Originally Posted April 7th, 2015 by Nick Beadleston
Casey is the Director of Public Relations, Marketing & Outreach for Amavida Coffee in the Florida Panhandle. Casey ran in and helped organize the 2014 Winter Solstice Run in Florida, and has worked on numerous campaigns to support On The Ground’s work around the world.
RAC- Why do you run?
Casey- I just love it! My dad was a marathon runner, so I always thought I should continue that legacy. I keep myself busy though, so I never really have had much time for it. I have always liked running a couple miles here and there, but since the 2014 Winter Solstice Run I’ve realized that it’s all about distance running. I’m in love.
Do you think running can be a useful advocacy tool?
Absolutely. That is proven by the work of On The Ground and Runs Across Ethiopia and Palestine. Not to mention, the Solstice Runs. Running is something that takes dedication, time, and effort. It shows a sense of drive that doesn’t waver in the “off” time. Anyone can get excited and feel inspired in a moment, but people who want to use running as an advocacy tool have to hold on to that inspiration during training. It shows just how much a cause means to someone.
Tell me about your role in Run Across Congo. what got you involved?
I have worked for Amavida Coffee for over five years. Throughout that time, Amavida has become very involved with OTG. I consider working with OTG the best part of my job, and it’s one of the main reasons Amavida Coffee is and will be my future.
Obviously, Amavida Coffee pays Fair Trade prices, but our goal is to go beyond just Fair Trade and look at coffee buying as a circular model. We buy at FT prices, continue improving our knowledge and craft to be able to provide the best coffee in the industry, give back to our community and then complete the circle by finding more ways to support our farmers. The cycle should never end, and should create partnerships that always build upon each other.
After organizing and running the 2014 Winter Solstice Run in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, [Run Across Congo] was the next logical step. I had to put a few things on hold in my life to be able to do Run Across Congo, but once I made that decision I was all in.
Why is this run important to you?
I don’t want Amavida Coffee to be just another coffee shop buying Fair Trade coffee. We have to go beyond that. I say it all the time, but this time I get to show exactly what I mean. Every day I drink meticulously crafted coffee from the hard working producers to the skillful roasters to the knowledgeable baristas. Hours upon hours of work for one single cup of coffee. The difference is, the coffee roasters and cafes tend to take all the profit. I believe that, in order for this relationship to be fair, we have to listen to our partners and help meet their needs as well. It’s not about aid. It’s about creating a partnership and a friendship and then actually listening to which of their needs are not being met. In the case of the Congolese, it’s safety and equality. As a company, we can’t say we are fair if we stop at Fair Trade. That just doesn’t cut it.
How are you preparing for the run?
It’s actually been extremely challenging to find time to run. I am trying to run seven days on and seven days off (where I do cross-training). This style of training was suggested as the best method and it really makes the most logical sense. The thing is, seven days of running 10-20 miles a day takes a huge amount of time. I’m working it in, though. There’s a sandy trail right by my house that is perfect. It has some hilly areas that I always run up and down. Also, if I run to Amavida Coffee from my house it’s about a 10-mile stretch. Then I get a cup of coffee as a reward!
What aspect of the run do you think will be the most challenging? The most rewarding?
The most challenging, in my opinion, is the fundraising part. It’s tough to raise $15,000. The most rewarding will be the amazing initiatives that will develop from those funds. Another personally rewarding part of the run will be the impact it has on my daughter. I want her to grow up knowing that it’s important to pay attention to the needs of others and work to make a positive impact in the world in any way possible. I want her to know that women can do anything. She can do anything.
Why should the average coffee consumer care about the lives of female farmers half a world away?
Because each and every coffee drinker should be ashamed of themselves if they don’t. I honestly, truly believe that. Coffee farmers are one of the most forgotten, neglected, and oppressed group of people in the world. Who will advocate for them if not the people who love their product? Does that cup of coffee even taste good if it’s obtained at the expense of someone else? It doesn’t.
Run Across Congo is an undertaking for very motivated runners, but what would you say to those thinking of getting into long distance running, advocacy work or both?
It will bring you so much more inspiration and happiness than almost anything else in the world. If running is how you want to advocate a cause, it shows that you’re dedicated, but there are plenty of other ways. Choose something that makes you happy and let it drive you to do more than you ever possibly imagined.
Help Casey reach her Run Across Congo fundraising goal of $15,000 by donating. Visit her Razoo crowdfunding account and donate today!