I knew I was heading to DC today for a workshop, and I knew I wanted to head down early to try to find the Global Exchange store. Global Exchange is “an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world.” One of the programs Global Exchange promotes is around the topic of Fair Trade, working not only to promote Fair Trade but “to end child and forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa industry, as well as educate and empower children and adults to advocate for and purchase Fair Trade.”
So I looked up the address and headed out, only to find a restaurant in that location called Busboys and Poets.
Huh? I was confused, unfortunately thinking I would find a large store with lots of Fair Trade products, educational materials, etc. I finally found a sign on the restaurant window that said Global Exchange, so I headed in to see a small space off to the side packed with books, topics ranging from human rights to the environment to Fair Trade, and Fair Trade items. In addition, I was pleased to see items one might find in Ten Thousand Villages, such as the artisan creations, and Equal Exchange chocolate and coffee. Curious to learn more about the restaurant and its connection to this collection of items available for purchase, I decided to stay and grab some lunch.
Busboys and Poets is filled with art, energy, and “positive vibes.” The menu (and website) explains their philosophy: “Busboys and Poets is a community where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted…a place to take a deliberate pause and feed your mind, body and soul…a space for art, culture and politics to intentionally collide…we believe that by creating such a space we can inspire social change and begin to transform our community and the world.” This statement alone helps me see the connection and why Fair Trade belongs in this location. Having a retail store allows the everyday consumer to do their part to support the movement through their purchasing power.
But Busboys and Poets does not stop there! Not only does this place promote Fair Trade, they offer space and products for Teaching for Change and (at their Maryland location) Art Under Pressure. Although I could not tell what food items on the menu were Fair Trade beyond the coffee, the menu offered a wide selection of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and organic items. My chicken quesadilla was the best I’ve ever had, filled with grilled chicken, green and red peppers, onion, and cheese. Maybe it was the setting that made me feel good about what I was eating. But wow – I can’t wait to get back to try some more items from the menu!
Although I was disappointed with not finding what I was expecting in terms of a Global Exchange store, I was excited to see a community space for gathering and providing resources to encourage people to reflect and explore how to be global change makers. This is what we should/need to have to promote the Fair Trade movement.
Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin