Wednesday, March 21, 2012

AWAZ fair trade shop promotes cross-cultural understanding at new Portland World Market

We are extremely excited to announce that we will soon be having an AWAZ shop in Portland.

After three years in Portland representing fair trade artisan cooperatives and their products, we have been accepted to have a stall at the new Portland World Market that will be open year round, starting April 7th, 2012. The project has been 5 years in the making and aims to celebrate, preserve, support, and promote heritage and cultural diversities around the world. The market will offer an international marketplace of culturally diverse products made in accordance with fair trade principles and provide educational demonstrations and entertainment.

Our stall will be located inside the Fire Museum building adjacent to Ankeny Plaza and the Mercy Corps Action Center, neighboring the Portland Saturday Market. It will be open every weekend from April – December and possibly open up during the week.

We are excited to see this emerge in Portland and are enthused to get the opportunity to represent a sustainable goods market that promotes international cultures and ethical business practices. While Portland is culturally diverse in terms of music, art and lifestyle, there is a great need for a space in the city to bridge the gap and represent art and culture from around the world. These environments are crucial in helping people to learn more about the world, promote cross-cultural exchange and create more peace and unity.

I was an active leader of the International Coordinating Council while at Kansas State University that served a similar mission by organizing cultural awareness programs, activities and events, working closely with the international student associations and students. It was here that through my friendships with people from around the world that I developed an appreciation for the world and different ways of life.

The fact that the vendors will also be held to a select criteria of sustainable business practices and goods is also substantial. This market has the opportunity to help Portland create a culture that values organic, buying local and fairly equally.

While there is a backlash against international imports in a U.S. economy that is suffering, there are many people, like ourself, that get in this business not because of how much we can profit off of ‘cheap imports’.

We are in it for the mission, to preserve a traditional craft, to represent small business and relationships with small producers and to create a new way of doing business based on shared values. Shared values that respect the producer, the consumer and the environment.

We are also a local business ourself, helping to build our local economy, justly and ethically. Our products were sourced and produced through sustainable means – not from cheap Chinese sweat shop factories producing waste and toxins.

I like to make sure people are aware of this and realize the point: products and raw materials to make ‘local products’ crafted by local artisans come from somewhere. How many hands took part in the supply chain to deliver your product? Were the raw materials sourced fairly, are they recycled, natural or synthetic, was the producer paid well? What is the impact of your purchase? We must begin to see the power of business, the power of our dollar and consider new ways if we want to create change.

Through ethical trade, we can grow small business and build local economies in our own community and around the world. Buy local and create global change!


We are looking for outgoing people of all ages to help promote fair trade and sell products at our stall, voluntarily or for pay. Please contact Sarah at or 503-970-5847 if you are interested!

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