This is Part 3 in a 4-Part “Open World” series, a Global Exchange exclusive highlighting individuals (chosen by Global Exchange staff members) who are showcasing the possibility for a different world.

Xander Wells is an advocate for Fair Trade. He’s researched the subject and decided for himself that Fair Trade is the only viable alternative to practices that lead to exploitation and child labor.  After finding out about the injustices of the cocoa plantations, he decided it was time to get the word out.  So on Halloween, Xander dedicated himself to the task of spreading awareness, handing out Fair Trade candies and information about the abuses of the industry, as well as the benefits of going Fair Trade.  Xander opened hearts, changed minds, and changed the world.  And Xander Wells, I should add, is five years old.

Reverse Trick or Treating is a unique approach to opening minds up about the alternatives to so called “Free Trade.”  Halloween Night, children become costumed advocates for Fair Trade, reaching tens of thousands of households with a message of social and environmental justice.

It’s a pretty big idea.

Kids think big with Reverse Trick or Treating

Kids tend to be up for big ideas.  They haven’t been told by the world too many times that something new will never work, that the only way to move along is to  stick with the crowd, parrot the same lines, join in the chorus of yes men and yes women.

Kids know better.  Kids are dreamers, visionaries, grand thinkers.  It’s called a child-like sense of wonder for a reason.

It’s all about harnessing your imagination and picturing what might be. Remember the possibilities represented by an empty box when you were five years old?  An empty box was a spaceship, a house, a bear cave…the only limit was  your imagination.   That’s why Xander and thousands of other kids just like him participate in Reverse Trick or Treating.  They still get it.

Open Minds.  Changing the world isn’t possible without them.  Xander’s out there to open them, one door at a time.  And we’re with him.

But we’ve got some challenges in the road ahead.  There are forces out there who want to close minds, to cut off new roads of thinking.  The mid-term elections brought some interesting elements into power, and the mood of this country  has shifted towards negative rhetoric and tired ‘ideas’ rather than to move together and fix the very real problems we’re facing.

Einstein said that you can’t get out of a problem with the same level of thinking that got you into said problem.

But the ideas we hear from Washington sound a lot like small ideas.  They sound a lot like the kind of thinking that got us into the problem(s) we are in now.

Corporate bail outs.  Militarism.  Xenophobia.

These don’t sound like answers to me.  They sound like rehashed, mulled over left overs from the Reagan era.  And just like leg warmers and Wham! cassettes, they should have stayed there.

This is the twenty first century, isn’t it?  So let’s do some Big thinking. Local Green Economies.  Alternative Fuels.  Peace in the Middle East.  These are Big with a B a million miles tall.  So let’s give these ideas a shot.

Open Minds.  Big Ideas.  Five year olds get it.

Got a story about making a more Open World?  I’d love to hear it.  Send them to  We’ll post our favorites online for everyone to see.

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