2012- A Year to be Thankful

Although the year 2012 has not yet ended, the Fair Trade TrailBlazers of Penn State Brandywine have much to be thankful for this year.

We are thankful for our Penn State Brandywine community that supported us becoming a Fair Trade University.  Without our students, staff, faculty, and alumni taking the time to learn about Fair Trade and agreeing that Fair Trade is significant and important for us to connect with, we would not have been able to establish such a strong community of passionate people that are continuing to educate others and using their purchasing power to make a difference.

We are thankful for Hal Taussig and America’s First Fair Trade Town.  Would Fair Trade even be here without Hal pursuing the idea of bringing Fair Trade Towns to the USA?  Would we have any Fair Trade Towns without Media taking the first steps to gaining the approval?  Would we at Penn State Brandywine have even considered becoming a Fair Trade University if Media wasn’t a Fair Trade Town?  We thank those that are the true “trailblazers” for bringing Fair Trade to America.

We are thankful for the certifiers.  Yes, you may not all get along, but we appreciate the challenges you offer each other.  By keeping the conversation going, it keeps the Fair Trade discussion moving forward.  Fair Trade has come far, but there is still so much further to go.  All movements have growing pains, and we as a university value informative, detailed, constructive, and civil discussions of all sides of the issue of Fair Trade certification.

We are thankful for social media.  OK, so this item may not seem like it fits in with the rest of what we are thankful for.  But if it wasn’t for Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Flickr, etc., we would not have made our initial connections with Fair Trade Campaigns National Coordinator Billy Linstead Goldsmith, or Divine Chocolate’s Amanda White.  We would not be exchanging tweets with Alta Gracia or other Fair Trade supporters from literally across the globe.  Thank you, social media, for allowing our campus to be connected in a global conversation about Fair Trade.

Most importantly, we are thankful for the farmers and the makers of Fair Trade products.  For the people that give so much of themselves to produce food and crafts ethically sourced that benefits not only their communities but our entire planet Earth – thank you for your tireless, beautiful work.


Updating our Faculty and Staff on Fair Trade

Today we TrailBlazers met with our staff and faculty at Penn State Brandywine to update them about Fair Trade, what our campus has been doing, what tasks we still hope to accomplish, and what kind of community involvement we need to further the movement. It was a successful meeting, and we were happy with the kinds of questions asked, like how can Fair Trade be implemented into classes, how do we go from education and awareness to action, where do we see our campus a few years down the line, and so on. The meeting gave us a lot to think about in terms of sparking passion in the community and keeping the momentum going.

Our hope is to make the Fair Trade movement on campus not only a student initiative, but one that brings the faculty, staff, and administration into the fold as well. We discussed how student clubs on campus have been mostly student oriented, and while a Fair Trade club is a good idea, we want to include everyone on campus. In essence, by bringing Fair Trade to Penn State Brandywine, we hope to change the culture in a positive, more communal way, so that the student body and the faculty, staff, and administration, have something in common to gather around.

That kind of togetherness is already starting to bud, and from the meeting today, it is easy to see how passionate our community is becoming. It’s hard to say where this will be in several years, even a year, but I can’t think of a better rallying point than Fair Trade.

-Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Podcast: Fair Trade Resources for Staying Educated

Link to podcast (MP3 file)


The Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers have a few helpful tips on staying in the loop with information about the Fair Trade movement. Penn State Brandywine recently became declared a Fair Trade University, and it was very important for us TrailBlazers to understand the growing movement and educate our campus. There is a lot going on with Fair Trade, and we had some hesitations and reservations about how to proceed in deciding what was best for our campus. Here are some tools we felt were helpful for learning about Fair Trade as the movement changes.

Starting out, we didn’t know much about Fair Trade, so our first step was to read! We read lots of articles about Fair Trade to acquire the necessary background information, and here are a few good websites and books for you to check out. We found the Fair Trade Resource Network’s website (fairtraderesource.org) very helpful and up to date with everything happening in the Fair Trade world, along with Fair Trade.org.uk, and the Fair Trade section under the Environment category of The Guardian website (guardiannews.com). We also found the books Fighting The Banana Wars and other Fairtrade Battles by Harriet Lamb, Fair Trade by Jacqueline DeCarlo, Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made It Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide by Stacey Edgar, Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival by Daniel Jaffee, and Coffee and Community by Sarah Lyon to be very helpful in understanding Fair Trade.

Our second step was to contact different organizations involved with Fair Trade. There is a lot of different activity and viewpoints toward Fair Trade at the moment, so talking to a wide variety of organizations helped us greatly in trying to understand the whole picture.  Everybody we spoke to was helpful, enthusiastic, and had a wealth of knowledge and insight. A few good groups to contact are United Students for Fair Trade, Divine Chocolate, Fair Trade Towns, Fair Trade USA, Equal Exchange, Fair Trade Federation, Alta Gracia, and Ten Thousand Villages. There is a plethora of other groups you can get in contact with, and we encourage you to do so!  Don’t forget that if you cannot bring a speaker to campus, there is always the opportunity to Skype and exchange information via email.

We also made a point of contacting local Fair Trade towns and schools. Support is crucial when starting out on the Fair Trade path, and we are lucky enough to be located in the town of Media, Pennsylvania, America’s first Fair Trade Town, and to have Penncrest High School, America’s first Fair Trade public high school, right down the road.  We were also able to talk to Temple University about Fair Trade and what it is doing to support and bring Fair Trade to its campus. Having other groups to talk to helped us to see what has already been done and where we could go. These institutions were both insightful and encouraging! If you and your university are seeking to support Fair Trade, ask other schools and towns in your area what they are doing to support Fair Trade and start networking early.  Even if they are not designated to be a Fair Trade school or town, they still might have initiatives supporting Fair Trade. 

Lastly, perhaps one of the most powerful messages we took away from our discussions with these organizations, schools, and towns, was to ask questions and hold people accountable. It is important to understand how Fair Trade is growing and to ask the right questions. Know what Fair Trade means to you and don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. If something is unclear, ask somebody about it and speak up.

We hope that you found our tips helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at fairtrade@bw.psu.edu, or on our Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ accounts.

Send us your Fair Trade Blog Posts!

We TrailBlazers are interested in posting more voices on our blog! So, we open up our blog to your Fair Trade events, opinions, discussions, recipes, etc. and would love to share them. If you would like to write in, please email your post to us at psubwfairtrade@gmail.com or fairtrade@bw.psu.edu, and we will share it on our blog. If you wish to remain anonymous, please specify so in your email.

Anyway, we hope to have your voice on our blog! Happy writing!

-Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

Fair Trade Water Ice?

I’ve been looking online at ways to make fair trade water ice. I can’t find anything that has to do with making fair trade water ice. I was wondering if there was any criteria on how to make Fair Trade water ice, or does anyone have any ideas of how this could be done?

Contributed by Joe Sweeny