Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saving Peacecraft Through the Downward Dog

Are you in need of a good Triangle or a Spinal Twist or a Warrior I and Warrior II?  Or perhaps your back could use a good Threading the Needle. Or your whole body needs to be invigorated with the Downward Dog.

And what if you could combine those poses and support fair trade in Albuquerque?

Then Grass Roots Yoga and The Maple Street Dance Space have just the solution for you: Yoga To Save Peacecraft!

Find your bliss - support Peacecraft's work to support fair trade, a solution to poverty in disadvantaged and developing countries.

Come join Chris Courtney of Grass Roots Yoga for a noon time slow flow while helping to save Albuquerque's original free trade non-profit organization. 

Every Thursday in November (minus Thanksgiving day)
12:00pm - 3:30pm
The Maple Street Dance Space (behind Peacecraft)
3215 Central NE
Albuquerque, NM
Suggested donation $8-15
100% of proceeds go to benefit Peacecraft

The first 10 people to attend on Thursday, Nov. 4, and donate at least $10 to Yoga To Save Peacecraft this Thursday (Nov 4th) will receive a free copy of Holly Troy's fantastic CD, Journey Through The Chakras.

If you can't make it to yoga on Thursdays at noon, please consider making an online donation or buying a holiday gift certificate.  Click here to enter the Peacecraft site to make a donation.

Chiapas Governor Recognized for Work on MDGs

Chiapas is one of the poorest states in Mexico, with more than 14% of its population living in extreme poverty. If you recall, this was also the site of an uprising by a mostly indigenous group,  the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), in the 1990s. The  EZLN, commonly known as the Zapatistas, were protesting massive inequality and poverty and the government's refusal to fully recognize indigenous rights in Mexico.  While the Zapatistas did not force immediate change, they succeeded in bringing attention to the extreme problems of poverty in southern Mexico.

The message was not lost on Juán Sabines Guerrero, who was elected governor of Chiapas in 2006, representing a coalition of three center-left parties. Sabines recognized that one way to even begin to bring Chiapas out of poverty was to implement the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Before he assumed his post in December 2006, the governor said he read a report from UN Development Programme (UNDP) suggesting that most of Mexico had the resources to meet the MDGs.  There were three states where this was not the case, including Chiapas. "It always seemed  a given that our state was at the bottom of the list in terms of human development," said Sabines.  "But it did not have to be this way."

With the assistance of Magdy Martínez Solimán, the UNDP's resident coordinator in Mexico, and the federal government, Sabines implemented a program that would place a high priority on addressing poverty and all its causes. There was strong emphasis on initiatives to improve maternal health, primary education, child mortality, environmental sustainabilty and extreme hunger.

But the effort required more than words.  To put the plan into action, Sabines needed money.  So what did he do?  He made sure that the state budget placed a high priority on programs related to human development.  As a result, the equivalent of US$600 million will be dedicated to a range of social and anti-poverty programs during the coming year.  Read More

UN Confers Special Award to Sabines 
So after four years in office, has the effort worked?

The UN answers that question with  a resounding YES!  On October 27, 2010, the UN conferred the “Más Naciones Unidas en México” (More United Nations in Mexico) award to Sabines, recognizing the breakthroughs his administration has fostered and the actions accomplished in meeting the MDGs.  Read media accounts in English  and in Spanish

Sabines follows in the steps of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who also placed a high priority on the MDGs in an effort to combat poverty in his country.

Here's a quote from Martínez Solimán
Chiapas is now a better place to live in, and the governor’s administration is responsible for this. This is proof...that things can change if we are willing 
The life expectancy of mothers in Chiapas is now longer because we’ve worked to improve human development. Furthermore, the mortality rate of children in the state is now the lowest in the country. Governor Guerrero, Chiapas’ children are now safe, and it’s all thanks to you and your hard work.
But Sabines realized that Chiapas is still a long way from fully eradicating poverty, and he wanted the commitment to continue beyond his administration.  Working with the state legislature in 2010, he ensured that meeting the MDGs became part of the Chiapas State Constitution.  Said Martínez Solimán:
There are many constitutions that support the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, but none has made it a point to incorporate the Millennium Development Goals  
 Read full account

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Play beautifully and joyfully

Sing a new song to him. Play beautifully and joyfully on stringed instruments. Psalm 33:3 (God's Word Translation)

The closest thing to a piano in Biblical times was a lyre and harp, and that's really, really stretching it.  But  in the spirit of that verse in Psalm 33, I would like to share this video post from about a public art program called Play Me, I'm Yours.  This summer, 60 pianos were placed throughout New York City as part of an effort to encourage people to play music. (Sorry for the brief opening commercial.  It comes with the video).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Moringa Tree: One Answer to Malnutrition

By Hank Bruce and Tomi Jill Folk

According to Bread for the World 1.2 billion people on this planet are malnourished, and this number has increased in the past 5 years. That’s 15% of the world’s population, and many of these are children. In fact, every day 16,000 children die from hunger related causes. But this doesn’t have to be.

What if there was a way to grow our way out of malnutrition and hunger in many parts of the world including much of Africa and Latin America? There is. It’s called the moringa tree and it will grow in the same parts of the world where malnutrition is the worst.

 Tree of Life International has put together presentations about the benefits of the moringa tree.  Click on this page and scroll down on the right-hand side to access a Powerpoint presentation and a .PDF download.

You may not think of tree leaves as a part of your everyday diet, but take a look at the nutritional value of these moringa leaves. And they taste good, too. These nutritious leaves can be dried and powdered for family use.

Moringa leaf powder, ounce for ounce, has:

7 times the vitamin C as in oranges,
4 times the calcium, 2 times the protein as in milk,
4 times the vitamin A as in carrots,
3 times the potassium as in bananas, and
3 times the iron as in spinach.

What if moringa trees were a part of the family or dooryard gardens in some of the poorest parts of the world. It’s happening in Kenya through the efforts of some great organizations like Judy Phillip’s African United States Partnership Fund where thousands of women are planting one or two moringa trees along with the other vegetables.

Joshua Machinga is working with Common Ground to establish moringa for household use and income in areas where the over 70% of the population is malnourished. Paul Kilelu is working with a fantastic organization, the Maasai Emayian Women’s Group  is providing schooling for girls, encouraging family gardening, school gardening and moringa cultivation. These are dynamic grassroots projects started by the people themselves. In a short period of time moringa can have a powerful impact on malnutrition, hunger and the diseases caused by poverty and malnutrition.

Safe Drinking Water 
A billion people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America are estimated to rely on untreated surface water for their daily needs. Of these, two million are thought to die from diseases contracted from contaminated water every year, with the majority of these deaths occurring among children under five years of age. But, this doesn’t have to be.

What if there was an environmentally friendly way to provide safe drinking water in some of the most difficult regions of the world?
There is. It’s the same tree, Moringa oleifera. It can be used on a small scale, with a few crushed seeds able to purify a bucket of water. Impurities are absorbed in a colloidal flocculent effect, making the water safe to drink and use for cooking. This could be a micro-enterprise project with local production of packets of the moringa seed powder (in biodegradable packets made from paper made from moringa branches). Moringa seed powder for water purification is low-tech, very inexpensive and environmentally friendly.

Micro-enterprise and Fair Trade
What if there was a sustainable resource that could provide both food for the growers and marketable fair trade commodities for export in some of the poorest regions of the world?
There is. And again it is the moringa tree. It is fast growing under even very harsh conditions.

The range of potential moringa products includes: Life saving food sources from leaves, nutritional juices and drinks, seed powder for safe drinking water, both at the family level and larger scale, vegetable oils, renewable fuel oils, artist oils, paper products, plant growth enhancers, soaps, cleaning compounds, cosmetics.

Moringa tea has the potential to be as successful a fair trade item as coffee and chocolate.  This is a flavorful, healthy, environmentally friendly drink. This tea has a natural, spicy flavor, either hot or iced. It can be made in a variety of specialty flavors including; ginger, cinnamon, licorice, apple, orange, strawberry, basil, rosemary, lavender and many more flavors. This it the kind of tea party we can all support.

Hank Bruce
Our hope is that we can create an awareness and cultivation in family and dooryard gardens for use by the families, then help to develop a market for moringa products including teas, leaf powder capsules, bulk leaf powder, oil and some of the cosmetics that can be made from this great resource.

If these could be produced as a fair trade product line in Africa and Latin America for distribution here, everyone could benefit. Moringa products are being offered through direct marketing in the United States, but fair trade sale of these items in our health food, nutrition and grocery stores can benefit everyone.

The growers can make a living and the consumers can add healthy and tasty products to their diet.

Constituent Mail

Bread for the World members in New Mexico generate a couple thousand letters to Congress as part of our Offerings of Letters each year.  We write these letters with the assurance that the appropriate staff will read our correspondence and pass on our concerns to our senator or representative.   

Sen. Jeff Bingaman's Web site reports that the senator received about 220,000 letters (not all from New Mexicans).  "Because of the high volume, we can only reply to New Mexicans," said Sen. Bingaman's office in Washington, in a note  entitled How does your office handle and respond to constituent mail?    
Sen. Bingaman at Bread Lobby Day reception in 1990s
In case you're wondering, churches in New Mexico generated 316 letters to Sen. Bingaman this year urging that he support efforts to strengthen and expand the Earned Income Tax.

In 2009, we wrote 652 letters to Sen. Bingaman in support of foreign aid reform.  In 2008, we wrote 659 letters asking that he support an increase in poverty-focused development assistance.

And in 2007 we asked our senator to back legislation that would create a more fair Farm Bill, reducing subsidies for large farm operations and addressing poverty in rural areas, among other things.

Year after year, Bread members in New Mexico have faithfully written Sen. Bingaman and our other congressional representatives asking them to support efforts to address hunger and poverty in our country and around the world.  And Sen. Bingaman's office assures us that our letters are read.  Here's an excerpt from the note in Sen. Bingaman's Web site,
Because of this variety and the high volume of mail we receive, we do our best to respond to each constituent’s questions and concerns in a personalized and prompt manner.  Senator Bingaman takes constituent correspondence seriously, so we try to respond to letters and emails within two weeks, though sometimes the necessary research can make that time longer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Doctors Without Borders Urges U.S. to Improve Quality of Food Aid

The international organization Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders,  sent a letter to the US government on the eve of World Food Day 2010 to call attention to the poor quality of food aid provided to children in developing countries. The organization is urging US residents to sign a petition to the  US government to address the problem.
Read background       Sign Petition

This is compatible with Bread for the World's 2011 Offering of Letters, which will continue to push Congress and President Barack Obama's administration toward U.S. foreign assistance that is more effective in reducing poverty.

Our emphasis is more on the long-term development side of foreign aid, while MSF deals more with immediate concerns. Still, there is some convergence. While we might not address the MSF concern directly, there are some connections between the actions that our organizations propose.  In a nutshell, here is what Bread will ask:
We will advocate for a stronger U.S. government focus on reducing poverty, clearer accountability for how aid dollars are spent, a transformed U.S. development agency, and U.S. aid that meets the needs and wants of local people.
Here is an excerpt of MSF's Open Letter to the Obama administration, which points out some important deficiencies in U.S. direct assistance.  It is followed by the text of the full letter.
U.S. high in anti-nutrients, inhibiting proper digestibility and absorption; and it contains no dairy products, important for growth. Diets that do not provide the right blend of high-quality protein essential fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals can impair growth and development, increase the risk of death from common illnesses, or result in life-long health and developmental damage. 
Open Letter to the U.S. Government About the Quality of Food Aid

October 14, 2010
On the eve of World Food Day 2010, I write on behalf of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to urge the U.S. to stop supplying nutritionally substandard food to malnourished children in developing countries.

The U.S. is by far the world’s largest food assistance donor, accounting for more than half of global food aid in 2009. Its policies and practices are enormously influential in assuring that the right foods reach the right people at the right time. The main beneficiaries of food assistance are primarily young children and women. Yet the fortified foods in U.S. food assistance, including corn soya blend (CSB) and other fortified blended flours (FBF), are of an inappropriate nutritional composition for the primary target beneficiaries—particularly young children. MSF is reiterating a call to ensure that U.S. food aid meets the nutritional needs of young children.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Solidarity in a Cup –CRS Fair Trade

Social Justice in Action –Voices from the Pews
Solidarity in a Cup –CRS Fair Trade
By Ellen Buelow
(Reprinted from the Social Justice Newsletter at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish)

When I enjoy Fair Trade coffee at our parish breakfast, I enjoy a myriad of gifts. The buzz of conversations parallels the celebration of coffee farmers at their annual harvest. CRS –Catholic Relief Services- sponsors coffee cooperatives producing our parish Fair Trade coffee. 

I appreciate that my contribution goes directly back to these farmers with several benefits. The fair trade price is essential because they live thousands of miles away from major cities and can’t compete in the global market. 

Another bonus is the organic label. Farmers avoid contact with chemicals and reduce their exposure to toxins. Coffee companies buying CRS Fair Trade coffee contribute a percentage for development goals. For example, farmers learn how to be coffee tasters to assure quality coffee. Farmers also learn how to diversify crops and reduce hunger. Since coffee is picked once a year, the money earned has to stretch through the lean season. 

Though my purchase of Fair Trade products, I am confident that fair labor practices are assured. CRS through Fair Trade is fulfilling the UN millennium goal that advocates for U.S. policies in the areas of trade, aid, and debt to foster economic and social development for people living in poverty throughout the world.

A bonus gift is selling Fair Trade products. I am a voice for those who can’t advocate for themselves. If you are looking for a fun filled, engaging ministry, this may be your calling. Once a month our social justice committee sells CRS Equal Exchange Fair Trade coffee, tea, and Fair Trade Divine Chocolate. 

Consider joining us by volunteering after Sunday morning Mass. Prepare by educating yourself on the Fair Trade process. You may be interested in viewing the DVD “Solidarity in a Cup” available through the Catholic Center.

*The author, a Bread for the World member, is also part of the Social Justice Committee at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Albuquerque

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NM Collaboration to End Hunger Holds Statewide Community Meetings

The New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger has scheduled a series of meetings around the state to examine the problem of hunger in several communities.  Specific data on hunger  in New Mexico and in each county will be presented. Group discussions will be held to determine just what's working, what's not working and what would really make a difference in ending hunger.

Participants will be asked to Take the Pledge to make a difference in ending hunger in New Mexico by committing to taking one key action step in their community.   One meeting was already held in Silver City and Grant County on Oct. 14.  It was hosted by the Volunteer Center of Grant County, Healthy Kids Healthy Communities Grant County, and the Silver City Food Co-op.

A meeting in Las Cruces for Oct. 26, which was to be hosted by the New Mexico Community Foundation, was rescheduled to an undetermined date. 

Here is a list of upcoming meetings, including location:

Wednesday, October 27,  1-3 PM
Maddox Foundation Offices, 220 W Broadway St, Hobbs
Hosted by: Maddox Foundation

Farmington & Bloomfield
Tuesday, November 9, 10 AM-Noon
Sycamore Park Community Center at 1051 Sycamore Street, Farmington
Hosted by: Leadership San Juan

Thursday, November 11, 2-4 PM
Location to be determined
Hosted by: PNM Resources Foundation, the New Mexico Community Foundation, and the Albuquerque Community Foundation

Wednesday November 17, 10AM-Noon
Mabel Dodge Lujan House,  240 Morada Lane, Taos
Hosted by: Taos Community Foundation

Santa Fe
Thursday November 18,10 AM-Noon
Homewise, 1301 Siler Road Santa Fe, NM
Hosted by: Santa Fe Community Foundation

For more information, conctact Nancy Pope or Sarah Newman.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Couple of Links to Media Coverage of World Food Prize

Hundreds of people attended the World Food Prize ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, last week, in which Heifer International founder Jo Luck and Bread for the World President David Beckmann were honored.
Photo from Heifer blog

Read article in Des Moines Register, via Bread Web site.  The article, which was also reprinted in the Heifer blog, includes excerpts of an interview with the two honorees.

And check out this video from Iowa Public Television and another from KCCI TV in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Sorry, the videos are not available for embedding).

Hanging With Rick Steves

My friend Elaine VanCleave was fortunate to be among those who attended the World Food Prize ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa.  Several VIPs were also there, including travel author and public television travel personality Rick Steves, who is a great friend of  Bread for the World.  Elaine is pictured below with Rick Steves.

Photo courtesy of Elaine VanCleave

Newsweek Interviews David Beckmann

In a political season, it’s easy for a journalist to be cynical—until David Beckmann walks into your office. Beckmann, in his blue blazer, looks like any Washington lobbyist, down to the dark circles under his eyes. But his message is completely without spin and his manner is as flat as the Nebraska plains where he grew up. An economist and former executive at the World Bank, Beckmann believes it is possible to end world hunger and poverty through good politics and policies.
That's how a recent article in strarts.  The piece, entitled Dare to Care, offers a great insight about Bread for the World President David Beckmann's position (and Bread for the World's)  on the need to keep the needs of the poor as a policy priority.
What particularly infuriates Beckmann, and this he expresses in the mildest way, is that despite all the midterm talk about “the next generation” and “our future,” neither party has made poverty an election-year priority. “There has been no sustained effort to reduce poverty since Nixon,” he says.
It's a great piece, and it's great that hunger and poverty are getting attention amid all the noise of the electoral season.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Take Actions During the Election Season

Our regional field organizer Robin Stephenson wrote a great post for the national breadBLOG about actions that Bread members can take during the election season.  Her post, entitled What You Can Do for Hungry People during This Election Season suggests ways in which you can interact with candidates, incumbents and challengers, as they try to get out their message to would-be-voters.
Members have returned to home states to begin campaigning for November elections or to re-connect to voters. What does this mean for Bread for the World activists? Opportunity!
Town Hall meetings, Congress on your Corner, meet-and-greets, and debates will all be taking place during October, and it is our Gospel call to make sure that the most vulnerable and needy are represented.
Click here to read full blog post

St. Martin's Hospitality Center Celebrates Silver Anniversary

St. Martin's Hospitality Center is celebrating 25 years of serving our community.

Please join in the celebration on Sunday, Oct. 24,for a jazz lunch and silent auction, at St. Clair Winery and Bistro, 901 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.   

Tickets are available at the door.  You can pay with credit card, check or cash.

St. Martin's employs 50 people, including my wife Karen. She has been part of the day shelter's operations for 18 of the organization's 25 years of existence and currently works as a client advocate.  "People who are homeless need supportive services, including housing, to achieve the quality of life every person should have.  St. Martin's provides these services," said Karen.

In its new Web site, St. Martin's talks about its mission.
Our non-profit is unique in the community because of the number of different services we have to meet the needs of individuals and families. We provide shelter/food programs, mental health services, job assistance and other critical programs. The services provided by St. Martin’s stress flexibility, accessibility, and comprehensive care, the qualities necessary to assist individuals and families out of homelessness.

Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin' Mamas

It's a catchy title.  But that's because the subject of the book is very relevant and catchy.
The author of  Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin' Mamas. is our own Mark Winne of Santa Fe, who is the Food Policy Council Director for the Community Food Security Coalition.  I know Mark through my involvement with the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council

And Mark has written articles and opinion pieces about nutrition, poverty and food issues for publications such as In These Times and The Albuquerque Journal.  We blogged about his earlier book Closing the Food Gap.

In his Web site, Mark Winne introduces the book in this manner:
With the advent of industrialism and its widespread application to our food supply – factory farms, genetic engineering, and agricultural chemicals – the struggle between human freedom and authority has reached a critical juncture. In spite of the rapid growth of an alternative food system – local and sustainable food production, farmers’ markets, the public’s rising food consciousness – we become more dependent everyday on industrial agriculture whose representatives insist that it is the only way to feed a hungry world.
And here's a quick overview from  City Farmer News
Winne challenges the reader to go beyond the popular rhetoric of “eat local” and instead become part of a larger movement to reclaim food sovereignty. Invoking the philosophies of great writers and thinkers including William Blake, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Winne writes about the importance of nourishing the body and the soul. The best way to do that, he writes, is by becoming connected to your food source.
The book is published and distributed by Beacon Publishers.  This is how they introduce the book.
Picture this: three long-haired college kids are unloading crates of food from the bed of a battered pick-up truck. It's parked curbside at the Androscoggin Food Co-op located in the equally battered mill town of Lewiston, Maine. The year is 1971 and these kids are, unbeknownst to them, the vanguard of the local food movement. They've spent the day rounding up goods directly from local farms and food processors, not because they're devout locavores (the word wouldn't be invented for another 35 years) but because sourcing locally was the cheapest way to get food for a co-op whose members were largely lower income. 
You get the point.

A Chance to Meet the Author
If you live in Albuquerque or Santa Fe or elsewhere in central or northern New Mexico, you are invited to interact with Mark.

Date:  Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Time:  6:00pm
Place:  Collected Works Bookstore, 202 Galisteo Street, Santa Fe, NM

He will be joined by Santa Fe Councilwoman Rosemary Romero who will converse with Winne about the industrial food system and its implications for our health, democracy, and souls. 

Winne's second book which carries the subtitle Fighting Back in the Age of Industrial Agriculture, asks if factory farms, genetically modified organisms, and mega-food and farm corporations are the best way to feed a hungry world.   

The book suggests that we are fast approaching the point where we will be forced to sacrifice our democracy and freedom in return for the industrial food system's promise to feed us.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Giving Strength to Weakness

In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.
-Howard Thurman

Oregon Coast
I’ll give you one easy example of how this is structured social injustice. 

President Clinton himself recently apologized publicly because it was during his administration that part of this structured social injustice destroyed the agricultural sector of Haiti so that Haiti could no longer grow the rice the people of Haiti needed for food.

This is what we mean by structured social injustice. It’s a way you organize society so that it works to the detriment of individuals or groups within the society. 

It’s our responsibility to try to reach out to that poor Lazarus at our gates -- the poor people of the world who are deprived of a full human life because we have structured the world in a way that takes it away from them. 

-Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Pursing Justice by Seeing Lazarus at Our Door   (NCR Online)

A specific result has not been the point. For me, it's been about what happened when I discovered the willingness in myself to see a homeless person instead of look past him. I can highly recommend it. In the long run, it might not change Chris' life much, but it's definitely changed mine.-Mark Olmstead, My Brother's Keeper   (The Huffington Post)

This year alone our government will spend $900 billion on aid to low-income families. If it can’t even measure poverty properly; how will it know how to most efficiently distribute our money, how will we ever make strides in combating economic deprivation in America? -Claire Lorentzen, The Poverty Measure: Why it's Outdated, Why it's Important  God's Politics blog (Sojourners)

The safety net, which assumes that individuals will find new jobs, was based on different economic assumptions and has done all that it can. Now millions of families desperately depend on the kindness of strangers – their elected officials in Washington. It is unreasonable to expect our government to extend unemployment benefits indefinitely. But how are we as a nation going to handle what might be millions of other Americans who soon may become “99ers,” and who may never find work again? -Father Larry Snyder, When the Kindness of Strangers is Not Enough Think and Act Anew blog (Catholic Charities)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

God's Handwriting

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oregon Coast

Monday, October 04, 2010

N.M. Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Invites You to Annual Conference on Nov. 13

The Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico invites you to its 2010 advocacy conference on Saturday, November 13, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Albuquerque (west of the intersection of Indian School Rd. and University NE).

The conference will take start at 9:00 am and conclude at about 1 pm.  The cost is $15 person, including lunch. State Sen. Tim Keller (who happens to represent my district) will be the keynote speaker.

Planned breakout session topics include
  • Advocacy basics,  
  • Homelessness,  
  • Health care 
and more.

Plan now to attend and learn more about advocating for our neighbors living in poverty. To register or for more information contact Ruth Hoffman at or 505.984.8005.

Registration deadline: November 10

Saturday, October 02, 2010

October is the Fairest Month

Students from Fair Trade Initiative 2008
As I was rushing to a meeting, I thought I had time to grab a quick refill at the Starbucks at the Zimmerman Library at the University of New Mexico campus.  But the line was too long.  (That will teach me to ignore my pledge to buy fair-trade coffee).  So I decided to go on to the meeting without getting the coffee.

But as I walked out of the library, I spotted a table outside the library.  And at one corner sat a heater with a pot of coffee!  It was staffed by Linley Green and another student member of  the UNM Fair Trade Initiative.  They were there for two purposes: to raise funds (by selling brownies) for Peacecraft, the local fair trade store (and they do need help).  They were doing this in honor of the start of Fair Trade Month.

I am not aware of any billboards, newspaper circulars or television commercials announcing that October is Fair Trade Month.  Yet there is something in common with the Christmas shopping season, which is just around the corner (and which seems to come earlier and earlier every year).  The operative word is SHOPPING.  When you make your purchase decisions, try to buy products that have been certified as fair trade.  Here's a nice description:
Every purchase matters means taking an extra moment to think about the impact your purchases will have - on your own well being, on the people who produce the products and on the environment.  With Fair Trade, every purchase you make has the power to make a difference in the world.
Many of you who read this blog are probably familiar with the concept of fair trade.  In simple terms, the producer of the product,whether it is coffee beans, bananas, apparel, cocoa beans, arts and crafts, etc.. gets a fair price for the product.  In our commercial world, the middleman and the final seller normally get a larger share of the profits at the expense of the producer).

It's true that few retailers carry at least some fair trade goods.  I'm talking about your local Ten Thousand V illages (or in our case in Albuquerque, PeaceCraft), Whole Foods, Trader Joes (or locally La Montañita Cooperative).  Did you know that you can buy fair trade flowers online from One World Flowers?  You can also get fair trade Pinotage or Chenin Blanc from Worthwhile Wine Company.  And Fair Trade USA last year initiated a pilot program to certify apparel and home goods.  Speaking of Transfair USA, they are commemorating Fair Trade Month by changing their name to Fair Trade USA.  Check out  their home page..

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Letter from Jim Neustel: Peacecraft Needs Your Help

(Editor's Note: October is Fair Trade Month, and I would like to take this opportunity to pass on a note from Jim Neustel from Peacecraft.  We need to keep our local fair-trade store viable, and Jim tells you how you can help)

September 8, 2010
For twenty-one years, Peacecraft has provided the Albuquerque community with a Fair Trade option to shopping.  The fair trade producers who supply our store have received a fair wage for their work efforts.  Peacecraft continues to offer a positive economic change in the lives of our producers and their families.  In addition to the direct aid we have given global fair trade communities, many local stores are now offering fair trade products.

Our customers have seen us primarily as a gift store, and we are dependent upon strong holiday sales to sustain us through the remainder of the year. The past two years have been especially challenging. As many of you have seen, Peacecraft’s inventory has slowly decreased over the past year.  We do not have money to purchase the product that we need for the holiday season. This is a dangerous position to be in for a retail store. As we have less to sell, our revenue goes down, leaving less money to buy new product, which in turn results in even fewer sales. We need to break the cycle.

Our goal is to keep Peacecraft open, and this past year’s economy has shown loss in customers, income and increase in debt.  Unless we can raise $60,000.00 in the next two months, we face closure.  

The Plan:
I have worked with the board on a plan that I have faith will keep Peacecraft open and functional.   The plan’s success depends on your help.  The Peacecraft community has consistently purchased product at the store as well as donated money when needed,  and I trust that one (or more) of the following three options will fit your ability to assist Peacecraft at this time.

For those of you who prefer to give a tax-deductible donation, use this link to go to our website, then click on the Donate button.

I believe in the power of micro-lending; it has helped fair trade cooperatives in developing nations.  Now, I’m asking you to micro-lend money to keep Peacecraft in business.  During the month of September you can buy a gift card to be redeemed in December.  If you purchase a $50 card it will be worth $55.  If you buy a $100 card, it will be worth $110 in December. Use this link to go to the website, then click on the Gift Certificate Buy Now button.

I also want to give some of our customers the opportunity to lend a larger amount of money as a pure cash investment.  If you would like to do so, you can lend us $500 or $1000 and receive a 10% pay back in six months starting in March 2011. Use  this link to go to the website then click on the Micro Loan button,

A group of business and non-profit experts, met in August to create a plan of positive change for the store.  We have begun to implement the plan by sub-letting the back portion of the store to Maple Street Dance Space, and we are now carrying some product on a consignment basis.  In addition, we have begun working with experts to up-date the look and feel of the store.  Many of these changes will be easy and inexpensive.   I believe that a new look will attract new customers.

Thank you for your continued support,
Jim Neustel
Earth Hero dba/Peacecraft

Bread Grassroots Activists in Western States Rock!

If you're active with Bread in these states:  AK, AZ, CO, HI, ID,  MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY you're on that elite list.  Chances are you know other Bread activists in the region already. But if you don't, our regional organizers Matt Newell-Ching and Robin Stephenson offer you a chance to interact with others and get answers to pertinent questions each month (usually the first Monday) via a conference call.  One of those monthly calls has been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 4, from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time  

Here's the theme of Monday's call: 
Congress has punted major decisions about child nutrition programs and tax credits for low-income families until after the November 2 elections. What now? Find out in our monthly Bread for the World Western Region Grassroots Conference Call.

We'll talk about what we can expect when Congress reconvenes in November for a "lame duck session" and discuss effective ways you can engage candidates about hunger and poverty as campaign season gets into full swing.
If you would like to participate,  simply call 1-800-704-9804. When prompted, enter 78674441#

And if you are unable to join in, the audio for these conversations is made available later through  this site (which as of Oct. 1 had the calls for May through August).