Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sweeping Up ...

Ross shook hands with the auctioneer at the door, thanking him for the many tasks that were part of an emotional day. He watched as he crossed the street and hopped in his truck and drove away.

Glancing at the cheque in his hand he shook his head. His mind crowded with many thought, but atleast the money raised through auctioning everything off would save the building and their home. Tucking it in the back pocket of his jeans he picked up the broom and started sweeping the floor.

"Might as well tidy the place up for the potential buyer," he thought as he started pushing the broom across the wooden floor. Memories of what was and could have been swirled around him like the dust that floated around the head of the broom. The methodical motion of pushing the broom back and forth over the the old wooden floors helped sooth the ache that he felt.

Lost in thought he failed to hear the door open until J-- was standing beside him.

"Hey buddy," J-- said softly.

Ross looked up and wiped away a tear, "Damned dust," he said as he wiped his hand on his jeans.

"Yeah, these old buildings can kick up a lot of dust," said J-- softly, a slight smile crossing his face, "Got any coffee?" he said hopefully.

Ross sighed, "I do, but I've haven't even got a cup to put it in ..." his arm waved around the now empty building, only the 'Chipperfield Bros' sign was left hanging over the wall between the kitchen and the front.

"No worries," said J-- with a chuckle, "I brought my own," with that he pulled a burgundy mug out of his pocket, "call it a little souvenier from my last visit here."

Ross laughed, "you stole a mug? No wonder we had to have the auction to cover our losses." He took the mug from J--'s hand and stepped behind the now empty counter where one last pump carafe stood, "Your regular?"

"Yup," said J--, leaning on the counter facing Ross as he continued, "I had been hoping to get a set of 8 of those, but I only managed to snag that one yesterday when I was here, and I couldn't bring myself to come and watch the vultures pick the bones today."

Ross nodded as the hot black liquid filled the mug.

"It's like this everytime a business closes in this town," observed J--, "the folks who wouldn't darken the door while it was open show up to snag a few bargains."

"Bargains?" scoffed Ross as he poured cream into J--'s mug from the tiny cardboard container sitting along side the coffee carafe, "A closing out auction sale is no bargain ..."

"It is to the vultures," laughed J--, "Remember when the furniture store closed? Ninety percent of the people who were there never came in when it was running. But they sure as shooting showed up when it was closing. That's just the way this town is. They don't like change, and they would rather pay more going to Brandon to buy the exact same thing because it's the Big City, and it must be better ..."

"Even if it comes off the same freight truck," said Ross dryly.

"Exactly," said J-- pausing to sip his coffee, "Gawd, I'm gonna miss this ..." he lifted his mug with a smile.

"Yeah," said Ross quietly, glancing around the now empty shop, "Me too." his voice echoed in the emptiness, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

"Hmmmm," J-- sipped his coffee again before speaking, "it was a good idea, and it met a need. But it was too little too late for a town that wants to die."

"What do you mean?" said Ross, his face looking surprised.

"Look around you Ross," said J-- with a serious gaze, "there's a reason there are so many 'for sale' signs on houses here, and why Main St has more hair salons and empty businesses than healthy active ones. And now they want to build a 100 room hotel and arena. Seriously, how will this town survive when we keep closing the doors on business after business. We're becoming like Basswood, Clanwilliam, and Rapid City."

Ross stared at J-- without saying a word.

"You can see it can't you?" marvelled J--, "that our town is slowly dying? We've lost the Internet Pharmacy, the furniture store, the fried chicken outlet, the jewellery store, the florist and now the coffee shop. How much more evidence do you need?"

"I hadn't thought of it that way," observed Ross, "I was so caught up in trying to save this place, I hadn't thought about what was going on up and down Main St."

For a long moment neither man spoke, as J-- sipped his coffee and Ross was lost in thought. Ross broke the silence.

"But there have been new things open on Main St," he said hopefully.

"Sure, a half dozen new hair salons," laughed J--, and the old tractor supply building has new tenants, but nothing that will pull traffic off the highway, and keep people here on a Saturday to shop. Hell, I hate to admit it, but when I was a kid this place was happening on Friday and Saturday nights. We used to come down town early just to get a parking spot. But now you could fire off a howitzer on Main St most Saturday afternoons and there would be no damage to any one or anything. I tell you, this town is dying."

"I hate to think that," observed Ross, "I had always hoped this place would be part of reviving the town and drawing people in." Picking up the guest book he flipped it open and observed the many names and places represented there, "I mean, look at this," he held up the guest book, "It has visitors from around the world, and our regulars were always here."

"But you let small town politics come into play," observed J--.

"Huh?" muttered Ross looking up, "what do you mean?"

"When The Rev stopped feeling welcomed here, it was the beginning of the end," said J-- softly, "the people who fear change, and who want everything to stay the same and who want to control EVERYTHING prevailed and put and end to the potential that people like The Rev brought to our communty. He was an outsider."

"So am I," observed Ross, "but it wasn't that he was no longer welcomed," he paused as he chose his words thoughtfully, "there were other factors ..." his voice trailed off.

"Other factors?" J--'s face cracked into a broad smile, "the rumours and gossip about all the things he supposedly did? All of which you and I both know were complete bullshit. Or was it that he stood up to the dysfunctional and toxic people in our community and wouldn't let them get away with treating him the way they did? Or was it that he represented change to a town that isn't interested in having ANYTHING change now or ever? Or was it simply he ruffled too many feathers by being who he was and speaking out on things he felt passionate about?"

Ross stared at J-- and said nothing.

"Or was it the fact that he saw the cracks around here and wasn't willing to say nothing because he liked you and Bonnie and wanted to see your business succeed inspite of a dying town?"

Ross shook his head, "He just couldn't let it go ..."

"Let what go?" asked J--, "that he tried to help people and the community? That he ultimately did NOTHING wrong, but was railroaded out of town by a group of church people who have done this to a half a dozen ministers before him?" J-- paused, "come on Ross, he was your friend and you joined the mob that wanted to drive the monster out of town too. And the rest of us did nothing to stop them. It was just like the movie Frankenstein. They grabbed their pitchforks and torches and after a few ignorant proclamations, the mob went after him."

"It wasn't that at all ..." said Ross quietly.

"Come on Ross," laughed J-- dryly, "the guy had his life threatened, one of our so-called upstanding citizens sent an email dripping with lies to his friends, he had his van tire slashed, his house and van got shot at, they trashed his reputation, they accused him of affairs because he was friends with one of YOUR employees who was in a shitty marriage, the anonymous comments on his own blog and the whispered nonsense through town ... it WAS LIKE THAT. No on deserves to be treated that way, and yet everyone from the Church leadership, through to the Town Council played a role in it. It was like everyone took secret delight in watching it happen ..."

"He could have just walked away," said Ross looking down, avoiding J--'s eyes.

"Ross. You can't be serious?" J-- shook his head, "he loved this town. He had a dozen friends. He wanted to help this town become something more. He didn't want to leave and let the mob win."

"But he wouldn't listen," Ross' voice gained some strength, "we tried to help him ..."

"Sure, you offered him a job, then fired him without the decency of a conversation before," J-- shook his head again, "then you threw salt in his wounds by saying 'we value your friendship'. Think about it Ross, you let the viciousness of small town politics prevail. You let the bullies in our community control your business," pausing he glanced around, "and it turned out well didn't it?"

"It wasn't The Rev who did this," observed Ross, his face reddening.

"Fair enough," said J--, "but he was the canary in the coal mine. We drove him out of town, and with him went a lot of enthusiasm and support for this town. Talk to people in town, we're not just a town that is divided, we're a town that has no will to live. I hear "To hell with it," over and over. No body is interested in seeing this place live any more. And it is because we've let the lunatics take over the asylum."

Ross stared at the counter where the cash register once sat, pausing before replying, "We never wanted to drive him out." said Ross softly, "but he wouldn't respect the boundaries we asked him to observe."

"Boundaries?" scoffed J--, "true friends don't need boundaries. Boundaries are for keeping your enemies out, or for hiding things away. True friends can talk to you about anything, any time, and your support and care for them is unconditional. I know that The Rev offered that to everyone, and in return we treated him like Frankenstein's Monster and drove him out of the valley."

"But he wouldn't let things go ..." said Ross glancing up at J--, "We asked him ..."

"He wouldn't let it go because he could see the truth behind it," said J--, "he made some mistakes that he more than paid for, but he also had the ability to see through the situation and name the truth. Especially when it came to incompetence and the two-faced-ness of too many people around here. Remember what he said about his visit to that place in Ontario? The director said his ADD coupled with his high intelligence made him like a shark. He would pounce on the idiotic statements being made and leave the person angry because they had been embarassed by the young upstart who very much an outsider."

"But that was the problem," said Ross, "he couldn't bite his tongue and leave things alone."

"What wouldn't he leave alone?" asked J--, "God knows this town is filled with people who have attained thier positions because they have been the last one standing, not because they are particularly skilled or capable. People like The Rev are a threat to folks like that. Their inabilities and shortcomings are laid bare, and they react in fear. They have too many skeletons in their closests that people like The Rev could inadvertantly expose for all too see ..."

"That's not it," said Ross plaintively, "you don't understand."

"I grew up in this town," said J-- laughing, "I've had a long and winding road in this life. Don't tell me I don't understand. The problem is, I DO understand what's going on here, and I think we need more folks like The Rev who are willing to rock the boat and expose some of the dirty little secrets that keep this town rolling."

J-- paused to sip his coffee. Tipping the mug back he drained its contents with a smile, "Dang that was good." offering the mug to Ross he asked, "Got any more?"

"One last one for old times sake?" said Ross smiling, though his eyes were clouded with sadness.

"You bet," laughed J--, "might as well go out on a high note."

Ross pumped the coffee and nodded his head whistfully, "Guess it's not been a high note has it?"

"Could have been," observed J--, "if we would have had the courage to stand agaist the mob and stop the nonsense once and for all. But that takes a lot of courage. It's hard to tell your neighbour and friend that they are being a horses' ass. It's easier to turn on the new comer and drive them out of town."

"Kind of like Ibsen's play "Enemy of the People"?" observed Ross.

"Huh?" said J--, "Not familiar with that story."

"Oh, it's about a little town in Norway," said Ross, "they have hot springs that offer healing to people who travel from all over the world to soak in them. Then one day the young doctor or someone realizes that the water is poisoned and that it could kill people if something isn't done. But the only thing to do is shut down the springs."

"So what happens?" asked J--.

"The town leaders will not hear of it," said Ross, "they won't risk the reputation of the town by listening to this new comer who clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. So instead of listening to his wisdom and his suggestions the town father form a mob and drive him out of town ..."

"Was the place called Minnedosa?" asked J-- with a laugh.
"Maybe," said Ross, "The bit I can't remember is whether they drive him out of town, or if they kill him?"

"Kind of a difference in outcome isn't it?" said J-- wryly.

"Well, I remember the Arthur Miller play 'The Crucible' has the outsider killed, but I can't remember if Ibsen has him killed or just driven out of town." Ross shrugged.

"Most mobs want blood, and won't be satisified until they have the head of the outsider to parade around," said J--.

"Unfortunately that is too true," agreed Ross, "driving the outsider away isn't enough. They have to suffer too."

"I think The Rev has suffered enough," observed J--, "his reputation is in tatters, his job is gone, his circle of friends have vanished, his career as minister is very much in doubt, and his marriage fell apart, and everyone has held to the lies and the bullshit telling each other that because they keeping saying these things they MUST be true."

J-- glanced around the shop, "So, any idea who is gonna rent this?"

"Nope," said Ross sadly, "There isn't much interest in putting a business on Main St any more."

"Oh come on," laughed J--, "when they build that new hotel and arena complex this town will be hopping."

Ross shook his head glumly, "I don't see how we can build something like that when the hotels we have in town can't make enough to fix themselves up now ... it's just idiocy."

"Like I said - 'the lunatics are running the asylum', and we've let it happen." said J-- dryly, "so, where have all the girls gone?"

Ross sighed as he answered, "I don't really know," he shook his head, "I couldn't bring myself to even talk to them after we had to lay everyone off last week, it just hurt too much."

"I thought you always took pride in calling this place 'a family'?" asked J--, "sounds like a dysfunctional family to me."

Ross shook his head, "We thought we had a family, but ..." his voice trailed off.

"Maybe The Rev was right about that too huh?" said J-- shaking his head too.

"Maybe," observed Ross, "maybe."

"Too bad for us ..." said J-- with a shake of his head.

"Got that right ..."agreed Ross, "maybe the town will finally figure it out before it's too late. Maybe they will hear the voices of people who want to see the town grow and prosper and who aren't interested in playing politics, but who want experience, knowledge and background to determine who gets the jobs and opportunities rather than who is owed a favour."

J-- started laughing, "I've been in this town for 70 years and I've lost track of how many times I've heard that said."

"Ain't gonna happen will it?" said Ross.

"It ain't gonna happen," observed J--, "there will always be a town here. But the glory days are over. Just look at Rivers. That's where we're heading ... and folks like The Rev wanted to warn us and help us avoid that fate ..."

"But ..." added Ross.

"Exactly," said J-- tipping back his coffee and once again draining the mug, "I need another coffee ..."

"Pot's empty," observed Ross without even glancing at the silver pot.

"Hmmm," answered J-- with a smile, "sounds like we may need a road trip."

Ross nodded.

"Got some fences to mend along the way?" asked J--, his smile broadening.

Ross nodded.

"I've got the number," J-- pulled a business card out of his pocket, "shall we call him, or just show up at his office."

"Let's just show up," said Ross, "if we phone he may decide to be 'unavailable' when we get there."

"Good Idea," laughed J--, "Oh," he lifted the mug, "I'm keeping this."

"Go ahead," Ross answered, "consider it a souvenir."

"Thanks" said J--, "it was fun. I'm gonna miss this place."

"Me too," said Ross, "me too"

The two men paused at the door and took one last look around the now empty space.

"It was a good run," said J-- softly, a tear welling in his eye.

"It was ..." agreed Ross, wiping a tear from his own eye, "It didn't have to end this way."

"No it didn't" replied J--, "but no one had the courage to stand up and stop the nonsense and stand up for The Rev and others who have been brutalized by the "good" town folks."

"Hypocrites aren't they?" said Ross.

"Every last one," observed J--, "Oh and the stories that could be told about the skeletons in THEIR closets."

Ross laughed, "Reminds me of the closing scene of Brecht's play "The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui..."

"Getting all literary on us today are you?" laughed J-- softly.

"Sort of," said Ross pulling his keys out of his pocket, "In the last scene of the play, the main character who is a parody of Hitler, stands before a chanting mob then everything goes black and a single spot light hits him. He tears off his moustache and muses on the power of the farce that lets us laugh in the face of tragedy the he says: 'Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again' ..."

"Hmm," J-- stepped through the door out on to the sidewalk glancing up and down the nearly deserted Main St, "maybe we need to kill the bitch before she bears another generation that wants to let this town die ..."

The click of the front door lock echoed within the empty building. Ross and J-- stared at each other for a moment saying nothing.

"Shall I drive?" asked J--.

"Yeah," said Ross, "I need to think about what I want to say to him ..."

"It's never easy to say sorry," said J-- as he stepped towards his car.

"Got that right," said Ross opening the door and getting in to the car.

J-- pulled away from the curb and pulled a tight U-turn in the intersection, ignoring the sign and breaking the law. It was a chance he was willing to take given that there were no more than a half a dozen cars on the entire length of Main St. Heading south his car left a cloud of dust and exhaust that got caught up in the breeze and slowly dissipated in the wind leaving nothing behind but the soft rustle of the wind down a deserted Main St of a town that once seemed some filled with potential and hope ...


(author's note - The Real Chippefields is, for now still open on Main St, and Minnedosa for now is still a functioning town ... and even though the characters here are based off of real people and real events ... this is a piece of fiction ... try to stop confusing the two, but to those who feel uncomfortable by what they've read here (assuming they actually made it ALL the way through), take a moment to remember that even fiction has a ring of truth, and that sometimes the morales of our stories offer a lesson if we dare to heed it ... there is truth underneath ALL of what has been written here ... I'll leave it to the intelligence of my readers to hear the lesson, and glean the truth and to leave the rest behind for the wind to carry away ... As for me, the online Chipperfields is closed ... I am no longer welcomed in the real Chipperfields, and the welcome mat to Minnedosa has been rolled up and I've been soundly beaten with it ... so, my journey will continue to lead me elsewhere ... Like J-- said "It was a Good Run" ... and there is much about it I'll miss ... but at the end of the day the toxic, small minded, vicious and cowardly people have prevailed ... I'm done. Thanks and may your journey be a good one.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

One Last Greeting ...

Myspace Graphics

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The One Month Challenge Draws to a Close ...

The Jewish Prophet Hillell said - "that which is hurtful to ANOTHER, you do not do - EVER"

Jesus used Hillel's wisdom and said - "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Even modern service clubs like Rotary have taken the concept of justice and fairness to heart by crafting things like their 4-Way test that has the members of the club asking themselves simple questions about the nature of the transactions and decisions they are making, and whether they are hurtful to another ...

The implication is, that if something you as a person do is hurtful to another - DON'T DO IT.

Like Gandhi said - "be the change you seek ..."

Long ago I discovered not only Fair Trade, but a number of companies that actively promote Fair Trade and bring high quality products to the Canadian Market. One of the first was Level Ground Trading from the Victoria area. Their coffee Cafe San Miquel, (dark roast) has long been a favourite of mine. Over the last ten years I have ordered THOUSANDS of pounds of their coffees (and likely consumed several hundred personally), visited their production facilities, talked to them on the phone, and written several papers on their work.

Along the way I've contacted and built relationships with other companies like Bean North, Just Us, Marquis Project and of late a little company in Manitoba called Green Bean Coffee Roasters ... all the while looking at how I could promote these companies and their products to the community around me ... I've done this in my ministry, and of late have been doing it as a friend and employee of Chipperfield Coffee Company in Minnedosa ...

This past month Chipperfield Coffee Company engaged the One Month Challenge promoted by Fair Trade Manitoba. It meant serving Fair Trade products to the customers where ever possible. We started with coffee, and a limited selection of tea, and expanded into chocolate and other products. The reception by the community seemed good ...

The idea of supporting Fair Trade was one that was welcomed by many in the surrounding community. The idea that 20-30% of the final purchase price of a bag of coffee goes DIRECTLY into the hands of the producer appeals to many ... could you imagine doing that for a loaf of bread, or a box of corn flakes?? Not too mention other agricultural products!!!

But moreover, the simple fact that every step of the journey of fair trade products from the fields to our table, are premised on JUSTICE, FAIRNESS and the right of HUMAN DIGNITY is what fuels this movement. The emphasis on caring for and caring about the people involved is central - Fair Trade is about MORE than economic justice for the poor third world farmers, it's about ensuring that EVERYONE involved is treated with dignity and treated fairly, and that at the end of the day are not left hurt in any way.

They are noble and lofty goals. And the actualization of those goals by the companies who bring Fair Trade products to our tables is what has always motivated me to be a Fair Trade promoter. The entire journey from field to table must be about dignity for all, fairness for all, and justice for all.

That is why I cringe when I see companies like Safeway, Wal-Mart and Starbucks involved in Fair Trade. This is NOT just about getting the product into the hands of consumers. It's about EVERY STEP of the journey being based on more than profits.

Foundational in ALL of this is the understanding that people MUST come before PROFITS, and that the dignity, fairness and justice are not just lofty concepts but basic human RIGHTS.

So, it is with a broken heart that I watch this One Month Challenge draw to a close because on one hand it has been successful. Patrick from Fair Trade Manitoba reports that 800 plus participants in the Fair Trade Challenge consumed OVER 17 000 cups of Fair Trade Coffee in the last 30 days, and those statistics do not include the coffee sold in places like Chipperfield Coffee Company to people who were NOT actively participating in the challenge!!!!

But, I carry a deep personal grief in this. As this challenge draws to a close my association with Chipperfield Coffee Company has also come to end ... my place there as employee, customer and ultimately friend has been savagely consumed by the mob mentality of small town politics that demanded the owner/management protect their business and profits over people and principles ... after two and a half years of abuse, the mob wasn't happy taking from me my job, my reputation, my security and my self-definition ... they will not be content until I have NOTHING LEFT. Fortunately, they will never take from my my pride and my principles.

At the end of the day I can still look in the mirror and have no twinges of regret or remorse for any thing.

It's a sad day on many levels, but then as I have come to realize over and over in recent days - this ultimately is NOT my loss ... Fair Trade is about Fairness at all levels ... and it is about embodying the very principles that were spoken by the likes of Hillel, Jesus, The Rotarians who crafted the 4-Way test and others who understand Gandhi's idea of being the change you seek ... not just when it is convenient, but ALWAYS !!!

Today I will pour my cup of Fair Trade Coffee, obtained from The Marquis Project in Brandon, shortly knowing that in ALL things I HAVE endeavoured to live those principles in my life, both personal and professional ... and that WILL never change ...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Home Routes Returns!!!

Bonnie and Ross and the staff at Chipperfields are delighted to be able to offer yet another concert in the 2007-2008 Home Routes Concert Series they have been hosting.

Last month the Shoppe rocked to the sound of Canadian Musican James Gordon, who along with a local singer, entertained a sell out crowd.

On Monday March 25th Chipperfield Coffee Company is once again pleased to hold a small venue coffee shop concert, this time with Toronto based singer Kate Goldman.

Who is Kate Goldman you ask???

Well ...Who is Kat Goldman?

Perhaps the mystique lies in the fact that Kat Goldman is one of Canada's best kept secrets.

A Toronto native, Kat Goldman packed up her bags and traveled down to Boston Massachussettes when she was 20 years old. There, she picked up a guitar and began frequenting the fervent Cambridge coffeehouse scene, also becoming a regular busker in Harvard Square.

Kat returned to Toronto in 1996, and started doing shows of her own in Toronto venues. Producer Gavin Brown (Sarah Harmer, Billy Talent) heard her music and went gaga. He wanted to work with her...and so began their collaboration on "The Great Disappearing Act", Kat Goldman's coming out studio record.

This was truly a break-out achievement in her career.

Suddenly Kat was opening for Sarah Slean, Martin Sexton, the Waifs, Regina Spektor, Al Stuart, The Strawbs, Dar Williams, Jonatha Brooke, and Eric Anderson who after seeing her show, called her a "Canadian Flower".

Is it any wonder that this "Canadian Flower" was then picked up by Shawn Colvin/Dar Williams/ Suzanne Vega's management out of New York City?

As Kat put it, "Suddenly I was working with the people who managed the careers of my very own heroes. I began playing some of the best venues in NYC- The Bottom Line, The Bitter End, and The Living Room".

In September of 2004, Kat decided it was time to move down to New York City, the hub of creative industry.

However, one week before she was to leave, she was struck in a near-fatal freak accident.
While stopping inside a bakery, a car came crashing through the storefront window, pinning her against the back wall. Her injuries resulted in multiple surgeries and Kat spent the next 2 years recovering and learning how to walk again.

She has now emerged this year 2007 with her triumphant sophomore album "Sing Your Song", described by Dar Williams as a record that "the world would not be the same without".
Perhaps in time, Kat Goldman will no longer be Canada's best kept secret.

For more information about Kat Goldman - click here ...

To get tickets, stop by the store, or give them a call - 867 5751 ... and plan on an evening of quality entertainment in the best little coffee shoppe in West Man !!!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

From their fields to our table ... a local connection!!

This past week at Chipperfields, one of the Barista's noticed that the Just Us Coffee "Breaking the Silence" being served as part of the one month challenge, has its origins in the Lake Atitlan area of Guatemala. Kirsten was excited by the realization because a few months ago, she and a group of 12 others from the Minnedosa Covenant Church took a mission trip to the Lake Atitlan area.

Kirsten sent me an email along with the photos above describing her trip as follows:

Myself and a group of twelve people from Minnedosa Evangelical Covenant Church went to San Juan, Guatemala for ten days.

San Juan is on the edge of Lake Atitlan and we actually had to cross it on boat to get to the other side, where San Juan is located.

While we were there we held a 2 day VBS (vacation bible school) for the children of a school, that was on a Saturday and Sunday. Then for the other five days we did a work project in the morning, and taught classes in the afternoon.

For our work project we built a retaining wall 6 feet deep, 2 feet wide and 21 feet long. We dug the trench by hand, hauled rocks and mixed and hauled the cement. We had a paid foreman that instructed us and hired two workers, but the only tools we had were shovels, hoes, buckets and a wheel barrow.

It was very tough work and the temperatures were quite high.

In the afternoon we taught classes such as art, carpentry and choir.

I taught choir class, and taught them how to use small percussion instruments. We also taught them to sing the chorus in English and shared with them a little about Canada.

We did fun things, one including a ride on a zip line 200 ft above a canyon.

Pastor Dan travelled with myself and another girl to also went to a center for disabled children and adults for an afternoon. It was awful to see the lack of things they had. These people did not have proper facilities and lots of their needs were not able to be met because of lack of money, some did not have enough for a small wheel chair for the children and they had to be carried...

The facility was run by volunteers and one paid worker.

Many of us also decided to sponsor a child from the school that we were at, many of them are still unsponsored and need sponsors, but we were able to sponsor a few. and it is neat to be able to actually meet the child you sponsor and get a picture with them.

The area was very beautiful.. covered in trees, and all around there were mountains.. obviously not ones like the snow covered ones in Alberta ... but they were covered in trees ... there were lots of coffee crops all over.. and often you would see corn crops or other crops on the side of the mountain ... we had no idea how they harvested or planted them.

It was a beautiful area.. and they people were so unique and kind.

The children were delightful and we learned a lot about their culture with the help of our translators, because they only spoke Spanish and a dialect which I can't spell.

They were very welcoming and really appreciated what they had, which was not much.

Lots of people barely got by, and lived in very tiny houses, rundown houses, but they never once complained.


Thanks Kirsten, for telling us a little bit about a corner of the world that NOW is more than just a label on a package !!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Enjoying a GOOD Cup of Coffee ...

A long time ago I learned the value of a good cup of coffee ... there is much that goes into its creation, from the land of origin through to the serving it on a very distant table ...

The first step is the beans ... a good quality plant like the Arabica, will produce a good quality bean - which is the foundation on which everything else lies ...

Next comes the farmer ... I am unapologetic and unabashed in my commitment to Fair Trade, particularly when it comes to coffee ... ensuring the family growing the beans and harvesting them are paid fairly and justly for their efforts is VITAL ... how can it be a good cup of coffee if the family who carefully grew and tended the beans receive only pennies for their efforts ???

Then by choosing Fair Trade coffee (tea, sugar, chocolate and other items) we are offering a commitment to not ONLY the family growing the coffee, but to the WHOLE community around them, and even the region in which they live ... Foundations, loans, business initiatives and numerous other ways in which companies like Just Us, Level Ground, Kicking Horse Pass, Bean North and OTHER Fair Trade enterprises improve the living conditions in the country of origin ...Knowing that MY coffee helps the farmer, his family, and his community only adds to the GOODNESS of the beverage ...

AND finally, the last ingredient in a good cup of coffee is the setting and the company ... having a place like Chipperfield Coffee Company where you can claim a table and enjoy a hot cup of coffee with a cluster of friends around the table is an extraordinary gift ... THAT is what coffee is supposed to be ... from the first green sprout pushing up through the soil in a distant field, through to the hot rich beverage shared over a table among friends - a GOOD CUP of Coffee is about making every aspect of coffee a positive thing ...

It kind of takes "good to the last drop" to a WHOLE new level ... and right now, Chipperfield Coffee Company is very proud to provide its customers, and the community of Minnedosa the opportunity to enjoy just such a cup of coffee each day with our Fair Trade selection - a rich and delicious variety of some of the BEST coffees from around the world !!!

Check them out - I guarantee you WON'T be disappointed !!!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fair Trade Coffee - Good from the first to the last drop ...

"Why should I choose Fair Trade coffee?"

It's a simple question, to which there is a simple and a complex answer ...

The simple answer is - Fair Trade Coffee helps to make a difference in the lives of producers half a world away. The concept of Fair Trade means the producers are paid a FAIR price for their commodity, rather than the global market price, which is usually pennies on the pound ...

So, when you buy a Fair Trade coffee you are ensuring that the producer in the country of origin is recieving a premium price for his coffee (about 25 to 30% of the final purchase price DIRECTLY in to his hands. But more than that, when you purchase a Fair Trade Coffee, you are also ensuring a broad community and economic development for the region where the coffee originates.

Some coffees, such as Just Us' Breaking The Silence are the direct result of development projects in the country of origin, while others like Cafe San Miquel, reinvest their profits into education, business and other development opportunities in the communities that produce the coffee beans ...

If, by drinking a cup of coffee, you can help put a young women through University doesn't it make sense to use Fair Trade ALL the time??

Bonnie and Ross think so ... in their ongoing commitment to provide the customers of Chipperfield Coffee Company with the absolute best coffee available they have begun exploring the possiblities of Fair Trade for thier store ... as a result they have expanded the variety of available Fair Trade products in stock ... AND ... as they've joined Manitoba Fair Trade's One Month Challenge they have offered a Fair Trade selection on the daily menu for the last week and a half ...

With every cup, customers and staff at Chipperfield Coffee Company are making a difference in the lives of people in the far flung corners of the world ... how cool is that???

Come and join the revolution !!