Thoughts from the Fair Trade Federation Conference in Portland Oregon
Cheri and I just got back to Springfield, after spending 5 days in Portland in the company of some of the most awe-inspiring and motivated people that I think I have ever encountered.
The occasion was the 15th Conference of the Fair Trade Federation, the trade group that brings together Fair Trade wholesalers and retailers of North America. Having been accepted as members of the FTF earlier in the year, and having never been to a conference previously (although a members-only conference on the first day, after that it is very much open to the public) we were excited to attend, but also unsure of what the event would be like, how worthwhile we would find it, and frankly whether or not we could afford to attend.
You can find out more about the events of the Conference at the FTF website (www,fairtradefederation.com). The whole event was pretty intense, with session after session aimed at giving the members the tools they need to keep growing, especially in the difficult economic climate. It was emotional too, with many of the members making it clear that their businesses were struggling badly, but that one thought kept them going; the need to continue providing a route to market for the thousands of artisans in countries around the world that depend on the Fair Trade movement.
It was great from a personal point of view to meet many of the people that we have been working with since opening Global Fayre in Dec 2007. In virtually every case it was the first time we had met in person.
All-in-all, the conference gave us both a renewed sense of energy, urgency and commitment to Fair Trade. See you next year in Boston!