Ballston Spa embraces global movement

The Village of Ballston Spa achieved a first in New York when the village board approved a resolution supporting efforts to make the community a Fair Trade Town at their meeting on Monday, Dec. 8.

Organizers in the village hope to officially become the ninth community in the nation to be designated a fair trade town in the coming days. There are ongoing efforts in a number of other places, however, in a burgeoning campaign that has already seen wide success in Britain.

To be a fair trade town, municipalities must adhere to a short list of criteria. A steering committee must lead the efforts, fair trade items must be available in proportion to the citizenry, fair trade items must be used by a number of local organizations, the media must take notice and the town's governing body must pass a resolution supporting fair trade and the local campaign, a hurdle that was cleared Monday.

"It's our way of showing support for the fair trade movement and the fair trade concept," said Mayor John Romano. "We're part of the global community, and those concepts should be embraced by everybody."

With a population of 5,500, Ballston Spa already has the criteria covered with five businesses offering fair trade products and two community organizations (like churches) serving or selling them.

"I know that number will grow," said Kim Andersen, owner and operator of Mango Tree Imports, who played an instrumental role in moving the effort forward. "I believe that by early 2009, there will be even more businesses on board."

The fair trade designation on a product means that the buyer can be confident that the producer was paid a fair wage for his or her work. Fair trade providers cut out middlemen to offer better benefits to workers in developing countries, who all too often work in poor conditions and are paid a fraction of the price their items ultimately fetch.

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