The Stewards of Sustainability conference was held September 27–28, 2012 at Millersville University in Millersville, Pa. The conference focused on the effect of individual choices on environmental sustainability, social equality and economic justice around the world. More than 20 speakers presented innovative, sustainable ideas for businesses, communities and individuals over the two days.

Doug Dirks, Ten Thousand Villages CEO, titled his talk, “Fair Trade – Global Solutions,” and presented to an audience of 200 people. The presentation began with a detailed history of Ten Thousand Villages and the vision of “caring about the welfare of other people in so-called developing countries around the world.”

Dirks also explained the fair trade model, with a macro focus on the business model: “Fair trade is sustainable because it includes the concerns and welfare of everyone involved in a transaction from beginning to end – the artisan/producer, their environment and well-being, all the people in between, including Ten Thousand Villages and the end consumers who purchase good quality, environmentally friendly products.”

Frances Moore Lappé, co-founder of the Small Planet Institute and author of the new book EcoMind, was the opening speaker for the conference. She spoke about the fair trade movement as an example of how people have changed the way they think about international trade in order to create a fairer, more sustainable way of trading with each other: “…shoppers’ choices help ensure living wages and ecological sustainability.”

Dirks said of the conference, “It was good to be part of a conference where sustainable development was described as a 'convergence between the three pillars of economic justice, social equity, and environmental protection, also known as the Triple Bottom Line.’ This means we can look forward to a growing interest in fair trade and Ten Thousand Villages since the way we do business with artisans around the world fits rights into this definition.”

Ten Thousand Villages was also represented at the Sustainable Business Expo by staff from the Ten Thousand Villages Ephrata store.