Fair Trade

Help needed to communicate the good news

I have been searching for phrases that can be written on the café walls to better communicate the message of Fair Trade to potential customers. While takings improved steadily in the first six months I’m convinced we have not yet clearly communicated the vision. Perhaps we should go with “I have come so that they mayhave life and have it to the full”, which is what we endeavour to achieve for all engaged with Palms, but…

While looking through some notes I made for a past Orientation Course recently I came across:
“All human hearts are welcome here. Whatever their colour, creed, condition or philosophy, (we seek to trade fairly in all our dealings) because everyone is just like you and me wanting happiness, and disliking suffering.”
Unfortunately I don’t have the source, but the ideal is what we want to stand for and when we communicate it clearly…

It is surprising to me how few on the street in Glebe, or probably on the streets of many other communities in Australia, appear to have the good news of what it means to trade fairly. I read that in England, and Europe generally, it is huge. Over 30% of the population look to buy ethically, so that their consumption does not exploit the vulnerability of those in the majority world. I’m not sure the research has been done in Australia, but market research in the café would suggest that less than half those who patronise us do so because we trade fairly. Many come for a good coffee, pleasant ambiance, or a favourite dish without being necessarily aware that fair trade provides growers a stable income for food, clothes, medical care and education. So how many who don’t come would do so if the message was clearer, or the idea better understood?

We are challenged to have our vision better understood and supported in all of our work. Those who know us well are clear enough. Recently another with experience of other overseas volunteer service providers was heard to say that the difference between Palms and the others is that Palms does what it says it does.

January Orientation evaluations confirmed again that volunteers feel well prepared “to advance mutually enriching and challenging relationships of understanding, acceptance and care, to the point of sharing worlds of meaning in the deepest sense, with people of a culture different from one’s own.” Another group has been challenged to be patient in forming mutual relationships in order to “build the capacity of individuals through the exchange of knowledge and skills.”

Our small, but very dedicated staff still clearly provide an outstanding service, but unless enough others are inspired by the message: “to link and engage people across cultures in order to cooperate in reducing poverty and achieve a just, sustainable, interdependent and peaceful world”; unless enough others are inspired to assist communicate this enormous vision, Palms’ light will go out. The ‘warm inner glow’ will fade and in three years global volunteering will be left to the bean-counter model funded by the federal government.

So what can you offer?
Can you communicate the message by painting a fair trade mural on a large outside café wall? Or can you get the scaffolding? Can you speak at a community meeting, school or church about Open Hands Day? Or will you design the fun and games at an event? Or perhaps you are an organiser, who can do none of this, but make it all happen?

You do have a skill and we need to use it, so please contact the office where we wait with your name on a list to record what it is and where you might apply it. Any who are too busy, might rather donate a day’s income in exchange for a tax-deductible receipt.

This and next financial year will be the toughest since Palms began. Deficits are certain, but with everyone’s assistance to communicate the good news we can continue, “to engage Australian communities, with overseas communities so that each increases their awareness and enthusiasm to encourage just, sustainable, interdependent and peaceful development”. Please call or email us now and be part of making poverty history rather than Palms.

Roger O’Halloran
Executive Director