As the summer concert season rapidly approaches, our music outreach shifts into high gear. In addition to many festivals (like Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Summer Camp, and Gathering of the Vibes), Oxfam volunteers connect with thousands of fellow music fans at concerts by artists who support our work. This summer, a diverse group of artists have invited our volunteers to join them at select shows.
So make sure you look for Oxfam, and learn more about our efforts to right the wrongs of poverty and injustice, at these summer dates by the following great bands:
1. Fitz & The Tantrums
Known for their incredibly fun live shows, Fitz & The Tantrums plan to spend most of the rest of 2013 on the road, and Oxfam will be at many of their tour dates too.
Fitz & the Tantrums. Photo: Bob Ferguson/Oxfam America
2. The National
Touring behind their new album, Trouble Will Find Me (out May 20), The National recently released a video for “Demons” from that album:
3. DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow has been an Oxfam supporter since his trip with Oxfam to Kenya in 2007 (see more about the trip in the video below). His current tour features his “All Basses Covered” DJ set.
Cocoa farmer Adelaju Olaleye leans against the wall of her house in Oke-Agbede Isale, a village in Nigeria’s southwestern cocoa-growing region. Photo: George Osodi/Panos for Oxfam America
Sweet news today for chocolate lovers: the biggest chocolate maker in the world, Mondelez International, has agreed to take steps to address inequality facing women in their cocoa supply chains—thanks to pressure from customers like you.
One of the images posted to Mondelez’s Facebook page by Oxfam supporters. Pictured: Amir Gorjifard of the Oxfam Club at Grinnell College. Photo: Mary Zheng
Today’s announcement by Mondelez follows commitments last month by Mars and Nestlé to address these issues. Together, Mars, Mondelez, and Nestlé buy more than 30 percent of the world’s cocoa—so changes in their policies could have huge effects for cocoa farmers and their families.
“Empowering women cocoa farmers has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people, some of whom are earning less than $2 a day,” said Judy Beals, manager of Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign. “We hope that the steps taken by Mars, Mondelez, and Nestlé offer an example to the rest of the food and beverage industry that consumers are paying attention to how companies impact the communities they work in.”
Mars, Mondelez, and Nestlé are now taking the first steps to commit to the empowerment of women and to find out how women are being treated in their supply chains. All have agreed to publish the data from first stage impact assessments in one year’s time and to publish concrete action plans to address the issues. Mondelez will also sign on to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles later this month, becoming the first of the three major chocolate companies to do so. Learn more about companies’ commitments.
Oxfam will make sure that these companies stick to their promises, but we can’t do it without you. We’ll put out progress reports so consumers and supporters can keep track and hold Mars, Mondelez, and Nestle to their word. You can also stay informed and take further actions through Oxfam’s Behind the Brands scorecard; we’ll be updating this online tool in real time so you can see how the giant companies that make your favorite brands (chocolate and otherwise) measure up.
A couple of months ago, we invited you to submit your photos and videos to produce a crowd-sourced video set to an acoustic version of Coldplay’s “In My Place.” Now, we can share the resulting film, which is drawn from footage submitted by thousands of fans in 55 countries:
The concept and film was created by award-winning director Mat Whitecross to echo the dislocation and displacement thousands of families experience as a result of land grabs. (For one example, see this compelling series of photos of families affected by land grabs in Cambodia).
The film shows people from Argentina to Indonesia moving something favorite, personal, or familiar from their home to somewhere it doesn’t belong. Others show people doing something personal and familiar totally out of place, such as actor Dominic Cooper taking a nap outside in the freezing city of Budapest and the band Wolf Gang jamming in the street. Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran also makes an appearance holding a sign in support.
Coldplay, who have been working with Oxfam since 2003, said they were happy to break new ground with a crowd-sourced video. “Not only are Coldplay fans very good-looking but they’re also incredibly creative,” said the band. “We’re proud that they’ve dedicated their collective talent to this important cause.”
Here’s a real treat for chocolate lovers: proof that no company is too big to listen to customers like you.
Exactly one month ago, Oxfam launched the Behind the Brands scorecard with a call for consumers to “change the way the food companies that make your favorite brands do business.” We kicked off the effort by asking you to take action in support of women cocoa farmers around the world, many of whom face poverty, low wages, and discrimination.
In an incredible response, more than 65,000 people sent messages asking companies to improve their policies and help women cocoa growers get a fair deal. Tens of thousands of you also tweeted, shared our messages on Facebook, and attended events around the country. (See some examples in the video below.)
Today, thanks to your efforts, two of the world’s biggest chocolate companies have shown they’re listening. Mars and Nestlé have agreed to do more to “know and show” how women are being treated in their cocoa supply chains, to commit to a plan of action, to work to sign on to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, and to work with industry organizations to address gender issues. (Learn more about their commitments here.) We’re encouraged by their commitments and the effects these will ultimately have on the women who grow and pick the key ingredient in our favorite chocolate treats.
“Women cocoa farmers and consumers around the globe have made their voices heard,” said Alison Woodhead, manager for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign. “Mars and Nestlé have taken important steps to show the farmers they rely on, their customers, and the rest of the food industry that they care about the conditions women face in their supply chains.”
Oxfam is looking forward to working with Mars and Nestlé to ensure that they keep their promises to women cocoa farmers. For now, help maintain the momentum by calling on another of the world’s biggest chocolate companies, Mondelez International (maker of products like Oreos), to follow suit. Add your voice today.
Now that International Women’s Day is over, I’ll never feel the same way about M&M’s. Nor will I see Oreo cookies or Crunch bars in quite the same light. That’s because, for this March 8, we transformed the wrappers of these iconic products into a call to action on behalf of women cocoa farmers.
At Oxfam, we believe that no company is too big to listen to its customers. So as the world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8, we called on consumers to send a message to three influential chocolate companies—Mars, Mondelez, and Nestlé—asking them to put policies in place to help women cocoa growers get a fair deal. To get the word out, we transformed some of these companies’ most famous products, and shared our versions, below, on social media.
Giant versions of these reimagined products also made an appearance at a snowy Times Square event at the M&M’s World store, and in front of Nestlé’s US headquarters in downtown LA, where the stormy skies parted just as Oxfam staffers and volunteers climbed into a human-sized “scales of justice” to stand in support of women cocoa farmers (see the photos at the top of this post). Oxfam Action Corps volunteers also handed out thousands of redesigned treats all over the country, from Austin, Texas, where the SXSW Festival was just beginning, to Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
Yesterday, on the hot, wind-blown sands of Miami Beach, we organized a race. As the inspiring riffs of “Eye of the Tiger” blared from our boombox, I helped set up a race track, cut gossamer, and plant flags. Then Miami-based Oxfam volunteers Ed, Julian, and Alma donned sweatbands, sneakers, tube socks and t-shirts for their sprint down the beach, while Pua and Marli held signs and cheered them on.
Their passionate voices joined thousands of others from the US and around the world who helped Oxfam launch our Behind the Brands scorecard. The scorecard digs deeper into the policies of the world’s 10 biggest food companies on issues from fair pay to women’s rights, and scores them on what they’re doing well—or could be doing better.
Our focus yesterday was on cocoa, the key ingredient in everyone’s favorite candy and a crop grown by millions of small-holder farmers around the world. Just steps away from our race, at the Fontainebleau Hotel, executives from major sweets companies—including Mars, Mondelez, and Nestle, all featured on the scorecard—met for the National Confectioners Association Annual Conference. While their top brass dined on decadent candy treats, our intrepid group staged the “race to the top” right outside as a reminder for food companies to use their incredible power to help end poverty.
Photo: Sarah Kalloch/Oxfam America
Inside the hotel, various top executives spoke at the NCA Conference. They focused on the future of chocolate—from sustainability to health and wellness to taste.
For Oxfam, the future of chocolate has to include farmers. Cocoa doesn’t grow in luxury hotels on Miami Beach—it grows in Ghana, in Ivory Coast, in Ecuador, in Indonesia. And while cocoa does in fact grow on trees, someone has to plant that tree, nurture it, pick the pods and process them; very hard work that cocoa farmers, many of whom are women, do every day.
Sure, as our race ended to the tune of “Chariots of Fire” we may have looked a tiny bit silly. But our goal was serious: to encourage globally known brands like Mars, Mondelez, and Nestle (makers of products like Crunch, Oreos, M&M’s, and more) to put women cocoa producers first. Just as we raced down that beach yesterday, it’s time for the three of them to start a similar sprint to the top of Oxfam’s Behind the Brands scorecard, and use their power to support the communities they source from worldwide.
If you’re a fan of Ra Ra Riot, or of music in general, then let me recommend the band’s excellent new album, Beta Love. Released this past Tuesday to much critical acclaim, Beta Love relies less on the string-heavy arrangements of previous albums that allowed critics to pigeonhole them as “chamber pop.” Ra Ra Riot incorporates many more synth sounds on the new album, which allow the band’s knack for writing singalong hooks to shine at a brightness not seen on the first two albums.
Though the band claims inspiration for this album from the works of futurists William Gibson and Ray Kurzweil, my ears hear equal influence from ’80′s popsters like Steve Winwood and Robert Palmer. It’s likely the smartest dance record you’ll hear this year.
For a taste of Ra Ra Riot’s new sound, watch this video of the band performing “I Shut Off” from their new album recently at a studio in NYC:
I’m quite picky when it comes to films (I’m that guy), but even the rain couldn’t stop me from enjoying the film También la Lluvia (Even the Rain), which I first saw last year at the Coral Gables Arts Cinema in Miami.
For one, the story touches upon issues that will make you want to join a picket line. It takes place in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where a movie is being filmed about the Columbian voyage to the “New World” and their unexpected encounters with its inhabitants. Gael García Bernal plays the director, who hires the local townspeople to portray “Native” people like Hatuey, a 16th century Taíno chief known for leading uprisings against the colonizers. Things get cray when the filmmakers discover the actor playing Hatuey is, in his own life, an active protestor against the privatization of his city’s water plant (a direct allusion to the Cochabamba Water Wars).
Also, Gael García Bernal. I mean, c’mon, the man’s face looks like it was carved by angels. More importantly, he’s a social justice activist at heart who’s been working with Oxfam since 2005. He’s visited Chiapas, Mexico, to meet farmers directly affected by unfair global trade practices. He’s had a hand in urging world leaders to address climate change, and is a supporter of Oxfam’s GROW campaign, or CRECE en Español. Gael, along with friend and fellow actor Diego Luna, founded the non-profit Ambulante, which screens documentary films and hosts training programs in places where they are rarely available.
In También la Lluvia, however, Gael plays a far from compassionate character, who knowingly makes a profit off his low-paid Bolivian crew and continues shooting his movie even as the water protests turn violent.
Stimulating story, aside, I also appreciated that this was a subtitled movie, with the actors speaking Spanish. Seriously, what’s with the movies set outside the US with non-English speaking characters, yet with all-English dialogue? As if everyone in the world is speaking English to one another in weird, obscure accents, maintaining every other aspect of their culture save for their language. Oh, Hollywood, you sly devil, you.
Bottom line: If you’re an Ox-friend, you’ll dig this this movie. También la Lluvia highlights certain injustices done to poor, often-silent populations, and the power they wield when they stand together in opposition, while somehow never straying into preachy-land.
OxfamBuzzList is a blog series about the movies, books, blogs, music, and more that have Oxfam staff and supporters talking. If you’d like to contribute a guest post or suggest a topic, please leave a comment below.
At an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, the place where you sit, and the meal that you eat, are determined by the luck of the draw—just as in real life some of us are born into relative prosperity and others into poverty.
Unless you’ve been to one of these interactive events, it’s hard to explain how memorable, emotional, and inspirational it can be, to name just a few words we’ve heard from Oxfam supporters over the years. People often get in touch to tell us how a Hunger Banquet gave them a deeper understanding of hunger and poverty, or even a whole new perspective.
While this event has been a Thanksgiving seasonal tradition for nearly 40 years, we’ve seen social media bring a fresh energy to the scene that pushes the message far beyond the walls of the room and still captures that feeling of inspiration and connection.
So far, I’m impressed by the tweets I’ve read about people’s reactions to Oxfam America Hunger Banquets this fall. Believe me, I’m in the business of writing tweets–and I know how difficult it can be to convey such a BIG feeling in 140 characters. A few that caught my eye:
Just attended OXFAM’s #HungerBanquet !Great program! Loved the information and discussion! Raise awareness of world hunger! #OXFAM#CSU
Today, we’re joining our partners at Blog Action Day and thousands of others worldwide to pay tribute to the power of community. The 2012 Blog Action Day theme, “the power of we,” is “a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet.”
At Oxfam America, we know just how much those collaborative efforts matter. Around the world, our programs to solve poverty and hunger are often led by local men and women who are working together to improve their own lives. Here in the US, our supporters also help raise awareness about these efforts and inspire others to take action. Sometimes those two groups even come together, as you’ll see in some of the photos below—and when they do, the results can be astonishing.
So in honor of “the power of we,” here are five Oxfam photos that we think best capture the spirit of community:
1. Sharing solutions to hunger
Selas Samson Biru, center, a farmer from Tigray, Ethiopia, compares crops with Sonia Kendrick, left, and Linda Barnes, right, both Iowa farmers and Oxfam Sisters on the Planet ambassadors. In honor of World Food Day last year, Oxfam brought women farmers like Biru to the US to meet their American counterparts and talk about shared solutions to global hunger. Photo: Ilene Perlman/Oxfam America
2. Pooling resources
Local women in Banakoro, Mali, during a weekly meeting of their community savings and lending group, which they call Sabougnuma, or “good deed.” Oxfam’s Saving for Change program helps poor people in five countries start and run their own village savings groups, which act as community banks and can make loans to members in need. Photo: Rebecca Blackwell/Oxfam America
3. Lending a hand
NFL superstar wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin (facing away from camera) help with community rebuilding efforts during a visit to Tigray, Ethiopia, with Oxfam earlier this year. Inspired by their travels, Boldin and Fitzgerald recently launched a fundraising campaign to help Ethiopian communities recover from last year’s drought and food crisis. Photo: Audra Melton/Oxfam America
4. Providing for the next generation
Marlith Amasifuen, shown here with her son Bryan, is one of 30 indigenous women from Aviación, Peru, who work together to maintain a shared garden deep in the Amazon forest. With Oxfam’s support, the women cultivate the same traditional crops that their Kichwa ancestors once grew, protecting their families from crop loss caused by climate change and providing a steady food source for their children. Photo: Percy Ramírez/Oxfam America
5. Educating friends and neighbors
More than 200 people participated in an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet® event in New York City in 2011. Nearly 40 years after the first Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, this memorable, interactive event continues to educate Americans about the causes of hunger and poverty; thousands of people around the country host or attend local Hunger Banquets each year. Photo: Nicole Kindred/Oxfam America
Oxfam America is a member of Oxfam, an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in 94 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty.
Oxfam America is a 501(c)(3) organization. Gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent allowable under the law.