Reflections from the 4th International Fair Trade Towns Conference

Courtney Lang December 12, 2010

Sharing a World of FT Towns Experience

By National Coordinator, Billy Linstead Goldsmith

Having the opportunity to travel to the 4th International Fair Trade Towns Conference in Germany was an energizing and inspiring opportunity. Although it was my first, the connection of shared vision and common work made it feel like I had been in attendance at all of them. It is inspiring to see the work being done in communities around the world to grow the Fair Trade movement.

With over 100 attendees from 19 countries the conference was a great opportunity to witness the width and breadth of what is truly growing into a significant global movement.We have Fair Trade Town campaigns in Japan, Australia, eastern Europe in the Czec Republic and Poland, and most excitingly, in producer countries like Costa Rica, Brazil and Ghana.

The conference provided opportunities to learn best practices, new outreach methods, and the history of the movement. We had workshops on how our local campaigns can connect to producer communities, strategies for social networking and new media outlets, sessions on how the basic criteria have grown and changed in different countries, and sessions on how we can measure the local impact of campaigns and influence procurement locally and globally.

Bonn Becomes a Fair Trade Town

Perhaps the most inspiring part of the conference was when we all traveled to the Bonn Museum of History to participate in the Declaration Ceremony of the city of Bonn becoming a Fair Trade City. With almost 200 people in attendance, a panel of Mayors from other German Fair Trade Towns discussing the value of the designation to their communities, and a wonderful presentation to the Mayor of Bonn, it was a moving opportunity for us all to witness the success of the local movement, while we were meeting to grow the global movement.

It was a wonderful experience and everyone was so excited to see the growth of the campaign in the U.S. My commitment to everyone there was to make sure we had a growing contingency from the Fair Trade Town campaigns here in attendance in the future. Plans are already in the works to organize a delegation to the conference in         Sweden next year, so stay tuned!

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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.