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IRTF Events Calendar

October 20, 2020 to November 30, 2020: 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


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

Any updates will be posted at 


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 1, 2020: Solidarity Box - Equal Exchange online event
3-4pm Eastern Time

Being a part of this community means being connected to farmers and where your food comes from. We invite you to a panel discussion featuring our Solidarity Box on Tuesday, December 1 at 3pm ET. This box is a celebration of all of the relationships we have built throughout the years with small farmers across the globe, from Nicaragua to India to Palestine. We will be hosting members of Equal Exchange’s product teams in coffee, tea, chocolate, and dates to shed light on these unique farmer groups. Now, more than ever, farmers around the world need us to stand with them in solidarity. Join our discussion below:

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

3pm ET

Register Here

About our Solidarity Box: The Solidarity Box is full of favorites like velvety Love Buzz coffee and luscious Medjool dates from Palestinian farmers in the West Bank. For the bakers we’ve included our rich baking cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Plus, there’s an assortment of teas for sipping on cold winter mornings and dark chocolate bars for savoring piece by piece.

See you online!

Frankie and Danielle

Equal Exchange Action Forum

January 13, 2021: Food Action Forum - Make Our Food System Fair!
Zoom meeting via internet

Read more about this initiative at Equal Exchange :

Upcoming meetings on Wednesdays in 2021, 7pm Eastern Time

Jan 13, Feb 10, Mar 10

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 monhtly 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 work-owned cooperative:

 This invitation to join the Food Action Forum 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