Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unsolicited Plug 4: One Fair World -- unique local store creates positive global change

LOVESalem likes great local things. The more so the better. But we have a very big (and growing) soft spot for a particular import store, "One Fair World," the reborn and newly relocalized fair-trade store that brings goods from far, far away to us here in Salem, on Court St. downtown, just west of Grand Vines and just east of The Book Bin.

Calling them "import goods" doesn't really convey the right meaning. These aren't just any goods. Not only does One Fair World offer things that are always beautiful and often quite practical, everything in the shop is from certified fair-trade suppliers. This means that the gorgeous things -- carvings, instruments, kitchen and serving furnishings, jewelry, art work, fabrics, you name it -- that you buy at One Fair World don't come with the hidden price tag of exploitation and suffering that dangle from so many other imported goods.

Instead, things you buy at One Fair World help better the lives of people all along the supply chain, because that entire chain is formed to establish a just relationship between the artisans who create the goods (often by recycling and cleverly reusing "waste" material generated in industrialized countries) and the eventual buyers.

Formerly affiliated with the chain of fair-trade shops known as "Ten Thousand Villages," the directors of the Salem store found that the TTV mandatory-purchase component (the percentage of goods that had to be sourced from TTV) were too confining, so they bravely decided to strike out on their own as One Fair World on April 1, 2009 (no fooling though!).

To lure you to visit their shop, they're bringing a talented musical duo, the Severin Sisters, to perform outside the store on June 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. (part of the June "First Wednesday" events in Downtown Salem) and then a Grand Opening as One Fair World on July 1 (also in conjunction with Downtown's "First Wednesday" evening events). Both of these are great excuses to visit them again, or for the first time if you never have.

LOVESalem HQ is equipped with several radiantly lovely things from One Fair World and they never fail to provide a feeling of satisfaction and well-being that the cheap stuff from China can never offer. One Fair World is also the local source for some of our favorite music discoveries, the Putamayo world music CDs. These form a great soundtrack for life here in Salem.
May 10, 2009

Shop balances business and global mission
Creating a welcoming experience helps artisan store keep customers

Ellen Chambers

One Fair World (formerly known as Ten Thousand Villages) began eight years ago as a dream by a group of resourceful people who had no retail experience but were excited by the idea of bringing a fair-trade store to Salem.

The richness and beauty of international, handcrafted items drew us to the project, but mostly the idea that a business could be operated to help others brought this group of people together.

When we learned that Self Help Crafts, a small store that had operated in Dallas for 15 years, was closing, the idea began germinating that opening a similar fair-trade store in Salem might be possible. After many fundraising efforts, we were ready to open a Ten Thousand Villages seasonal store in the Reed Opera House, which would test the waters about how Salem would receive such a venture.

We were set to open in mid-September 2001. Then the 9/11 tragedy occurred. We wondered whether there would be a backlash of anti-foreign feeling that would sink our store before it even got started. To our gratification, we experienced a wonderfully warm reception from the Salem community.

Many times we heard from customers the belief that people in developing, disadvantaged countries needed opportunities to have employment, fair income and hope as a balance to the anger and despair that seemed to be reflected in the attack made on the United States.

In June 2002, we moved to our permanent and current location at 474 Court St. NE. Being in a historic building in a constantly revitalizing downtown Salem has been a big asset for us. Actively participating in the downtown business community and in the broader Salem-area community has been key to our success.

Although our store is committed to the mission of alleviating poverty in developing countries, the way we accomplish that is by being a viable business.

The balance between business objectives and mission goals is a stimulating and challenging one. We are not profit-driven (we are a nonprofit), but we still have to pay our bills in order to be a marketplace for the artisans who need to sell their products so they can feed, clothe and educate their families. We are guided by ethical business practices as well as using best sales practices to survive in the competitive retail environment.

Creating a welcoming experience is key to retaining customers. In a recent customer survey, Melissa described her store experience: "Peaceful, enlightened and motivated by the artists around the world. I am reminded of the poverty but moved by their perseverance."

Pat said: "I love this store and I've bought myself and others many unique gifts here. I feel so great buying from other countries in need."

And customer Karen said: "In a few short minutes I can shop my way through three continents! Exhilarating! Enjoyable!"

Our volunteers, who are essential to our success, bring dedication, creativity and skill to a variety of tasks. Volunteer Allison O'Grady said, "I enjoy the opportunity to learn about artisans and see their amazing work; I feel like I am making a difference."

In Salem, there are people with many stories who have lived, worked and traveled throughout the world. We are not a provincial backwater but a lively meeting place of people with intriguing tales and broad interests — we meet them every day coming through the doors of our store. Further, we are a community of people who care about those in need throughout the world.

"Many little people in many small places undertaking modest actions can transform the world" — African proverb.

Ellen Chambers is a founding mother of One Fair World, formerly known as Ten Thousand Villages. She can be reached at

Upcoming Events at One Fair World
June 3 (Part of the 1st Wednesday Festivities)
Come hear The Severin Sisters outside our store! 5-8pm
(Also enter our drawing for $20 Gift Certificates.)

July 1 -- Grand opening with our new name: One Fair World
(Another 1st Wednesday event. Prize Drawings, Live Music, Cake, Coffee & More!)

Time to get busy to bring community radio to Salem!

Help jump-start a community radio station in Salem!
KMUZ 88.5 FM (“Radio Free Salem”)
needs volunteers to help organize and build a new noncommercial grassroots FM radio station in the Mid-Willamette Valley.
You are invited to attend...
June 9, 2009 • 7-8pm
Grand Theater, 187 High St. NE, Salem

for more info about KMUZ 88.5 FM: <====>

unconventional • cultural • diverse • educational
music • ideas • local news • artistic expression • community events

Steve Solomon's Soil & Health Library

Interesting -- Steve Solomon, author of "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" and the new "Growing Food When it Counts" has a little project going to make free e-books about soil and health available. An amazing list of titles are available in the Ag section alone!

Get active

As evident from the "Party like it's 1959" transportation bill (if by transportation you mean "highway pork") that seems to have greased enough palms to pass through the Legislature, Oregon is in dire shape when it comes to thinking clearly about the future and sustainability. If you live in Marion County, there's an opportunity to do something about that by getting involved with the Marion County chapter of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.
Marion County wants you!

OLCV’s Marion County Chapter is rebuilding. Our steering committee is looking for dynamic new members. We have big plans for the 2010 Election and we want you to be a part of it. We need folks on the front lines of our work: electing pro-environment leaders to office and holding them accountable once they’re elected – making sure they are doing what is right to protect Oregon’s environmental legacy.

If you’re interested in campaigning for local candidates who share your values, talking to your local leaders about environmental priorities and helping generate the resources needed to bring about clean air and water victories, email

A model for Salem: Responding to Hunger with More than Words

Kudos to Multnomah County Commissioner Cogen and all the others involved!

Wonder if there's any fertile city-, county-, and state-owned land that could be similarly turned into food for Salem? Why, yes, yes there is --- acres and acres of it! All that is needed is leadership.

Volunteers to grow organic produce on surplus county land

(news photo)

. . . A blackberry-infested plot of land once farmed by indigent people at the former Multnomah County Poor Farm is being reclaimed to feed the poor again.

Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen is spearheading a campaign to convert one to two acres of county surplus land north of McMenamins Edgefield Manor in Troutdale into a temporary organic farm to combat hunger. Volunteers will harvest enough fresh produce this growing season to feed 240 people for 24 weeks, Cogen estimated.

Cogen will ask fellow members of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on May 28 to approve $22,000 in county funds to buy materials. But he’s already secured commitments for private donors to repay $15,000 of that, and expects the rest of that sum will be raised privately.

“We all know Multnomah County is broke,” Cogen said. “I’m committed to not saying: ‘We can’t handle the problems because we’re broke.’ ” . . .

Cogen’s chief of staff, Marissa Madrigal, came up with the idea for the garden three months ago. The notion came from Victory Gardens that sprouted during World Wars I and II.

Much has happened quickly since then. The county’s alternative community service program provided workers to remove blackberries and perform other manual labor. That program organizes volunteers who agree to do service work after convictions for nonviolent crimes and other low-level offenses.

AmeriCorps has hired someone to coordinate the farm project and earn a stipend from the federal service program. Other community volunteers will be recruited to plant and harvest the produce. Organic mulch and fertilizer were donated by private companies. . . .

Why keeping hens and growing food is becoming even more essential

Deadly Salmonella: Frozen Food's Newest Ingredient

By Jim Hightower

Contamination has become so widespread that major frozen food purveyors admit they can no longer ensure the safety of their products. . . .
The true culprit in such poisonings, however, is not the little deadly bug, but the twin killers of corporate globalization and greed. Giant food corporations, scavenging the globe in a constant search for ever-cheaper ingredients to put in their processed edibles, are resorting to low-wage, high-pollution nations that have practically no food-safety laws, much less any safety enforcement.

Consider the case of ConAgra Foods, a massive conglomerate that sells 100 million pot pies a year under its Banquet label. Each pie contains 25 ingredients sourced from all over the world -- often from subcontractors who don't report their sources. Until the 2007 salmonella contamination of its pies, ConAgra did not even require suppliers to test for pathogens, nor did it do its own tests. Since poisoning one's customers turned out to be a bad strategy for earning repeat business, the conglomerate now runs spot checks -- but even when it detects contamination in a pie, it has not been able to determine which ingredient is the bad one.

In fact, as The New York Times recently reported in an extensive expose, food giants concede that their supply chains are so far-flung that they "do not even know who is supplying their ingredients, let alone if those suppliers are screening items for microbes." Meanwhile, the industry's lobbying front, the Grocery Manufacturers of America, has aggressively fought federal efforts to require a tracking system. "This information is not reasonably needed," the GMA curtly responded when such a rule was proposed. . . .