Fair Earth at the Traveling Circus Holiday Bazaar - December 2, 2012

December 1st, 2012

Fair Earth at Traveling Circus Holiday Bazaar

Fair Earth at Seeds of Change Marketplace & CALA Fair Trade Holiday Festival - December 1, 2012

November 29th, 2012

Fair Earth will be exhibiting at two shows this weekend. Come say hi and start your holiday shopping!

CALA Fair Trade Holiday Festival
Monona Terrace
December 1, 2012 9am-4pm
1 John Nolan Dr, Madison WI 53703

Seeds of Change Marketplace
Berry United Methodist Church
December 1, 2012 10am-4pm
4754 N Leavitt St, Chicago IL 60625

Fair Earth CALA Madison

Fair Earth Seeds of Change Berry United Methodist

FALL SALE at the Andersonville Galleria

October 22nd, 2012

Fall clearance on all Fair Earth merchandise* at the Andersonville Galleria! 40% off all merchandise for a limited time only! This could be your only chance to get our handmade, Fair Trade merchandise at prices this low!

Andersonville Galleria
Start shopping at the Andersonville Galleria now: 5247 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

*excludes items already on sale.

We are Fair Earth

October 9th, 2012

We are excited to debut a series of videos about Fair Earth, featuring video footage by Holly Elzinga, photos by Denise Riesen at Riesen Photography, and produced by Katie Chen. The first video tells our company story and will introduce you to our mission and our unique product lines. The final three will introduce you to three of our artisans in Kenya - Jemima, a Maasai beader, and Alex and Antony, two of our metal workers. The stories of all three are so inspiring! We hope you enjoy!

Swahili Proverbs

September 25th, 2012

Baada ya dhiki, faraja
After hardship comes relief

Mwenda mbiyo hujikwaa dole
A person in too much hurry stubs his toe

Kila ndege huruka kwa bawa lake
Every birds flies with his own wings

Shoka lisilo mpini halichanji kuni
An axe without a handle doesn’t split firewood

Mficha uchi hazai
One who hides his private parts will never have a child

Asiyefunzwa na mamaye hufunzwa na ulimwengu
He who was not taught by his mother will be taught by the world

Akili nyingi huondoa maarifa
Too much thinking (great wit) drives away wisdom

Mpanda ovyo hula ovya
A disorderly person will eat disorderly

Si kila mwenye makucha huwa simba
Not all that have claws are lions

Yote yang’aayo usidhani ni dhahabu
All that glitters do not think that is gold

Maji ya kifuu ni bahari ya chungu
Water in a coconut shell is like an ocean to an ant

Kwenda mbio si kufika
Too run is not necessarily too arrive

Asiye na mengi ana machache
Even he who has not many troubles has a few

Painamapo ndipo painukapo
Where it slopes down is where it slopes up

Usijifanye kuku mweupe
Do not pretend to be a white fowl when you’re only an ordinary chap

Kujikwaa si kuanguka, bali ni kwenda mbele
To stumble is not to fall down but to go forward

Kufa kikondoo, ndiko kufa kiungwana
To die like a sheep is to die like a gentleman

Usiende kukate tikiti kabla hujapata ruhusa ya kusafiri
Don’t buy a ticket before you have been permitted to travel

Kichango, kuchangizana
Everyone should contribute when a collection is made

Subira ni ufunguo wa faraja
Patience is the key to tranquillity

Fuata nyuki, ule asali
Follow bees and you’ll eat honey

Hapana marefu yasiyo na cha
There is no distance that has no end

Join us for GlobalFest: Asia, Chicago Fair Trade’s Annual Fundraiser

September 15th, 2012

Globalfest 2012


Chicago, as the largest Fair Trade City in North America, has reached a critical mass of support for fair trade by businesses, government, institutions and individual consumers. We invite you to be part of this growth by attending Globalfest 2012, Chicago Fair Trade’s annual fundraising event on Thursday, October 18th, 2012 at DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time). Support economic development that sustains communities while enjoying an evening in this elegant space overlooking the Chicago River.

Globalfest will feature our fair trade connections to Asia, with appetizers, fair trade wine, music and silent auction. We will learn of Asian producer stories during a brief program that will also include the presentation of Chicago Fair Trade’s fifth Changemaker Award.

Funds raised at this event will help Chicago Fair Trade increase support for fair trade in the metro area, ensuring that producers in developing countries earn a fair wage and affect change in their communities. Through its members, Chicago Fair Trade has a positive impact on over a million fair trade producers worldwide. In addition, your support will help us extend the reach of our programming for schools and youth groups that have touched the lives of over 500 youth last year, creating global citizens for the future.

If you have questions about Globalfest 2012 or Chicago Fair Trade, please contact Nancy Jones, Director at 312-212-1760 or njones@chicagofairtrade.org.

August 11 - 12 - Veggie Fest North America!

August 5th, 2012

VeggieFest2012, VeggieFest2012

Organizations We Love: The Playing for Change Foundation

July 31st, 2012

According to its website, “Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race.

The founders of Playing for Change traveled to countries across the globe, connecting with and recording musicians playing their instruments and singing the same song – over and over again. Then, they created a record by mixing these individual recordings together – it’s essentially a global jam session. It makes for an incredibly unique record and several unforgettable music videos.

Take a look at the following video, of musicians from as nearby as New Orleans to as far away as South Africa, France, and Nepal, performing the song “Don’t Worry,” an original track written specifically for this record. The lyrics are uplifting in and of themselves, but to see singers, guitarists, and choirs from several different performing it “together?” It’s phenomenal.

We particularly love that there are two musicians on this track from India – one playing the sitar, an instrument that has been used in traditional Indian music for centuries, and the other on the electric guitar, the backbone of modern (and Western) rock and roll. This blend of the traditional with the contemporary side-by-side on the same track is brilliant.

As if this project wasn’t inspiring enough, the organization grew and has expanded their mission. They have, over the past five years, sponsored several concerts whose proceeds go toward building and funding music schools in the developing countries they visited during the production of their record, further unifying the world through music.

To find out more about Playing for Change’s original project and to see more videos of their performances, please click here, and to read more about the Playing for Change Foundation and the schools they have funded, click here.

Listen to Holly’s interview on WBEZ!

June 25th, 2012

You can listen to Holly Elzinga’s interview with Jerome McDonnell on the Global Activism segment of WorldView HERE!

Bananas! a film review

June 19th, 2012

The food we eat can have a high price tag for others.

I recently watched the film BANANAS! at Chicago Fair Trade’s latest member meeting, a documentary by Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten advocating for the rights of banana plantation workers in Nicaragua. The film follows the actual court proceedings as Dole Food Company faces a series of lawsuits regarding their long-standing use of controversial chemicals on banana plantations in Nicaragua. The pesticides resulted in several health problems for plantation workers, most notably sterility among men.

The chemical, Dibromochloropropane (DBCP), was synthesized in 1955 and used all over the world to protect plants from worms until 1977, when employees handling the chemical in California were found to be sterile. Despite restrictions from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and several health reports and studies showing the harmful effects of DBCP, Dole continued to use the pesticide in massive quantities on banana plantations in Nicaragua. I was shocked when watching the film to see large quantities of DBCP being sprayed from irrigation guns attached to airplanes, pouring a deluge of toxicity over the trees and workers, and at times even flooding the ground.

Filmmaker Fredrick Gertten said he was amazed at the audacity of Dole to continue using a pesticide that was known to cause infertility, and wanted to delve deeper into the issues. His film goes on to expose how the multi-million dollar agribusiness of bananas has taken advantage of workers in the developing world.

The story is quite disheartening, and presents a challenge to us as consumers to educate ourselves about the products we consume, and make choices that matter.

In the words of the filmmaker:

“The bananas we’ve been eating all these years look to have caused horrendous suffering for these people. To me it is very unsettling to find that out now. Who knows what chemicals are used on bananas today? Who knows if any consequences will be felt in 30 years? I want to highlight the moral dilemma - that the food we eat can have a high price tag for others.

“I eat less bananas now, but I consciously try not to quit entirely but instead choose Fair trade products. I don’t believe in being 100% orthodox. That goes for my private life as well as my films. I don’t want to preach morality and BANANAS!* shouldn’t leave the audience feeling guilty and depressed. Change does not come from despair, but from seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, that our actions actually matter.”

- Fredrick Gertten in an Interview with Orvar Safstrom.

Bananas screening chicago fair trade june 11 2012, fair trade bananas

You can watch the trailer HERE.

At Chicago Fair Trade’s screening, we also had Sharon Hoyer from The Dill Pickle Food Co-op talk to us about their commitment as a store to ONLY carry fair trade bananas. This means that if there are not fair trade bananas available, they will not stock them. This is a notable decision for a business to make, as it means at times sacrificing sales for the sake of supporting fair trade practices.

This presents a challenge to us as consumers to not only be educated about the products we consume, but also to be willing to sacrifice when fair trade options are not available.

I truly believe that as consumers, we have the power to hold corporations accountable for unfair businesses. Ultimately, consumers drive the market as we are the ones spending money on consumer goods. The more we are educated about where the products come from and the conditions under which they were made, the more we can consciously choose to support businesses with ethical production practices.

(Some related comments from a previous blog):

This is one of the things that fair trade does for consumers – it puts us in direct contact with the PEOPLE who make the products we enjoy. It reconnects us with the human side of our food, our clothes, our jewelry, our sports equipment. It makes us consider the work and skills that went into the product’s production, it brings us to a new level of appreciation for craftsmanship and talent, and it plants a seed of RESPECT inside of us – a seed that continues to grow as we continue to become more connected to the people behind our products.

As you go through your day today, I challenge you to be conscious about the producers behind the things you consume, touch, wear, and enjoy. Who picked the coffee beans that were brewed into your morning cup? Who designed and sewed the clothes and accessories you choose to wear? Who made the computer at your desk, what trees did the paper you use come from, who processed the raw material into paper?

Whose life are you respecting (or disrespecting) by the choices you make today?

I add “disrespect” because in all honestly, as many of us know, a large number of products on the market DO indeed come from a production line that disrespects their workers. Walking through a supermarket or department store, customers are often quite disconnected from the people behind the products they are browsing. We remain ignorant about whether they were made with child and sweatshop labor, unfair wages, and worker exploitation or by people paid fair wages and treated with RESPECT. We make the decision to support the wrong group because we are uninformed.

But in a society of knowledge, awareness, information, and global connections, we no longer can afford to make ill-informed decisions.

In a world where we have the CHOICE to purchase either from retail lines whose producers are unknown or exploitative, or to purchase from lines that put us in direct contact with producers and their stories – why would we WANT to remain ill-informed?

Fair Trade products are increasingly becoming available. If you are Chicago-based, see Chicago Fair Trade for a listing of Chicago-based fair trade businesses. If fair trade products aren’t as available as you’d like, there’s a lot you can do to change that! A suggestion or a petition can go a long way. Contact your alderman, speak to the buyers for your local coffee shop, make a suggestion to your grocery mart, bring fair trade products to your workplace. See Chicago Fair Trade’s website for more resources about how to increase the availability of fair trade products.

Your choices and your actions make a difference. In this new year, be mindful. Be CONSCIOUS. Make a difference that you can proudly stand behind.

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