Jubilee International Marketplace empowers artisans
The 30th annual Jubilee Marketplace empowers communities through fair trade 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, at First Presbyterian Church, 318 S. Cedar in Spokane.
Vendors representing communities from around the globe display their goods for early holiday shoppers to buy as gifts that "are beautiful in more ways than one," said Mary Frankhauser, one of the founders and organizers.
"In one sense, the jewelry, clothing, artwork, home goods and other items are beautiful because they are vibrantly colorful and handmade. Their beauty lies also in the stories behind the products," she said. "Women in difficult circumstances starting businesses; adults with disabilities gaining life skills to make an income, and communities thriving because of their fair pay."
Stories come from Nepal, Ethiopia, Chile, Thailand, Guatemala, Peru, Vietnam, Liberia, Philippines, Laos, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Kashmir, India, Zambia and other places where Jubilee's partners connect with groups of artisans.
Because of fair trade, the artisans can feed their families, send their children to school, receive medical care and live with dignity. A video, "Vendor Voices," based on interviews with some Jubilee 2016 vendors, can be viewed on Jubilee's Facebook page.
Food items are from Catholic Charities, Christ Kitchen and Transitions New Leaf Bakery & Café.
Mary said the sale takes its name from the year of Jubilee in Deut. 15 and Lev. 25, which celebrates God's provision for the whole community. It is a model for a sustainable society, in which some members cannot acquire an overabundance of resources that permanently impoverishes the others. It is also about Jesus' Great Commandment in Matt. 22:36 to love God and love neighbors.
"The Old Testament Jubilee model and Jesus' commandment provide the foundation for our Jubilee sale," said Mary. "The principles of fair trade provide a practical means to implement the ideals of the biblical jubilee."
Fair trade means not only that artisans earn a living wage for their work but also that there is a long-term relationship between producer and buyer that builds stability in places where opportunities to make a living have been scarce, she said.
"Jubilee vendors represent small businesses or ministries connected directly with artisans throughout the world," said Mary.
"The Jubilee sale helps to remind us of the challenges we face every day throughout the year as consumers. Even when we're shopping, we are called to put our neighbors' needs—wherever they live in the world—at the same level as our own," she said. "That means we need to ask hard questions and make thoughtful decisions that benefit others. As privileged people and followers of Jesus, we are challenged to that."
First Presbyterian collects a small percentage from vendors' sales to pay for expenses, like advertising and mailing postcards.
Not all the proceeds are returned to artisans by vendors, because each business, whether for-profit and nonprofit, has expenses, Mary explained.
Sandi Thompson-Royer and her husband, Brian, serve by invitation as Presbyterian Church (USA) mission co-workers in Guatemala. In their role of facilitating leadership among women, they have traveled around the country, working with the national Presbyterian Women leaders. They receive financial support from First Presbyterian Church and other congregations.
At this year's Jubilee International Marketplace, Sandi will have a booth to sell pieces produced by women in Guatemala.
A group of 12 seamstresses from a Presbyterian women's sewing project with the Mam, an indigenous group, took sewing classes twice a week for two years. In March 2018, Mary Mattie from Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church came to Guatemala with several seamstresses to show how to make products they thought would sell. Teens now have treadle machines in their homes. Hamblen provided irons and sewing kits for the project.
"I knew Jubilee would be a great way to introduce the products," said Sandi. "The biggest impact we have seen so far is their self-esteem. Each earned an extra $50 per month for five months."
When one woman in the group miscarried recently and couldn't help with a large order, the group shared their wages with her.
"The women, who are sewing cloth napkins, don't understand why U.S. folks would pay $5 for a napkin, but we in the U.S. are committed to move away from paper products. We thought napkins would be a great seller, and they have been," Sandi said.
She encourages people who use or wear something that is fair trade to imagine women working from home as they cook, care for their children and sew.
"We work together to bring justice for a different world and to understand each other's cultures," said Sandi.
For information, call 747-1058 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, November, 2018