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 !!