April 6, 2010

Hyde Parkers toast City Council vote that declares Chicago one of the fairest (traders) of them all

Fifteen Fair Trade supporters celebrated the passing of a Chicago Fair Trade Resolution with fair trade coffee, chocolate, and a talk at the Chicago Public Library in Hyde Park Saturday.

The Resolution, which declares Chicago a Fair Trade city and will make it more Fair Trade-friendly, passed unanimously in the Chicago City Council on February 10.

The talk was delivered by Cindy Pardo, coowner of The Fair Trader in Hyde Park.

Pardo was excited at the new business the Resolution may generate for the store. “I think it will increase awareness of Fair Trade and people’s understanding of how business affects people throughout the world,” Pardo said. “It acknowledges that Fair Trade is important and says that Chicago is savvy enough and aware enough to support this way of doing business.”

Pardo emphasized the importance of sustainability in the movement. “We want to empower people to run their own lives [by creating] opportunities for Fair Trade artisans to continue what they’re doing,” Pardo said.

The program supports marginalized demographics;of producers participating in Fair Trade, 76 percent are women and 19 percent have either HIV or a family member with HIV, according to Pardo.

The Fair Trade movement aims to connect producers in developing countries with the American and European markets while promoting better trading conditions like higher pay and sustainability. Wholesalers in the United States and Europe visit artisans around the world to advise them about what products will sell best and give them about 50 percent of the value of orders up front.

The Fair Trade Resolution was drafted by 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and the Chicago Fair Trade Association.

Pardo hopes the resolution will bring more business to The Fair Trader, which has suffered since the University sold the Shoreland last year. “We want everyone back; we don’t get the foot traffi c anymore,” she said.