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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Fair Trade

Fair trade organizations continue to expand their influence, and a report this week said that 70% of people surveyed in the UK were familiar with the fair trade mark which appears on products like coffee, chocolate, tea, etc. Although in 2006, fair trade constituted 0.01% of overall world trade, in some commodities it has grown to over 5%. In addition, from 2006 to 2007, the total volume of fairly traded goods doubled. Based on 2006 figures, approximately 1.5 million people gain a livelihood through fair trade enterprises, and another 5 million people benefit from community development projects related to fair trade.

Some of the major organizations which promote fair trade are the Fair Trade Federation, Transfair, Fairtrade Foundation (UK), CRS Fair Trade (Catholic Relief Services), Oxfam, Lutheran World Relief, Global Exchange, and Fair Trade Resources Network. The forerunner of these large organizations was the work of Mennonites, Church of the Brethren's SERRV International, and other committed people who sought ways to make a better life for the poor in all parts of the world.

The reason I am writing about this subject today is that I read a very interesting and encouraging article from the Washington Post about a growing fair trade coffee enterprise led by women in Rwanda. This is the kind of work that can make an enormous difference, far beyond the charitable relief work that seems to be all our middle class imaginations can conceive about our relationship with the poor. In Raleigh and Durham, a number of fair trade organizations operate in wholesale and retail businesses. These include coffee suppliers like Larry's Beans and Counter Culture Coffee. One World Market in Durham and Ten Thousand Villages in Raleigh offer a wide range of fairly traded goods.

Learn about the fair trade revolution (not to be confused with "free trade" which usually means freedom for large corporations to exploit people all over the world) by checking these links above. You can contribute to community development by buying fairly traded goods, and many of these goods are things that you already are buying. To learn how to find a variety of fairly traded items and how well the stores and companies you buy from treat their workers, check out Responsible Shopper.

1 comment:

ryon said...

Mike -

Are you going to peace camp?

If so, would you be available to come to Vermont either the Sunday before or the Sunday after and preach in my church?

I would be honored to have you.

Irie and I are pretty sure we're going to go to Montreal for camp.

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