Fair Trade in Kansas

Scary stuff is afoot, friends.

You see, I think that Fair Trade is awesome.  It does amazing things for producers.  We’re talking about the big things here: security in work and prices that leads to educational opportunities, access to clean water, food, health care and safety from violence.  That is big stuff.  Fair trade provides consumers with great products, of course.  It also allows us on the consuming side to really think about how and what we consume and hopefully do it more mindfully.  That is big stuff too.

I also think that Fair Trade needs to be easily accessible to consumers.  Who wants to have to drive to a different town just to pick up some coffee or a birthday gift?  Frankly, that’s bad for the environment and sucks up our time.  I think we’ll buy more Fair Trade if we are able to pop into a store easily and pick up what we need when we need it.  The producers will sell more.  More of that big stuff can happen for more people.

To my knowledge, we only have five Fair Trade stores in Kansas. (Ten Thousand Villages in Overland Park, Lawrence and Hutchinson along with our two in Lindsborg and Salina.)  We need more stores!  Pretty easy to see, I’d say!  

Unfortunately, it will take an actual business person to open more stores well.

We’ve been able to continue as we have because the products are so good and the women who work at Connected are really great.  We have Carri, our Design Manager who shares her talents in both stores and makes us better.  We’re in a fine spot, but our stores aren’t profiting yet.  What is there to do when one sees a need?  

Suck it up.  Learn more.  Figure it out.  Do better.  Attend to the need.

And, in my case, be scared.  

Sometimes I find myself wondering things like, “Who do you think you are trying to do this stuff?!  You’re a minister!!!  Why don’t you just freaking preach?!”  

But am also reminded in all kinds of ways why we are trying to work with Fair Trade.  For instance, Carri just made this Instagram post and shared it with me:

 

This is my host niece in El Salvador four years ago!  Isn’t she a sweetie?  I watched her shoo the chickens out of the house when they wandered in.  I watched her play with her first cousins as their moms’ formed tortillas for supper.  We smiled at each other for three days since that was the only language we shared.  She is a sweetie.

My host father is a farmer in a coop that sells coffee to Equal Exchange.  When a mudslide came through their land and took out their coffee trees, milling machinery and road, not all was lost because of their relationship with Equal Exchange.  The farmers worked incredibly hard and with coordinated response by the company and agencies like I’ve written about here they are producing good coffee beans once again.  This little one is probably not so little by now and I bet she is in school because her family can pay the fees thanks to a fair coffee market.

She probably doesn’t remember me, but I certainly remember her.  

My husband and I read, think, listen and talk about how we are to best be in this world.  We see a need, we feel like we know what’s right to do and so I’ll push through the scary… and open another store… in downtown Manhattan.  (more to come, of course:)

Inspiration for us all from Christine Kane with "The Good You Do"


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