PART ONE - IS IT FAIR?
|A long time ago...|
|I'm flying now...|
Scroll forward about thirty years and I watched a programme on TV that changed my life (and more importantly my chocolate buying habits) for ever. I can’t remember the details of the original programme but in 2010 an updated Panorama documentary covered the same ground and showed that little has changed. You can find out more about this here. I’ve linked this to my personal site because it’s in five parts and as they say ‘it may contain images that upset you’ (if it doesn’t you probably don’t have much of a concept of fair and will have already stopped reading this blog complaining that it’s got nothing to do with writing or epublishing. Oh ye of little faith. I’ll come to that. But I’m getting on these days so I’m allowed a bit of digression and winding up and missing the point aren’t I? Indulge me, for a bit longer, please.
That whole chocolate and slavery thing was my first introduction to Fairtrade. And over the past ten years or so I’ve done what I can do add my ‘fair’ to the sum of fair. I buy Fairtrade goods as much as I can, and because I’m a writer not just a consumer I advocate about it as much as I can as well. Previously I’ve written plays, run ‘live’ festivals and made my work available to all and sundry to perform during Fairtrade fortnights. But this year I’m going one better. This year is the big one.
|Because fiction can be fair too...|
So from 25th February to 8th March via my advocacy publishing imprint Guerrilla Midgie Press I’m running the TOP TEN FLASH FICTION FAIRTRADEFESTIVAL. (Go alliteration!) It’s an awareness raising event as well as giving folk the opportunity to get creative about important issues of Fairtrade. To back it up I’m publishing volume 1 of my FAIR TRADE FICTION which will be available cross platform for the special price of 99p during Fairtrade Fortnight. I hope to have volume 2 ready for World Fair Trade Day in May. I hope you’ll engage with the festival and it’d be neat if you bought the ebook too. (Think of it as in lieu of a birthday card! It’s only fair for a writer to get their books bought on their birthday isn’t it?)
For me, Fairtrade is not just about helping poor people in developing countries. It’s a way of life. It’s certainly part of my writing life. Currently I’m working on its relations to farming in the ‘developed’ world – milk and pigs and all that kind of thing. Farmers for Fair Trade was fashion a couple of years ago, but like making poverty history, these things come and go – but some of us are still there believing in the concept and doing what we can in the post fashion era. And being a writer I can’t help but think about what fairly traded writing would be. So many of our ‘indie’ gripes would be resolved if (and only if?) we lived in a world where fairness was more important to the trading relationship than ‘freeness.’ A fellow contributor here Dan Holloway said to me recently regarding the ‘between free and fair’ debate I was having in my head that even raising this question is part of the capitalist discourse and one needs to find another way round it. I agree. I’m not an anti-capitalist. I’m a non-capitalist. Like Gandhi and his peaceful resistance I see the appeal of going beyond picking up my ball (or picking myself up) while shouting ‘it’s not fair’ and looking at life from a totally different angle. I hope that in 50 years of living I’ve matured somewhat. I no longer seek to be confrontational. I aim for finding an honest and fair way to make a difference. Or at least to live differently because I know that my influence in the world is less than the Guerrilla Midgie imprint I invented last year. In conclusion: for me the words free and fair have ethical not economic value and that’s how I’ll move on into the next half century.
PART TWO FIFTY DAYS OF CELEBRATION
|Older and maybe wiser?|
My birthday is on the 14th by the way. I get three for the price of one because it’s also Valentines Day and my Wedding Anniversary.) And will be the day that at 25 I thought would mark my retirement but now becomes the date I take ‘delivery’ of the publishing company which is my birthday present. As of Feb 1st I’ve embarked on 50 days of celebration so that those of you who only know me as that thorn in the side who refuses to celebrate Christmas can rest assured that I’m not the miserable sod you all think. I’ll be looking at creative ways to celebrate so if you want to be at the party to end all parties, I suggest you LIKE me on Facebook and sign up to my Blog. Or catch up with me on Goodreads. It’s all free after all! And may be fair! I’m planning to give up reclusivity for 50 days and get virtually ‘out there’ to meet fellow readers and writers and talk books (and other things!)
PART THREE – REMEMBER REMEMBER THE 1ST OF MARCH!
And just to remind you that entries close soon for participation in that other online BIG festival of the year – the Edinburgh eBook festival. You have to submit by 1st March. Details are available on the site HERE.