Fair Trade

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

by Crystal Huskey

Globalization has had a profound effect on the world over the course of the past three decades. We are in a very interesting, exciting time.  We are experiencing a technological revolution; it's far from over.  Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina began saying in 2004 that we were "at the end of the beginning" of the information age and that the last 25 years were just "the warm up act".  Technology isn't done with us yet.  We are now living in the formative years of Globalization 3.0 (Friedman, It's a Flat World After All).

We have seen the ugly side of globalization, the economic kick-in-the-butt of out-sourcing and off-shoring.  We have also seen foreign investors, at the advice of the World Bank, buy up businesses in Africa, strip their assets and abandon them.  With the advent of social media and instant access to world events, we know that this system is failing.  Exploiting the developing world is not a nice way to do business.

Ten Thousand Villages employs craftsmen is
isolated areas and provides a sustainable
Enter 3.0.  The next wave will not be large corporations that are only concerned with the bottom line.  It will be social entrepreneurs, intelligent business men and women who want to combine global enterprise with a genuine desire to change the world.

All that to say this: fair trade will be a big part of this movement.  Fair trade has been around a while, but is now becoming more mainstream.  Walmart now carries fair trade coffee, which in essence means, "we pay the laborers in the coffee fields a fair wage and do not exploit them. We create jobs and want to make the world a more fair, equal place for everyone."  Other businesses employ people in isolated areas as craftsmen and sell the wares for a profit in the States, while giving the workers good pay so that they don't have to travel to the cities.  Now wouldn't that be an exciting field to be a part of?

The information age makes us aware of what's happening and lays a responsibility on the consumer that has never been felt before.  Look for Fair Trade labeling on your products.  You will have a more unique product and know that you are helping to change the world.



World Peace?

Friday, December 17, 2010

War as we know it has never made sense to me.  Please don’t misunderstand; I greatly admire the men and women in the military.  I had a dozen friends join the military after 9/11 with the motivation of defending the Americans citizens.  They want to serve and protect.  They choose to be in the line of fire and have good reason to do so.

Image originally from
I have a problem with civilian deaths.  Women and children routinely flee mortar bombs in the Gaza Strip, Iraqi families lose loved ones who play no part in the war on terror, and in the more distant past, thousands of Japanese- half the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - lost, quite literally, everything to two nuclear bombings. And now, with the war on terror, the line between good guys and bad guys is so thin and transparent.  Is that man behind the rubble of a house wrapped in explosives?  Or is he simply anxious because he’s walking past a caravan of soldiers?  Who is the enemy?  Since the beginning of the Second Gulf War there have been over 10,000 civilian deaths.  There have been a little less than 5,000 military casualties.  Most people’s response to this is that civilian deaths are simply a part of war.  It’s the price you have to pay.  It’s just what happens.

Our government knows the price of war.  No one wants civilian deaths.  This is why we impose sanctions and do everything in our power to prevent war in the first place.  And, of course, it’s not just the United States that perpetrates war.  How do you stop the genocides in Sudan and the mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?  Some, like the U.S., aim to promote democracy, get rid of human rights violations and bring freedom to the people.  Some critics accuse the U.S. of having a messiah complex, but doing something is better than doing nothing.  I don’t think anyone would disagree, however, that things have not worked out in Iraq the way the U.S. wanted it to.  

That’s because you can't physically fight an idea, philosophy, religion, or deeply rooted cultural beliefs.
There has to be a different way of doing this.  Not just in Iraq, but anywhere.  We have imposed sanctions on North Korea and Iran.  Still, they threaten.  Still, they actively pursue war.  It’s like they want us to attack them so they can retaliate.  And when I say “they”, I mean Mhamoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-Il personally, not the people. 

Richard Holbrooke
I don’t know the answer.  I do know that diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who past away this past week, brokered a peace deal to end the war in Bosnia in the late 1990s.  He most recently served under President Obama in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  His last words: “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.” 

Let’s start with that. 

For more information on the attacks in Gaza, visit this video published by Human Rights Watch:

For information on rockets launched from Gaza, see this:


World Peace for Christmas

Monday, December 13, 2010

Okay, maybe not world peace, but at least a gift to promote peace and goodwill toward men!  As I scour the shops and warehouses for unique Christmas gifts for my kids, family and friends, I have an underlying sense of guilt and waste.  Of course it isn't wrong to give and receive gifts at Christmastime, but I know I personally don't need anything new.  I could probably do with less, actually.  (Except for those really cute rain boots, ahem...)  There are a number of places to shop, virtually and physically, that "give back" as you buy.

Ten Thousand Villages in Atlanta, GA, is a huge fair trade marketplace for handmade crafts and unique gifts from all over the world. You won't walk away with a McGift here!  The name was inspired by a quote by Mahatma Ghandi when he said, "India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages.  We have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothes themselves with."  The Fair Trade Online Store has similar gifts.

Somaly Mam with child trafficking survivors

The Somaly Mam Foundation is an organization founded by a survivor of child trafficking, Somaly Mam.  She has devoted her life to restoring the girls caught in the web of trafficking and bringing an end to this modern day slavery.  Read through the website.  You will be astounded at the things taking place today.  Shop at her Survivor Empowerment Store for gifts created by other survivors, beautiful items like scarves and jewelry.

The International Rescue Committee sells gifts of a different type.  You can purchase mosquito nets, cholera treatment, or carpentry kits for families in need in developing and underdeveloped countries.  MercyCorps offers gift options like this as well.
These are just some of my favorites.

Happy shopping!


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