooperative above the agreed upon price for the coffee beans. The farmer-owners of the cooperative decide collectively how to spend the extra social premium on improvements in their community, like housing, education, nutrition, gender equity programs, etc.)

Besides the democratic nature of the cooperative, there are many other social, economic, and political benefits to having cooperatives in a country. For instance, right now in Central America, campesinos are facing huge threats of forced displacement and environmental destruction because of large private corporations and their conspirators in corrupt governments who prefer catering to corporate greed over the well-being of the people. Historically, cooperatives have led social movements for land justice, environmental justice, and democracy and in their countries.

 

Here is a good example from Guatemala: In 2006, the government of Guatemala was getting ready to ratify the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Small farmers knew this would be bad for them and good for multinational food corporations. How did they show their disapproval? The farmers—mostly members of cooperatives across the country—moved onto large government tracts of land and occupied them in protest. They shut down major highways. They encircled the Congress building. They kept the protest movement alive and showed that the majority of the people in Guatemala were against this free trade scheme. Did they prevail? No. The government went ahead and followed pressure from the US to enter into CAFTA. But if it weren’t for the strong cooperative movement, this strong showing of disapproval—and the international solidarity it generated—would not have happened.

 

Another example from Colombia in 2019:  People in Colombia (both in the cities and in the rural zones) have been dissatisfied with their government’s slow pace of implementing the 2016 Peace Accords that were meant to end 50 years of civil war in their country. In November and December of 2019, large scale protests were organized to pressure their president to do much more to promote and protect the peace process, protect the environment, and protect human rights. Especially in the rural areas, farmer-owned cooperatives and farm unions were instrumental in organizing masses of people to join these protests. Over 200,000 marched the first day in Bogotá. Broad based coalitions came together promoting a variety of justice issues. One issue key to people in the rural areas is the provision in the Peace Accords to enroll farmers in a program to substitute illegal crops (i.e., coca grown for cocaine) with legal ones (food products).  Many of the farmers who are leading this initiative in their communities are being assassinated. Why? Because the criminal groups that make money from the drug trade don’t want the farmers to stop growing coca, the main ingredient for cocaine. Farmers are demanding more protection from their government. The cooperative movement across Colombia (the land mass in Colombia is mostly countryside) is vital to the broader social movement for justice and peace in Colombia.

In sum: When companies sell fair trade products that are not produced by farmer-owned cooperatives but are produced by privately-owned farms instead, they are weakening the cooperative model. This is a detriment to both economic justice and to political justice.  Cooperatives have historically played significant roles in broader justice movements in their countries. Fewer cooperatives means less economic justice and fewer civil/political rights.

 

3- HOW TO SHOP FAIR TRADE IN OHIO

A- See this link on OhioFairTrade.com:

https://ohiofairtrade.com/shop-fair-trade/how-to-shop-fair-trade/

 

B- See this link for stores in Ohio that sells products, all of which are fair trade products

https://ohiofairtrade.com/shop-fair-trade/ohio-fair-trade-stores/

 

C- See this link for stores in Ohio (mostly grocery) that sell products that are fair trade or contain fair trade ingredients

https://ohiofairtrade.com/shop-fair-trade/companies-that-use-fair-trade-ingredients/

 

D- If there is a particular product you are looking for, you can go to FairTradeCertified.org and research it and ask the company if their product is available in your area.

 

Learn more about fair trade at www.OhioFairTrade.com

 

January 21, 2021: The Overseas Military Base Empire
1-2pm ET
online

 Presentation by Leah Bolger, President of the Board, World BEYOND War and retired U.S. Naval officer

Did you know that the United States has over 200,000 troops stationed on more than 800 bases in more than 80 countries and all 7 continents? The bases are the framework for the U.S. military strategy of "Full Spectrum Dominance." There are all kinds of reasons why these bases should be closed:

  • They are provocative and increase tensions throughout the world
  • They are the cause of untold, irreversible damage to the environment
  • They station troops who commit serious crimes against the "host" country
  • They are a huge waste of hundreds of billions of dollars that could be used to fund human needs

World BEYOND War Board President Leah Bolger is a retired U.S. Naval officer and was stationed in four foreign countries. She will present on the social, environmental, and economic impact of U.S. bases and how to close them.

Click "Register" to sign up. You will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom information for the event. Be sure to check the box to "Yes, opt in to email updates" in order to receive important information for the webinar, including the Zoom link.

January 22, 2021: Celebrate! We banned the nuclear bomb! The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons goes into effect today.

ON JANUARY 22, 2021

WE CELEBRATE THE TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS (TPNW)

Goal #1: The first goal is to make people aware of the TPNW.

Goal #2: Publicize that the TPNW goes into effect today.

Goal #3: Begin to use public awareness to pressure the US government to recognize, sign, ratify and comply with the TPNW. If that sounds like a lot it is, and it will take time. But it will never happen if we don’t make it happen.

What is the TPNW?

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was approved at the United Nations in July 2017 by 122 nations. On October 24, 2020, Honduras became the 50th nation to deposit its ratification at the United Nations, triggering an automatic entry into force of the treaty 90 days later: January 22, 2021. Although Honduras was the 50th nation to register its ratification at the UN, there are actually 84 countries that have already signed the treaty!

Has the US signed the treaty?

No.  None of the nuclear weapons states (US, Russia, England, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea) have signed the TPNW.  Legally, the terms of the Treaty will not apply to them until they sign. 

So what good is the treaty?

The enactment of the treaty ("Entry Into Force" on Jan 22 2021) will make nuclear weapons illegal under international law. This will pressure the "umbrella states" (i.e., those countries protected by agreements with nuclear powers, like NATO) to reconsider their  international responsibilities. If they continue to allow nuclear weapons in their ports or weapons deployed on their soil or US military bases with nuclear capabilities, they will be acting in violation of the broad international consensus to ban nuclear weapons. 

How does this impact the US?

According to Article 6 of the US Constitution, international treaties to which the US is a signatory are the “Supreme Law of the Land” and supercede national  laws. Since 1970, the US (along with the UK, France, China, Russia) has been obligated under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons to pursue disarmament “in good faith” “at an early date.”  This new treaty (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons) is an expression of the impatience of non-nuclear states with the failure of the nuclear weapsons states to meet their obligation to disarm.  "Umbrella states" (see above)--now acting against the broad international consensus to ban nuclear weapons--can pressure the nuclear powers to make serious commitments to disarm and ban future development of nuclear weapons. 

Mark the Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on January 22, 2021

From NukeWatch

Here are some options of things we can do with others in our communities who are working for peace. 

Please report back to NukeWatch after January 22. This is crucial—even if your action is a simple one. We gain strength from working together and knowing that people all over are taking action.  Our efforts, large or small, are amplified when shared. NukeWatch hopes to build a database of actions to demonstrate widespread support for the Treaty across the country.

Email nuclearbantreatyEiF@gmx.com. Post your actions on Facebook at the Nuclear Ban Treaty EIF group

Here are some suggestions for local actions to mark the enactment of the TPNW treaty:

1. Everyone can learn about the Treaty. Don’t have to wait until Jan 22. See this Fact Sheet or a quick google search will turn up resources. Some as brief as 90 seconds; others are deep-dive webinars.

2. Hang or hold a banner in a public space. Activists will be hanging banners at nuclear weapons sites and nuclear military bases across the country. We have a template that you can use to have a banner made (around $50 if you go on-line) that you can hang or hold at any federal building—your local post office, federal courthouse, congressperson’s office.

2b. Think a banner is a bit much? Here is a template for a poster size version of the Treaty that you can hold or deliver or post in the place of your choice.

3. Focus on the $$$. Our friends in Europe have been successful in pushing investment funds and corporations to divest from nuclear weapons funding—the Treaty gives us even more leverage. You can find a list of the companies and banks that invest in nuclear weapons at Don’t Bank on the Bomb. You can hold a poster outside the local Bank of America or Wells Fargo branch office. If your credit card is issued by a nuke-bank, you can change cards or write to the issuer and ask them to get out of the illegal nuclear weapons business.

4. Check out your local university or college. There is a list here of US educational institutions that are directly involved in supporting nuclear weapons production. Some of them even operate nuclear weapons sites! Your local school not on the list? With a little digging, you might find out where their endowment funds are invested—chances are there is a link to a nuclear weapons corporation or fund.

5. Write your congressperson and US senators. Tell them you expect their name to be on the first bill introduced in the new Congress that addresses the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Tell them you’ll be watching. It is highly likely that Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Ted Lieu will introduce bills that include a call for the US to join the Treaty.

6. Write a letter to the editor. This is really important—it is a way to broaden your reach through the public media. Mention your congressional representatives by name so their staff will clip the letter and show it to their boss.

7. Share the news on social media. If you use instagram or facebook or if you tweet, you can share the ICAN pages and other news about the Entry Into Force.

8. Donate! You can write a check or give on-line. There are dozens of groups around the country that are dedicating themselves to long-haul work to make the promise of the Treaty a reality around the world and in the US. They rely on donations and public support to keep going. Even a small contribution counts.

9. Commit for the long haul. Find the group nearest and dearest to your heart and join so you can stay involved, track the progress of the Treaty, and learn about more things you can do to help make it a reality. Get on their mailing list, either on-line or on paper.

10. Ask your local place of worship to ring its bell for peace on January 22.

11. Ask your local government to join the ICAN Cities appeal. Present a copy of the Treaty and ask for a resolution calling on the US to join the Treaty.

12. Deliver copies of the treaty in person or send via mail (link to printable format) to congressional representatives and other public officials, nuclear sites and military bases, and business, financial and educational institutions with ties to nuclear weapons activities, with a warning of their complicity.

13. Watch for more ideas.  You are encouraged to post your plans on the Nuclear Ban Treaty EIF facebook group, and to look at what others are planning to do.

February 10, 2021: Food Action Forum - Make Our Food System Fair!
7-8pm
Zoom meeting via internet

Read more about this initiative at Equal Exchange : https://equalexchange.coop/getinvolved

Upcoming meetings on Wednesdays in 2021, 7pm Eastern Time

Feb 10, Mar 10, Apr 14

Registration: These monthly meetings are a space meant for members of the forum who come together on a regular basis. To be invited to the monthly meetings, we ask that you fill out Equal Exchange's citizen-consumer application  to indicate your interest in this work, Equal Exchange as a worker-owned cooperative, and working for justice in the food system. We want to have this space be a members' space and not a space that is just a one-off for folks to come and go. This virtual member meeting space is one  where we organize around various activities and dig deeper into the context of our farmer partners, market conditions and Equal Exchange. It is meant to be an opportunity for folks who have decided to join the Equal Exchange citizen-consumer (aka Food Action Forum) network. 

Application: 
Equal Exchange's citizen-consumer application 
Once you fill out the application, Equal Exchange will send a direct link to join the monthly member meetings.

Questions? Contact  eeactionforum@equalexchange.coop . 

 

*What are ATOs? Alternative Trade Organizations (ATOs) are at risk

Equal Exchange was founded in 1986 as an alternative trade organization (ATO) with the mission of connecting US consumers and small marginalized farmers from the global south from countries like Nicaragua, Peru, or India.  The vitality (and survivability) of ATOs is at risk because of increasing isolation from even their most natural allies  like food co-ops. Here are some other reasons: 

1- Fair-Washing: Fair Trade is being stripped of its original meaning

The Fair Trade idea may have won successes in the last 10 years, but those successes have been limited. And in the process of gaining recognition and support, control has been wrested from small farmers and turned into a marketing attribute at the service of northern companies; it has been commodified and stripped of all real meaning. While some northern ATOs are still here and hundreds of farmer groups in the Global South hang on, "Fair Trade” as envisioned 30 years ago, is no longer recognizable.

 

2- Corporate Control: Our food system is being controlled by large corporations

In the wider food system, corporations control everything from seeds to supply and prices, while relentlessly chipping away at the regulations that inform and protect consumers. They fight feverishly to prevent us from knowing if GMOs are present in our food. They continue to promote production methods that hasten the warming of the planet—a present-day threat to millions of small farmers and others around the world. And, corporations count on consumers remaining unorganized to maintain the status quo.   

 

What We Can Do Together

We need active consumer involvement to make a difference

We now know that we cannot possibly succeed in our goal to transform the food system without the active, deep and committed participation of citizen-consumers like you. An authentic Fair Trade system requires democratic organizing of producers in the South, worker democracy for businesses in the North, and active consumer involvement in the North. 

What Are We Building?

We are taking a powerful, new step in building a democratic brand that connects small farmers in the South to consumers in the North. We believe that in order to be successful in realizing the original Fair Trade vision, we need to deepen involvement and participation in our model. In doing this, we go back to the best that Alternative Trade has always been about: innovation, global solidarity, social imagining and learning, and economic justice. This will be a long, slow process and a great challenge. We need your buying support, your investing support, and your political support. 

Please join us in building this dream. We invite you to help us shape the Equal Exchange Action Forum. 

 About Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative:

This invitation to join the Food Action Forum (aka citizen-consumer network) comes from Equal Exchange, an Alternative Trade Organization (ATO) and the first fair trade coffee company in the US, which is working to build a democratic brand that connects small farmers in the Global South to consumers in the Global North. IRTF in Cleveland first introduced NE Ohioans to Equal Exchange coffee in the mid-1990s. Several faith congregations began selling Equal Exchange as an act of solidarity and justice. Heinen’s became the first grocer chain to sell Equal Exchange in all its stores in the US. IRTF and Equal Exchange have been close partners and friends ever since.

Here are some ways to get involved:

-Educate yourself. See resources on the food system, fair trade coffee, coffee producing in selected Latin American countries, sustainable farming, cooperatives, solidarity economy

-Join the Behind the Barcodes campaign

-Urge Congress to pass the Food Anti-Trust Review Act

-Become a member of the Food Action Forum

-Connect with like-minded folks at monthly Fair Trade Meet-Ups. See more at http://ohiofairtrade.com/