The Fair Trade Movement on the K-State Campus
Shannon Howard, founder and executive director of Esperanza en Accion (Hope Through Action) Fair Trade Organization came to Manhattan on a speaking tour in 2004 and 2005. Shannon works with artisans and farmers throughout Nicaragua, promoting their work, and helping to connect them with fair trade markets both in Nicaragua and internationally.
Then the Fair Trade in the Heartland Conference was conceived. This was held in November, 2006. There were 70 participants, a majority being students who attended lectures and workshops by the Fair Trade Project Coordinator for the Lutheran World Relief, a University of Kansas professor and a Lead Organizer (Agricultural Campaign) for OxFam America, Equal Exchange Interfaith Liaison, United Students for Fair Trade members, and student OxFam Change Leaders.
The presentations were about the World Trade Organization and how trade has affected Africa and the U.S. with workshops dealing with "Conscious Consumerism," "Organizing on Campus," "Campaigning for Change," and "Mainstreaming Social Justice." Conversations over locally grown and organic food and in small groups resulted in an emerging network of students who will be planning another regional conference while encouraging advocacy/education on fair trade on campuses and in churches.
Primary sponsors were the Ecumenical Christian Ministries (University of Kansas), United Campus Ministry (University of Tulsa), Ecumenical Campus Ministry (Kansas State University), OxFam America, and the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ. Additional sponsors included Presbytery of Northern Kansas, Fellowship Congregational Church (Tulsa, Oklahoma), Community Mercantile (Lawrence), African Studies (University of Kansas) and other churches, organizations and individuals.