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November 19, 2013

Area event fixes focus on fair trade

Two Oneonta women who share an interest in fairness for workers in developing countries are teaming up this week in preparing for the Fair Trade Fiesta Sales Event.

Katherine O’Donnell, a Hartwick College sociology professor, and Maryann Stow, an artist, are the prime organizers behind the event, which will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Green Earth Community Room in Oneonta.

“The primary goal is to raise funds for our non-profit foundations and our non-profit artisans” involved in the fair trade movement, O’Donnell said Monday.

They are hoping the event will attract legions of shoppers searching for unique holiday gifts — and will go home with a sense of satisfaction from helping artisans who have taken the first step away from being exploited at the workplace.

The movement has been gaining tremendous traction, though the United States market lags Europe, where people tend to be better informed about issues related to economic justice and the need for fair labor practices, O’Donnell said.

On sale at the Green Earth will be items from India, Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala and Tibet. The offerings will include woven textiles, batiked and dyed silk scarves, clothing for 18-inch dolls, purses, home goods, embroidery art, wall hangings, jewelry, ornaments and baskets.

Also featured will be food products already stocked by the Green Earth: fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate. The store is donating the space for the event.

O’Donnell’s connection to the fair trade movement dates back 15 years. She has been a strong promoter of the Mayan women’s weaving cooperative, Jolom Mayaetik, based in Chiapas, Mexico.

Stow, a student of anthropology, has developed strong ties to the people of Guatemala. Many of her paintings, collages and drawings depict the fragile social fabric in that impoverished nation.

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