by Anneli Rufus
A campaign is afoot to transform Berkeley into a Fair Trade Town, a designation that asserts a municipality's commitment to sustainable farming practices and higher standards of living for farmers worldwide. After Media, PA became the nation's first Fair Trade Town in 2006, thirteen others — including Taos, NM and Highland Park, NJ — have since joined the list.
Earlier this month, UC Berkeley students signed a giant Valentine card for Mayor Tom Bates in an effort to show their support for the Fair Trade Towns campaign. The folks at TransFair USA have sent over the FTT draft resolution, which awaits Berkeley City Council approval and reads in part:
"WHEREAS, expressing Berkeley’s support for sustainable and equitable commerce [and the] well being of small farmers and producers; and WHEREAS, as consumers we have a responsibility to be aware of the impact that our consumption has on the communities that produce the goods that we purchase; and WHEREAS, the City of Berkeley has a responsibility to ensure that municipal funds are spent in an ethical manner that promotes local economies both domestically and abroad whenever possible; and WHEREAS, local businesses, organizations and the greater community (faith communities, healthcare facilities and schools) of Berkeley have voiced and demonstrated their support for a Fair Trade resolution by using, promoting and/or selling Fair Trade products, WHEREAS, Fair Trade is an innovative market strategy, the purpose of which is to transform commerce and provide consumers with the opportunity to make a positive social impact in communities around the world ... and WHEREAS, though no domestic Fair Trade certification currently exists, we recognize that supporting our local economy by purchasing locally and ethically produced goods and services is in keeping with the values of Fair Trade; and WHEREAS, the City of Berkeley has the opportunity to lead by example and present a model of social responsibility for other towns to follow; therefore be it RESOLVED, the City of Berkeley establish a Buy Fair policy to maximize purchase of Fair Trade Certified and locally produced products in the process of procuring necessary goods for the City offices when those products are available andreasonably priced; and be it RESOLVED, that the community of Berkeley and visitors to the town, through city procurement decisions, visible signage, and grassroots educational outreach, will gain a greater understanding of what is and what is not Fair Trade, in order to make educated decisions." — Anneli Rufus