All posts tagged “coffee

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Repaso: Japan photos; fighting poverty, continued; coffee culture in Guatemala; ecclesial hope; Stott on social action

1. Japan in photos a year later
The Big Picture photo blog has a collection of the iconic photos from the earthquake and tsunami of a year ago, and what those same spots look like today. The water has receded and most of the debris has been cleared, but it’s clear rebuilding will still take time.

2. Best ways to fight poverty
Two or three weeks ago I blogged about Christianity Today’s cover stories on tackling poverty. Not surprisingly, CT’s coverage garnered some debate over what actually works and what doesn’t when it comes to development. Yesterday, CT posted eight follow-up columns, including one by Mark Galli, one of the original writers. Those weighing in include Christian NGO big wigs like Rich Stearns (World Vision US), Peter Greer (HOPE International), Stephan Bauman (World Relief), and Franklin Graham (Samaritan’s Purse). See all the responses here.

3. Coffee culture in Guatemala
A lot of good coffee comes from Guatemala; most people know that. But what is the country’s coffee drinking culture like? James Fredrick writes for Tico Times about how things may be changing — the introduction of Starbucks and other specialty coffee shops mark a significant rise in domestic coffee consumption which could boost standards of living for growers, but the gap between those who can afford a $3.50 cappuccino and those who pick the beans remains vast.

4. Seven reasons to be hopeful about the church
It’s no secret that many these days “love Jesus but not the church.” The church comes with baggage; why not just cultivate a private walk with Jesus and not bother with the seemingly endless messes in the church? Because the church is still the bride of Christ, and Jesus has no plans to part ways with her. Adam Jeske writes for InterVarsity’s blog with seven reasons to be hopeful for the church.

5. Love needs no justification
Skye Jethani points us to John Stott to help us navigate the ongoing evangelism/social justice divide:

Atonement-only advocates demand that advocates of social justice justify their efforts. And justice advocates demand atonement-only advocates justify their emphasis on gospel proclamation. But, using Stott’s logic, if evangelism or social activism is flowing from a heart of love and compassion, than neither must be justified. Love is its own justification. As you engage this issue in your own community, do not get snared by the false dichotomy that declares either evangelism or social justice must be superior. Instead, let’s affirm whatever work God has called us to, whether that be proclaiming reconciliation or demonstrating it, as long as his love is found to be fueling it.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: The Big Picture]

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Repaso: Ethical branding; Garrels documentary; evangelicals & corruption; gender & poverty in Latin America

1. The future of ethical branding
Ethical Corporation has an interesting look at Fairtrade International (FLO) and its somewhat complicated relationship with Fair Trade USA:

FLO was already embroiled in controversy because its affiliated but independent American operation, Fair Trade USA, announced last autumn that it was cutting ties with the mother organisation as part of what it called a progressive reform of its labelling strategy. It now offers designation to larger private operations, mostly coffee plantations, and has lowered the required minimum fair trade component to as little as 10% from 20%. Fair Trade USA says the changes will encourage corporations to adopt ethical standards, which will seed change and directly benefit far more poor farmers and workers than the current system. The organisation believes sales will double in three years.

2. The Sea In Between
You probably know how much I love the music of Josh Garrels. His record “Love & War & The Sea In Between” was my favorite album of last year, and others happened to agree. Also, it’s still available for free. Here’s a trailer for a new “documentary performance film” in which Garrels and Mason Jar Music travel to British Columbia “to build music from the ground up.” It looks so amazing.

3. Evangelicals and corruption in Latin America
This week, thanks to John Mulholland, I learned about the research being done by Rachel McCleary on the political economy of religion. I was particularly fascinated with her work on evangelicals and their relationship to cultures plagued by corruption, which reminds me a lot of what Kevin Lewis O’Neill had to say in City of God: Christian Citizenship in Postwar Guatemala. Here’s a blurb from McCleary:

Evangelicals in Latin America display strong cultural dichotomies in their actions: religious versus secular, tithing to God (diezmo) versus public financial matters, caring for family versus giving aid to strangers. Kinship-based social structures rather than society-wide procedures of fairness continue to dominate public ethos. We seek to investigate how Evangelical churches are institutional agents diffusing certain values in society that account for the emergence of new societal organizational structures combating corruption.

4. Poverty’s gender discrimination in Latin America
The Institute of the Americas takes a look at how poverty disproportionately affects the region’s women and children, and what can be done about it:

In Latin America, poverty has the face of a woman; poverty has the face of a child. Poverty affects Latin American women at a rate 20 percent higher than men. Poverty in children younger than 15 years old is twice that of adults, said Inés Bustillo, director of the Washington office of the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: guatemalancoffee.blogspot.com]


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Fighting hunger in the coffeelands

A lot of coffee is grown in Mexico and Central America, and coffee farmers and their families also tend to experience a lot of hunger. There’s an excellent new short film about it, called After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands. From the film’s blog:

In a recent survey of small-scale coffee farmers in Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, over 67% indicated they were unable to maintain their normal diet for 3-8 months of the year. These are “Los Meses Flacos,” or the thin months, when families make ends meet by eating less, eating less expensive foods, or borrowing against their future earnings from coffee. While incredibly complex, recent work suggests it is not unsolvable.

“After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands” is a film that brings the day-to-day challenges of the thin months to life in the voices of coffee farmers themselves, and shares the successes of creative projects that have been established to eliminate this annual period of food insecurity.

Fortunately, the 20-minute film is available for free online, and is embedded here. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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Coffee, immigration, justice and faith

The Los Angeles Times had an interesting piece this weekend about Just Coffee, a company started by “a buttoned-down Presbyterian minister” and “a tie-dyed Roman Catholic renegade” to help churches creatively address, of all things, the problem of illegal immigration. They aim to do this by providing good coffee to congregations (God knows we drink our share of joe) while paying coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico (not far from where I grew up in Guate) enough to be able to stay where they are, rather than sneaking into the U.S. for lack of economic options.

“You can bemoan the immigration problem from a variety of perspectives,” said Bassett, the bearded, tie-dyed member of the partnership. “Generally, people agree that if the coffee’s good and if the people who grow it can make a living, they’re going to stay where they are.”

Unlike other Fair Trade coffee companies (which are themselves obviously better than the “unfair” ones),

Just Coffee promised to pay above-market prices for the beans, but also agreed that the farmer cooperatives in Chiapas would be responsible for roasting and packaging them, which is where much of the profit lies.

To say that this particular initiative will resolve the immigration problem would obviously be a stretch. But I love that it benefits churches in the U.S. by providing good coffee that is grown and produced and purchased ethically, and it benefits communities in Mexico by providing jobs and keeping families together. Plus, it’s a reminder to all of us that there are more options available than just the ones laid out by the talking heads on the right and the left.