Join Equal Exchange for an exciting set of workshops on corporate consolidation, alternative supply chains, and building a more just food system.
Equal Exchange annual summits are a cornerstone of our alternative trade community. Join us for an exciting set of workshops, a keynote address from one of our producer partners, FRIDAY, NOV 5: Attendees will be able to choose from an array of workshops offered in two evening sessions. SATURDAY, NOV 6: Keynote address by Saleem Abu Ghazaleh of Al-Reef Fair Trade and Izzat Zeidan of Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC) in the West Bank who will be giving this year’s keynote address. Also: our annual Citizen-Consumer (aka Food Action Forum) member meeting. Go deeper with Equal Exchange, learn about our model, and get to know our community. Stay tuned for more updates soon by RSVPing to the summit here .
ABOUT THE KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
Saleem Abu Ghazaleh was born in Jerusalem (old city) in 1967. He joined the Agricultural Development Association (PARC) 32 years ago in the early stages of its establishment. He was assigned to work at Al-Reef Fair Trade in 1993 and he is currently the general manager. Al-Reef Fair Trade is owned by PARC and considered a professional arm and a legal body for agricultural marketing and manufacturing to support Palestinian farmers and cooperatives.
Saleem has a master’s degree in Capabilities Building and Strategic Planning from Al-Quds University. His master’s thesis topic was “Role of Fair Trade in Sustainable Rural Development in the West Bank”. He is one of the founders of the concept, ideology, and philosophy of fair trade and contributes to spreading that culture in Palestine.
Izzat Zeidan was born in Palestine/West Bank in 1963. He started working at PARC in 1998, and has been the head of the Program Department since 2014. He is an expert in the field of rural development, donor community relations, and rules and requirements. He holds a master’s degree in water and waste water management from Birzeit University. He believes in integrated rural development and the necessity of public/private partnership. His values align with PARC’s values of gender equality, social accountability and justice, and social inclusion.
Keep an eye on your inbox for more updates on programming, activities, and announcements for this inspiring event!
Not yet a member of Equal Exchange’s Food Action Forum? Join our membership (free) at: equalexchange.coop/apply
In Solidarity, Equal Exchange
Please continue reading more about the Equal Exchange organizing effort called the Food Action Forum (aka Citizenship-Consumer Network):
Members of the Equal Exchange Food Action Forum gather (online) monthly to discuss innovation, global solidarity, social imagining and learning, and economic justice—the foundations of Alternative Trade Organizations (ATOs). Join the movement to democratize our food system and end corporate control!
Alternative Trade Organizations (such as Equal Exchange) have foundational influence in the broader fair trade movement but have become isolated from even their most natural allies including coops, citizen movements, community economic organizations, unions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The monthly meetings of the Equal Exchange Food Action Forum (aka Citizen-Consumer Network) allow all of us to connect, build community, and have space to push our campaigns forward and engage in actions out in our local communities. In today’s overwhelmingly digital world we want to find ways to create meaningful and deep connections with this community, connections that are two-way, connections that are active, not passive. Join us as we work together to build a democratic brand that connects small farmers in the Global South to consumers in the Global North!
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.
3) Consumers Can Make a Huge Difference: We need active consumer involvement
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 Food Action Forum.