Anne, please share your story with us.
In 2005, Nancy Ryan and I learned about the international fair trade movement in San Diego and began attending local meetings. We learned that we could support people (mostly women) in developing countries by purchasing their products that certified workers were paid fairly, ensure that there is no forced child labor or human trafficking involved, were organic or environmentally sustainable, working conditions were safe and a premium would go back to the workers. Instead of monetary donations, we would be contributing to the dignity and self-worth of artisans and farmers.
We learned about Fair Trade Campaigns for Towns, Schools, Congregation and Universities. We took a leap of faith and pursued the criteria to have La Mesa become a declared fair trade town. We formed La Mesa Fair Trade, organized a group of dedicated individuals and began giving presentations to service organizations, churches, schools and holding events at a local fair trade coffee shop (Cosmos) in La Mesa. At the same time became ambassadors for Catholic Relief Services Ethical Trade. This community of fair trade believers is dedicated to improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable by choosing to consume differently. Together, creating a better world through education, advocacy, and conscientious purchasing.
Talking to store owners & employees to not only carry but to educate themselves and their customers what the label meant was part of the criteria. We were encouraged over time that some stores increased their fair trade products. After meeting all the requirements, in 2012, La Mesa Fair Trade received a commendation from Mayor Art Madrid and the city was recognized as an official Fair Trade Town and joined the almost 50 cities nationwide that are now fair trade designed such as Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia to the first fair trade town of Media, PA.
Working with the principal and staff of St. Martin of Tours Academy in La Mesa, the school switched out their soccer balls to Senda Athletics Fair Trade soccer balls, serve fair trade hot chocolate, coffee & teas at events and curriculum was introduced to the students to become conscious consumers. Meeting the “Fair Trade School” criteria, St. Martin Academy became the first Catholic Elementary School in the nation in 2015. St. Martin of Tours parish also became a designed congregation and finally, Nancy and I met with an Academy of Our Lady of Peace High School teacher who in turn formed a student club and brought this to the campus. The school received their designation in 2017.
I have become passionate about the pursuit of educating people about looking for & understanding the labels, especially when human trafficking awareness is growing.
There is much slavery in the chocolate and clothing industry.
Fair Trade is the fastest growing segment of the retail economy.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
We would like to see SDSU become a Fair Trade University. We have held a few events there and connected with supportive professors and students. It is something that must be student driven and embraced by the campus. We need to find a student leader to take it to the next step.
Ethical fashion is a growing trend. I encourage all women who want to make an impact on this world to stop the “Fast Fashion” shopping and learn about who is sewing your clothes and where they come from.
I have been involved with social justice work for over 20 years at St. Martin of Tours parish. I am proud to be on the board of the Global Solidarity Commission, Interfaith Council of La Mesa, board member of Fair Trade San Diego County, and CRS Ethical Trade Ambassador.
My full-time work is an administrative assistant at St. Martin of Tours Academy in La Mesa.
I am very proud to see the increase in fair trade awareness in the US! There are almost 700 active universities, 511 towns, 294 schools and 268 congregations who are working on campaigns to become designated.
For almost 9 years, I have organized an annual Fair Trade Gift Faire in La Mesa at St. Martin of Tours Parish Hall. It is the largest gift fair of it’s kind south of Los Angeles. The event is held during World Fair Trade Month in October.
October 14, 2018
St. Martin of Tours Parish Hall
7710 El Cajon Blvd
La Mesa, CA 91942
Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
Be passionate about what you want to do. It makes each day important.
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