Fair Trade Universities Back from Tour
By: Kate Polakiewicz, Strategic Relations Assistant at Fair Trade USA
I’m back from the Campus Consciousness Tour and some things are missing in my life – scoops of Ben and Jerry’s Jimmy Fallon Late Night Snack (Fair Trade Certified vanilla ice cream with fudge covered potato chips), waking up every day at different but confusingly similar looking red bricked building university campus, getting to talk with hundreds of students at each tour stop about what Fair Trade is, what the Fair Trade Universities campaign is all about, and how to make their campus a Fair Trade University.
The tour was a whirlwind of activity and destinations. Our entourage hauled four tour buses and two semis around the country, starting in the Northeast, touching parts of the South, Midwest and back. We covered some real country in 3 weeks, but you didn’t really feel the distance, because most driving time happened at night while we were asleep and our faithful driver, Ernie, took us from state to state. The buses on the tour run on biodiesel, a significant greening factor because tour buses only get about five miles per gallon and hold big tanks. Filling up at a gas station costs a mere, oh, $700.00.
This is what the Campus Consciousness Tour (organized by Reverb) does. It makes music tours more sustainable by stocking buses with compostable eating ware, supplying the artists and crew with reusable water bottles, arranging for locally sourced catering at tour sites, and featuring an array of sustainably focused non-profits to do educational outreach to students at each campus tour stop.
This is how I came on board, to promote Fair Trade Universities and to get students interested in bringing Fair Trade products to their campuses. At each campus, the Campus Consciousness Tour was well received and well attended. True, students are highly attracted by free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream samples, Ben and Jerry’s sunglasses, chocolate Silk soymilk samples, and free Brita water bottles, but students really did seem to listen and dig the causes behind the giveaways.
If you are a student I met on tour, hey! Thank you for being so engaged and passionate about
what Fair Trade does for farmers in the developing world and for talking with me at the Fair Trade Universities booth. Fair Trade Universities set up shop right next door to the Ben and Jerry’s table, so that we could connect students with the fact that Ben and Jerry’s uses Fair Trade Certified ingredients in their ice cream, and Fair Trade Universities is a project to get Fair Trade products on college campuses, in addition to educating the student body on what Fair Trade does. The activity at the Fair Trade Universities booth was hand printing an I Love Fair Trade or Fair Trade Universities patch on recycled fabric using a linoleum block.
My top spot on our tour was Tulane Univeristy, where I talked to a guy who wanted to get his own Fair Trade Certified gum company going after he graduated, where I had involved discussions with individuals about what kinds of social projects Fair Trade producers do with Fair Trade premiums, and where there is already a Fair Trade store on campus selling beautiful handicrafts and apparel. Tulane already has an active campaign to become a Fair Trade University and it was wonderful to talk with so many students who had a spark in their eye when they heard the words, “Fair Trade.”
Last, but oh so not least, I should mention that the tour was headlined by Janelle Monáe. Do you realize how hard she rules? Janelle Monáe is kind of a wizard. She performs with a big 15-piece band dubbed the Wondaland Arch Orchestra. Everyone on stage dons black and white garb and saddle shoes. Even the instruments are black and white. The lady herself sports a classic 50’s style tux and pompadour hairstyle. On stage, she belts it, gets funky, wears capes, does live painting, crowd surfs, and does her signature dance to the “Tightrope.” And she supports Fair Trade. You’ll just have to see for yourself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwnefUaKCbc.