Campaign Spotlight: La Mesa, California
Article by Anne Pacheco and Nancy Ryan, Co-Chairs
The Fair Trade movement is gaining momentum in La Mesa and throughout San Diego County, thanks to the La Mesa Fair Trade Town steering committee. The word is spreading that, simply by our consumer choices, we can make a difference for the environment, the marginalized and local businesses.
A Fair Trade Town Steering Committee was formed in January 2010 after several of its members were involved in the San Diego Fair Trade meetings and activities.
La Mesa is a suburb of San Diego, a city in its own right with a population of 60,000, so it seemed like a a good place to begin a Fair Trade Town Campaign. All 12 members of the Steering Committee set to work, spreading the word about Fair Trade, to churches and non-profit organizations, merchants, the Mayor and City Council members, and service clubs.
Keeping the Momentum through Education & Outreach:
Strategy meetings are held monthly. In addition, presentations have been made to La Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, Democratic Club, Soroptimists.
The La Mesa Interfaith Council of Churches have been given all of the information regarding Fair Trade and have been encouraged to educate those in their respective congregations.
La Mesa is well on its way to becoming a FT Town with all but one of the requirements met and exceeded. Based on the population, a minimum of 12 merchants should carry at least two Fair Trade products. To date, we have 28, including some cafes, which serve Fair Trade beverages. They have all been given window clings which state “We are proud supporters of Fair Trade Town La Mesa.”
At least 12 non-profit groups / organizations are committed to serve Fair Trade beverages at their events. The number continues to grow as the information about Fair Trade spreads.
San Diego Fair Trade is working in conjunction with our campaign. The president, Dawn Starry Sweeney is on the La Mesa Steering Committee.
There have been media events as well as presence at Earth Faires, Farmers Market, grand opening of a Sprouts store, Environmental Sustainable Commission. Also we were interviewed at the City Council Meeting and were published in the local newspapers.
Once a month we send an article about Fair Trade and our campaign to the La Mesa newspaper.
Our publicity also includes a comprehensive brochure, a blog, and facebook page. We also hosted a La Mesa Fair Trade Gift Faire with many FT merchants, including Ben and Jerry’s. Ben &Jerry’s gave out free samples of their Fair Trade ice cream. One of the tables was for information about Fair Trade and the campaign in La Mesa.
The single requirement, not yet met, is the passing of a Fair Trade Town Resolution by City Council. They are reluctant to put their official stamp on a resolution. Three of the five members believe that “government” should not be involved. The La Mesa Fair Trade Town Steering Committee has provided additional information and rationale to each of the city council members since the resolution was defeated when voted on in October 2011. Certainly, having the resolution passed is our biggest challenge.
Fair Trade presentations and events are ongoing in La Mesa with the goal of getting the word out that every purchase matters. Our goal is to have La Mesa declared a Fair Trade Town in 2012, the year of the city’s centennial. We’ve come a long way but the challenge of a City Council Resolution remains.