WELCOME to Mankato - the first Fair Trade Town in Minnesota (declared October 24, 2011)! - and to the work of the Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative.
MAFTTI has, since June 2009, promoted Fair Trade in our part of the Minnesota River Valley, about 83 miles south-west of the Twin Cities. Our main focus has been on the major retail center of Mankato (40,000). MAFTTI also tries to engage those interested in Fair Trade in North Mankato (13,000) and St.Peter (11,000).
As we celebrate the 10th year of our Fair Trade journey, you'll notice that our header has changed from Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative to Mankato Fair Trade. Everything evolves in time, and while the Fair Trade initiative continues, we are an established Fair Trade Town and proud of it.
Friends of Fair Trade gathered in Mankato to celebrate 10 Years in Mankato! Our theme was Ten Years on....Reimagining the Vision, Cultivating the Future Partners for Just Trade had recently visited in Peru with Ayde Riveros and Eva Pizarro, Peruvian artisans who visited 10 years ago in Mankato to share the story of their work and communities. In videos filmed just a few weeks ago, Eva and Ayde each shared about the perseverance of their artisan co-operatives. Ayde's co-op has purchased a workshop, where they gather to design, weave and knit together. Both Eva and Ayde spoke of being shy and timid 10 years ago and growing into confidence as they have learned to advocate for their work, their communities and their families!
Our featured speaker, Olivea Boyer, a Junior at UW Eau Claire, traveled with a class to Guatemala for two weeks in January. They visited coffee farmers at the De La Gente co-operative and stayed with farmer families to learn about coffee farming and family-life. The women of the Lema Weaving Cooperative create gorgeous traditional clothing; Olivea shared their story and brought along a beautiful sample of their work. Her story of Creamos, a non-profit collaboration that provides education for children who live in the Guatemala City Dump, was inspiring. The children also make jewelry from the items they salvage, providing resources for the kids and their families as well as the school.
Like our friends in Peru, Mankato Fair Trade has persevered, grown and changed in 10 years. We look forward to the next 10 and invite others to join us for the journey!