Campaign Spotlight: Pasadena, California

Courtney Lang July 26, 2012

Article by Diana Percival

Fair Trade Pasadena turned 2 years old in January 2012, where the movement has continued to gain momentum in the historic city bordering downtown Los Angeles. The fervor for Fair Trade is not new to Pasadena. Several years ago many organizations and religious groups, along with several enthusiastic city officials, united to help open a Ten Thousand Villages store on Lake Street, the center of a busy shopping market. The stage was set to become a Fair Trade Town.

Joan Harper (Fair Trade Los Angeles co-founder), Emily Fernandez and Diana Percival (FTP committee members) tabling, passing out information and samples at Whole Foods on World Fair Trade Day in May 2012.

Keeping the Momentum

In 2010, Fair Trade Los Angeles received a grant from Catholic Relief Services in order to support the Fair Trade Towns movements in smaller surrounding cities. Pasadena was one of the cities granted a year-long paid intern. Since then a thriving steering committee has developed. Our committee includes a pastor, a Fair Trade store manager, teachers, a former Fair Trade Cafe owner and the coordinator for Fair Trade LA. We have raised awareness through several yearly events such as: a Fair Trade teen poster contest, Pasadena’s Bike Week, Fair Trade movie screenings, Sustainable Living week at the local college, Earth Week, and LA’s Green Festival.  We also held our first, very successful fundraiser in October 2011. We worked with Lineage Dance Company to put on a benefit dance performance that celebrated all the ways Fair Trade makes our world more fair and just. We raised over $4,000 at the event we held a silent auction that highlighted many local, fair trade businesses in our community.

Our goal for 2012 is to become a Fair Trade town before the end of the October. Our campaign is currently working on our last step; to pass a resolution with the Pasadena City Council. We have the support of the city’s Environmental Action Commission and the Mayor, Mr. Bill Boggard.

Challenges and Triumphs

Maya Sharp, a dedicated Fair Trade Pasadena committee member, and her daughter getting ready for the, “A Taste of Fair Trade Bike Ride” during Bike Week Pasadena.

Fair Trade Pasadena has been challenged with navigating through the bureaucratic system of Pasadena’s city government. With a population well over 130,000, we have also been challenged with getting our over active, busy citizens to focus efforts on this among many progressive issues. However, because we have a Ten Thousand Villages in the center of town, we also have a strong group of Fair Trade supporters, and community that accepts our efforts with open arms. We are continually successful at raising awareness, and getting more of the community involved in promoting and purchasing Fair Trade products.

We are planning to hold a large Fair Trade festival during Fair Trade month in October of this year. We are teaming up with a local, Fairly Traded coffee roaster in Pasadena, and bringing in Fair Trade vendors from all over LA to participate in the festival. We hope to celebrate our new status as a Fair Trade town at the festival! We are also working with LA’s Green Festival to have a large Fair Trade Pavilion at the festival in the downtown Los Angeles convention center this November.

Once Pasadena becomes a Fair Trade town we hope to deepen and expand Fair Trade Pasadena’s outreach to help promote and build movements in surrounding cities in Los Angeles and Southern California. We also want to spend more time and effort on building up the movement at our local community college to start a campaign on the campus to become a Fair Trade college. In addition we hope to reach out to more high schools, colleges, and universities in the greater Los Angeles area, helping them build their movements as well.  It is our goal to have all the cities in Los Angeles become Fair Trade Towns by 2015!

Connect with Fair Trade Padasena:

Facebook link:
: @FairTradePasade

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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.