Fair Trade Pasadena Changes Lives

Diana Percival, the lead organizer for Fair Trade Pasadena, shared about her experiences in Mexico especially connecting a a mother who hand crafted the bag she holds.Diana Percival, lead organizer, Joan Harper Head of Fair Trade LA and Heather Anderson, marketing manager for Whole Foods Arroyo Pkwy BranchBob Harper, Tony and Lynn FadaleLinda and Joe Michon are long time supporters of Fair Trade having served in Latin America as an eye doctor for 20 years.The Fair Trade Pasadena team - Dan Sharp, Sam Bills, Emily Fernandez, Diana Percival, Rebecca Pratt, and Maya SharpTony Hall and Joan Harper

Article and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

3:17 pm | August 28, 2013

The purchasing power you hold in your hands as a consumer could change a life.

It has changed the life of Josefina Guzmán, who weaves hand made carpets and bags and now receives a fair wage to support her family because of Fair Trade.

“When you see and experience the poverty and then how people’s lives are changed because of Fair Trade the light bulb goes on,” Fair Trade LA Director Joan Harper said.

At a fundraising event for Fair Trade Pasadena, an organization that helped declare Pasadena as only the second Fair Trade Town in Southern California in February of 2013, campaign organizer Diana Percival shared about her recent Fair Trade trip to origin in Mexico where she met the farmers and workers she represents.

Whole Foods hosted the Fundraising mixer on Tuesday for Fair Trade Pasadena in their Bar Level II, donating $30 of each purchased ticket to Fair Trade Pasadena for continued community education about why and where to purchase Fair Trade items in Pasadena.

Josefina, one of the women Percival encountered, lives in Oaxaca, Mexico where the Fair Trade cooperative she is a part of enables her to weave from home while caring for her family and raising support at the same time. And that’s not all. It is a dream come true for her to be able to sell her high quality goods to people around the world.

“Josefina was in tears she was so happy a dream of hers had come true. She wants to make better bags with better designs and offer people what they want. I asked Josefina to help me pick out my bag and then I bought a purse for my daughter. She said ‘Tell your little girl that I made this bag and I made it with love.’ That connection was so awesome,” Percival said.

So what does it mean for Pasadena to be a Fair Trade Town, joining cities like San Francisco, Milwaukee, Chicago and Boston? The hard facts are that at least 30 businesses in Pasadena sell two or more Fair Trade items, 25 organizations serve Fair Trade products or support Fair Trade in some manner, and a resolution was passed with City Council in January declaring the city as a socially-conscious purchasing community.

“It’s something we feel the city has taken pride in being the socially conscious community and distinctive in that way in the greater LA area. People know they can come here to find fairly traded good and a population of people who are conscious about what they purchase,” Percival said.

Whole food offers whole trade items, their version of fair trade; with the addition that 1 percent from every whole trade product sold goes to the Whole Planet Foundation, which provides microcredit loans for people in developing countries that the Whole Foods products come from according to Heather Anderson, Marketing supervisor at Arroyo Parkway Branch who helped host the event.

“Fair Trade means we are purchasing items that are made in fair conditions. They use sustainable practices in growing and producing the products,” Percival said.

Three Catholics, a Jew and an atheist formed Fair Trade LA when they were sitting around a table talking about how they could make a difference by promoting Fair Trade. Joan Harper was one of those founding members and shared about the impact speaking for justice has made on her life.

“Women who used to be in prostitution now have a job making these beautiful bags,” Harper said speaking about the bags crafted in India for silent auction at the event.

Joe and Linda Michon are supporters of Fair Trade LA. They served for 20 years with Marinol Missioners in Latin America working with farmers who were not making a fair wage. Joe served as an eye doctor and helped hundreds while he served there.

“People like waking up in the morning and starting out the day connected with the world knowing that their cup of coffee makes a difference in someone’s life,” Linda said.

Her husband Joe continued, “It’s a business model, if you like it you buy it. I like to say its capitalism with a conscious.”

In one story she shared Percival was able to see the coffee beans grown on the farm, go through processing at the mill on site and then sent to their coffee shop called Maya Vinic in the closest town. She was able to see the whole process and taste the delicious results.

“On this trip I was really able to go to the co-ops and talk to people who are living it every single day and have experienced life before and life after and to hear their heartfelt testimonials about how fair trade is impacting their lives and their children’s futures,” Percival said.

“It really has fueled my passion to continue the movement here in Pasadena to educate consumers and share my stories and experiences,” Percival said.

Visit their website http://fairtradela.org/ for more information and for a listing of Fair Trade Businesses and products available in your area.