Fair Trade is a movement that I closely aligned myself with while majoring in Political Science at Saint Michael's College. Its roots in social and economic justice, globalization, and the politics of food and international trade are all topics that I found fascinating as a student. My connections to these issues came naturally, but the Political Science faculty's experience and commitment to teaching them also significantly influenced the trajectory I was to pursue after college. In addition, the liberal arts curriculum at Saint Michael's College allowed me to view these topics through different academic lenses including: environmental, gender, economic, anthropological and business. Having these additional perspectives was integral to enhancing my ability to think critically and deepening my understanding of complex issues.
I graduated in 2009 and my post-college life has found me at the heart of the Fair Trade and co-operative movements as a worker-owner of Equal Exchange. The timing seems pertinent to both, as 2012 was the United Nations' "International Year of the Co-operative" and the year that Saint Michael's became the first Fair Trade College in Vermont. At Equal Exchange, I have found that my involvement in the Fair Trade movement and worker-owned co-operatives - democratic businesses in which each worker has an equal ownership stake, voice and vote - breathe life into the theoretical debates from many of my Political Science courses. We vote on decisions, run elections for positions, and collectively come together to make trade fair and sustain a viable democratic business model. We are, quite literally, creating our own political community. And it's fascinating.