Submitted by Northampton Fair Trade Coalition
NORTHAMPTON, MA - April 18, 2008 - Northampton Fair Trade Committee is proud to announce that Northampton, Massachusetts, has become the 6th Fair Trade Town in the USA with the unanimous passing of the "Buy Local, Buy Fair" Resolution at the City Council meeting Thursday night.
The Fair Trade Towns movement began in the UK in 2001 as a way to promote awareness of how fairly traded products make a difference in the lives of producers and their communities by providing them with a fair, living wage for their work. Since then, over 300 communities worldwide have become Fair Trade Towns, but the movement is just getting started in the United States.
The guiding principle in the movement is "trade not aid" because Fair Trade demonstrates that communities can be empowered to develop themselves in a sustainable way if they have access to markets and resources. Through a certification and monitoring process, Fair Trade guarantees producers a stable price, better labor conditions, access to credit and direct trade relationships. Producers organize themselves democratically in cooperatives, which emphasize environmental sustainability and provide additional income to develop their communities.
To make Northampton a "Fair Trade Town," a local committee formed in 2007 to educate the community through films, speakers and Fair Trade product tastings; promote the availability of Fair Trade products such as coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, bananas, rice, vanilla, flowers, body care products and handicrafts; and to encourage local business and institutions to use Fair Trade products when possible. The passing of the resolution brings the support of the local government to the initiative.
Northampton Fair Trade has added a "buy local" theme to the campaign; the slogan is "Buy Local, Buy Fair."
"I am very pleased that with the passing of the "Buy Local, Buy Fair" resolution the City's procurement practices will lead the way in strengthening economies locally and globally. Our economy will benefit from purchasing locally produced goods sold by locally owned businesses, and communities around the world will benefit when we purchase fairly traded products," said Teri Anderson, Economic Coordinator for the City of Northampton. Daniel Finn, Coordinator of Pioneer Valley Local First, agrees that combining the Fair Trade initiative with a buy local campaign makes good sense for producers and consumers.
"Pioneer Valley Local First sees Northampton becoming the 6th Fair Trade Town in America as a great event. Buying local and Fair Trade products has a huge benefit for local farmers and businesses as well as for farmers the world over," he said.
Alexandra Mello, Coordinator and Founder of Northampton Fair Trade, said: "We are very excited to join with the five other Fair Trade Towns in the U.S., including our neighbors Amherst and Brattleboro, in leading this important economic and social justice initiative. We live in a time when many local and international issues seem overwhelming. Supporting Fair Trade and our local economy is a simple and effective action we all can take."
Northampton Fair Trade is currently planning for World Fair Trade Day on May 10th when it will join with advocates internationally for the World's Largest Fair Trade Coffee Break.
Interviews are available with Teri Anderson, Economic Coordinator for the City of Northampton and Alexandra Mello, Northampton Fair Trade Coordinator on Friday, April 18, from 1-5 p.m. at the Mayor's office. Additional committee members are also available for interview at that time and place: Daniel Finn of Pioneer Valley Local First and Melissa Krueger of The Elbow Room, a Fair Trade business on Green Street in Northampton. Please contact Alexandra Mello at (413) 210-4346 to schedule.
About Northampton Fair Trade
Northampton Fair Trade is a volunteer-run group working to raise awareness about the impacts of trade. We believe that working together we can make a difference in our region and around the world by buying local and Fair Trade products, which supports sustainable and equitable communities. More information at www.mafairtrade.com.
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