Campaign Spotlight – Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Courtney Lang March 7, 2013

pic 7FIRST FAIR TRADE TOWN IN N.C.

In the summer of 2012 Nadia took her students on a class visit to Ten Thousand Villages to learn about how Fair Trade can be a solution to exploitive labor practices in the fashion industry.  The store manager Keilayn Skutvik mentioned the Fair Trade Towns movement as a possible avenue by which Chapel Hill citizens could learn more about fair trade.  In 2010 Sociology professor Judith Blau was able to launch the movement with her human rights class which successfully petitioned the town to pass a Fair Trade resolution. While this was a wonderful and important first step, the campaign needed to form a committee and connect with local retailers, community partners and media outlets to be considered a ‘Fair Trade Town.’ So in August 2012, Keilayn and Nadia met and mapped out our plan to make this happen.

The team first worked to form a committee. Through Keilayn’s connections with her customers at the store and other Fair Trade enthusiasts, they were able to form community partners consisting of non-profits that work with women’s cooperatives in countries like Ghana and the DHC, Social Entrepreneurship groups at UNC-Chapel Hill and local congregations.

CHAPEL HILL GETS CREATIVE WITH PROMOTION

To promote the new movement, the committee decided to host a ‘holiday series’ of events that would connect the community partners. These events included:

  • Ten Thousand Villages after hours event where our different community partners working with groups in Africa could showcase their products and stories. Mamafrica, Aban and others attended. We invited guest speakers and prominent town citizens including Barbara Trent, the Oscar-winning director of ‘Panama Deception.’
  • UNC-Chapel Hill screening the the film ‘Half the Sky’ in partnership with many socially conscious groups at UNC featured a marketplace of different fair trade goods.
  • UNC business school Net Impact Club screening of ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate’, which included fair trade chocolate sampling and a marketplace of our community partners.
  • Local media outlets links:

- Two articles by the Daily Tarheel, one of which was an editorial calling for more fair trade retailer  http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2012/11/chapel-hill-recognized-for-fair-trade http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2012/11/5099c8332f4b5

- radio  interviews with WCHL http://podcast.chapelboro.com/wchl/3852737.mp3 http://chapelboro.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=6232993

pic 4MOVING FORWARD

Nadia was able to attend the Fair Trade conference in Chicago through a Fair Trade Towns travel grant where Chapel Hill was named the 30th Fair Trade Town in the USA. Meeting amazing artisans and farmers from all over the world just affirmed her desire to educate others about where to find fair trade products and work to connect consumers more closely with producers.In the spring, Fair Trade Chapel Hill will be planning even more events such as educational outreach events with local schools.  The UNC social entrepreneurship group, Micro Finance Initiative, will be planning a Fair Trade conference in March! Meanwhile, the campaign is very excited about bringing a Fair Trade artisan from Guatemala to Chapel Hill. They plan on using their status as a Fair Trade town to promote education and awareness of Fair Trade through community events, educational outreach and increased retailer availability of Fair Trade products.

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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.