Congratulations to Chicago!

Courtney Lang May 5, 2011

By Guest Blogger Nancy Jones, Executive Director of Chicago Fair Trade & member of the Fair Trade Towns USA National Steering Committee

“Imagine Chicago as a Fair Trade City!” That was the theme of a meeting three years ago when we first charted a course to reaching this goal. Now, we are realizing this achievement on Friday, May 6th, in Daley Plaza and much of our imagining has become a reality: a city council resolution, 300 outlets selling Fair Trade products, 260 institutions using Fair Trade. Visioning exercises, however, are to help us dream beyond what we presume possible, so even after this status is in place, we can still see new possibilities! Can we see Fair Trade coffee in the offices of all 50 Alderman? Fair Trade bananas at the Chicago marathon? Fair Trade City status posted on our city’s website?

Chicago Fair Trade, a coalition of businesses, faith organizations, non-profits, universities and individuals realizes it has much work to do even as we celebrate this moment in our work, because our future is intricately linked to the futures of the producers whose goods we promote. If we, through building fair trade awareness, can help communities in the global south to be sustainable, where the earth is cared for and families are fed, we are contributing to the health of our planet. If families are fed and children can attend school, global conflict is reduced. Though the task of global peace and sustainability seems overwhelming, we know that Fair Trade provides us with a doable step that we can take each day. Asking for it, gifting it, mentioning it.

So, it is with joy that we lift our glass in celebration for how far we have come, knowing that a week from our celebration, we have a new mayor, new aldermen and more community organizations to tell about Fair Trade. We hope that Fair Trade Towns around the country and globe will support Chicago by sending wishes of congratulations on our Fair Trade City status to our new mayor, Rahm Emanuel on twitter (@RahmEmanuel).

Timeline of the Campaign


  • Coalition of businesses, faith and non-profit organizations, universities and individuals form the coalition, Chicago Fair Trade

2008 – 2009

  • Fair trade towns campaign launched with public meeting with Dept of Environment
  • Chicago Sun Times editorial supporting fair trade city campaign
  • Delivery of Fair Trade goodie bags to Chicago Aldermen.
  • Mapping of Fair Trade outlets begins
  • Sophie Tranchell of Fair Trade London visits Chicago and meets with city official


  • Fair Trade resolution passes Chicago City Council, mapping continues


  • Intense outreach to locate institutions using Fair Trade gets underway and completes the final criteria
  • City Proclamation for Fair Trade City Day in Chicago May 6th.

You must log in to join the discussion. If you are not already a member registering is easy.

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.