OAKLAND, CA (May 6, 2011)–Fair Trade USA™, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, today announced that Chicago is the largest Fair Trade Town in the United States and the second largest in the world. Chicago has officially met all of the criteria to be declared a Fair Trade Town and joins the ranks of nearly 1,000 Fair Trade Towns throughout the world, including London, Rome, Barcelona and Boston. A celebration and global marketplace takes place today from 9am-6pm in Daley Plaza to commemorate Chicago’s newest claim to fame.
“We applaud the work that Chicago Fair Trade has done to build a network of citizens and businesses committed to social justice, environmental sustainability and the empowerment of farmers in the developing world,” said William Linstead Goldsmith, National Coordinator of Fair Trade Towns USA. “Meeting the criteria to become a Fair Trade Town was not an easy feat for such a big city, but Chicago has proven that it’s possible, and the city has set an example for other large metropolitan areas to follow.”
The campaign to make Chicago a Fair Trade town has been underway for more than two years, an effort let by Nancy Jones, director of Chicago Fair Trade. Jones added, “As strategies for global stability are being re-assessed, we think the city’s commitment to Fair Trade sends a significant message to our global trade partners that we are concerned about their development as well as our own.” Chicago Fair Trade is a nonprofit organization made up of individuals, businesses, students and NGO’s that are committed to raising awareness and support for Fair Trade within their community in order to make a larger impact on farming communities abroad.
The celebration in Chicago’s Daley Plaza will feature a global marketplace with 20 fair trade vendors selling products that protect the environment and pay producers a living wage, as well as interactive activities and West African drum music. Department of Environment Commissioner Suzanne Malec-McKenna and Roxanna Salvador, leader of a fair trade cocoa cooperative in Ecuador will provide brief remarks. Jerome McDonnell, host of WBEZ’s World View program will emcee.
Fair Trade is a multi-stakeholder effort to alleviate poverty in the developing world. It empowers consumers to vote with their dollars for fair prices, better working conditions, environmental stewardship, and brighter futures for the people who make the high-quality products that we buy every day.
The specific criteria to be officially recognized as a Fair Trade Town include showcasing Fair Trade products available in local stores, developing an active citizen support network, collaborating with community institutions, engaging media, and formalizing support from the local government. These criteria are designed to empower citizens to develop a permanent platform in their communities for continued outreach and advocacy.
Fair Trade Towns USA unites a diverse group of inspired Fair Trade activists including project collaborators the Fair Trade Federation, a North American trade association of organizations fully committed to Fair Trade, and the Fair Trade Resource Network, which gathers, develops, and disseminates educational resources to people and organizations interested in the movement. The goal of the campaign is to raise consumer awareness, increase the availability of Fair Trade products, and drive sales in order to help lift millions of farming families out of poverty. Fair Trade Towns USA is funded in part by a generous grant of $50,000 from Green Mountain Coffee®, and a three-year commitment of $925,000 from the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Foundation.
There are now 21 Fair Trade Towns in the United States, including Boston, San Francisco, Madison, Burlington and Milwaukee. On June 4, 2011 the global Fair Trade community will celebrate the naming of the 1,000th Fair Trade Town. There are currently 40 active campaigns to create additional Fair Trade Towns in the United States, including campaigns in Austin, Oakland, Los Angeles and Seattle.