We are now in the final stages of gearing up for the annual Hay Festival which begins next week. There are so many highlights to look forward to - we're just hoping we have time to go and see some of the events!
In any case, as you'd imagine, we have been stocking up on some of our best sellers in advance of the influx of visitors. Today we had a delivery from Zotter, our favourite ever chocolate supplier. We have loads more stock of all the incredible flavours you know and love - from goat's milk and sheep's milk, to a fantastic vegan selection, and not forgetting of course our all time favourite - tequila with salt and lemon!
You can grab a bar now online. And if you're anywhere near Hay during the Festival - come and say hello!
I've been thinking a lot about James Lovelock's talk at Hay Festival which left me angry and optimistic in equal measures. I've seen Lovelock speak a few times about his Gaia theory and at the Festival he talked more about the idea that the planet will adapt no matter what humans do. According to Lovelock, there is little point in spending time and money on things like recycling and energy efficiency - these make a tiny difference and the planet will survive regardless. He also used the term Green Propaganda, arguing that the green lobby have prevented nuclear power in the UK. Those are the bits that made me angry...
I take his point that it would be hubris to think that mankind can 'save the planet'. After all, we've only been here for 0.004% of the Earth's life, so it can cope pretty well without us! His view was that we should focus on saving - feeding and watering - the people on the planet. With 842 million people not having enough to eat, this is an enormous problem, and I can take on board Lovelock's thinking that this should be society's focus - not installing solar panels on homes for miniscule energy savings. At 94, he was surprisingly relaxed about the idea that there might be some 'collateral damage' when climate change really takes effect. The population may decrease, but mankind will probably survive in one way or another. What we need to do now is look out for the people who are here.
In some ways, this chimes with our thinking when setting up Eighteen Rabbit. We'd spent five years talking about the environmental impact of live events, seeing few results and no step change. We wanted to 'make a difference' (corny as that sounds) and felt that the biggest impact is to improve the lives of people. Trade is an obvious way to lift people out of poverty, enabling self sufficiency, and access to adequate food and shelter. Hopefully Eighteen Rabbit has made a small difference to some people's lives.
So, after digesting Lovelock's talk, I now realise there's much I agree with. Though I'll still be committed to sorting my recycling and using green energy!
It is nearly festival time, and Hay is gearing up for the busiest ten days of the year. From this Thursday we'll have the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts as well as How the Light Gets In on our doorsteps. A very warm welcome to everyone planning a visit to Hay over the next fortnight.
We already have some big highlights to look forward to. In our diaries so far are Billy Bragg, Carrie Fisher, Ben Watt, Toumani Diabate, Gruff Rhys, Tracey Thorn, James Lovelock, Katherine Hamnett and many more!
We'll be running a fair trade pop up cafe next to our shop at Hay Castle - we hope you'll be able to join us at Coffee on the Cobbles for a fair trade cuppa during the festival.
We wish you all an entertaining, inspiring, thought provoking and fair trade Festival!
One of the down sides to running a shop selling cool fair trade items is that inevitably we meet a few customers who would prefer to buy something made in our local area. We are lucky in Hay on Wye to have a thriving artistic and craft community who produce some stunning pieces - and we have great shops in Hay selling them, such as Brook Street Pottery, the Haymakers, and our neighbour at Hay Castle, The Thoughtful Gardener. Explaining why we don't stock any local items ourselves is always a good opportunity to reinforce some of the benefits of making trade fair.
That's not to say that we don't care about local businesses, or local shops! We love the retail community in Hay and we try to be a part of supporting our thriving High Street through the Chamber of Commerce. Now we're involved in a new scheme called Totally Locally, which we're hoping to launch in Hay in the next couple of months.
Totally Locally is a clever marketing campaign to get people to think about where they are spending their hard earned cash. It's not anti-supermarket or anti-internet - there's a place for those guys too. But by showing the benefits of diverting just a small amount of money being spent into local shops, we can see a real difference in the economic health of the town.
We're hoping to launch Totally Locally Hay around the Winter Weekend festival. We believe that fair trade and local shopping make great companions on the road to a more prosperous High Street.