Campaign Spotlight: Winter Park, Florida

Courtney Lang August 24, 2012
Guest Blogger:  Jennifer Shroeder, Co-Manager at Ten Thousand Villages-Winter Park and Steering Committee Member with Fair Trade Winter Park

The gang during a Fair Trade Towns Producer Tour visit in May with Raymond Gitau of Kenya!

 
Here is a blog post from the small, but mighty team in Winter Park/Orlando, Florida.  Winter Park recently became the 27th Fair Trade Town in the USA and here you’ll discover their path to becoming declared and what they are doing to keep the momentum!

Igniting Passion that Fuels the Journey

Winter Park Florida’s Fair Trade Town campaign began in June of 2011. While attending a Ten Thousand Villages annual meeting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, co-manager Lisa Dunaway of the Ten Thousand Villages Winter Park store joined an informational session led by Billy Linstead Goldsmith of Fair Trade Towns USA. Lisa was so inspired after hearing Billy’s presentation that she set about organizing a Fair Trade Town steering committee as soon as she returned to Florida. The steering committee, made up of Ten Thousand Villages staff, volunteers and community supporters of Fair Trade, quickly got to work contacting local businesses, asking them if they would consider stocking Fair Trade items in their stores.  Our committee was surprised and happy to find that many of our Winter Park neighbors were already carrying a few Fair Trade items in their inventory. In fact, some of the business owners were surprised as well because they weren’t familiar with Fair Trade and had not noticed the Fair Trade label on some of their products.

Jenn visiting the artisans of Hajiganj Kaisa Basket in Bangladesh, making the Fair Trade baskets we sell at Ten Thousand Villages.

Jenn visiting the artisans of Hajiganj Kaisa Basket in Bangladesh, where they are making the Fair Trade baskets sold at Ten Thousand Villages.

Reaching Different Areas of the Community through Education

Members of the committee began to attend retailer association meetings and give presentations about the Fair Trade Towns campaign. The goal was to educate the community about Fair Trade and our efforts to make Winter Park a Fair Trade Town, the first in Florida. The positive response we received from our neighbors was encouraging.

We have been thrilled with the support our community has shown for our Fair Trade Town Winter Park campaign. We were prepared to deal with obstacles or skeptics along the way, but in truth the challenges have been minor. The biggest hurdle we encountered was convincing local churches and civic groups to agree to serve Fair Trade coffee or tea at their meetings, largely because they thought Fair Trade products would be much more expensive alternatives for them. After telling them that Fair Trade coffee can be purchased at Costco or Publix at a comparable price to other non-Fair Trade brands, many agreed to make the switch.

On April 26, 2012, Lisa Dunaway nervously and patiently waited her turn at a city commission meeting to present our committee’s proposal to declare Winter Park a Fair Trade Town. It was worth the four hour wait. The Commissioners unanimously agreed to sign the resolution. It had only been seven months since we started the campaign, but now Winter Park was officially the 27th Fair Trade Town in the nation, and the first Fair Trade Town in the Southeast!  (It helped that the president of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Patrick Chapin, is a passionate advocate for Fair Trade).

Driving the Campaign after Declaration by Reaching New Audiences

The biggest challenge we currently have is keeping the momentum going after such a smooth and successful campaign. The chair of our steering committee recently moved away, and a few other member have left as well, so we are trying to build up our membership once again.

Presently we are in the planning process of organizing a Fair Trade Film Festival for October, Fair Trade Month.  We are grateful for the grant we recently received from Fair Trade Towns USA to help us promote this event.  The festival will take place at four different venues in Winter Park and Orlando, and will showcase a variety of films about Fair Trade food items and the certification process. Our goal in having the festival is to reach new audiences and motivate them to get involved with the growing Fair Trade movement in Central Florida. We are also hoping to get the community excited about our next big venture: our Fair Trade Town campaign for Orlando.

For more information about Winter Park, Florida’s Fair Trade Town campaign, please visit www.fairtradetownsusa.org/towns/fl/winter-park   or Fair Trade Winter Park on Facebook.

One Comment

  1. Small but mighty indeed! This town of ours is so open to fair trade! Volunteering in Ten Thousand Villages on Park Ave. has shown me how many customers are interested in hearing about the artisans who make the products they are buying and how their purchase will help make their lives better and more sustainable.

    Susie Robertshaw - 5 years ago

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Courtney Lang, National Organizer | Fair Trade Campaigns

Courtney Lang brings over 5 years of community organizing to Fair Trade Towns USA, building both the Local Food and Fair Trade networks in Vermont. As Local Food Coordinator with City Market/Onion River Cooperative, Courtney worked with local producers, institutions and consumers to grow the local food system and organize a strategic model for community engagement through farm tours, workshops, and local food challenges. Like many in the Fair Trade industry, Courtney was inspired to take action in Fair Trade when she witnessed child-labor first hand in Costa Rica. As a founding member of Fair Trade Burlington, she has worked with economic development organizations, businesses, and consumers to build awareness of Fair Trade among Vermonters. She also worked with a Fair Trade USA licensee, Vermont Coffee Company, as Friend Ambassador where she united the story of Fair Trade to every purchase of coffee.