Fair-trade store is topic of meeting

Stanley Campbell, executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries, will speak at 7 p.m. Monday at Wesley United Methodist Church, 2200 16th Ave, Sterling. The free event, open to the public, is sponsored by the Sauk Valley Interfaith Peace Group.

Campbell will focus on the JustGoods fair-trade store that opened 6 years ago at 201 Seventh St., Rockford. Fair trade (as opposed to “free trade”) began as missionaries returned from Third World countries with arts and crafts from family-owned and cooperative producers. The producer is assured of making a living wage, no child labor is used, and only environmentally friendly arts and crafts are sold. Profits sometimes help whole villages.

Some people began their support of fair trade by buying coffee, most likely through their churches. The coffee trader contracts directly with small farmers and cooperatives that don’t use pesticides or herbicides and won’t cut down the forest for their product. 

JustGoods receives its fair-traded gift items from five major outlets, including Ten Thousand Villages, a mission outreach of the Mennonite Church, and SERRV, from the Brethrens.

Fair-traded gifts include pottery, baskets, Christmas ornaments, toys, clothes, and even furniture. It will be possible to buy items at the meeting. They make wonderful and meaningful gifts.

Campbell will also highlight some of the many other peace activities organized through Rockford Urban ministries. Their activities are provided by a core of volunteers. Their store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. Rockford Urban Ministries is an outreach program of 16 United Methodist churches.