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IRTF Events Calendar

April 10, 2021: Frida Berrigan reflects on King: racism, militarism, extreme materialism
7pm EDT

Frida Berrigan is the guest of the Cleveland Nonviolence Network to examine whether we are  heeding King’s warning about the triplets of evil: racism, extreme materialism, militarism.

 “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered…A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth…A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

—“Beyond Vietnam” (April 4, 1967)


Learn how you can engage with the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign, a part of the national Moral Revival of King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign here.

Co-sponsors of the April 10 event include: Cleveland Peace Action, NE Ohio Sierra Club, IRTF, CWRU Social Justice Institute

See and share the Facebook event

Register on EventBrite  


April 10, 2021: Protest Ohio's Anti-Protest Bills
12-1pm EDT
Cleveland's Public Square

Please wear your mask when you join us!

There are four bills in the Ohio legislature that can lead to imprisonment for protesting.

If these bills are passed, Ohio residents who are exercising freedom of speech and freedom of assembly could be imprisoned for any of the following offenses and more:

-blocking streets or sidewalks during a protest

-yelling at a police officer

-providing support to groups that are organizing a protest

Organizers of this event include: End Poverty Now, Ohio Poor People’s Campaign, Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, Organize Ohio, Cleveland Jobs with Justice, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus

See the Facebook event here:

April 12, 2021: Missing in Brooks County: a filmmaker interview
6-7:30pm Eastern Time

Go to to register for this event. 

This event is organized by CIFF45 community partners IRTF and Cleveland Print Room.

See the official website for the documentary here.

See the website for Cleveland International Film Festival here.

Film review from Foreign Policy magazine:

The film suggests that the problems in Brooks County [South Texas] are indicative of a broken immigration system, and its casualties haunt the entirety of the 1,954-mile southern U.S. border: Yearly, thousands of migrants traveling northward from Central America risk dehydration, kidnapping, and exposure crossing through wild rivers and desert landscapes to escape violence, corruption, and crime. Much of the responsibility for these deaths, the film argues, is with the Clinton administration’s decision to enact a policy of deterrence in 1994, building on an already-punitive enforcement of borders by the previous government. President George H.W. Bush pushed to increase immigrant detention, expand military support of counterdrug efforts, and remove the due process rights of migrants with criminal convictions, while his successor Bill Clinton focused on preventing immigration altogether by cutting off major border routes. Key parts of the U.S.-Mexico border were shut, funneling wayfaring migrants into the region’s most brutal desert terrain. Since 1998, migrants’ chances of dying at the border versus being apprehended have risen some 20 percent, and between 1998 and 2019, the U.S. Border Patrol recorded nearly 8,000 migrant deaths at the southern border

Film description from Cleveland International Film Festival 45:

Over the last decade, thousands have gone missing in Brooks County, Texas, just north of the Mexican border. In an attempt to circumvent the state’s busiest immigration checkpoint, countless migrants have ventured into the vast ranch lands that surround the area… and many have never been seen again. The haunted landscape of Brooks County is littered with the bodies and belongings of an unknown number of lost souls. All the while, the national immigration debate drags on, rarely taking into account the very real life and death consequences that are felt in the farmlands of Brooks County and elsewhere. And on both sides of the border, heartbroken families are left devastated, desperate to find out what happened to their disappeared loved ones. An illuminating and harrowing documentary film journey, MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY follows two of these families as they search for answers. As their mysteries unfold, the severity of this broken immigration system becomes more and more apparent. And once you see the reality of these hidden horrors, you won’t be able to look away. (In English and Spanish with subtitles) — G.S.

April 14, 2021: Food Action Forum - Make Our Food System Fair!
7-8pm ET
Zoom meeting via internet

Read more about this initiative at Equal Exchange :

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. 

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 . 


*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