Monday, October 08, 2012

Small Sips Is All About October Justice

Justice Issue the First. October is Fair Trade Month. You should know that the coffee referenced in this blog's title is fair trade, and knowing is half the battle. The other half is beating Cobra, and supporting small farm co-ops in developing countries.

Here, from Equal Exchange's website, is a list of ways to observe the month:
  • Shop at food co-ops when possible. Find one near you.
  • Organize or suggest an Equal Exchange fundraiser at your child’s school. 
  • Learn about the co-op difference! Check out and explore the seven co-op principles
  • Watch "Black Gold," a documentary about the coffee industry and trade. It's available on Netflix! 
  • Look for Equal Exchange coffee, tea, chocolate and bananas in the places you shop. If you don’t see them, ask for them!
  • Serve Equal Exchange products at your place of worship through our Interfaith Program
  • Tell your friends and family about Equal Exchange! Share your favorite products with them (they make great gifts).
  • Want to stay in the loop? Get our e-mail newsletter, The Exchange, delivered to your inbox. Sign up here
  • Cook with Equal Exchange products! We have lots of yummy recipes
  • Check out our blog, for updates about producer partners and other Equal Exchange goings-on.
  • Invest in a co-operative organization or business. 
  • Join our Facebook page and share your photos and ideas!
Now, some may read all this and have some objections. The first may be "Why did you link specifically to Equal Exchange's site and not to the larger Fair Trade USA, the leading certifier of fair trade products in the United States?" That is an excellent question. The main reason is that Fair Trade USA has changed its philosophy lately of what qualifies as fair trade, allowing larger corporations to fall under the banner, which defeats the original purpose of the movement:
With FT4All, FTUSA is beginning to offer Fair Trade certification to every type of grower—from small, independent farmers (i.e. those not working within a cooperative) to the largest plantations, assuming they meet certain social, economic and environmental criteria. This contrasts with Fair Trade’s original practice of directing sales exclusively to democratically organized cooperatives of small-scale farmers like UCIRI.
I get the argument that the Fair Trade label may help inspire larger corporations to revise their business practices to reflect the values of health and safety for workers and such, but larger corporations don't function democratically like the struggling co-ops. I still prefer to support them.

The second objection is "but socialism." Fine, keep drinking your nasty Maxwell House and turn a blind eye to possible human rights violations that are committed in the process in the name of freedom or whatever. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Justice Issue the Second. This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week:
In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI's efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since 1990, mental health advocates across the country have joined together during the first full week of October in sponosoring many kinds of activities. 
MIAW has become a NAMI tradition. It presents an opportunity to all NAMI state organizations and affiliates across the country to work together in communities to achieve the NAMI mission through outreach, education and advocacy. 
The MIAW Idea Book suggests activities that can be incorporated into planning for the fall. Stickers, posters and a web banner to use on websites or in documents are available for download in English and Spanish. 
The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Special resources for outreach to faith communities also can be downloaded.  
Start your MIAW preparation now and begin changing attitudes, changing lives!
The National Day of Prayer is a more recent thing, I think, and a good one for faith communities to observe. Mental illness is another "out of sight, out of mind" issue for our society. Most people chiefly derive their "understanding" of mental illness from horror movies and media reports of mass shootings. Hopefully it won't shock you to learn that the vast majority of people who suffer from mental illness are not like that. They do so much more silently, and with an incredible lack of funding, treatment, and general regard in most states. Click on the NAMI link to see how you can get more involved.

There's "friendly" and there's friendly. Jan at A Church for Starving Artists reflects on what a church can do to be more friendly. Like, real friendly rather than self-delusional friendly:
We need to teach hospitality skills to our people. I realize that this will offend many of our long time church members who believe they are already excellent at this. We are not. Even as a Presbytery staffer, I have experienced worshiping with people who don’t even look at me, much less tell me where coffee hour is.  
But it’s not enough to say that we could be friendlier. 
We need to equip nuts and bolts hospitality skills to everyone in our congregation – not so much because we want to treat each other well within the confines of Church World. The point is that we want to model hospitality outside the walls of the church. We just hone our skills on Sunday mornings with each other and those who visit as we worship together.
The rest of the post is a list of suggestions for how to pursue true hospitality, which ultimately is an attitude thing more than a list of functions. Hopefully they feed into one another leading to church communities that really are more inviting and welcoming. Hopefully.

Next: Toby Mac joins Third Day. Probably. It was recently reported that after a five-year breakup, Christian rock band Audio Adrenaline is reforming with former dc Talk singer Kevin Max taking over on vocals:
Five years ago, Audio Adrenaline gathered in Hawaii for an emotional finale concert.  
After what was supposed to be their last performance, founding members Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss threw themselves into their work supporting a hundred orphans being cared for in Jacmel and Grand Goave, Haiti. 
They remain just as passionate about this work and their decision to reform goes hand in hand with their calling to serve orphans. 
Audio Adrenaline is returning with a new lineup of musicians with a similar heart to be the voice for orphans in Haiti and around the world. 
Proceeds from their new music will go towards the Hands & Feet Project, which provides care for the Jacmel and Grand Groave orphans. 
McGinniss resumes his role as the band's bassist, while Stuart will step down as lead vocalist due to spasmodic dysphonia, an involuntary muscle spasm in the larynx. 
While Stuart will not be taking to the stage, he is still very much a part of band decisions and has co-written many of the songs on the new album. 
Taking over lead vocals is former dcTalk singer and long-time friend of Audio Adrenaline, Kevin Max. The desire to speak for orphans is an issue close to Kevin's heart, as he was himself an orphaned child.
This coupled with dc Talk alum Michael Tait joining Newsboys a few years ago--news that I didn't know until earlier this year--just amazes me 1) that some of these groups that I loved in high school and college and had a great impact on my faith in those days are still around, and 2) that they're now reconfiguring as supergroups.

The other night I decided to listen to part of the new Insyderz album (another group that has recently reunited) and was taken back to days gone by of attending SkaMania '98 and being excited to play a Five Iron Frenzy song in worship at the UMC church where I played drums. Excluding certain experiences, those were great times, and all this news of these groups reuniting has me nostalgic. I'm sure there's a blog post upcoming about this at some point.

Remix! I meant to include this in the Roundup on Friday, but you get it today instead:

Grow ideas in the garden of your mind. Thanks, Mr. Rogers.

Misc. Black Coffee Reflections on how elections affect our treatment of each other, and what to do about it. Brant quotes the late Mike Yaconelli at length. Jamie on being a pastor's wife.