Saturday, May 9 is World Fair Trade Day and for the 48 hours that encompass a global day, millions of participants in hundreds of cities in more than 70 countries celebrate with breakfasts, talks, markets, live performances, a lift, fashion shows, carnivals, festivals, processions and protests, to drive Fair Trade and campaign for justice in trade and promote sustainable social and environmental policy.
It's an especially exciting day in Milwaukee, which was the first large city in United States to become a Fair Trade City in 2007. Since then, several other cities including San Francisco and New York have followed suit.
Sachin Chheda, the director of the Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition, points to Milwaukee's to "forward thinking political leadership" as a major impetus for our leadership in fair trade awareness.
"(Ald.) Tony Zielinski has been a huge champion and has sponsored every piece of legislation that the common council has passed," says Chheda.
Zielinski called the city's fair trade status "the right thing to do from a human rights standpoint because of the horrible sweatshop conditions that produce far too many products that make it into this country."
He continued, "But fair trade is also important because sweatshop practices in other countries are costing Americans family supporting jobs, and government must use its purchasing power to lead the way to social justice."
Becoming a fair trade city means that the city agrees to a set of principals, including passing a resolution of fair trade support and several local businesses offer fair trade goods, as businesses like Four Corners of the World Fair Trade Store, Sven's European Cafe, Future Green, Fair Trade For All, Outpost and others in Milwaukee have done.
What it doesn't mean is that every product sold must comply with those standards.
"We interpret fair trade broadly," says Chheda. The Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition considers more than officially certified items because only a few products like coffee, bananas, sugar and chocolate have an actual certification process in place.
"We want people to purchase sustainable, local, made with union labor, too."
In doing so, he's helped organize the second annual Milwaukee Fair Trade Crawl on Saturday, May 9.
The crawl begins at Outpost, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., at 10:30 a.m. with Mayor Tom Barrett and visiting fair trade artisans from Peru. Although many other Bay View businesses are participating, the crawl continues on to more than 30 locations throughout the city. Click here for a full list.
Shoppers who visit at least six shops can return to Outpost at the end of the day to win prizes, including Wigwam socks, Cafe Fair, Equal Exchange and Sven's coffee, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, and fair trade wine.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”