Being me, I promptly forgot all about it. Then on Friday 13th someone phoned on my mobile (never usually a good sign) and told me they wanted to send me a certificate but didn’t have my address. It was the Scottish Fair Trade Forum. So I went and had a look at their site and lo and behold discovered this: I (and Guerrilla Midgie Press) had won a Special Recognition Innovation Award at the recently held Fair Trade Festival. Makes me wish I’d gone to Perth that day. But I was having a fairtrade coffee with McVoice Bill Kirton in Inverurie at the time! (To be strictly accurate he was having FT coffee and I was having herbal tea – I’d had my quota of coffee for the day!)
But this is what I missed:
Innovation Award (Special Recognition) – Cally Phillips
A special recognition in the Innovation Award category went to Cally Phillips whose advocacy in Fair Trade has taken on a different format. Through the medium of drama, writing and publishing, Cally has been spreading the word about Fair Trade and converting people to it into the bargain.
Cally has established an advocacy publishing company Guerrilla Midgie, which published ‘Fair Trade Fiction Volume 1’ during Fairtrade Fortnight and an e-book ‘Five Fair Play Dramas’, a collection of ‘flexible’ plays that have been used by Fair Trade groups at events all over the country since 2007. She also recently ran an online Flash Fiction Festival to encourage people to ‘get creative’ in writing about Fair Trade.
The thing I find most amusing about this whole innovation award is that I started this particular ‘innovation’ in 2006! As part of a Lottery Funded Project we ran a drama project for a group of adults labelled with Learning Disabilities who put on two plays 'Go Bananas' and 'Wake up and Smell the Coffee.' How long it takes the world to catch up eh?
But it’s nice to be recognised and I hope that this may encourage more people to read the book, perform the plays and buy FairTrade products.
It was chocolate that first got me ‘into’ FairTrade. I watched this programme and felt sick at the idea of eating chocolate that had been grown using child slave labour. This was a good 10 years ago and I determined only to eat FairTrade Chocolate from then on. It wasn’t easy in the early days. You were pretty much restricted to Green and Black and/or Divine. That was hard. I was a hard liner. No chocolate biscuits made with non fairtrade, no hot chocolate… I’m not suggesting my personal protest did much to change things BUT nowadays it’s a lot easier. From Dubble to Kitkat and Dairy Milk to Maltesers, you can eat Fairtrade ‘mainstream’ chocolate. You can drink Fairtrade hot chocolate and cocoa as well. There’s really no excuse. It’s the only way you can still guarantee that the chocolate you put in your mouth isn’t the result of child slave labour! Isn’t that enough of a reason to change your buying habits? Careful though – once you start looking into fairtrade you may find you want to change your purchasing habits of bananas, sugar, coffee, tea and a whole host of other products.
As writers (especially non mainstream published writers) we moan a lot about how unfair life is for us given the power of the big boys in publishing and distribution. But really, it’s a luxury to moan this way. Our lives don't fully depend on this. By contrast for banana growers, coffee growers, and those on the cocoa, tea and sugar plantations it’s not just about a ‘lifestyle choice’ it’s the difference between being able to afford to buy the products they farm, feed, clothe and send their children to school. If you want these people ever to be able to afford to buy an ebook you’ve written, you need to start trading fairly with them! Message over.
Perhaps McVoices would like to partner/support Scottish Fair Trade Forum in some way. Find out more about them HERE