Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reflections from the Director, Sarah on the new year and year's past accomplishments

To my dear friends and supporters

Happy New Year and Many Blessings from AWAZ

We welcome this new year with new beginnings and continued growth. We had another year of sales and service and we want to share our accomplishments!

The United Nations has coined 2012 the year of cooperatives. Will you join us in getting behind a movement that empowers economic independence for small producers and supports sustainable consumption?

Our goals this year were to become more well known in the Portland community and increase sales. We succeeded!

Thanks to new partnerships and more community outreach, we had a stronger presence in the greater Portland community last year and our sales grew 20% from the previous year. AWAZ has been a personal journey of mine since 2008 inspired by my passion for women empowerment and social and economic equality. While I miss working directly with communities in India, I feel I’ve helped more people see the problems and create change by buying fairly traded products when they shop. By addressing the root of the problem – our consumption – we can create an economic system that is a tool for empowering women and creating global change.

Thank you all for your ongoing support! Think of AWAZ’s Online Shop when you need a gift!

Over time, I’ve built a solid team of volunteers to support our work and represent the voices of our partner organizations in India. Learn more about Our Team.

We have just appointed our first Sales Manager to help take us into the new year! We’re only helping our partners and making change if we sell their products and can make regular orders – our goal this year: increase orders for our producers in India!!! We are going through some re-branding, revamping our website and producing a wholesale catalog as we speak! Contact Us and let us know some of your favorite stores that might be interested in carrying our products.

We had two Fundraiser Sales for local non profit organizations where we gave 20% of the proceeds to support their missions – Jubilee Oregon and Saint Mark Presbyterian Church. An AWAZ Ambassador hosted our first Fair Trade Home Party in her home this year, as well! Call us to book one for your friend’s birthday or an upcoming holiday gathering – it’s easy, fun and helps more people get to know about AWAZ and fair trade!

I’ve been an active leader for the NWFTC that has been working in partnership with local businesses and community organizations to promote fair trade in Portland collectively. We’ve done a lot of education and awareness building on a united front sponsoring year-long campaigns, events and networking to promote local fair trade.

Northwest Fair Trade Coalition

- 2nd Annual Portland Fair Trade Marketplace at First Unitarian Church

- ‘Fair Trade Third Thursdays’ Education and Networking Night @ Equal Exchange

- Over 400 Reverse Trick-or-Treating Kits delivered to families to promote fair trade chocolate for Halloween

It’s been an exciting last few years for the fair trade movement as more small producers and their products became part of the supply chain and sales grew as a result of increased demand by consumers.

Globally, sales grew over 2009 by a strong 27% to $5.8 billion, with U.S. sales growing 5% to $1.3 billion, and Canadian sales growing 6% to $330 million. More farmers and producers are adopting sustainable farming practices, fair labor practices, democratic work structures and earning a better living as a result of joining the fair trade system. Learn more at the Fair Trade Resource Network.

Now, you can find more body care, medicinal teas and oils with fair trade ingredients in them – just read the labels at your local groceries and you’ll see! This year, fair trade vodka, gold, gemstones and organic and fair trade cotton were brought into the supply chain.

In India, our groups got increased visibility with the launch of the Indian national Fair Trade brand. The Fair Trade Forum-India is a membership organization representing over 60 artisan and producer organizations around the country to the international fair trade movement, buyers and stakeholders. With all the fragmentation happening in the international movement, producers are uniting to promote their efforts and values together. FTF-I opened Fair Trade Stories in cities throughout India representing their members that sell everything from apparel and home decor, featuring handwoven and embroidered threads to spices coming from women’s cooperatives. All our artisan partners in India are members of FTF-I and I’ve worked closely with them over the years helping some of our partners gain membership and get linked up with the movement.

I had a lot of interest this year for a tour to India for people to visit the organizations we work with, work with them and learn. While we’ve always facilitated Volunteer Work Placements for people, I hope to offer annual delegations to India, possibly starting in the Fall. It would be a great dream to be able to offer this for people. I have a great friend Neena who has opened a yoga ashram near Dehradun who I’m working with to promote her spiritual and healing programs there, nestled nicely in the foothills of the Himalayas. It all is dependent on the interest from you. Spread the word and let us know if you’re ever interested.

So please join us in this movement for change. We all have a Voice and are a voice for empowerment.

Be a Northwest Fair Trade Coalition Member!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fair Trade Chocolate, Marketplace, and Movie with the NWFTC

Join AWAZ and the Northwest Fair Trade Coalition (NWFTC) for awesome events to get your 2012 off to a great start!

NWFTC Fair Trade Third Thursdays @ Equal Exchange

January 19th

‘Chocolate Awareness and Fair Trade Desserts and Gifts for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day’

7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Equal Exchange, 1033 SE Main, Portland

Join us at Portland’s monthly fair trade networking night!

Help us raise awareness for the 'Raise the Bar, Hershey' Ca mpaign. On Jan. 19th, come by Equal Exchange from 7-8:30 to sign the petition (sign the online petition here), learn about new NWFTC projects, and meet some great new people! Last year, NWFTC did some great things with projects they promoted, including film screenings of the acclaimed documentary, ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate’, to help raise awareness about the child labor and trafficking in the cocoa trade around Portland. They passed out over 400 Reverse Trick-or-Treating kits promoting fair trade chocolate to communities in Portland and we’re gearing up for more!

There will also be a Fair Trade Marketplace, with LOTS of great Valent ine's Day gifts for him and her!

The marketplace includes:
  • Raffle of Gift Basket filled with fair trade goodies worth $50
  • Enjoy FREE Equal Exchange chocolate and hot cocoa and desserts made from fair trade baking cocoa!
  • Member Marketplace offering Fair Trade wine, flowers, chocolate and gifts from local fair trade businesses

After that, gear up for a special screening of 'The Dark Side of Chocolate' (in cased you missed it last year!) at the NW Multnomah County Library, 2300 Northwest Thurman Street from 6-7:30. Come for the movie, and stay for the FREE chocolate and drinks, and to check out the NEW fair trade chocolate Valentine's Day set available at NW Food Front! You can find them at 2375 NW Thurman St., Portland, Oregon 97210

NW Food Front Cooperative Monthly Film Series

Wednesday, February 8th

Screening of ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate’

6:00 – 7:30 p.m.