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Town Now Fair, Board Approves Fair Trade Motion

Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO — And then there were two. In a 3-2 vote, the Selectboard approved a resolution that makes Brattleboro the second fair trade town in the United States, second only to Media, Pa.

“This is very exciting,” said Kate Amanna. “We hope this can turn into something more.”

Amanna was one of three representatives from the Fair Trade Steering committee that presented their case to the Selectboard at Tuesday’s meeting.

Amanna, along with Jackie Billings and Sara Stender, detailed the long process the group took toward building to this moment.

The committee started having regular bi-weekly meetings in December 2006 and, over time, began developing support relationships with a number of local organizations, according to Stender.

Before the vote, Selectboard member Richard DeGray expressed concern over some of the wording of the resolution. The fair trade proclamation referred to town funds being spent in an “ethical manner.”
The trio assured the Selectboard that it did not mean to imply that what was currently happening was unethical.
DeGray also pointed to the statement that “The town of Brattleboro establish a Buy Local/Buy Fair policy.”

That’s not our responsibility, he said.

“I don’t represent the (entire) town,” and perhaps everyone is not in favor of this.

Selectboard member Steve Steidle agreed with DeGray and questioned if there would be any impact on the budget.

“We’re not asking the town to spend more money,” Stender said. “We’re not asking for specific requirements,” just for the town to take these things into consideration.

Selectboard member Richard Garant said he viewed this as more guidelines to “at least look at the potential to buy local,” and said he found it very easy to support.

DeGray also asked if there would be any repercussions for businesses not interested in signing up.

“We’re just offering an alternative,” Stender said, adding many people in the community have shown interest.
Several local vendors were in attendance to show support.

Selectboard Chairwoman Audrey Garfield thanked the representatives for all their effort, before the vote.

DeGray and Steidle voted no.

Now that the resolution has passed, Stender has a full plate of activities lined up. First up: A visit to Media.
She has also been contacted by many other towns for advice on becoming a fair trade community.
The committee wants to continue the regular meetings and begin to recruit and encourage more members of the public to get involved. There are plans to develop a walking tour of Brattleboro, dubbed a “Fair Trade Tour.”

The group will also be planning some activities for October, which is fair trade month, and has aspirations for developing a Vermont fair trade network.

“This has great potential,” Billings said.

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