Dialing in to Fair Trade Towns

Courtney Lang August 13, 2009

Join the National Organizers' Conference Call!

Thank you to everyone who made it for the Conference Call on Wednesday. We had great turnout and participation. The next call will be on Wednesday, 9/9 at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific. Below is a summary of the call and topics that were covered. Please contact the National Coordinator for more details or with any questions.

Representatives from thirteen different communities either declared or in progress, were in attendance. Declared towns present were Media, PA; Taos, NM; Amherst, MA; San Francisco, CA; Northampton, MA; and Chico, CA. Towns in the process of declaration campaigns were: Mankato, MN; Orlando, FL; Seattle, WA; Highland Park, NJ; Chicago, IL; Teaneck, NJ; and Washington, DC.

We first discussed the overall framework of Fair Trade Towns USA. We spoke briefly about the history of the initiative in the US and the campaign’s current focus on long term campaign strategy. What is important to note is that Fair Trade Towns USA’s goal is for steering committees to continue advocacy for fair trade long after declaring and meeting the five criteria for doing so. In this way, declaring is the path to creating a permanent platform that is recognized in the community and can continually grow the fair trade movement.

We then reviewed the ‘Campaigns’ section of the website. The list of ‘Post-Declaration Campaigns’ is meant to help steering committees decide what the next step should be for their campaign. We encourage new ideas and will add more to this list as they develop on the ground. We want creative control to reside locally so that all of our campaigners are able to feel a true sense of ownership over the direction of the movement in their town.

One major campaign that Fair Trade Towns USA would love to see action on is a Mentoring Campaign. This involves reaching out to neighboring communities in an effort to mentor them through the declaration process. This is a great option for a steering committee to select as their first action after declaring since the process is still fresh. Organizers may have already collected contacts from neighboring towns at their events which would allow potential steering committee members to be targeted. The National Coordinator also has a wealth of resources available to help get things started.

We discussed other new website components as well, and received some excellent ideas and feedback on additional materials which we will work to make available as soon as possible. Finally we discussed the importance of all of our towns having a presence online. Details on how to start a Blogspot website and setting up a presence on social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, & Flickr) were given and are posted in the ‘Call to Action’ section on the Fair Trade Towns USA homepage.

Thanks again to all who attended and keep up all of the great work you are doing across the country!

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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.