Campaign: Bethlehem, New YorkBy Anna McMahon, Lead Organizer, Fair Trade Bethlehem
The Fair Trade Bethlehem NY campaign began in May 2009 with a Fair Trade coffee-sampling outside one of our independent cafes. Since then we have expanded our efforts in many directions: organising public events; taking presentations to local schools and community groups; generating media interest and just spreading the word about Fair Trade wherever and however we can!
In and Around the Community:
Our keynote event each year is a huge Black Friday Fair Trade Market held at Delmar Reformed Church. The market is eagerly anticipated by the community, and it’s the top event of the year for our local FT vendors and not-for-profits. It also provides a great “alternative Black Friday story” for local media. A similar sale is held at another area church ahead of Mother’s Day. Other public events have included our “Fair Trade Shop Hop” featuring local stores; and a “Chocolate Sunday” event with information and fun children’s activities themed around chocolate. In addition we have hosted producer presentations and film screenings and have tabled at numerous events and at our Farmers’ Market; we have had an eye-catching display at the public library; and we participate in our town’s Holiday Parade each December. We try to be as visible as possible and take part in community events whenever we can.
Getting Youth Involved:
Outreach to schools has proved very positive – one of our elementary schools has been holding a Fair Trade fundraiser (selling friendship bracelets in school colors); students from our Middle School regularly volunteer at Fair Trade events; and our High School has recently established its own Fair Trade club which will be holding all sorts of exciting events of its own! Getting young people involved is crucial to the success and vitality of Fair Trade campaigning.
Next on the Agenda:
We’re working on establishing a “LOFTluck Club” – an informal potluck gathering where participants endeavour to use Local, Organic and Fair Trade ingredients. We also have plans to hold a “Fair Trade and Faith” seminar.
We have met four of the five campaign criteria, but getting the Town Board on our side has so far proved to be a sticking point. Although we would love (and still hope to achieve) the publicity for the cause that full Fair Trade Town status would bring, for us “it’s the journey, not the declaration” that really counts in this process. We are proud that many more people in our community and beyond are aware of and involved in Fair Trade as a result of our campaign, and we intend to keep on swelling those numbers!
For more information, please contact Anna McMahon, FTBethlehemNY@gmail.com