“Fair trade is a way of making sure that the power of the dollar is used to benefit others,” said Jessica Smith, owner of Regla de Oro, a gallery in Minneapolis that focuses on fair trade. Smith has been working in the area of fair trade for 20 years since she began selling hand-woven items from Guatemala upon graduating from college.
On May 14, Smith hosted a World Fair Trade Day Celebration event at her gallery. The event brought together representatives and owners of other Twin Cities retail stores, organizations, and restaurants that focus on fair trade. Turnout was good despite the chilly, rainy day, and at times there was little room to move around. Items available for sale included clothing, jewelry, and purses. Twenty percent of all proceeds went to the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition.
|For more information about Fair Trade, Smith recommended these websites:
Fair Trade Resource Network
Fair Trade Federation
Domestic Fair Trade Association
Also present was activist visual artist Ricardo Levins Morales. He uses his art, he said, to “advocate for people to have the conditions to live their lives in dignity and to make the decisions that most affect them.” He explained that he has always liked art, “No one told me I couldn’t do it,” he said with a chuckle. The oldest work that he brought to the event was from 1970 when he was fourteen. (For more about Levins Morales, see MN Voices profile by Sheila Regan.)
While browsing the retail items and learning about organizations like Witness for Peace, customers could grab a free sample of coffee from Peace Coffee, which uses fair trade coffee beans from all over the world. They could also enjoy a chocolate brownie bite from Common Roots Cafe, which uses local, organic food for dishes on its monthly rotating menu.
“We always like to support fair trade,” said Theresa Zingery, one customer. “Vote with your pocketbook for the issues that are important to you,” she declared. Matching words with actions, she indeed had purchased some items.