Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Leadership Training

It all started with an idea for an event… and then, making the event happen!

Join Fair Trade Colleges & Universities and our host Penn State Brandywine for the Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Training! The training session will focus on helping students, faculty, administration and others organize their campaigns in order to become the next Fair Trade College or University.

Sharpen your tools and skills, learn what others are doing on campus to promote Fair Trade and get to know the network of students, faculty and staff across the region who are working on Fair Trade College & University campaigns!

Guiding the training will be:

Dr. Laura Guertin – Founder of the Fair Trade Trailblazers and professor at Penn State Brandywine, the first Fair Trade University in PA and 8th in the nation.

Sarah DeMartino –  National Steering Committee Member for Fair Trade Colleges & Universities, and student leader of Fair Trade Penn State at Penn State University Main Campus. Sarah also served on the Trailblazers steering committee before transferring to PSU-Main Campus.

Billy Linstead Goldsmith – National Coordinator of Fair Trade Campaigns

Sarah DeMartino (left, Penn State University Park) and Aimee Ralph (Penn State Brandywine) as the "welcome bananas" for today's events!

Sarah DeMartino (left, Penn State University Park) and Aimee Ralph (Penn State Brandywine) as the “welcome bananas” for today’s event!

So on a sunny-yet-windy day (with La Colombe Fair Trade coffee to warm us up from Seven Stones Cafe in Media!), students and faculty from Penn State Brandywine, Penn State University Park, Saint Joseph’s University, Cabrini College, and Drexel University gathered at the Brandywine campus to spend time discussing individual campus campaigns for Fair Trade University status.  The group discussed a range of topics from successes and challenges to having events on campus, to renewing leadership, and engaging the faculty, staff, food providers, bookstore managers, and everyone else on campus in creating a sustainable effort and program for Fair Trade.

A range of Fair Trade-themed events have been taking place at our schools.  Drexel and Penn State University Park have shown Fair Trade movies.  Saint Joe’s held a tasting event with chocolate (Kopali), tea (Runa), and soda (Maine Root).  Cabrini College held a Fair Trade Catholic College Philly gathering with speakers from Philly Fair Trade Coffee and Ten Thousand Villages.  Penn State Brandywine shared the success of our Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale.  All of us want to increase the opportunities for students to take trips that incorporate Fair Trade and to purchase (or at least taste) Fair Trade food items – to quote Billy, we want to “taste the equity!”

The day ended with everyone thinking about how to prepare for the fall semester.  Yes, even though the spring semester hasn’t ended yet, it is important for all of us to think about how to keep the momentum of our efforts continuing through the summer and to start the fall semester strong with recruiting efforts.  At least in southeast PA, we hope to get students/faculty together from our neighboring colleges for one or two Fair Trade meetings to continue today’s conversations.  Anyone up for some Ben & Jerry’s Fair Trade ice cream this summer?  😉

— Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

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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.

 

2012 Fair Trade Campaigns Conference – Day 1

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.

Sarah DeMartino with the Nittany Lion in Millennium Park in Chicago

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 fairtrade@bw.psu.edu so we can add you to the list!

Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin