Category Archives: Reflections on Fairtrade

Update on our activities and future events

Update on our activities and future events

An update on what we’ve been up to, by Jackie Whitaker…

Just in case you were wondering, Ealing Fairtrade Group did NOT get lost on our Fairtrade Walk on March 7th, and we are not stranded in the No Man’s Land between Acton and Chiswick, trying to get back into the borough!

We have been rather quiet over the last few months, but we are getting back into action now, and hope you will be able to join us and help with our forthcoming activities.

First of all, I wanted to report back on the International Fairtrade Towns Conference which I attended in Bristol last weekend.

The conference was organised by the Bristol Fairtrade Network, and supported by the City of Bristol which this year has been designated European Green Capital.  The theme of the conference was Fairtrade and Sustainability, with many talks and workshops exploring how Fairtrade contributes to a more sustainable environment.

A commonly asked question is: “Are Fairtrade products organic?” The answer is that they are only certified organic if they have the Organic logo as well as the Fairtrade logo, but there are environmental criteria which have to be met to qualify for for the Fairtrade logo. Producers are required to “protect the natural environment” and  “make environmental protection a part of farm management.” Over 50% of Fairtrade products are also certified organic, and for these the producers receive a higher price. The Fairtrade premium is often used to train farmers in sustainable techniques which can help them to convert to organic production in the future.

The conference was attended by delegates from all over the world.  As well as seasoned campaigners from countries such as Sweden, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the USA, there were representatives from countries where Fairtrade is not yet so well established, such as the Czech Republic, and an enthusiastic delegation from Lebanon.

It was announced during the conference that there are now 1,703 Fairtrade towns in 26 countries – and many more are working to achieve Fairtrade status.

Forthcoming events

From summer 2015 to spring 2016…

  • The Challenge/National Citizen Service Programme

Over the summer we will be lucky enough to be working with 12 local teenagers who are participating in The Challenge, a programme by the National Citizen Service.  The teenagers, all students at Ealing High Schools, will be learning about Fairtrade, raising funds and organizing a Fairtrade event in the borough.

Find out more about The Challenge here: the-challenge.org

Key Challenge dates:

Monday August 3rd: 12.45-2.15 pm, Perceval House

A meeting with the students and briefing for them on Ealing Fairtrade Group and the wider Fairtrade Towns movement, to be held at Ealing Council’s offices at Perceval House.

Sunday September 27th:  North Acton Pavilion

The provisional plan is for the students to organize some Fairtrade activities for children and adults at an event which is taking place that day at North Acton Pavilion, organised by Acton Community Action.   Final details are still to be confirmed. but we are hoping the students will plan and carry out a few different activities, such as a survey on attitudes to Fairtrade, a craft activity for children, and whatever else we or they come up with in the meantime!

Autumn/Winter 2015/16

If this first collaboration with The National Citizen Service/Challenge goes well we hope to work with them again in the Autumn and Winter half-terms.  We are also hoping that some of the students will be inspired to keep in touch with us/each other and push for more Fairtrade activities within their own schools and colleges.

  • New Campaign from the Fairtrade Foundation: Show Your Hand

The Fairtrade Foundation is asking us to meet with or contact our local MPs about this new campaign focussing on the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Details here: fairtrade.org.uk/en/get-involved/current-campaigns/show-your-hand/take-action

We have three MPs covering the Borough of Ealing  – Virendra Sharma, Steven Pound and newly elected Rupa Huq – and we would like to engage with them all.  We’ve been asked to contact them in July (before their summer break) or in September.  If you would like to join or even organise a small group to meet your own constituency MP, please let us know.

  • West London Fairtrade Walk

The walks which took place last Fairtrade Fortnight were just a start. We are continuing to work with the Fairtrade groups in the other West London boroughs to create a single map that links the routes in each borough.  The idea would be to make the map available to people interested in doing walks of different lengths in different areas, finding Fairtrade outlets en route, and possibly to organize another joint multi-walk event or a longer sponsored walk.

  • Fairtrade Fortnight 2016

It seems a long time in the future but it’s never too early to start planning.  We are hoping to collaborate with our neighbouring West London borough groups again and we are thinking about a fashion show, perhaps one basic event that could tour the boroughs, a different night in each location, with local models.

  • Fairtrade Debate

Just an idea at this stage – again being discussed as a joint event with other Fairtrade groups in West London.  The idea is for an evening of discussion looking at the barriers to increasing sales of Fairtrade products, incl. amongst other issues, the cost to producers of getting the Fairtrade logo, other ethical labels, and the pros and cons of Direct Trade.

If you are interested in participating in or helping with any of these events and ideas, please do get in touch at info@ealingfairtrade.org.uk

With best wishes

Jackie

On behalf of Ealing Fairtrade Steering Group

Cake and Fairness: An anthropologists’ first thoughts on the Fairtrade Boroughs

Cake and Fairness: An anthropologists’ first thoughts on the Fairtrade Boroughs

A post by Cecilie Jakobsgaard, who has been a member of the Ealing Fairtrade Group since the last week of February. She is staying in Ealing to study Fairtrade Boroughs as preparation for her master’s thesis in anthropology in Denmark.

Cake and Fairness: An anthropologists’ first thoughts on the Fairtrade Boroughs

As we say in anthropology I have now been in the “field” for six weeks. In other words I have been a member of Ealing Fairtrade Group for six weeks – and now it’s time for an update on what I am actually doing here.

I have joined Ealing Fairtrade Group in order to study what the Fairtrade Boroughs mean to Fairtrade… How do the volunteers contribute to Fairtrade when it comes to creating value? Mostly they contribute with things related to cake which is always interesting of course – I really think that my choice of subject is fitting as I am known to be a dedicated cake-eater.

Bake sale 13 Feb 2014 008

(Jo Mortensen from Ealing Council is on the left, Cecile on the right)

But surely there is more to Fairtrade Boroughs than just cake. As part of the annual Fairtrade Fortnight I experienced a lot of different ways to interpret and thus construct Fairtrade as a brand – all the various groups which arranged Fairtrade events during the fortnight all connected different values to the brand.

At the Fairtrade pop-up shop in West Ealing, arranged by the Ealing Fairtrade Group, I met a lot of interesting people at the stalls who all defined Fairtrade in different ways, while selling beautiful things. I myself bought salad cutlery made of bone from one of the stalls. While doing some shopping and trying to help out at the shop, I also learned about Fairtrade; one of the things I learned is that the brand originally is based on Christian values, but I was told by a member of the Ealing Fairtrade Group that “You don’t need to be Christian to be ethical”.

Judith advertising the pop-up shop

Judith advertising the pop-up shop

There are still Christian based Fairtrade groups and supporters – but as I discovered at the MADE event at the Crepe Shop in Whitechapel there exists a quite large Muslim base as well, who seem to think that supporting Fairtrade is part of being a good Muslim (back to the cake theme: they served amazing crepes!). And of course I have also met quite a few people who think that Fairtrade should not have anything to do with religion at all.

At the Forest Gate Women’s Institute’s combined event for Fairtrade Fortnight and International Women’s Day I found that Fairtrade is by some related to women’s rights. This is a value I re-discovered at the Divine Chocolate pop-up shop, where my “key informant” Jackie and I met two producers of cocoa, who told us that they are working on bringing more women into cocoa farming.

Some relate Fairtrade to politics, and some, again, do not. Quite a few of my informants, the members of the Fairtrade Boroughs who I have talked to, are left wing in their political views and relate this view to Fairtrade in some degree – but at the same time I was told by a liberal Fairtrade volunteer “you don’t need to be a socialist to think that you shouldn’t exploit other people”.

My point with these examples is to show that Fairtrade is a very broad and open brand, that brings a lot of different people together to promote the same good cause, despite contrasting backgrounds. This way Fairtrade represents a lot of contrasting values defined by all the members – joined by a shared love for two things: cake and fairness.

These were some initial thoughts about my project so far, which is still in the beginning phase. I’m here until mid May – so if you feel like talking about Fairtrade and what it means to you, please feel free to contact me at ceciliejakobsgaard@gmail.com.

And finally: a big thank you to the Ealing Fairtrade Group – and especially Jackie for welcoming me in to the group and her home.

Fairtrade bake sale cakes

Fairtrade bake sale cakes