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Why ‘White Friday’?

Despite only arriving in the UK two years ago, Black Friday has already become synonymous with both bargain price electricals and scenes of chaos and disorder. Here at Just Fair Trade we also have a sneaking suspicion that this new shopping phenomenon is compounding a situation in which consumers don’t really understand the value of what they buy and rarely consider the people who make the goods they shop for.

Although we try to offer an alternative understanding and model of consumption all year round, we decided that this year we wanted to explicitly challenge some of the implicit messages behind Black Friday by creating an event that highlights the role of the producer and the potential impact of our consumer choices.

‘White Friday’ will take place on Black Friday, 27 November 2015, 6-8.30pm at Just Fair Trade.

As we plough headlong into the orgy of consumption that Christmas has become this event is an opportunity to take a breath and consider how we might approach things differently this year. Through videos and short presentations you’ll hear stories of lives changed by fair trade, and of children who are being inspired to support communities they’ll probably never visit. We’ll be…

The whole of your £5 ticket price will go towards buying a rotavator for a rice farmers’ cooperative in Malawi, and you’ll also have the opportunity to buy brilliant rice and spice packs put together by Y5&6 pupils from Avenue Primary School as part of their 90kg Rice Challenge Week back in October – the money raised from these will also go directly to the rotavator fund.

Over the last few years, the team at Just Fair Trade have had the privilege of meeting a number of different producers. Comfort, a cocoa grower and member of the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative at the heart of Divine Chocolate, visited us during Fairtrade Fortnight 2012 and was able to share some of her experiences with customers and school students during her stay.

In February 2014, Just founder Sarah and shop manager Kerry travelled to Rwanda to visit Cards From Africa, a small company providing dignified and creative employment for young adults whose lives have been shattered by the dual horrors of the 1994 genocide and the African AIDS crisis. Both Sarah and Kerry found this experience transformational, and their insights and experiences have had a lasting impact on the whole of Just Fair Trade.

And this year we were visited by Howard Chiko Msukwa, an inspirational rice farmer from Malawi who has not only seen his own life and family impacted by fair trade, but has been able to work with other farmers locally and nationally to begin to create a new infrastructure which is transforming the lives of rice farmers and their families.

The simple fact is that meeting a producer – regardless of where they live or what they produce – changes how you view and understand the chain that connects production ‘over there’ and consumption ‘over here’. When a farmer sits opposite you over dinner and explains how your choice to buy a kilo of fair trade rice instead of a kilo of ‘normal’ rice impacts him and his family, it’s very difficult to go back to shopping the way you used to.

And yet because we live in a society which is rapidly losing its manufacturing heritage, and which struggles to value its own farmers, most people rarely stop to think about how the goods they consume are produced. This is a relatively new phenomenon – even fifty years ago (probably even more recently in places like Leicester and Leicestershire) a far greater proportion of us would have known people who worked in manufacturing or farming, even if we didn’t ourselves.

So on White Friday we want to create space for people to stop and think about their purchasing power and the relationship between production and consumption that each of us are part of. There are some in the media who are suggesting that Black Friday will disappear from the UK almost as quickly as it arrived and, frankly, we hope that’s the case! But rather than sitting by and keeping our fingers crossed we wanted to be proactive in offering a different perspective on Christmas consumption.

Please come and join us!

Do let us know you’re coming if you possibly can! If you’re on Facebook, let us know via our Facebook event, or by email (justshop@hotmail.co.uk), phone (0116 253 8032) or just pop in and see us!

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