From September 10-12, 2010, the Fair Trade Futures Conference brought together 762 entrepreneurs, students, advocates, artisans, farmers, faith community members, and concerned citizens from five continents for the largest Fair Trade event in North American history.
Kevin Danaher, co-founder of Global Exchange, called for participants to be 'solutionaries, not revolutionaries,' seeking collaborative ways to address global challenges. From the perspective of farmers and artisans, Santiago Paz of CEPICAFE coffee cooperative, Gaston Vizcarra of Candela Peru, Philomena Mashaka of the Teenage Mothers and Girls Association of Kenya, and Esther Gyepi-Garbrah of Global Mamas Ghana described the ways in which Fair Trade has combated poverty in their communities and the need for continued improvement and growth.
The Quincy, MA conference, held at the LEED-certified Marriott Hotel, provided a forum where Fair Trade-minded individuals could learn how to advance the Fair Trade movement in North America. Attendees participated in dozens of workshops, debates, discussions, and social activities centered on Fair Trade's holistic approach to business and poverty alleviation.
A marketplace of 75 Fair Trade vendors generated thousands of dollars in sales of handmade and agricultural items in just four and a half hours. 'We [had] more…sales at this conference than during four days [at some trade shows],' says Megy Karydes of World Shoppe. 'But, besides the hard dollar figures, I can't put a figure on the conversations I had with retailers and consumers...They wanted to hear the stories and learn more about the product firsthand.'
At the end of the event, participants pledged to follow up on their conference experience with actions in their communities, including hundreds of commitments to campaign for Fair Trade on the local level, start Fair Trade businesses, and bring more Fair Trade to schools and community organizations. Michael Zelmer, Communications Director at TransFair Canada, reflected that 'the conference was an incredible opportunity to come together as a community and find common ground to move forward together.'
The 2010 conference was made possible through the generous contributions of many sponsors and supporters, including Catholic Relief Services, Cooperative Coffees, Equal Exchange, the Fair Trade Federation, the Fair Trade Resource Network, Global Crafts, Green America, Handmade Expressions, the Presbyterian Church (USA), SERRV International, Ten Thousand Villages Canada, and Ten Thousand Village USA.
Find out more about the Fair Trade Futures conference. See images online.
About the Fair Trade Federation
The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) strengthens and promotes North American organizations fully committed to Fair Trade. The Federation is part of the global Fair Trade movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty. More information at www.FairTradeFederation.org.
About the Futures Conference
The 2010 Fair Trade Futures Conference builds on the successful 2005 Futures conference which attracted more than 750 entrepreneurs, consumers, students, activists, faith community members and others to Chicago, Ill. By convening the 2010 event, eleven leading Fair Trade Organizations provide an opportunity to connect established and emerging Fair Trade supporters in a professional, lively, fun, inclusive, and practical atmosphere.