Mustard Seed plans first fair trade fundraiser Friday

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | 6:46 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – Mustard Seed Fair Trade will usher in its third year by bringing Columbia a little closer to women in Guatemala, India and the Middle East.

The nonprofit organization is celebrating its two-year anniversary this month with a fundraiser Friday night that features fair trade and handmade goods. The fundraiser includes food, beverages, live music with guitarist Brady Didion, a raffle and a silent auction. The event is from 6 to 9 p.m. in the catacombs beneath the Artlandish Gallery on Walnut Street. 

Silent auction items

TRAMA Textiles

Set of four matching bags

  • Approximate retail value: $35
  • Starting bid: $17

2 Copa Cushion Covers from San Martin

  • Approximate retail value: $80
  • Starting bid: $40

Table Runner Culebrado

  • Approximate retail value: $40
  • Starting bid: $20

Notebook cover

  • Approximate retail value: $10
  • Starting bid: $5

Better Way Imports

Sari Bari Blanket

  • Approximate retail value: $80
  • Starting bid: $40

Night Light Pearl and Stone Necklace

  • Approximate retail value: $50
  • Starting bid: $25

Very Berry Bracelet

  • Approximate retail value: $22
  • Starting bid: $11

“Punjammies” and T-shirt:

  • Approximate retail value: $55
  • Starting bid: $20

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“The space is really neat,” Mustard Seed Executive Director Jessica Canfield said. “We’re looking forward to living in it for the night and making it our own.”

A global connection

“The goal of this event is to raise funds to build a buying relationship with TRAMA Textiles and Better Way Imports,” Canfield said.

TRAMA is a weaving cooperative of 400 women in Guatemala. Better Way Imports is a fair trade wholesaler based in the U.S. It works with women in India and the Middle East, Canfield said.

“I think when you do a fundraiser like this the goal isn’t to just raise money,” she said. “It’s also to help the community understand more about fair trade.”

Mustard Seed's mission is to provide sustainability for farmers and artisans around the world by marketing their goods. Canfield wants to connect Columbia with the global community through fair trade goods.

“We’re providing sustainability through enterprise,” Canfield said.

Canfield also wants the community to learn more about the people behind the vendors. Information about the two organizations will be provided at the event.

“Many (of these women) have been rescued from brothels or sex trading,” said Monica DeCrescenzo, event planning intern with Mustard Seed. “Some of these companies are teaching women the skills to be able to work.”

Fair trade fundraising

The store purchased most of the auction items, but the International Princess Project, an advocacy group for women in India, donated the “punjammies” for the fundraiser. "Punjammies" are pajamas that are handmade by formerly enslaved women, and all the proceeds go back to these women.

“It’s something we’ve never had in the store.” DeCrescenzo said. “We’re excited about it.”

All the net proceeds from ticket and auction sales will go toward buying products from TRAMA Textiles and Better Way Imports.

“It’s interesting to realize that there are little things we can do everyday to support someone far away,” DeCrescenzo said.

Michelle Chase, a volunteer, will be putting together an apartment in which everything from the lamps to the jewelry used to decorate the space will be for sale.

“People will be able to see how they can use the products in their home,” Chase said.

The fair trade products at Mustard Seed have an earthy, African-inspired design, Chase said, and the mock apartment will therefore have the same feel.

October is Fair Trade Month and Mustard Seed will be participating in the celebration through a number of community events, especially by encouraging “reverse trick-or-treating” with fair trade chocolate during Halloween.

Tickets for the fundraiser are available in the store and online.

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