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About Paul

Paul is the Fair Trade specialist and merchandise manager at New Internationalist Australia. For decades he has been one of Australia's leading advocates for the practical advancement of Fair Trade, having worked previously in Oxfam's Mail Order divisions, both in Australia and New Zealand. He has also played a key role in the development of wfto.com - the World Fair Trade Organization.

Website: http://www.newint.com.au/shop

World Fair Trade Organization – CAJUNz co-operation

A few years ago at a World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) conference my good mate Geoff White from Trade Aid in New Zealand was giving an update on happenings in what had historically been called the “Pacific Rim” regional grouping of WFTO.

Basically the Pacific Rim included the few countries, spread around the Pacific and over half the globe, that didn’t fit either geographically or thematically into the other formalised WFTO regions – which had adopted the names WFTO Europe, WFTO Asia, WFTO Africa and WFTO Latin America. We were the rump, without the formal structure and meaningful names the other regions had taken up.  They, and the global secretariat, had been pushing for us to name ourselves formally – and get organized…

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Pucket Table Game

Pucket! I lost…

I had a weekend away at the beach with fourteen friends who meet every three months or so for shared, home-made curry banquets.

The weather looked like rain so my partner and I took along a few games, including New Internationalist’s new Pucket game, for potential indoor entertainment. Though I’d toyed with the Pucket game a bit, and watched a YouTube video or two of it being played, I’d never actually played it myself, so I wasn’t sure if there’d be much interest. Especially since many of the curry clubbers were variously into either more cerebral or more relaxing pastimes… and Pucket is definitely neither.

What it is is an updated version of an old French table game called ‘Table à l’élastique’ or ‘Passe Trappe’, and it has been variously described as “backgammon on steroids”, “wooden, noisy and you get to ping things”, and “the most addictive game to hit the market in years”.

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A funny thing happened on the way to the (Fairtrade) market…

A few years ago I was in a meeting which had a pre-release view of the now ubiquitous fairtrade label seen on coffee and tea around the developed world. When it flashed up on the screen I actually burst out laughing and blurted ‘looks like a dead fish!’. It also on quick reflection looked like an animated little enzyme that regularly ran across our black-and-white TV screens in Australia in the 60’s (yes I’m that old) gobbling up germs to advertise some cleaning product or other. Continue reading

A tale of two producers

Two of our producer partners put Australian politics to shame.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship recently announced that Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder and CEO of soleRebels, has received the Foundations Social Entrepreneur of The Year Award for 2012. In announcing the award Schwab Foundation Chairman and co-founder Klaus Schwab said “Bethlehem embodies the vision and values of the global social entrepreneur community, and we are proud to honor her exemplary work in creating a highly innovative, ethical and sustainable business that continues to make a strong social impact.”

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Supping with the devil

Chanchal was joking about supping with the devil for lunch…

He manages the handcraft production unit at Silence, a training and employment centre for physically challenged people in Kolkata, and I was visiting to see if they had products that we could sell through our online shop at home. He tells me if we go to KFC we’re likely to be served by a deaf mute person. In India such physically challenged people are still very much discriminated against in employment and get no government assistance, which means those who can’t get support from family frequently resort to begging to survive. So a job at KFC is a big thing and we should support them. It’s not often you hear positive sentiments from a Fair Trader about multinational fast food chains, and given their sometimes dubious international reputations and tendency to displace small-scale cafes and food vendors Chanchal admits to a high degree of ambivalence about them. But he has to admit their relatively recent expansion in Kolkata has on balance been good for the disabled of the city. Continue reading