It's always exciting when we see someone using their video skills to help improve the world. We've long seen the potential for video to change the world, from its role in democratizing news gathering to its use as a classroom aid for education. One of the ways that people try to have a positive impact on the world is through their purchasing decisions; some people try to purchase fair trade products, products that are made with an eye to sustainability and better labor conditions for the original workers. But even conscientious consumers sometimes wonder what good it does to pay the extra few dollars to make sure they're receiving a fair trade product. What good does it do to buy fair trade products? Where does the money go anyway? How does fair trade really help poor farmers and artisans?
Ronny Hermosa and his wife Sarah Vandecasteele hit on the idea of connecting fair trade consumers and producers through their video productions. They founded the website Fair Trade Connection to share video interviews with the people who make fair trade products — so that consumers can see first hand what kind of impact their purchases have. "We want to take you on a journey, introduce you to the farmer who grew the mango you are eating or maybe the lady who picked up the cotton your T-shirt is made of," said Ronny. "They live in India, Madagascar or maybe Costa Rica, their name is Ranvir, Ana or Salah. They have dreams, worries and questions just like us. Their lives are somehow connected to ours through the products they make."
In October 2011, Ronny and Sarah left their home in Belgium to embark on a one-year-journey to meet and interview fair trade producers around the world. After 6 months in Asia — with stops in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos, and Indonesia — their next stop is South America, where they plan to with producers in Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Costa Rica. The final leg of their journey will take them to Africa. Fair Trade Connection's main Oxfam Belgium, a fair trade handicrafts retailer, buys the video material. In addition to handicraft makers, the Hermosas also shot videos about date producers in Tunisia, and jam producers and sustainable tourism practices in Chile. Next they will shoot interviews with fair trade wine producers in Argentina.
[image:blog_post:12787]While in a remote Bangladeshi village where the women weave grass baskets for export, Ronny and Sarah went to the home of the group secretary, hoping to shoot an interview. They decided to hold the shoot outside to get better lighting. As they set up the microphone and camera, they noticed that a group of over 30 people had gathered around them. Despite the huge audience, it turned out to be one of Ronny's easiest shoots — most of the on-lookers had never even seen a camera before and were so enthralled by the spectacle that they were absolutely silent as the interview took place.
After studying business in college, Ronny was chosen to organize the 2007 bi-annual Fair Trade summit for the World Fair Trade Organization, a fair trade federation with 320 members in more than 60 countries. "The original idea was to become a sales representative for fair trade producers," said Ronny. "There was a great demand for this kind of services but I figured that I could only help a few of them if I went down this road. I wanted to have more impact than that. That's when I thought about making videos. They would give more visibility to the producers, help them reach potential clients, like a marketing tool. Making videos was also killing two birds with a same stone since it answered another big need in the fair trade industry: information about the impact of fair trade on the producers."
The Hermosas shoot their interviews on a Sony HDV camera, editing with Premiere Pro CS5. They create motion graphics on Photoshop CS5, shoot stills with a canon 60D and multiple lenses, and capture audio with a H2N zoom and a lavalier. Learn more about Fair Trade Connections on their Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.