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What Faithful Fair Trader Do You Admire?

by Jackie DeCarlo

In a few days I will be at a Washington, DC institution: Busboys and Poets in the historic U Street neighborhood.  I will be representing the Fair Trade White House campaign (http://fairtradewhitehouse.com) at an evening hosted by Global Exchange to celebrate Fair Trade month.  It is no surprise the event will be at Busboys.   In just a few years the combination bookstore, restaurant, and meeting space has come to be a center of DC peace and justice activism.  It is also no coincidence to me that its owner, Andy Shallal, is a man of faith who through his business, art, and volunteer service works to promote interfaith understanding. (http://www.svn.org/index.cfm?pageId=1036)

But in some ways Mr. Shallal is not unique.  Throughout the Fair Trade and other justice movements, people of faith make lasting and sometimes unrecognized contributions.  I know that in my own faith community, Friends (Quaker) Meeting of Washington, one behind-the-scenes volunteer has, for at least 8 years, made sure that Fair Trade coffee is available for sale and refreshment after weekly worship services.  I recently learned of a Catholic woman who makes sure that homemade and fresh snacks are always available to the volunteers of a local Fair Trade coalition that meets at regularly.  Her hatchback is never lacking a cooler filled with beverages and munchies. Of course, there is no forgetting Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite missionary who, I contend in my book, started the Fair Trade movement out of the trunk of her car.

In honor of Fair Trade month, I wonder readers know of faithful Fair Traders that need a little spotlight.  A boost of recognition or a pat on the back.  Please use this space to name some names, and let the Fair Trade world know how that person infuses spirit into the Fair Trade movement.


  1. Joanne kratz

    Faith & Fair trade… I think of all of the volunteers at the Souderton, Pa Ten Thousand Villages. In particular is Bonnie Moyer, the manager of the store. Bonnie trains all of us “part time” volunteers and educates us about not just the products, but the artisans and stories behind them. She is a woman of faith and ties that faith into the work she does, the store she manages and the lives she enriches.

  2. Jeff Goldman

    I really admire Stephanie Sheerin, who works passionately with faith groups in New Jersey, leads the Montclair, NJ Fair Trade Town effort, and just made her wedding Fair Trade with chocolate, flowers, donations to FT organizations, and more! Also, she has been a dedicated Board member for FTRN. Would be interesting to hear how faith has influenced her interest in FT…

  3. Stephanie Bosse

    In 2006 I started a new job, wherein I promptly emailed every DRE, religious, staff person, youth minister, teacher etc in the Diocese of Orlando. I told them about the varied and wonderful programs of CRS – and one most especially that could work in their parishes, fair trade. From that massive email distribution, I received ONE reply. A youth and young adult minister, Mike Buckler, wrote to me and said that he would really like to do more with fair trade. Out of his hardwork a “Fair Trade Cafe” was born – which turned into a Fair Trade retreat, which turned into a CRS Fair Trade funded leadership retreat – which has meant that after 3 short years, people are calling me and emailing me and saying, I want fair trade! It is absolutely because of the hardwork, dedication and understanding Mike had that the Diocese of Orlando as a whole is knowing fair trade. Through Mike I have learned so much – I like to say, the two of us have made this journey together – I put out the call and he answered. I am inspired daily by the work that Mike does and by the many people his works have drawn into fair trade. Which leads me to shout out to the parish of Ascension in Melbourne, who’s work for social justice is quiet and unparalled and the new amazing projects being taken on by Julia Vorster and our first group of Fair Traders at St. Maximillian Kolbe. (of which the Roach Family is now going to open up a CRS supporting Fair Trade coffee house in Orlando!!!!!!) I am awed by these people, their passionate spirits and what I learn from them every single day!
    AND, then I must of course mention, our Coffee Partner, Cafe Campesino. When Tripp Pomeroy talks fair trade, he changes people. It’s just that simple…

  4. Wonderful! We gain so much through all our enxeriepces and though they may be hard at times, they make us who we are, and who we will become. Allow God to use them! You are honoring Layla through your life!!!!

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