An invitation to walk the Fair Trade Way

May 29, 2012

From 24-29 August 2012 the Garstang Fairtrade group is organising a walk along the Fair Trade Way – an 80 mile trail through beautiful countryside from Garstang (the world’s first Fairtrade Town) to Keswick.   They invite you to join them for all or part of it. Leading the walk will be fair trade pioneer and Chair of the Garstang group, Bruce Crowther, and climate justice campaigner, Pushpanath Krishnamurthy (known to his friends as Push). Push has already walked  from the UK to the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 (550km over 23 days) and Last year he walked  540km from from Baba Budangir in Chikamagalur district of India (the birth place of coffee in the Western Ghats) to Mysore in Karnataka and connected with over 30,000 people on the way; the majority of whom were small-scale farmers whose livelihoods are jeopardised by climate change.  Both have long connections with Oxfam. Oxfam’s Nicola Sansom has written this blog about it.

For more information contact Bruce on brucecrowther300@gmail.com


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Next OFTC meeting – 11th June

May 29, 2012

The next OFTC meeting will be held on 11th June at 18.30 at Fairtrade at St Michael’s.

We will try to keep the meeting short, lively and relevant and would really welcome your input as we look forward to the future and think about how we can make the most of our coalition to increase our own understanding of fair trade and to promote fair trade in Oxford and beyond – so do please try to make it.

To fuel the creative process, fairly traded nibbles will be provided.

Suggested Agenda:

  • Willington Wamayeye visit w/c 18th June
  • Olympic torch activities July 9th – do we want to take up the opportunity to engage with this as suggested by Alison Drummond, and if so how?
  • Future events and speakers – who would we like to invite and when?
  • Ideas for generating income for OFTC
  • Any other business

The meeting is open to anyone in Oxford who is involved in, or interested in fair trade. We warmly welcome newcomers!

Please email yourfairtradecity@gmail.com if you would like further information – or just turn up.


Minutes of the AGM of the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition

May 17, 2012

Friday 11th May 2012

Present: Mike McKinley (Co-chair), Elizabeth Whitwick (Treasurer), Sabita Banerji, Val Johnson, Julie Osborne, Jo Clifford

Apologies: Tim Davies (Co-chair), Carol Wills, Alex Nichols, Sebastian Johnson, Sebastian Blake, Elma and Ian Sinclair

Chairman’s Report.

The report was read out in summary since most had already read it on the website where it remains accessible on http://www.oxfairtrade.org.uk. The following points were highlighted. It had been an unusually full and active year for the coalition and one that had generated more income than usual to work with. This income had come firstly from the European cities Millennium Development Goal programme of seminars. For the first of these Oxford provided the location and the Fairtrade theme and the speakers all kindly donated their fees to the coalition. Then Tim Davies generated further income from his development of a Fairtrade Finder web and mobile phone application. This unexpected wealth made it possible to pay for consultancy work to help with organising the city Fairtrade status renewal as well as for some initiatives during Fairtrade Fortnight, including publication of the much admired Oxford Fairtrade News. There were no comparable sources of income anticipated in the coming year and we needed to think about what the coalition should or could try to achieve and how it should be structured to meet the “Challenges and Opportunities” identified for the future. However, with so many key people not present, this debate should be left until the next regular coalition meeting.

Treasurer’s Report

The account was healthy with a current balance of £777.78. However, with no known sources of significant new funds to come, we should remain financially prudent. The treasurer was getting the list of cheque signatories up to date and in line with present needs as soon as possible.

Election of Officers

Due to pressure of other commitments Tim Davies is standing down as Co-chair and there was some discussion about changing to a more conventional committee of Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and whatever other officers might be felt necessary in future. However it was decided that the present co-chairing arrangement met the present needs well and allowed flexibility as to who did what. Sabita was happy to replace Tim as co-chair, and Mike and Elizabeth were happy to remain as the other co-chair and treasurer respectively. All were duly proposed, seconded and unanimously elected as below:

– Co-chairs: Mike McKinley, proposed by Val Johnson and seconded by Julie Osborne
Sabita Banerji, proposed by Julie Osborne and seconded by Val Johnson
– Treasurer: Elizabeth Whitwick, proposed by Mike McKinley and seconded by Sabita Banerji

Any Other Business

Sabita proposed a vote of thanks to Tim Davies for all he had done for the coalition over the years, and especially the last year. This was carried unanimously and enthusiastically with many expressions of hope that he would continue to come to meetings and help out when he could.

Other matters discussed were future plans and aspirations, as above, and timings, locations and nature of future coalition meetings. We look forward to more detailed discussion of all these at the next regular meeting. Sabita undertook to arrange a date for such a meeting and publicise it.

Mike McKinley and Sabita Banerji (Co-chairs)

 


News from Bolivia – Fairtrade Breakfast with Evo Morales, and wider celebrations

May 12, 2012

Judith Condor-Vidal, OFTC member and Director of Trading for Development, is spending the year in Bolivia and sends news of a Fairtrade Breakfast held yesterday for World Fair Trade Day with Bolivian President Evo Morales and Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera.

Also attending were the Minister of Communications, Amanda Davila, and Vice Minister for Social Movements, Cesar Navarro – all there to celebrate World Fair Trade Day, along with 20 delegates, including participants from the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation, the World Fair Trade Organisation ‘Economia Solidaria’ and the Rector of the Indigenous University Tupac Katari.

This was just the start of a day that involved many more participants, discussing and exploring the impact of Fair Trade in Boliva.

Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, came to Oxford last year and gave a talk at the Latin American Center at St Antony’s College and at the Oxford Union.

We look forward to hearing many more stories from Judith on her return to the UK.


World Fair Trade Day in Bolivia

May 11, 2012

Oxford Fair Trade Coalition’s Judith Condor-Vidal is spending this year in Bolivia. She has just sent an update on how they are celebrating World Fair Trade Day.

Bolivia initiated celebrations for World Fair Trade Day on May 10 with a workshop involving producers from around the country in the Ministry of Productive Development in La Paz. The workshop took as its title ‘Fair Trade in Bolivia: Another Economy is Possible’. It brought together 75 people from some 50 fair trade organisations.

The meeting was hosted by the vice minister responsible for domestic and foreign trade, Huascar Ajata, who told those present of the initiatives being taken by the Bolivian authorities to promote alternative forms of production and commerce.

Producers included representatives from the chocolate, coffee, nut, quinua, handicraft and ceramics,textiles sectors. Those present included members of FLO, WFTO, and Economia Solidaria Movement.
More events are planned for TOMORROW.

Judith Condor-Vidal

Director

Trading for Development

www.tradingfordevelopment.co.uk

 


Oxford Fair Trade Coalition – AGM, Annual Report and Celebration event

May 10, 2012

A quick reminder that tomorrow (Friday 11th May) is the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition AGM from 4.45 at the Town Hall, followed by a Fairtrade Volunteers Celebration Event from 5 until 7, where we welcome all volunteers working for Fairtrade in Oxford to join us for refreshments, a chance to meet up and share news and conversation, and the premier of a short film recently created on a visit to Just Change producers in India. We are holding this, of course, just before World Fair Trade Day which takes place this Saturday. See http://www.wftday.com/ for videos and more information about World Fair Trade Day.

An annual report of the work of the OFTC is below. Tomorrows AGM will include the election of co-chairs. Tim Davies is standing down as co-chair. Mike McKinley will be standing again, and Sabita Banerji is standing for election as co-chair.

We look forward to seeing many of your there, and continuing to work with others over the coming year,

All best wishes

OFTC

Oxford Fair Trade Coalition

Annual Report

May 2012

www.oxfairtrade.org.uk

The year in review

Our last AGM was held in late 2010. Since the start of 2011 the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition has:

  • Mapped out the current availability of Fairtrade in the city through a ‘Your Fairtrade City’ day of action, and renewed Oxford’s status as a Fairtrade City;
  • Distributed ‘Oxford Fairtrade City’ window stickers to Fairtrade businesses across the city;
  • Secured a number of media appearances on Oxford radio;
  • Co-ordinated and promoted a large range of events for Fairtrade Fortnight in both 2011 and 2012, including producing a full colour Fairtrade Fortnight newsletter;
  • Hosted the first meeting of a European network on meeting the contribution of Local Government to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, sharing the past and present of Fair Trade in Oxford with groups from across Europe;
  • Supported and promoted a range of activities and events, from special offers at Oxford’s Fair Trade shops, to talks by Maryam Bibi of Kwendo Kor, and talks for Oxford University students on Fairtrade: Surviving the Recession;
  • Provided speakers for events at schools and colleges, and helped students with research into Fair Trade;
  • Worked with Oxford City Council to secure the supply of Fairly Traded products in the new town hall gift shop, and to explore ways to encourage festivals and events in Oxford to make more use of Fairtrade products. Oxford City Council now also have all Fairtrade drinks machines in the Town Hall.

You can read more about all our activities on our website at www.oxfairtrade.org.uk. All these activities are only possible through the work of a network of committed volunteers – both a core team who regularly attend OFTC meetings, and a wider community active in working for Fairtrade across the city. We’ve also explored ways to engage new volunteers, from the photographers who took amazing photos of our contribution to the Fairtrade Foundations record breaking ‘cotton bunting’ campaign, and the developers who have been helping to create a mobile website for finding Fairtrade in Oxford (coming soon!).

The Local Government Meet the Millennium Development Goals event in Oxford provided us with a great moment to both look back at the history of Fair Trade in Oxford -from early craft product imports organised by Oxfam staff and the launch of Campaign Coffee at Uhuru on Cowley Road, to the launch of Oxford’s Fairtrade Town Status in 2004 – and to explore the present and future of Fairtrade, which in troubled economic times is ever more important to support producer groups across the world to develop sustainable livelihoods.

One of the strong themes of our work over the last year has been making connections: exploring the links between Fairtrade and other issues, such as the environment, gender, education and peace, and this is an area of work we hope to continue. We have been delighted to be able to work in partnership with groups like Just Change and Friends of Kwendo Kor in recent events also, exploring frontiers of Fairtrade, and models that go beyond the Fair Trade mark to develop radical trading relationships based on mutual benefit and co-operative structures. We hope to be able to explore the relationship of Fair Trade and co-operatives more in this, International Year of Co-operatives.

Over 2011 and 2012 the kind support of Oxford City Council, funding from the European Local Government and MDGs project, and funding from a Youth for Fairtrade Project to support to development of the mobile website, have enabled us to twice employ a consultant to work on projects, including our Fairtrade City Renewal (presented as the ‘Your Fairtrade City event and day of action’), and on Fairtrade Fortnight 2012.

“Congratulations on maintaining Fairtrade City status for Oxford and for the great work you have achieved over the past few years. It has been inspiring to hear about all the progress that has been made since 2009. Once again we would like to thank everyone that has been involved in ensuring that the Oxford Fairtrade campaign continues to go from strength to strength. As you are aware it is because of campaigns such as this that Fairtrade continues to grow and now brings benefits to more than 7 million people – producers and their families – in over 50 countries”
Fairtrade Foundation comments on our 2011/12 renewal of Fairtrade Status

Membership and meetings

The core coalition group has continued to meet regularly at the Town Hall, with representatives from local Fairtade businesses, campaigners, the City Council and other supporters. Minutes from all our meetings are available through the website www.oxfairtrade.org.uk.

Although we no longer operate a formal membership structure over 40 people are on the mailing list to hear about upcoming meetings, and are, as such, coalition members. If you do not get invites to our regular meetings and would like to, please let us know via fairtrade.

During 2011/12 OFTC has been co-chaired by Tim Davies and Mike McKinley, and Elizabeth Whitwick has been treasurer. Sabita Banerji has worked as a consultant for OFTC organising our status renewal, and Fairtrade Fortnight 2012. Sebastian Johnson and Val Johnson have been our links with Oxford City Council.

Looking to the future: Challenges and opportunities

Alongside our successes, we also need to engage with a range of challenges, both for OFTC, and for fair trade more widely. Members of the coalition have also submitted suggestions for future developments when registering for our 2012 AGM, and some of these are also included below.

  • Economics challenges for Fairtrade: Although in general sales of Fairtrade commodities are weathering current economic storms, many producers are facing very tough times. Times are particularly tough for producers of fair trade crafts, where sales are being hit by continued recession.
  • Sustaining events and activities: a number of the OFTC organised events and activities have attracted only a small audience, and we know there are many more people we could be engaging with. We need to find ways to continue to reach out to a wide range of people, including those new to Fairtrade, and those seeking to take extra steps into fair trade. Members have highlighted the value of speaker events, both to remind people to keep Fairtrade on their agenda, and to bring together active campaigners to share learning, ideas and inspiration.
  • Reaching out to businesses: our initial focus for Fairtrade Fortnight 2012 was to encourage businesses to take an extra step into Fairtrade by offering new product ranges. However, engaging with businesses has proved challenging, particularly as economic pressures limit their time to engage with wider initiatives. Finding ways, particularly working with Oxford City Council, to engage with businesses, and the hospitality industry, continues to be a goal for the coalition – but one we where we still have a lot of progress to make.
  • Supporting volunteers and attracting new members: We know there are many more people who would like to volunteer to support Fairtrade, but who are not interested in regular committee meetings. We need to find more informal ways to engage with volunteers, and to make the most of energy across Oxford to promote Fairtrade. We also need to encourage a few more people to join the regular OFTC meetings – as the networking and co-ordinating work of a regular committee meeting remains vital to amplifying and joining up Fairtrade work across Oxford.
  • Working with the council: there are many more opportunities to work with Oxford City Council to promote Fairtrade, from working on Fairtrade City road signs, to embedding Fairtrade information in support to businesses, or in other key council processes.
  • Exploring fairtrade+: In the November Millennium Development Goals seminar we discussed the importance of ‘Fairtrade plus’, going beyond simply meeting Fairtrade criteria, to support businesses and initiatives that are living out and extending the values of fair trading. We will need to continue to identify the ways that we can support.
  • Networking, communicating, and keeping social: Our Twitter feed has over 1000 followers, and our website receives many visitors. Keeping these fed with regular updates and information requires continued work, and we need to encourage everyone with news to share it with us. The 2012 Newspaper was a great success, although expensive to produce, and so identifying opportunities and planning ahead to produce future resources will important. Social events are a great way to network supporters of Fairtrade, and to reach out to new groups, and so should continue to be a key activity for OFTC. Fairtrade Status Renewal 2013: we next have to renew our status as a Fairtrade City in 2013, and the process is changing. We’ll be looking out for new challenges to meet from the Fairtrade Foundation.

We hope you will join us in working on many of these opportunities and challenges, whether as a regular member of our meetings or just keeping in touch with your news and updates via fairtrade.

We end this annual report by re-iterating our thanks to everyone who has been involved in sustaining Oxford’s role as a leading Fairtrade City. Ultimately though, OFTC is not about Oxford, but is about having a global impact: ensuring that trade supports poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods, education, and healthy communities for producers. Although products with the Fairtrade mark have become mainstream in the eight years since Oxford became a Fairtrade City, so much trade remains unfair and exploitative. Fair trade remains a radical idea: showing that an alternative is possible, and it’s an alternative want to continue shouting about and building up.

Tim Davies & Mike McKinely,
Co-Chairs, OFTC, May 2012


Windmill World Fair Trade Day Newsletter

May 10, 2012