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.

 

Our second Alta Gracia t-shirt swap, benefitting Planet Aid

We just finished our second Alta Gracia t-shirt swap on campus, swapping gently used t-shirts for brand-new special-ordered Penn State Brandywine Alta Gracia shirts!  All collected and donated shirts are being donated to Planet Aid, a nonprofit organization that collects and recycles used clothing to protect the environment and support global sustainable development.

We are still swapping out some last-minute t-shirts, but we have given out at least 70 Alta Gracia shirts and collected over 120 to donate to Planet Aid!

Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

For those of you that follow our website, you may recall reading about our first t-shirt swap and our recommendations for how to host a t-shirt swap.  Instead of repeating that same information, we are going to add a few updates in this blog post.

  • As with our Go Bananas for Fair Trade event this semester, the students of BA 100 (Introduction to Business) helped out again in running the event.  We have to thank Professor Olear and her students once again for their enthusiasm and assistance!
  • We provided a three-fold brochure with every shirt describing Alta Gracia, Planet Aid, and included our mission and vision statements for the Fair Trade TrailBlazers.  It never hurts to put the information directly into people’s hands!
  • Tweet like crazy during your event!  We were thrilled to have @wearaltagracia and @planetaid both follow us and retweet our images and tweets during the event, as well as other groups.  This made us feel that we were really getting the word out and making an impact beyond our campus event.
  • We were disappointed that, although we sent out campus-wide emails and posted flyers, that the announcement didn’t appear on our campus website or campus Facebook page.  We have to remember to directly ask for the assistance with this publicity from our University Relations Office to get the maximum reach across the campus population.
  • And a friendly warning message… don’t assume that where you get your funding from for the t-shirts the first time will fund you a second time!  For our first t-shirt swap back in Spring 2012, our campus Student Acitivty Fee (SAF) committee funded us and even encouraged us to apply for more funding to get more shirts for a second event.  Fast forward to Fall 2012, a different SAF committee composition of students and faculty – we applied for more funding for more shirts, and we were completely denied funding – unless we became an official student club, which is not what the TrailBlazers are about (see Sarah’s post describing our campus identity).  Soooo… we had already special ordered the shirts through the campus bookstore, and the shirts were on the way, so we needed to find some funds, and fast.  We really need to thank the Laboratory for Civic Engagement for funding the student shirts, and our campus Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska for purchasing 50 shirts specifically for faculty and staff to swap.

If you would like to see more photos from our event, please visit our Flickr site.
Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

Below, some of the shirts on their way to Planet Aid!

Fair Trade T-shirt Swap

Fair Trade Month 2012

Happy Fair Trade Month everyone!  We’re pleased to be able to participate in the 9th annual Fair Trade month.  This is the first time Penn State Brandywine is joining the national voice during October in making ethical purchases to provide a “hand up, not a hand out” for workers across the globe.  Fair Trade USA has some helpful hints with 10 Easy Ways to Celebrate Fair Trade Month, and we have found our own ways to get involved appropriate for our campus community.

First up – we are Going Bananas for Fair Trade!  We are joining the Fair Trade Towns & Universities campaign with what we are sure is going to be a fun event on campus.  We’ll have 400 bananas to give out to 400 people to consume, along with an information table to educate people about where to purchase Fair Trade bananas locally, learn about Fair Trade labels on products, and even take a banana quiz on iPads!  If you are in the area, feel free to swing by our campus (Penn State Brandywine) between 10AM and 1PM on October 9 and 10, and look for us at the Lion Shrine in the middle of campus.  We are going to be environmentally responsible with the 400 banana peels – we will be composting all those peels on campus!  Look for photos during our event on our social media sites.

Next up in Fair Trade Month – our second Fair Trade t-shirt exchange!  This event was so popular in the spring semester, we are back asking for slightly worn t-shirts to be swapped for a Penn State Brandywine Alta Gracia t-shirt (yes, these shirts will say Brandywine on them!).  All collected t-shirts will be donated to Planet Aid.  Stay tuned for dates and times of the event in late October.

At the end of the month, Dr. Laura Guertin and one of our original Fair Trade TrailBlazers, Sarah DeMartino (now at the Penn State University Park campus) will be attending the Fair Trade Campaigns Conference in Chicago.  Look for them to bring back more innovative ideas for education/awareness/advocacy of Fair Trade!

 

 

For Sale – rolled Alta Gracia Penn State t-shirts!

Check out what is now available in our campus bookstore (and at the Barnes & Noble bookstores of all Penn State campuses) – Alta Gracia rolled t-shirts!  The blue and gray t-shirts state on the label: “Living Tee, Changing Lives One Shirt At A Time.  A Living Tee guarantees that the valued people making these t-shirts receive wages and benefits that allow them to provide for all of life’s necessities, for the health and well being of themselves and their family.  Proudly made in the Dominican Republic, a Product of Alta Gracia.”
Penn State Alta Gracia t-shirts

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin