Activist Notes is a social forum for people who want to change the world. It was founded on February 20, 2008.
Want to become a contributor to Activist Notes?
Email activistnotes[at]gmail.com and tell us about yourself. We are looking for community organizers from various backgrounds, places, and so on to stimulate critical discussion and collective education on all sorts of issues.
Anyone can make a comment on any post. Becoming a contributor means you can write posts. The facilitator of the forum will not vet or edit comments or posts. Unless, of course, a comment is genuinely spam, which happens from time-to-time. If you as a reader have a problem with something said in the forum and don’t want to leave that comment so it can be viewed publicly, then you can always privately email the contributor who made the post, or the facilitator at activistnotes[AT]gmail.com. But the post will stay on the site to preserve history (you’ve got a mind of your own, you can think whatever you think about whatever you read). And, obviously, at any time you can always email any contributor or anyone who has made a comment and left their email address to strike up a private conversation (as far as email is private). Though we encourage open dialogue, we respect your right to privacy.
Non-mission-based businesses (i.e. businesses not 100% committed to values beyond “the almighty dollar” or whatever the currency is called where you live) cannot become contributors. Businesses who become contributors cannot use Activist Notes to explicitly promote their products. No “buy, buy, buy.” Unless someone asks something like “where can I find ethical cloths in Canada?” In which case we might collectively discover that “ethical” means different things to different people in different parts of the world. But, yeah, the International Labour Organization sets international labour standards. And, yeah, we can talk about the difference between child labour and working children, if you like. Or, you can check out Concerned for Working Children, India for some information on that. Anyway, that would be fun and we might collectively develop a more nuanced understanding of these issues.
Obviously there is an aspect of advertisement involved in having businesses’ names and websites mentioned in the forum, but doesn’t the same thing hold true for “non-governmental” organizations, community and student groups, individuals, and so on? Hmm. If you’ve never seen “non-governmental” in quotes before, and were wondering, we put it in quotes because organizations commonly, but inaccurately, referred to by this consciousness-forming, discursively constituted category are involved in governing on all levels, but hey, so are businesses and all of us, no? Also, some “non-governmental” organizations receive grants from various levels of government, and this often shapes their education and advocacy agenda and messaging. Some people think that there is a “trend” happening where governments download work and services they used to provide to “non-governmental” organizations. This shifting division of labour is happening on all levels of government from the local to the international.
Activist Notes must remain unaffiliated with any political party, so no politicians or official party representatives either. (Ok, you got us, Bertrant Olliang works for the Gabon government, but he’s working on a Fair Trade Access Program in their Ministry of Social Economy so he’s cool with us).
Organizations that work on child sponsorship, ‘helping,’ ‘supporting,’ ‘assisting,’ and other paternalistic actions can’t be contributors either. Yes, we realize organizations like the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International sometimes use language like ‘help’ (the H-BOMB), ‘support,’ and so on. FLO, to this day, even uses the term ‘third world,’ which got problematized in places like Canada and the US quite some time ago, but is still used regularly in Europe as if there is a couple other worlds floating around somewhere, but, realistically, FLO likely will never have or take (more like have, ok, maybe take too, ok, take) the time to be an Activist Notes contributor, so whatever.
Basically, read the following classic quote from Lilla Watson, “If you’ve come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” That’s classic, not cliche like Che Guevara printed on sweatshop-made t-shirts worn by privileged, white guys the world over who, if asked, couldn’t tell you a thing about Ernesto Guevara de la Serna. So, if this quote fits with your organization’s mandate, then you’re cool and should become a contributor to the forum. What the heck are you waiting for? Email activistnotes[AT]gmail.com, tell us about yourself, and become a contributor!
Yes, “unaffiliated” individuals can become contributors.
Oh yeah, almost forgot the disclaimer (phew), the opinions expressed in the social forum can only be attributed to the person who expressed them (and you, if you agree with them; who can ever be said to own an idea anyway?) Everything is open for discussion. Now play nice.
Activist Notes Contributors
Amanda has been involved in trade justice movements for several years, and is a past organizer and intern with United Students Against Sweatshops. Recently, she has been really interested in anti-capitalist organizing and worker cooperatives. She is currently a board member of the Worker Rights Consortium and is doing her Masters in Labour Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. She can be reached by email at amanda.divito.wilson[AT]gmail.com.
Bertrant lives in Libreville, Gabon. He works for the Gabon government in the Ministry of Social Economy where he is currently participating in the development of a Fair Trade Access Program for Gabonese artists, farmers, and workers. He is also preparing a World Fair Trade Day 2008 celebration. Bertrant is a former coordinator of Plateforme des Etudiants Africains pour un Commerce Equitable (PEACE), which is based in Dakar, Senegal where he completed his university education. He can be reached by email at olliang_fa[AT]yahoo.fr.
!an lives in Toronto, Canada. He’s from Hantsport, Nova Scotia. He’s a trade justice activist, writer and researcher. He founded the Canadian Student Fair Trade Network (CSFTN) in 2004, and was the network’s director until June, 2007. He is an adviser to the US-based United Students for Fair Trade (USFT). He is one of the founders and developers (2007-2008) of the Canadian Coalition for Fair Trade. Upon the invitation of Peter Julian, New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament and Trade Critic, he is participating in roundtable discussions on developing a Fair Trade policy for Canada. He can be reached by email at activistnotes[AT]gmail.com.
Based in Washington DC, USA, ILRF is an advocacy organization which promotes the just and humane treatment of workers worldwide. ILRF has four program areas: Create a SweatFree World, Stop Child Labor, Rights for Working Women, and End Violence Against Trade Unions. ILRF engages in various strategies including consumer education, corporate campaigns, policy campaigns, research, and litigation all the while maintaining strong relationships with labor unions and NGOs around the world working to defend the rights of laborers.
Based in Ottawa, Canada, (just kidding, La Siembra is based in the City of Ottawa, but it’s interesting that the capital of Canada is named after a First Nations people, no? Too bad many people don’t seem to know that or even care – Activist Notes said that, not La Siembra) La Siembra Co-operative’s mission is to offer high-quality Fair Trade Certified organic products that improve the livelihoods of family farmers and the well-being of communities at home and abroad. At La Siembra we have direct relationships with co-operatives in the South and work closely with our producer partners. All of our Cocoa Camino products are Fair Trade Certified and organic and provide consumers with an opportunity to guarantee that farmers are getting a better deal and can plan for their future.
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