The winning entry in I Love Fair Trade! is “Seeing Max in the Backyard,” by Bryan Parys. Congratulations to Bryan, who has won $2,000 worth of fair trade goods from Alter Eco and Indigenous Designs! Click here to read his complete entry.
We also want to recognize our 9 runners up, whose submissions helped round out an impressive list of finalists to be considered by the online vote.
On behalf of our partners, Your Olive Branch would like to thank everyone who entered a submission or participated in the online vote to pick the winner. Your creative ideas and ongoing support of fair trade are truly inspiring. We hope to see you around yobo in the future!
I have a privileged life.
The shelves in the stores are full. The gas station has gas.
The water that comes from the tap flows freely and clean.
I know my next meal will be whenever I want it.
What a treat to be part of the 2% that can say these things.
I pick up a garden hose, or a tool to tend my garden.
And for a brief flash
I try not to imagine the life of the worker
who made these things for me.
But the sense of dread creeps in anyways…
How would I feel in their shoes?
With their future?
Trying to care for their family
with all the uncertainty about every tomorrow?
When I buy and support Fair Trade
I have a brief respite from worrying.
I know the people who worked to make the goods
will have a future they look forward to…as I do mine.
That’s why I love Fair Trade.
“Serving in God’s Kitchen” is a sermon based on Matthew 6:24-34, part of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. The sermon was preached to a small congregation in Fayetteville, WV, a hub for outdoors activities like rafting, rock-climbing, and mountain biking.
I preached to a congregation about 30 strong on that particular Sunday. The average age was likely somewhere in the 50s. The sermon was received well and numerous people mentioned they enjoyed the sermon as something that needed to be preached–comments they did not give on the three prior Sundays this summer when I preached.
This sermon was prefaced by a children’s sermon in which I handed three pairs of kids an Equal Exchange chocolate bar and then tried to trade the groups junk for their chocolate (a right shoe, an empty cereal box, an ice scraper, an unopened tissue box, a blockbuster card I found in the parking lot, and a used and tattered envelope).
When I was a small girl my grandfather would hoist me up onto his shoulders on warm summer mornings and take me down the “back alley”, as he called it, to the post office to get his mail. On the way down the alley he would ask me to tell him everything I saw in each of the neighbor’s backyard garden. What I saw several decades ago has always been with me. My grandfather was a railroad engineer in Saskatchewan, Canada in the 1930′s through the1960′s. His most enjoyable runs were when he delivered the spring wheat harvest across the country every fall in his steam engine. All the farmers knew him. He was their extended arm, pouring grain into their silos every September without a lick; he was on time, on track. They could depend on him. They used to call him ‘chief’ when he stepped down out of his steam engine. When he wasn’t in his steam engine he would be at home surrounding himself with children. He enjoyed being with children. Children from the neighborhood would knock on his door when they knew he was home and beg him to come outside and swing them on the tire swing he made for his own children in his front yard. That swing lasted long enough for his great grandchildren to swing on it.
I remember the “back alley” walks as if they happened just yesterday. They began the same way all summer long. Grandpa would walk through his own garden, past his blueberry bushes, rows of corn, turnips, radishes; green beans winding up pole after pole; onions and carrots. He would open his back gate with me on his shoulders, turn to the right revealing the “back alley” bare and straight, dirt in chunks, no ditches, and already steaming hot. It was bordered with fences, each one was high and colored white like clouds. The alley had great proportions for a five year old; it was wider than Main Street and prairie-flat. From Grandpa’s shoulders I could easily see fresh green vine leaves spreading down the alley side of the fences; large traffic-light yellow sunflowers lopped over some of their tops. I always looked to the very end of the alley at the beginning of our walks because I thought that when we got to where it was small and narrow that meant I would be this close to licking a cold ice cream cone at the Creamery after Grandpa got his mail.
I love fair trade because people in other countries deserve to live a decent life and have a decent wage. My family moved to Mexico, from California, when I was 13 years old. At 16 I got a job at a factory that made adidas sports clothes. I was there a few years working 48 hours a week.
My salary started at 15 dollars a week since I was new and didn’t know much. Two weeks before I turned 18 I decided to leave and come back to California, I was “fortunate” to have been born in US so it was easy for me to pick up my stuff and leave. At the time I left which was 1998 I had just gotten a raise to make $20 dollars a week.
The adidas shorts I was making were selling here in US for no less than $30 dollars each, one pair sold for the salary I made in a week and a half. 48 hour work week with one 30 minute lunch. People are quick to say “well life is cheaper down there”. But if I ever wanted to go and buy myself a pair of adidas shoes, they were still about $50 dollars in Mexico, the same price they go for here in the US. My salary for two whole weeks wouldn’t be enough to buy myself a pair of Adidas shoes.
The town in which I lived down in Mexico also had a polluted river, thanks to Nestle and many other foreign corporations. I’ve seen the devastation firsthand caused to my family, my friends due to heartless corporations. The local museum has pictures of how beautiful our town once was, a thriving little fishing town devastated by gross pollution. Because I lived the despair the others are now living, I make sure to buy as much fair trade as I possibly can.
It’s long been said, “You cannot love a thing, until you become passionate in your understanding of it.” Fair Trade is such an entity. The two words, without understanding, perk up a hidden capitalistic tendril, carefully planted within our society … of buying and selling … profits and loss. The two words, with understanding, ignite a spark of missionary zeal to the movement. The former, fattening the pockets of insatiable desires. The latter, helping everyday families, in developing countries, enjoy a more satisfying and healthy life. Fair Trade helps to grow children, who now have time to get to know Hemmingway and Cassiopeia. Why? Because they are healthier and more economically stable. It’s kinda like, making a Big Holiday Dinner … and sincerely inviting that older woman or man at the grocery as well. That person who is always kind and smiles …but hasn’t the same opportunities as you —and eats by himself. Yes, imagine that someth ing as simple as commiting to supporting only “Fair Trade Companies,” could actually make a real difference! Well, imagine it … understand it, become passionate about it …then fall in love. I love you Fair Trade!
I look at the menu. I want everything.
There is a cookie at Bruegger’s Bagels called The Everything Cookie: The perfect pick for those who don’t know what to pick, the sign says. I’m not really in the mood for cookies, even if they have it all. I’d rather have a cup of coffee brewed so strong it could lubricate a truck engine. But I also want it to be fairly traded. The best, or the fairest? For some reason, I have a hard time coming up with an answer.
On the drive into Boston, Mass. this morning, my friend and I discussed our desire to eat and drink Fair Trade products whenever possible. I told him that here in Boston I feel like an outsider; that this isn’t my backyard. Though I lived on the North Shore during college, I’ve been living back in my home state of New Hampshire for the past couple years. When I drive into Boston, I’m still taken by the cardiogram that the silvery buildings trace over the skyline–a pulse that I’m not in sync with.
Our plan today is to do a whiz-bang tour of Boston’s fair trade offerings. My friend tells me that later we will be meeting Ben, a colleague of his, because, man, he knows his stuff when it comes to fair trade. As I think about this excursion in general there is something inside me that tenses up, but that also says, yes, the reality you’re looking to get in touch with is here somewhere, as if, by the mere act of visiting, that’ll be enough to clear my conscience. I’ll go up to the barista and say, “One conscience, no guilt.”
Click here to listen to “Wake Up and Support Fair Trade”
Click here to read the lyrics to “Wake Up and Support Fair Trade”
In a world of broken archetypes
And ragged heart-strings
You saw a different world
Where each their talent brings
Where everybody has a voice
Where everyone is heard
And less than this we would dismiss
As patently absurd
So if your child has different eyes
Or different colored skin
Then we would say the Beauty Way
Shines ever from Within
Shoot for the moon and if you miss
You’ll land amongst the stars
What we’re about is so far out
You’d think we were from Mars!
But we are from the good green Earth
And from the sky above
We harnessed first the wind and waves then
energies of Love
From slices of our biggest dreams
Once called “pie in the sky”
What could not be has come about
Pigs can Fly!
I felt so inspired by this contest! Once I heard about it, images instantly flooded my mind of what I really love about Fair Trade, how the one producing the food gets to reap the benefits of growing it, all while we enjoy a higher quality delicious (or beautiful) product! I used different papers to cut out my scene, and glued them to a large board, coming up with an entire scene depicting Fair Trade Cacao (one of my FAVORITE Fair Trade Items!)
Your Olive Branch was thrilled to be joined by an amazing group of sponsors to present I Love Fair Trade! We invite you to visit each of these organizations and learn more about the great work that they do to make the world fairer and more sustainable.
To view the complete contest rules, click here.