There are a number of world fair trade organizations that promote the practice of fair trade throughout the world. The term fair trade may be new to many but the concept of conducting commerce using fair trade principles is not.
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) sets 10 standards for fair trade. They include paying a fair price for a product, using socially conscious trading practices, not using child labor, providing a safe and sanitary work environment, and of course not using indentured servants (slavery) for labor. There are over 350 member organizations in WFTO located in 70 countries.
Sadly hundreds of millions of people throughout the world don’t make a sustainable living because big businesses are exploiting their labor. This occurs in many industries and agricultural areas. It occurs on all continents above and below the equator. The net result is government and non-governmental aid organizations (NGOs) from many countries must raise and donate money to merely sustain large portions of our world’s population.
One of the most important concepts of fair trade is helping farmers, tradesman, and others in countries where exploitation is occurring to develop increasing skill levels and “bootstrap” entire communities by simply paying them a fair price for something they grow, produce or manufacture.
One U.S. City where 10,000 Villages has an affiliate non-profit agency is Austin Texas. The boards of directors of this affiliate are volunteers and nearly all the staff are volunteers. One of the missions of 10,000 Villages and other fair trade organizations is educating the public about fair trade practices.
This year, the Austin 10,000 Villages affiliate is holding an all day fair trade film festival on May 8, 2010. It will be the first ever for
One of the films currently being scheduled to be shown is The Price of Sugar. The Price of Sugar is an award winning documentary narrated by the Paul Newmann which features the Vicini family, sugar plantation owners in the
The Vicini family is a prominent and powerful family in the
The legal community calls this type of threat of lawsuit Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, or SLAPP. In the case of 10,000 Villages, the threat of lawsuit appears to be aimed at getting the board of directors of the
The film can be rented at many video stores, it is available for sale at Amazon.com, and is widely distributed. On YouTube there are hundreds of cuts from the film. Yet the Board of Directors of 10,000 Villages of Austin is now having to seriously consider whether they should pull the film from showing or not. Since the issue of keeping the non-profit out of legal trouble is so serious and has huge financial implications, the Austin 10,000 Villages board of directors is having continuing discussion with their own counsel and will make the decision to take the risk and show the film the day before the film festival. They have located a back up film in case the board decides the risk is too great.
The irony in this whole story is that 10,000 villages is not a radical group and the film is commercially and widely available. They are a simple single purpose non-profit designed to market goods of artisans from around the world and to educate the public on fair trade.
As leaders in the fair trade community 10,000 Villages of Austin believes it should “walk the talk” and not allow the fear of a lawsuit stop them from exercising what they believe are their 1st amendment rights. However if they are sued and spend precious money fighting the lawsuit they divert critical funds that will be used to buy goods for the artisans they are trying to support. If that happens the kind of impoverished people depicted in the film The Price of Sugar are the big losers.
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