Adding Warmth to Our Space

The feedback we hear most often about Overflow's space is that it's not warm enough. It feels sparse and institutional instead of cozy and welcoming.  Over the past month, we've done a few things to help our space feel warmer.

  • We changed the blinds so that we can block out the sunlight when it gets in people's faces.
  • We added new lighting so that the art on our walls isn't in the dark.
  • We added new banquettes (fancy benches) so that the seating is more comfortable and the space has more color.

We're not done yet.  We still have a few things to do as money becomes available.  If you'd like to help us keep upgrading our space to be more welcoming, keep coming in and supporting us.  We're a neighborhood coffee shop so we want to be what the neighborhood wants.  Thanks for being great neighbors!

Before the banquettes were installed:

After the banquettes were installed:

Fair Trade 101

What Is Fair Trade?
Fair trade is a lot of things: a social justice movement, an alternative business model, a system of global commerce, a tool for international development, a faith-based activity.  Fair trade’s many definitions center
around the
exchange of
goods based
on principles of economic and social justice.

10 Principles of Fair Trade
1. Create Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers - Fair trade is trade that reduces poverty by supporting marginalized small producers.  Fair trade seeks to enable these producers to be economically self-sufficient.
2. Transparency and Accountability - Fair trade assures relevant information is provided to all trading partners through open communication at all levels of the supply chain. Fair trade finds appropriate, participatory ways to involve trading partners in decision-making.
3.  Fair Trading Practices - Fair trade is concerned for the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of producers and does not maximize profit at their expense.  Fair trade builds long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect.
4.  Payment of a Fair Price - Fair pay means provision of socially and locally acceptable remuneration.  A fair price is mutually agreed upon and provides fair pay to the producers and is sustainable by the market. Any fair trade pricing structures are used as a minimum.
5.  Ensuring no Child Labor or Forced Labor - Fair trade ensures that no forced labor is used in production and that United Nations’ guidelines and national and local laws are followed when children are employed.  Any involvement of children (including learning a traditional art) does not adversely affect the children's wellbeing, security, educational requirements or need for play.
6.  Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association - Fair trade does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, accessto training, promotion, termination or retirement. Fair trade respects the right of all employees to form and join trade unions of their choice and to bargain collectively.
7.  Ensuring Good Working Conditions - Fair trade provides a safe and healthy working environment for employees and members. It complies, at a minimum, with national and local laws and ILO conventions.
8.  Providing Capacity Building - Fair trade seeks to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalized producers.  Those working directly with small producers develop specific activities to help these producers improve their management skills, production capabilities and access to markets.
9.  Promoting Fair Trade - Those connected with fair trade raise awareness of the aims of fair trade and of the need for greater justice in world trade.
10. Respect for the Environment - Those who create fair trade products maximize the use of raw materials and energy-saving technologies. Buyers and importers of fair trade products give priority to buying products made from raw materials that originate from sustainably managed sources and have the least overall impact on the environment.

How does Fair Trade Impact Me?
Fair Trade connects you with other cultures.  Fair Trade products are unique to the places they come from and the people who make them. Farmers and artisans are involved in the entire process, and Fair Trade products reflect the people and cultures they come from.  When you purchase a fair trade product you get an added bonus with the item - you get the pride that comes from knowing you made a real difference in a real person's life.

There’s an App for That
Learn how your favorite brands relate to fair trade by downloading the “Free2Work” app in your app store.  When you’re shopping, you can use the app to see a brand’s forced and child labor grade.

Adapted from Fair Trade Resource Network, ( and the World Fair Trade Organization (

The Price of Sugar Film Screening & Discussion

September 27, 2012 @ 7pm

Suggested Donation: $7



About the Film 
In the Dominican Republic, a tropical island-nation, tourists flock to pristine beaches unaware that a few miles away, thousands of dispossessed Haitians have toiled under armed-guard on plantations harvesting sugarcane, much of which ends up in U.S. kitchens. They work grueling hours and frequently lack decent housing, clean water, electricity, education or healthcare. Narrated by Paul Newman, "The Price of Sugar" follows Father Christopher Hartley, a charismatic Spanish priest, as he organizes some of this hemisphere's poorest people to fight for their basic human rights. This film raises key questions about where the products we consume originate and at what human cost they are produced.

Discussion Afterward 
Representatives from Chicago Fair Trade will be here to lead the discussion after the film.

7:00 - Welcome and Introduction.
7:10 - Film begins.
8:40 - Film concludes. Bathroom and coffee break.
8:50 - Discussion facilitated by Chicago Fair Trade.

While we encourage the use of public transit (Red Line, #29, #62 and other buses are close), limited parking is available in the rear of the building on a first come first served basis.  Bring $3 for your spot.  No one will be in the lot to take it.  You can pay at the ticket check-in table.

Overflow in a national bank commercial

Earlier this summer, a production company rented our space to make a commercial for a national bank. Here's the end product.  See if you can spot us.

September's Featured Nonprofit: Chicago Fair Trade

Last month, we launched our new fair trade store in partnership with Ten Thousand Villages.  Each month, we're giving 5% of the gross sales to a different nonprofit.  Because of August's sales, we are able to give $44.99 to the Greater South Loop Association.  That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a good start.  We can definitely see this going up from here.  Which brings us to announcing who will be receiving September's 5%...

Chicago Fair Trade was formed in June, 2006 with 24 organizations as founding members. CFT is a coalition of businesses, faith based organizations, non-profits, student groups at universities, and individuals. CFT has offices in Printer's Row and works throughout the metro area to increase support for fair trade through education, advocacy and targeted consumer compaigns. CFT currently has 70 member organizations. It holds 4 community-wide meetings a year and celebrates World Fair Trade Day in Daley Plaza with a festival.  Thanks to CFT's efforts, Chicago has been designated as a Fair Trade City as of May 2011.

Chicago Fair Trade is also facilitating the discussion at our monthly documentary screening on September 27.  Click here for more information.

For more information about Ten Thousand Villages at Overflow, please contact Amanda at  Ten Thousand Villages products will be available in our cafe on Saturdays from 8:00am to 6:00pm.  As sales increase, we'll add new hours.

This Month at Overflow!

There's a lot happening this month.  September seems to be the time to make things happen.  Click on the name of each item for more information.

Also, in our building but sponsored by other groups are the following...
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