Saturday, 27 April 2013

Comics for a Fair World

Petra Hyvärinen from Ylämylly School, Class 5A at the Fair Trade workshop. Photo: Päivi Keronen.

Grassroots Comics were used in a Fair Trade workshop in SciFest in Joensuu 10.-13. April 2013. Scifest is a Science Festival for school kids and high school students organized annually by the University of Eastern Finland and Joensuu Science Society. The event offers plenty of different workshops where the students and their teachers can learn and experiment about science, technology and the environment.

Joensuu has been a Fair Trade City since 2009, and in SciFest the City had a non-stop workshop about the origin of cotton clothes. Information about cotton cultivation, cheap production and the problems it creates as well as the alternatives, like Fair Trade, Organic, Farming and Domestic Products were displayed in a ”corridor” combined of photos, infoboards and clothes. The participants were walking through the corridor and took part in exiting exercises. One exercise included drawing a comic about the issues introduced in the workshop.

Many older students knew quite much about the problems of the textile industry and about Fair Trade, but especially Primary School students were surprised and shocked. Petra Hyvärinen from Ylämylly School was amazed when she heard how little pay the people who make our clothes actually get. She didn't know much about the subject beforehand, but had been drawing comics at home and at school. She had no trouble making her own interpretation of the state of the world into a wallposter comic, which was then viewed by the students who came later to the workshop.

The comics made during the workshop showed clearly that the subject made the visitors think about their own consuming, and what they could do to improve the situation of the victims of the textile industry, and the environment. Since it was a non-stop workshop, quite few visitors managed to draw their own comic, so they filled in a missing panel in a ready made comic. Many visitors stayed in the workshop for a long time to talk and share ideas with the tutors. 

(Post by Sanna Hukkanen)

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