Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
(L-r) Nativity sets made in Ecuador and Peru and baskets made in the People's Republic of Bangladesh and Swaziland are just a few of the items that will be available for purchase during the Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade Sale at the Archdiocese of Atlanta Chancery, Nov. 13.


Fair trade shoppers express solidarity with the poor, vulnerable

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published October 30, 2014

ATLANTA—Pottery made in Cameroon, colorful baskets from Bangladesh, Peruvian Nativity sets. The annual archdiocesan Fair Trade Sale at the Chancery will feature these and other handcrafted goods and jewelry, as well as shade-grown organic coffees.

The sale, through the initiative of Catholic Relief Services, will be held Thursday, Nov. 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Chancery, 2401 Lake Park Drive, SE, in Smyrna.

While the items available make beautiful gifts, the sale at a deeper level helps artisans around the world to make a living wage and meet basic needs.

“When people purchase ‘fair trade,’ they are purchasing intentionally,” said Kat Doyle, director of archdiocesan Justice and Peace Ministries.

The CRS designation of fair trade means “all of the people along the supply train received a fair wage,” said Doyle.

Justice and Peace Ministries also offers its original program, “What You Buy Matters,” to parishes, schools and ministries as a way to introduce the concepts of fair trade and fair wages.

“Anytime you make a purchase, you make a statement about what you believe,” said Doyle.

This responsible means of shopping can apply to buying clothes or even major purchases such as diamonds.

CRS’ Fair Trade program works around the world to provide technical and financial assistance to farmers and artisans, even assisting them in joining with other local people to package and ship products and market their goods. CRS focuses on giving residents of communities the capacity to develop businesses, crafts and agriculture to be self-sustaining.

“They don’t do it for them,” explained Doyle. Part of the assistance, she added, is helping coffee growers or artisans to build long-term and local trade relationships.

“It builds community,” said Doyle.

The CRS Farmer to Farmer program matches Americans with agricultural expertise with African farmers to provide information on ways to increase food production, agribusinesses and cooperatives.

CRS also partners with nonprofit organizations such as SERRV to make goods from struggling farmers and craftsmen available through consignment sales, online and catalogue orders.

In making fair trade purchases, shoppers can express their solidarity with the poor and vulnerable of the world.

“We are in a consumer-driven society,” said Leslye Colvin, program specialist in the Justice and Peace Ministries.

When shopping for fair trade items, one is not supporting shareholders of a company or purchasing mass-produced items, but rather special items that help others meet needs.

“Slow down and really give thought,” said Colvin about selecting purchases.

One question Doyle poses to bargain hunters is, “Getting a deal might be good for us, but how is it for the common good?”

Other items to be offered at the archdiocesan Fair Trade Sale include organic olive oil from Sindyanna of Galilee, Madonna and Child figurines, ornaments, jellies and jams, chocolates and crosses. These products are all items of quality, said Doyle and Colvin. A bio of the artisan or farmer is often affixed to the product.

Café Campesino, based in Americus, will have samples of its fair trade coffees at the sale.

If shoppers don’t find what they are looking for, catalogue orders may be placed at the sale.

Fair trade sales can be held in parishes or schools throughout the year. A sale offers the opportunity to learn about residents of other countries while supporting their efforts as farmers and craftspeople at a fair compensation.

“Parishes can set an example,” added Doyle about raising awareness of fair trade.

If a parish has a coffee service after Mass, they can use that as the chance to serve fair trade selections.

Volunteers with Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Atlanta have started taking orders after Masses for Café Campesino coffees. They have selected light, blonde, dark and decaffeinated roasts, both whole bean and ground, to sell and served samples.

The effort is raising money for Food for the Poor to construct homes in Nicaragua, said Maria Massey, OLA parishioner.

Massey emphasized that these sales help the coffee grower, the Georgia-based coffee company, and ultimately the impoverished in Nicaragua.

“It is a win-win-win,” she said.

The effort, coordinated mostly by graduates of the adult faith formation program, JustFaith, has made $2,000 in fair trade sales, with more than $400 in profit to date to be directed to Food for the Poor.

“It’s kind of a neat paradigm,” said Massey.

The OLA group is hoping to have holiday sales and offer an automated system for payments or orders. They are willing to provide details of their efforts to other parishes.

“We have a model we can share with people. We’ve been doing lessons learned,” said Massey.

On a personal level, individuals dining out can order fair trade coffee, suggested Doyle. When the restaurant doesn’t offer fair trade brews, it’s an occasion to educate others about fair trade coffees, teas and produce, from chili peppers to bananas.

Catholic Relief Services is also in need of individuals willing to serve as Fair Trade Ambassadors. These ambassadors are passionate about Catholic social teaching, including fair trade and fighting global poverty.

Those interested in becoming CRS ambassadors apply for the program and attend an expense-paid training retreat in Baltimore, Maryland. Following training, ambassadors agree to speak at parishes or schools, encourage hosting of fair trade events, and also raise awareness of other Catholic Relief Services’ endeavors, including Rice Bowl, Food Fast, Helping Hands or Catholics Confront Global Poverty.

“You commit to at least a year,” said Doyle. “This is an opportunity to learn a lot about what this means.”

Some engaged Catholic couples are signing up for fair trade gift registries, said Doyle.

One of Doyle’s favorite fair trade purchases is a breadbasket with a flat piece of stoneware in the bottom. After warming the stone in the oven, and placing it back into the basket, the serving of hot bread to guests can become a fair trade conversation.

“It’s a great wedding gift,” said Doyle.