Dayton becomes Fair Trade city

The city of Dayton is the latest municipality to declare itself a “fair trade” community, an activist-inspired effort that seeks to ensure that at least a portion of imports to the United States are produced under humane conditions.

On Wednesday, the City Commission unanimously passed an informal resolution “to be a fair trade city, supporting fair trade practices in the production of goods, and encouraging the purchase of fair trade goods.”

The city joins San Francisco and Chicago among others nationwide in embracing production “through sustainable and ecologically friendly means, thus supporting the future of a healthy planet for all,” as the resolution reads.

City Commissioner Nan Whaley said the designation should help support domestic and foreign production that pays fair wages under decent working conditions. “We are a global marketplace, and should respect where we buy things from,” she said.

The initiative was organized by businesswoman London Coe, owner of Peace on Fifth, 508 E. Fifth St., a retail store in Dayton’s Oregon District that carries jewelry, accessories, and artwork made under certified “fair trade” conditions. Several global organizations inspect and certify coffee and other food products as well as clothing and other consumer items.

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Friday, Coe said she was motivated by efforts combating slavery around the world. “I kept hearing conversations about human trafficking,” she said. “There’s a gross amount of human labor trafficking around the world.”

As part of the campaign, Coe said 100 local residents submitted supporting letters. The next step, she said, is to ask Montgomery County to adopt a similar resolution.

Kery Gray, executive assistant to the City Commission, said that because of the resolution, the city will give preference to “fair trade” goods in future purchases.

“It is largely symbolic, but it says the city does believe it’s an important issue,” he said.

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