Today, supporters of Fair Trade gathered in Chicago, Illinois, for the Fair Trade Campaigns Conference, “Building Partnerships for a Stronger Movement.” My flight from Philadelphia to Chicago had several people heading to the gathering, with Ira Josephs representing the Fair Trade Towns USA side of the conference for Media, PA, and Sarah DeMartino representing Fair Trade Colleges & Universities for Penn State -University Park.
I won’t summarize all the details of everything that was covered Day 1, as my head is still spinning and trying to process some really powerful information that was shared with the group.
We started the evening session with a Regional Networking Dinner. Each person was to sit at tables with other people from their geographic region (in my case, the Mid-Atlantic region). I ended up at a table filled with Penn State – University Park students working towards making their campus a Fair Trade University. It was great to be able to share my insights and suggestions for connections they can make at their campus. We also met some very energetic students from Saint Joseph’s University, and we looking forward to connecting with them more in the future and hopefully collaborating on future events. I also saw someone with a Cabrini College sweatshirt… many universities are represented at this conference!
Next came the general welcome and announcements. It’s always great to see Billy Linstead Goldsmith and Courtney Lang get up and speak, even if it is just for logistical announcements. Their passion really keeps the rest of us excited for all things Fair Trade. We received a welcome from the Fair Trade city of Chicago and heard comments/saw videos from Green Mountain Coffee, where the new battle cry for everyone this weekend is “great coffee, good vibes, pass it on!” Their videos online are a MUST SEE!
Next up – the Ben & Jerry’s Fair Trade Ice Cream Social (check out all of their Fair Trade flavors!) & Tweet-Up. Ice cream and Twitter – you can’t go wrong with that combination! Several people have been tweeting with the conference hashtag #FTCconf, and some people jumped in and joined Twitter this evening to get in the online conversations of 140 characters or less.
The Keynote Speaker for the evening was Kelsey Timmerman, the author of “Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that make our Clothes.” I greatly appreciated how Kelsey made us all stop and think – where do the clothes we wear come from, and who made them? What is his/her story? The stories he shared about Solo and iPod Girl were very moving. My favorite takeaways from his talk – use personal stories to inform others about Fair Trade, form a League of Superheros, and think carefully about being a “No Impact Man” to being someone that takes actions to have an impact.
I’m exhausted already! But I’ll definitely be ready for Day 2 of the conference – so many more connections to make, so much more to learn!
One of my goals for Day 2 is to try to get names and email addresses of students from all the Pennsylvania schools that are here. It’s time we do a better job partnering and networking in our own state to move Fair Trade forward. So if you are reading this and are from a PA school, please leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add you to the list!
Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin