Congratulations to Burlington, Our 12th Fair Trade Town!

Courtney Lang September 11, 2009
Sandy, Melinda, & Courtney of FT Burlington

Sandy, Melinda, & Courtney of FT Burlington

by Guest Blogger Melinda Haselton

Three women in Burlington, VT shared the same vision to make their city a Fair Trade Town. Coming from different backgrounds and motivated by different experiences with fair trade, Sandy Wynne of Wynne Associates, , Courtney Lang of City Market,, and Melinda Haselton of Dolma Designs, all contacted Fair Trade Towns USA independently of one another. Fair Trade Towns USA put them in touch in the Fall of 2008. The trio hit it off right away and set the wheels in motion.

Using Fair Trade Towns’ guidelines, the women completed the five necessary steps to make Burlington a Fair Trade Town. A 15-member steering committee was formed in January 2009 that included businesses, schools, organizations and houses of worship. The committee planned a media event, World Fair Trade Day, on May 9, 2009 at City Hall Park in downtown Burlington. The event included fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and flowers, craft vendors and an African drum circle as well as guest speakers Mayor Bob Kiss and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

They compiled a list of local businesses that offer two or more fair trade products in their stores as well as a list of fair trade certified products available in Burlington. To complete the last step and pass a resolution, the women cited other Fair Trade Town resolutions and used language to emphasize that it is a voluntary designation. They connected fair trade and the local foods movement with social and environmental responsibility at the core of each. On August 10, 2009, the Burlington City Council passed the resolution with no objections making Burlington, VT the 12th Fair Trade Town.

Now that Burlington is a Fair Trade Town, Sandy, Courtney and Melinda are looking to the future and exploring new ways to engage the Burlington community on fair trade issues. This includes hosting an upcoming panel discussion on Fair Trade Business on October 17. With the help of Fair Trade Towns USA, the women are working with local retailers to promote their fair trade businesses. They are proud of their accomplishments and are excited for what the future will bring.

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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.