Friday, October 28, 2011

San Diego Community College Fair Trade Coffee Campaign

Dear San Diego Community College Community,
We would like to invite you to join us in a campaign to fight for Fair Trade coffee at the San Diego Community College.
Click here to sign the fair trade coffee petition.

Every day, hundreds of us purchase a cup of coffee at City College. This is fine—but we believe that the money we pay for that coffee should go to the hard-working farmers who grow and pick that coffee. We should not be drinking coffee that is polluted with the sweat and blood of exploited laborers in Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia and many other coffee-producing nations. When we buy coffee, our money should go to support worker-owned coops that allow workers and their families to live with dignity and justice. We want to see City College become a campus that only sells coffee with the taste of justice—coffee that is “Fair Trade certified”.
Most of the world’s coffee is controlled by big corporations like Phillip Morris, Nestlé and Sara Lee. These huge companies often pay coffee farmers miserable prices without guaranteeing a stable wage. Farming coffee becomes a gamble: the farmers who invest the most work in our coffee are paid a few pennies, while middlemen and corporate distributers keep the profits for themselves.
Considering all of the violence and injustice involved in the coffee trade, it’s no wonder that many coffee farmers leave their home towns and migrate to the city or to another country. For many, it’s just not possible to survive farming coffee.
But there is another way…
Fair Trade-certified coffee offers a real alternative to the unjust status quo of coffee. Coffee that bears the Fair Trade label was bought from worker-owned co-ops that make decisions democratically and negotiate a fair price for their product.
For two years, the club City College CAFE (Creating Alternatives and Fair Trade) has worked to create awareness about fair trade. We are asking you to support the San Diego Community College Fair Trade Campaign. Our goal is to present a resolution to the District Board of Trustees in favor of fair trade coffee.
We would like to ask you to join us in presenting a resolution to the District Board of Trustees in favor of fair trade coffee.
You can support this campaign in one of these ways:
  • Sign the petition for a resolution. (Paper or online)
  • Online petition click here: fair trade coffee petition
  • Pass out the petition and ask your students, peers, colleagues and friends who are part of the San Diego Community College District to sign the petition.
  • Invite CAFE to come to your class to present the petition.

This campaign for Coffee with Justice will not stop until the day that not a single cup of unfairly traded “exploitation coffee” is served at the San Diego Community College District.
In solidarity,
City College C.A.F.E. (Creating Alternative and Fair Enterprise)
Facebook: CityCAFE

Resolution on Fair Trade-certified coffee for the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees

Whereas, students, faculty, staff, administration and visitors spend thousands of dollars every year buying coffee in the District cafeterias that is produced mostly in exploitative conditions or extreme poverty and therefore is polluted with the sweat and blood of exploited laborers in Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia and many other coffee-producing nations;
Whereas, most of the world’s coffee production is controlled by few companies that often pay coffee farmers extremely low prices without guaranteeing them a stable wage and therefore those farmers who invest the most work in producing coffee are paid a few cents, while middlemen and corporate distributors keep the profits for themselves;
Whereas, because of all the violence and injustice involved in the coffee trade, for many coffee farmers it is just not possible to survive farming coffee, and therefore they are forced to leave their home towns and migrate to the city or to another country, including the US;
Whereas, there is a growing local, national and international awareness for changing our practices and choice of buying coffee that comes from farmers and workers who are justly compensated—and in San Diego, UCSD and USD consume fair-trade certified coffee;
Whereas, Fair Trade-certified coffee offers a real alternative to the unjust status quo of the coffee business and coffee that bears the Fair Trade label guarantees that it was bought from worker-owned co-ops that make decisions democratically and negotiate a fair price for their product;
Whereas, one of the District strategic goals is to “become a sustainability citizen and advocate within the community,” and one of the District practices has been to promote relationships (partnerships) and agreements with local businesses, for example during the construction of new buildings and facilities;
Be it resolved, that only fair trade-certified coffee will be sold in the District cafeterias and facilities and that most of the coffee served in the District will be purchased from local coffee distributors. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reflection on Maneadero Trip

Spacial Configurations in Maneadero
By Elizabeth Chaney

"Space depends crucially on the notion of articulation, in terms of the articulation of social relations which necessarily have a spatial form in their interactions with one another." (Doreen Massey, as quoted by Mary Pat Brady. Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies. 2002. Duke University Press)

A rectangular pond/echoed/in/corrugated tin.
Los niños/están/jugando fútbol/en la calle polvorienta.
The ball flies/over clay levies/into irrigation water.
Hay un polo de PVC/Next to the pond.
They fish the ball out/every time.
Excepto en un ocasión/pero/piedras pueden ayuda mover el balón del centro.
It’s peculiar/how distant/los cuarteles son del campo/from the road.
Un hora en el camion/every morning/every night.

Hills fade into a patchwork of fields. The highway runs straight as a pole south from Ensenada. It later curves to hug the landscape as topography interrupts the patchwork. Si acuerdo correctamente, los cuarteles son oeste de donde los campos son interrumpidos por topografia.

I remember clearly a roll of bolsas de plastico, frijoles secos. Two scoops is about a pound-it becomes easy to visually approximate weight, after about 20 bags. "¿Cuáles son?" I feel very uncomfortable being blessed for the effort. We fill the shopping cart to the brim.

I'm hyper-aware of the make and condition of vehicle we drive over dusty roads. It's pretty fuel efficient, it's not a good use of time to fret over what the car may signify in this context. And I can't help but think in the same terms about the car I drive.

"But, the more its shown that "the sort of thing which happens in that place" is partly an outcome of policies designed in this place, the more responsibility we have to do something about it...There is a need, as Susan Sontag once said, to put privilege and suffering on the same map." (Nally, David. "Architectures of Violence: Famine and Profits." Al Jazeera. 2011.

The notion of privilege, I think, has to be wrestled with to avoid rendering it immobile. Its "inflexibility" can seem implicit in the notion of "charity," which depends on a unquestioned verticality of social relationships that extends moral privilege to the resource-privileged. It is, thus, an interesting predicament, when charity serves as a guise to initiate relationships based en horizontalidad. Shouldn't structural conditions that ensure verticality (i.e. polar conditions of resource access) be challenged (opposed) directly?

This is certainly one approach, which edges on allopathy. The basis of Modern Western medicine (i.e. introduce a factor that counters symptoms to attack the ailment), the allopathic approach is effective in sudden crises, but potentially sustains maladies of a more subtle variety. Might the appropriation-subversion of one mechanism that provides ideological backing for the verticality we aim to challenge provide an entry toward addressing structural violence behind conditions weathered by migrant workers?

Perhaps only when subversion of the mechanism runs its course. That is, when "charity" is twisted to serve simply as a means of initiating equitable relationships that may develop over time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trip to Maneadero

Recently CAFE members took a weekend trip to Maneadero, Baja California where they experienced firsthand the effects of “free trade”, NAFTA and the hidden cost of a cheap tomato. They brought humanitarian donations (food, vitamins, medical supplies) for the migrant laborers who work on the industrial farms, harvesting the vegetables that fill supermarkets in the U.S. Visiting various encampments where the migrant workers live, they saw the poverty that is created and reinforced by lopsided trade agreements and exploitative labor practices. Most of these workers are of the indigenous Mixtec ethnicity—unable to survive in their hometowns of southern Mexico, they face discrimination and marginalization in northern Mexico where they come to work on these “factory farms”. These “agro-maquiladoras” mirror the massive assembly line factories that dot the landscape near the border.

Participants learned about the economic and political forces that have created this situation, pushing Mixtec men, women and children north to labor in brutal conditions. In addition to visiting the encampments on the farms, visited an orphanage in Maneadero that provides care to the children of the farm workers who are born with birth defects. Back in Tijuana, they visited a group of Mixtec women in the Tijuana neighborhood of Valle Verde who have formed their own sewing coop as an alternative source of income.

Show Photos Full Screen

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CAFE On Your TV!

Check out this video from "Progress in San Diego", as David Schmidt, from CAFE discusses fair trade:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Follow-up Strategy Session - Fair Trade in San Diego

We will be having a follow-up strategy session to the Fair Trade Session at the Border Studies Conference to continue to discuss how we can work together, as organizations and individuals, to push for Fair Trade and fight unfair trade at a local and national level. This strategy session will be an open conversation between all of us, to further discuss what we can do together to coordinate with each other and push to expand Fair Trade.

We are planning on holding it at San Diego City College Building A, Room 213 on Saturday March 19, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.

For more information, please email

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Migration and Coffee in Mexico and Central America

To Die a Little


Reyno Bartolo Hernández died of heatstroke in the Arizona desert near Yuma on May 22, 2001. He wasn't the only Mexican farmer who lost his life that day trying to cross the border. Thirteen of his countrymen and -women perished along with him in one more of the migratory tragedies of modern history.

Reyno and his companions were small coffee growers from the township of Atzalan, Veracruz. Atzalan is a formerly rich region but in recent years it has been impoverished by senseless policies. Until just a few years ago, few of its residents migrated to the United States. Then the price of coffee fell, and so did the price of citrus fruits and cattle. To make matters worse, bananas were attacked by fruit flies and the coffee crop was overcome by a devastating plant disease.

So little by little, the inhabitants of Atzalan set out along the route blazoned by small farmers from the states of Michoacan, Zacatecas, and Jalisco decades earlier. The coffee farmers began to look for a way to cross the 3,107-kilometer border that separated them from the United States, hoping to get to "the other side." In desperation, they hooked up with the infamous polleros, the smugglers who led them to their deaths.

Thomas Navarrete, long-time adviser to the cooperative that many Atzalan growers belong to, notes that the crisis in the region is dramatic and tragic. In many communities, around 70% of the residents have left, most to the United States. Navarrete points out that before people didn't need to leave their communities, at least not like now. "Even Celso Rodríguez, the president of the cooperative, left to work in Arizona," he says.

The border has become a magnet for these coffee growers. If they get over--and many do--they earn $4-5 an hour, compared to the less than $4 a day they earn at home, if they're lucky. In the coffee communities, the success stories from the other side are impressive. Migrants come back and remodel their houses; they pour a new roof, replace wooden planks with concrete blocks. Everyone can see and envy the changes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Apple's 2011 Supplier Report Reveals Child Workers, Bribes, Unsafe Conditions

After ten suicides at Chinese manufacturer Foxconn last year, Apple has published a review of supplier responsibility practices, which reported child labor violations, toxic conditions, and other violations of their code of conduct.

Apple sent COO Tim Cook to Foxconn, where a team of suicide prevention specialists had been dispatched to deal with the issues there. "The team commended Foxconn for taking quick action on several fronts simultaneously, including hiring a large number of psychological counselors, establishing a 24-hour care center, and even attaching large nets to the factory buildings to prevent impulsive suicides," the report said, going on to conclude that "Foxconn's response had definitely saved lives."

Apple's response to the suicides at Foxconn has garnered significant media attention over the past year, but Apple did not cut ties with the factory. According to their recent report, they did cut ties with a number of other factories violating their code, including one company that tried to bribe Apple officials to overlook violations, another that falsified payroll records, and one with over 90 underage workers.

Apple continues to work with several other facilities employing child labor, who have promised to work with Apple to prevent future underage workers. For those facilities found to be employing workers under 16, China's legal labor age, Apple is forcing the supplier to pay for educational expenses and lost wages for 6 months or until the worker turns 16, whichever is longer.

"During our investigation, we also discovered that the vocational school involved in hiring the
underage workers had falsified student IDs and threatened retaliation against students who revealed their ages during our audits," the report went on to say. "We reported the school to appropriate authorities in the Chinese government."

Apple also discovered a facility that endangered their workers by exposing them to n-hexane, a chemical that reportedly left some workers unable to walk. "We required the facility to discontinue use of n-hexane, to fix the factory's ventilation systems," Apple said of the discovery.

Additionally, Apple found that less than a third of reviewed factories complied with the company's standards for working hours, which are a maximum of 60 hours a week. The company is working to improve management and oversight over these issues. Read the full report here.

The Huffington Post  Amy Lee  First Posted: 02/15/11 12:52 PM Updated: 02/15/11 04:03 PM

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

20,000 Sacrificed In Annual Blood Offering To Corporate America

WILMINGTON, DE, The Onion—The nation looked on in reverence Friday as 20,000 citizens were decapitated, dismembered, and burned alive in the name of Corporate America, continuing the age-old annual rite to ensure bounteous profits in the coming fiscal year.

"Corporate America has always provided us with plenty," said High Priest James N. Cahill, who opened the ceremony by plunging the horn of a bull into a fair-haired child's abdomen and using the freshly spilled blood to write the current value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average upon sacred parchment. "JPMorgan Chase, General Electric, and all in the great pantheon of publicly traded entities will continue to watch over us so long as we appease them each year with human lives."

"The prophecies are clear," Cahill continued. "As we utter the hallowed incantations and make our humble sacrifices of flesh, so shall the shelves of retailers overflow with the most desirable consumer products."

The blood offering follows last week's Feast of Increasing Market Values, a yearly celebration during which Americans gather with their families under the second Q4 full moon to give thanks to corporations and to pray for cash dividends during the holiday shopping season...

Harry Potter and Social Justice

by Julie Clawson 11-17-2010

Seeking justice for the oppressed. Working to end the connection of child slavery to chocolate. Helping heal a devastated Haiti. Mobilizing young people to respond to a story of redemption by imaginatively working to build a better world. I think many of us Christians would hope that those words were describing the work of the body of Christ, intent on following the path of Jesus Christ in this world. In this case, they are actually descriptions of the Harry Potter Alliance. That’s right — the Harry Potter Alliance.|

Since 2005, the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) has existed as a nonprofit organization intent on using the weapon of love (and a common affinity for Harry Potter) to combat the dark arts of our world. As their mission statement states, they use “parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize young people across the world toward issues of literacy, equality, and human rights. Our mission is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world.” And it’s working. With more than 100,000 members and nearly 60 chapters worldwide, this real world gathering of Dumbledore’s Army is making a difference.

For example, let’s examine the case of the chocolate industry, and its connections to child slavery and unfair wages. In the Harry Potter books, Hermione Granger discovers that the food served at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is made by house elves (unpaid servants), and so she organizes a campaign for their fair treatment. The HPA responded similarly by asking Time Warner, the parent company that markets all Harry Potter merchandise, to switch the chocolate used in their merchandise to fair trade chocolate. They do not want chocolate made in the name of the boy who used love to save the world to support systems of injustice like child slavery.