Spotlight shines on Fair Trade items at upcoming General Assembly

Global Marketplace will be open for business

May 24, 2016

Chua Lee and her daughter arrange goods at their booth in the Global Marketplace. Their group, Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries makes available Hmong cross stitch, reverse applique stitchery and other Southeast Asian refugee crafts.

Chua Lee and her daughter arrange goods at their booth in the Global Marketplace. Their group, Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries makes available Hmong cross stitch, reverse applique stitchery and other Southeast Asian refugee crafts. —Melanie Hardison

LOUISVILLE

Looking for a special gift while attending the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 222nd General Assembly in Portland? The Global Marketplace will be open for business once again providing attendees with an opportunity to buy something special and support fair trade.

After making its first appearance as part of the exhibit hall at the 2002 General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio, the marketplace has become a tradition at large church wide gatherings around the country.

“The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) believes in fair trade because it helps people live and work with dignity,” said Jessica Maudlin, associate for PHP’s Enough for Everyone program. “We use the marketplace to lift up the idea of fair trade but to also help Presbyterian groups who are involved in fair trade work to make connections with other Presbyterians and spread the idea of its importance.”

The Global Marketplace is where attendees can purchase items such as scarves, purses, jewelry and other crafts. Coffee, chocolate and olive oil are among the other products available.

“It’s a model of trade that empowers people and provides them a fair wage for the products they produce,” she said. “It also allows them to stay on their own land, in their own country and feed and educate their children.”

General Assembly, says Maudlin, gives the fair trade vendors an opportunity to make new connections while re-establishing contact with people they’ve worked with for years.

“For a lot of these vendors, it’s almost like a family reunion when they are together and it’s exciting to hear them share experiences with each other and see those who have become loyal customers,” said Maudlin. “People will come in carrying a purse or wearing a jacket they had bought from a vendor years ago.”

Maudlin says the exhibit hall offers many opportunities for Presbyterians to buy crafts, food and more. Many producers have used the organizational skills they have learned through fair trade to positively impact their communities.

The fair trade vendors each have a story to tell. Participants in the Global Marketplace include Café Justo, Colores del Pueblo, Equal Exchange, Pal CraftAid, Partners for Trade Justice and more.

“Sales give us the opportunity to share with Presbyterians not only our wonderful products but to share how their purchases help artisans working in places where it is very difficult to get their creations to a market,” said Carol Hylkema, a representative of Pal CraftAid, a long-time marketplace vendor. “All Fair Trade items provide an opportunity to help the artisans make a living through the purchase of their creations and continue long held creative traditions in a modern context and to purchase unique items one will not find in the mall.”

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The PC(USA) Fair Trade work is coordinated by the Presbyterian Hunger Program and is supported by the One Great Hour of Sharing special offering.

The marketplace will be open through out the General Assembly, June 17 – 23.

For more information about all marketplace vendors and the goods they sell, click here.