Go, Push, GO: International Campaigner Highlight
Our stories are our advocacy. My fellowship with Fair Trade Campaigns has shown me the importance of highlighting and sharing the stories of people who inspire us, to keep ourselves inspired. Nothing has motivated me more than hearing the stories of the advocates who came before me, which is why I knew the moment I met Pushpanath Krishnamurthy (also known as Push) that he would deeply impact my work and the work of my colleagues.
I was introduced to Push at this year’s Fair Trade Campaigns National Conference, where he presented about his work in India. The pure positive energy he brought to the room, alongside the supportive energy of his family and the resilient energy of his history, enlightened the focus of my final project.
Like many of you, I had already known that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a critical focus for our work – it’s one of the pillars of Fair Trade Campaigns’ strategic plan. Allowing people to bring their fullest selves, cultures, and peoplehoods into their work creates a more holistic grassroots network that combines our whole world of lived experiences into one collective effort. It also manifests a wider variety of solutions that embody the wisdom gained from this great wide world of experience
“Stunning stories of life, hope, and speaking truth to power changed the world – therefore making it possible for us to make change possible.”
However, before meeting Push, I lacked a true understanding of what this manifestation would look like. Most of my work with Fair Trade involves policies, processes, and procurements to popularize conscious consumerism. The campaigners I work with have a focus on purchases and single events. Push focuses on community and culture. His work is inspired by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and involves a layering of advocacy that fully aligns himself with Fair Trade. For him, the simplicity of their stories is what stands out the most. While interviewing him for this blog he told me, “Stunning stories of life, hope, and speaking truth to power changed the world – therefore making it possible for us to make change possible.” This is why, to understand Push’s work fully, we must first understand his story and the truth of where he comes from.
Fair Trade Advocacy in India
In India, the distress, suffering, and agitations of the farming community are more than a signal for the crisis in farming and the lives of farmers and workers. Farmer suicides are not uncommon and can be numbing. Fair Trade offers a ray of hope. Slowly, but distinctly, businesses, consumers, policymakers, and activists like Push are rallying to bring about fair and sustainable change. Fair Trade is starting to resonate among stakeholders, which creates the need for campaigns alongside products and a focus not only on the money but also on idea and ability. The ability to write a new narrative within the farming community from an Indian point of view. Push’s goal is to designate six to seven Fair Trade Towns in India within the next year.
“Push is an inspiration not only to those advocating for Fair Trade, but for all of us who care deeply about equity and social justice.”
He plans to accomplish this goal simply by walking. Push walks all over the world for climate justice, Fair Trade, and sustainable practices, and has been doing so for years. In a few words, he described his first walk (in 2009, from Oxford to Denmark) as “stunning, overwhelming with gratitude.” He says that he has remained so energized to keep walking throughout the years due to support from friends and community leaders; activists and politicians; mothers and mobilizers. His form of advocacy ties into his spirituality, the history of the people he works to liberate, and his purpose as an inspiration for others to act. His personal philosophy is “humility, truth, and not giving up – because every person has a right to fully see their potential.”
Unsurprisingly, I’m far from the only person impacted by Push’s work. “Push is an inspiration not only to those advocating for Fair Trade,” said Fair Trade Campaigns Director Billy Linstead Goldsmith, “but for all of us who care deeply about equity and social justice. The very nature of his advocacy via his walks demonstrates in a visceral way how we can use every part of our selves to rally others to recognize the part that they can play in creating a better world for everyone. It was such a joy to have Push as part of our conference and even if we cannot be there in-person for his next walk, our hearts walk beside him.”
“It’s just like throwing a stone in very still water. The ripples are what matter. We know what we’re doing can lead to something else. And that’s good. That’s how it should be.”
With my final project, I hope to inspire a similar kind of active consumerism within you all. Civic participation in emerging economies combined with a diversification of Fair Trade Campaigns will be a revitalizing historic rewrite of what fair truly means. I, like Push, believe that the new frontier of the Fair Trade movement will come from the countries that are producing the products, bolstered by our committed efforts and support. If nothing else, I hope this blog encourages you to take that first step towards reframing and rewriting your own narrative as an advocate. In the words of Push himself, “it’s just like throwing a stone in very still water. The ripples are what matter. We know what we’re doing can lead to something else. And that’s good. That’s how it should be.”
If you want to support Push on his next walk, you can visit his website: www.gopushgo.co.uk.