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Faces of Simpler Living BLOG Year 1

Hello! Welcome #1-3
Des Moines-Chicago #4-5
Sioux Falls #6-7
Twin Cities #8-20
California 1 #21-26
North Carolina #27-55

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Hi, I’m Jerry Iversen. I hope you enjoy my travel journal.

Why this BLOG?

I want to live more simply. You want to live more simply. For our own personal happiness and for the sake of needy people around the world.

We struggle every day with what is "enough." Only we can simplify our lives. We need inspiration and practical ideas.

I will share some of my struggles and some of my solutions to live more simply.

In my recent travels I have met many simple livers, many really fine folks. I plan to share their struggles and wisdom a little bit at a time in this blog. So come back often.

I have taken some snap shots along the way. Hope you enjoy them. You are welcome to share your ideas too.

Be well, my friends.


Next time: the personal value of a used hybrid.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they live far apart. If you want to be in touch with some of the folks I introduce here, let me know and I will forward your message to them.



Faithful volunteers at the dome, Nan and Erin


I could not live with myself if I traveled in a normal car. Fortunately I was able to find a rare bird, a used hybrid car. It gets really good gas mileage.

I travel to meet as many simple livers as possible face-to-face. Sometimes we talk one-to-one. Usually a half dozen meet for a light lunch in a home or a dozen of us meet in a church for a potluck supper. Really simple. Sometimes I speak to 50 or 100 at adult forum or a conference.

In this high tech world, it is really encouraging to meet people face-to-face and be welcomed into their homes. On the hundreds of stops I’ve made recently, I only stayed in a motel three nights! And I only ate in a restaurant a hand-full of times. People are really generous and hospitable.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Next time: saving my sanity with less stress

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they live apart.



A lot of life is tradeoff's. We cannot do it perfectly. For example, when I travel I get nervous about finding my next stop and about being on time. (The latter is an occupational hazard of being a church musician for 25 years.)

So at Rita’s encouragement (shes my lovely spouse) I bought a GPS unit. This Global Positioning Unit has saved me so much stress. Rita says it saved our marriage.

Next time: The Des Moines Miracle

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.


Marce, Dick and Rosie. Dick K. served on Alternatives' board for six years, the last couple as chair.

The Des Moines Miracle

Dick K. invited me to speak at his church, Westminster Presbyterian, Des Moines, IA.

Their new pastor, Amy Miracle -- yes, that is really her name -- is interested in voluntary simplicity. This is the largest PC(USA) congregation in the country with a female senior pastor.

Dick and Shirley live in a log cabin that they built. Dick invited me to a Peace Awards Banquet Saturday night. Author Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer gave an inspiring peace speech. The smallish Trinity United Methodist Church was given the Peace Award of the Year for their exceptional activism.

Sunday morning I gave a Mission Moment at Westminster, thanking the people for their support through the Presbyterian Hunger Program. Learn more at

I spoke during the adult forum, called "All Things Considered," to about 60 people. They want to keep the conversation and action going for simpler living. It feels great to be a spark!

Next time: Grace Matters

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.



Peter Marty, host of Grace Matters, at one time a weekly international radio program heard on hundreds of stations or via the internet at

Grace Matters

Bob S., ELCA Hunger educator for the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), invited me to Chicago for a consultation. The ELCA is one of our major sponsors. He had come to visit us at the Earth Dome in Sergeant Bluff a few months earlier.

I met numerous staff people. Peter Marty, the new host of the newly named international radio program, Grace Matters, interviewed me for later broadcast. What an inspiring program! You may still hear it on their web site at 05/22/05 - Sorting Through Our Baggage

Objective #4 of the ELCA Hunger Program is "stewardship of lifestyle." Yes! "To encourage members of this church to practice responsible stewardship of their lives and their financial resources toward the prevention and alleviation of hunger." Read more at

Next time: Simple Activism

Return to Table of Contents

Sioux Falls Mini-Tour



My daughter Elysha is an alum of Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD.

Simple Activism

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I visited Dennis T., the chaplain at University of Sioux Falls, a college of the American Baptist Church with a Baptist seminary on the same campus. He invited me to speak for Peace and Justice Week. (See POST #126 in Year 2.) USF is largely a blue-collar college with majority of commuter students.

Later I met Paul R., the chaplain at Augustana College, and his assistant, Kate H., who's now a student at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. While there I visited the ELCA South Dakota Synod office and met one of the assistants to the bishop.

Various regional and national agencies help us promote voluntary simplicity by distributing our material, including Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? annual Advent/Christmas booklets at conferences. Might you do the same at a meeting you are planning or attending?

Such a simple act will prepare you for more adventuresome activism. Change happens because of those who show up.

Next time: Bread for the World Activist

Why this blog? Visit post #1.



David Beckman, President of Bread for the World, one of several prominent members of Alternatives’ honorary board of directors.

Bread for the World Activist

While in Sioux Falls, I visited Cathy B., a long time supporter of Alternatives and a Bread for the World activist. She funded our "Sing Justice! Do Justice!" music collection. She expressed interested in our proposed "Simple Choices" game for young adults. She contributes haikus for "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" Their son Luke is a clown with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Might you have a story to contribute to the cause?

To learn more about Bread for the World, visit

To learn more about Sing Justice! Do Justice! contact Selah Publishing.

Next time: Private Thoughts

Why this blog? Visit post #1.

Return to Table of Contents

Twin Cities Tour



Private Thoughts

On the way to the Twin Cities, my mind was full of ideas.

Promoting debt prevention to young adults is like preaching abstinence to high schoolers -- we are up against powerful forces.

Priority of allegiances: God, Earth, family. Nation is not at the top of the list.

Economic and political systems are "things" that can clutter up our lives.

What dreams and practical ideas do you have for simpler living in your life? For your community?

Next time: The Spirit Garage Theology Pub

Why this blog? Visit post #1.



Chris and Sean at the Spirit Garage Theology Pub in downtown Minneapolis.

The Spirit Garage Theology Pub

The Theology Pub in downtown Minneapolis is run by Spirit Garage, a ministry to young adults in the Uptown District. This year this young congregation, a "daughter" of large Bethlehem Lutheran, is attempting to pay their pastors entire salary.

Longtime friend Chris F. was his usual engaging self. About 15 attended, 7-10 p.m. They posed many challenging questions and statements.

We should not focus on guilt but on love.

Jesus is not the perfect model for simple living. He never married.

We young professionals are just as bad off as anyone else -- we suffer from spiritual poverty instead of physical poverty.

Afterward, Sean K. said that they are searching for "authenticity" and are skeptical of marketing. Four of them are involved in marketing!

Next time: More Theology Pub

Why this blog? Visit post #1.

POST #10


Some of the Spirit Garage Theology Pubsters

Theology Pub Talk

Sean K., Theology Pub coordinator, prepared the following discussion summary.

The discussion was well received by my Theology Pub participants because it was a discussion and not a "sell" presentation to pitch memberships or any one particular book. This discussion had a high turnout, and drew people from my church who do not normally attend this group.

One of the hot-button issues was motivation. What is a person’s motivation to engage in voluntary simplicity? Is it guilt? This group seemed particularly reactive to the idea that guilt could be the prime reason for this. That was seen as a negative; instead the group members wanted to explore the positive reasons for choosing this lifestyle.

The group members asked questions of Jerry at several points about what he does in his own life. They wanted to see the authenticity in Jerry’s message and see if he represented the same values in his own life that he was advocating. They were quite satisfied by the examples that Jerry gave from his own history and daily home life patterns with his family and household. Some of this curiosity also stems from a desire in this generation to move beyond abstract concepts to see the practical implementation. Less talk, more action and more how-to is their mantra.

Alternatives is a good fit for this age group and "emerging church" attendees for the following points.

* It talks sensibly to questions of materialism and consumerism at a time when these young people are forming their own values about spending patterns, they are in the midst of acquiring some of their own first material possessions, and they are likely dealing with debt and at the lowest point of their earning power in their career.

* Alternatives speaks about social justice and gives practical ideas about ways to help in ones daily life.

* Alternatives speaks about the environment, and this is a popular topic with young people who have grown up recycling, celebrating Earth Day in April, and are concerned that the environment can be damaged by our business and industry.

The group members wanted to know if Alternatives had a web site so they could check it out for themselves, and to know that they could look up this information again later. This demographic tends to use the internet as a way to get information about almost any topic and to look things up like phone numbers, movie times, restaurant reviews, upcoming calendar of bands and events.

The group members wanted to know why Alternatives sells books when the goal is to reduce consumerism. This was seen as potentially hypocritical. Jerry’s explanation that Alternatives supports the distribution of materials that people use to get informed and further the cause, not just selling books to make a profit, was accepted.

Next time: Inviting Young Adults to serve on the board

Why this blog? Visit post #1.

POST #11


Inviting Young Adults to Serve on the Board

What about inviting Sean to serve on the board? My daughter and advisor Elysha suggested that I invite him.

Greetings, Sean,

You are such a good friend. I could not have felt more welcome at the Theology Pub. Since this face-to-face outreach is new to me, it was important to my self-confidence that I be challenged but not overwhelmed.

We are making a determined effort to increase the number of "young adults" on our board of directors. I hope in a few years to have half the board made up of folks like you.

I feel that you would make an excellent board member. You are a devout and searching Christian, a reliable, hard worker.

The board meets face-to-face once a year after Easter. Each member serves in at least one committee.

[He accepted.]

Next time: Peacemakers at St. Martins Table

Why this blog? Visit post #1.

POST #12


Peace activists John & Eleanor with their United Nations flag

Peacemakers at St. Martins Table

"Peacemakers" meets at St. Martin's Table, St. Paul, MN, Wednesday mornings at 8:00. I had a chance to meet most of the 20+ attendees and then hand out materials during announcement time.

I introduced my daughter Elysha to Eleanor and John Y. Then I spoke briefly to Kathleen, manager of St. Martin's Table. St. Martin's Table has been stocking some of our resources for many years. Volunteers serve nutritious meals daily. It features speakers on current issues every week.

It was started by the Schramms decades ago. They have since moved to Washington state. The Schramms were featured in our video Break Forth in Joy: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle.

See it here.

Read the video script and study guide here.

Read A Service for Ending, Blending & Beginning Christmas Traditions that the Schramms wrote for Alternatives, here.

Community of St. Martin is an Ecumenical Christian, Worshipping Community Committed to Peace with Justice. Visit St. Martin’s web site here.

Elysha and I talked briefly at North Country Cooperative across the street, ate a quick bowl of soup at St. Martins and I left for The Metro Lutheran.

Peacemakers is a dedicated support group for activists. Living simply is not easy. We need support. When I meet with groups of members and volunteers, I am never concerned about preaching to the choir. The choir needs support too! And they need to singlouder!

Next time: Making the Rounds

Why this blog? Visit post #1.

POST #13

Making the Rounds

At The Metro Lutheran, the monthly newspaper for all flavors of Lutherans in the Twin Cities, editor Mike S. and I talked for an hour. Mike has written several pieces for Alternatives over the years, best known being the Carol of St. Nicholas, which has been performed on the BBC. Read some of Mikes writings for Alternatives here. And here.

After lunch I went from office to office at the Church Center introducing myself and meeting regional leaders -- Lutheran (ELCA), Presbyterian, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, and Resource Center.

These contacts resulted in an invitation to speak at a regional meeting. Our services are free. Be in touch.

Next time: The Hospitality Place

Why this blog? Visit post #1.

POST #14


Sheila, Pete, Eleanor, John, Lynn and Berta (foreground) at The Hospitality Place

The Hospitality Place

When I first arrived at The Hospitality Place in Circle Pines, Eleanor Y. fed me a delicious "light supper" of mango, spinach salad and curry chicken.

These folks sure know how to eat right and healthy!

I asked Lynn R. to come over before supper at Hospitality Place the next day. She talked about her ministry to poor children in the community.

John, Eleanor, Lynn and I had a wonderful supper. John collects, ages and drinks wine. Roberta D. and Stella and "Pete" P. arrived and we talked till 9:30. Stella organized an "Unplug the Christmas Machine" Workshop given by board member Bruce Forbes at her church.

At the end John felt we should be reaching out to alumni of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps more than to the churches.

He said that the ideas I presented were 10 times, no, 100 times better than those when he served on Alternatives' board in the 1970’s.

Next time: Long standing support

Why this blog? Visit post #1.

POST #15


John and Eleanor with their Japanese temple bell

Long Standing Support

John and Eleanor Y. supported the production of our video "Break Forth into Joy: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle" in the 1980’s.

They showed me extraordinary hospitality and made the first significant private contribution to our new initiate "Reaching Out to Young Adults," especially the web site phase.

Their support really helped us built momentum for our new initiative.

Eleanor likes the concepts of Alternatives' volunteer training and support groups. She doesn't get too enthused about the Voluntary Simplicity movement because it is so natural for her.

They have four children. The eldest daughter is in seminary and runs Shalom Hill Farm, a retreat center in western Minnesota. Other children live in the Twin Cities and Connecticut.

John and Eleanor started a successful educational testing service. They have funded a chair at the University of Minnesota and have been honored for their peace activism.

Next time: Reaching Out to Young Adults

POST #16

LeahW xxx xxx

Leah W. and Megan, members of Alternatives’ board, Reaching Out to Young Adults.

Reaching Out to Young Adults

Young adults in general are less interested than their parents in getting information from traditional media, such as books. To reach them with the message of simpler living, we need to use media they are more likely to use, especially the internet.

We propose:
1. To make our web site young-adult friendly
2. To make our web site easier to use
3. To record and upload some of our resources selected by young adults
4. To make more young adults aware of our web site

We recognize support for our Young Adult initiative in Inside Info, our newsletter for members and volunteers.

Click here to see it.

Next time: School Sisters of Notre Dame

POST #17


Rosie, Alternatives’ Office Manager, helps keep the organization running smoothly while Gerald is on the road meeting members and promoting voluntary simplicity.

School Sisters of Notre Dame

Sr. Jeanne W. and I talked at School Sisters of Notre Dame. She agreed to serve as a Volunteer Coordinator. She agreed to seek a grant from her order’s mission fund for us.

She invited me to lunch. I had a huge Greek salad and soup. We had lively conversation. I used her office to catch up on paper work.

Why not host a volunteer speaker or workshop leader like Sr. Jeanne at your church, school or club?

Do you have access to a granting group that might support Simpler Living?

Be in touch.

Next time: Healthy Role Model

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

POST #18


John and Eleanor stay healthy riding their bikes.

Healthy Role Model

John R., business manager at St. Richard’s Church, and his spouse are long time supporters. We shared personal simple living stories.

As I was leaving Hospitality Place, John Y. was riding to his doctors office for a check up. Eat right, exercise, get a medical check-up. Thanks for being a role model of good health, John.

Next time: Working Where We Are

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

POST #18


Bob serves patiently as web site designer and Webmaster.

Working Where We Are

Roberta D. suggested that I meet her daughter, Siri, a young pastor at Trinity Lutheran, Stillwater.

Siri agreed to serve on our board of directors. She wants to focus on the 3000-4000 members of her church. As director of the new small groups ministry, she could have considerable influence. She urged me to contact Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Their new director, Mike Wilker, may be open to collaboration since they are re-visioning their organization too.

Lunch with my daughter Elysha. She has organized many events. A good consultant.

Are you willing to work where you are? Check out our Simpler Living Community Network at Volunteers >> Activities to Try.

Next time: Continuing Ed

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

POST #20

Continuing Ed

Some things I learned on the Twin Cities trip:

Only the host showed up at three of the five meetings. People showed up for Theology Pub because it is a regular meeting and they all know the leader.

Lynn R. was able to get some folks together because they are all supporters of Alternatives and close friends.

After this week and our much earlier experience trying to have 25th Anniversary events, I wonder whether we will be able to get volunteers and members to come to events. Heifer Project has annual training in each state, coordinated by their regional staff. Learn from them.

What do you think? Would you come to a simple living event in your area? Would you host one?

Next time: Friends in Sacramento

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Return to Table of Contents

California 1 Tour

POST #21

Friends in Sacramento

Traveling from Sioux City to Sacramento, I began reading relation-shift, which helped me understand the fundraising perspectives of board members Mel and Mark. People want to make a difference and need to be appreciated.

Nanci E. was unwilling to see me (calls herself a private person) but she is willing to help our local volunteer coordinator Mike F. as a "go-fer." She was grateful that I called. She grows her own food.

Called Edie L., a long time hunger activist. We could not get together because she and Denny were going to Stockton to work on a project.

Janet L., an R.N.. is studying Chinese for a summer work service project. She and spouse James A. both served in Peace Corps in Malaysia. Jim is clerk of the Pacific Yearly Meeting of Friends. He taught three years in Hong Kong, now teaches Religious studies (liberal studies) at Chico State.

They are both interested in Alternatives. Their eldest daughter practices voluntary simplicity.

Alternatives exists to help people make a difference through eductional resources and services, and volunteering. How can help you make a difference?

Next time: Meeting Mike

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

POST #22


Mike, a proactive simple living volunteer

Meeting Mike

I met Mike F., a new Volunteer Coordinator, in Antelope. He sees himself as an idea guy who has trouble following-through. He would need encouragement. Welcome to the club.

He is a retired teacher. Served in the Peace Corps. He recommended "Climbing a Sycamore Tree" for a six week Lent study. A few years ago he produced an Advent booklet for his congregation but was disappointed with the response. He was a facilitator for the Northwest Earth Institute on Simple Living for a couple of series.

He is now focusing on healthy food. I urged him to set up displays at farmers markets, festivals, etc. (Idea! Lets urge other volunteers to do the same.)

He prefers "conscious living" to "simple living." He is using our "Simple Living 101" toolbook and distributing "Whose Birthday?" flyers.

Wouldn’t you like to be a proactive Simpler Living volunteer too? We provide the support. Visit Volunteers >> Activities to Try. You will find at least one activity for your community. Join the Simpler Living Community Network -- no cost or obligation.

Next time: Talking to relatives

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

POST #23

Talking to Relatives

I traveled to Paso Robles with my sister Arlene, niece Lisa and her daughter Mia.

I visited with uncle Les and aunt Mickey. They agreed to send a small donation because it is "serving the Lord."

Do you have relatives who might join receive our eNewsletter? Send us their names and email address.

Next day lunch with cousin Chris. He is the former mayor of Paso Robles. He admires Philip Yanceys writing. He will give our brochure to legal clients who express interest in Alternatives-type work.

I sent him two bags of regular, drip grind Fair Trade coffee, and a copy of "Living Simply" for possible use in his bible study group or personal devotions.

He belongs to a conservative church but is active in a progressive political party. He enjoys reading the Bible and leading worship music at church. One son is a Republican. A daughter is finishing paralegal courses and the other daughter attends Chico State and loves it. Interesting mix.

Next time: Family Funeral

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they're far apart. If you want to be in touch with some of the folks I'm introducing here, let me know and I'll forward your message to them.

POST #24


Elysha is Cathy's niece, Steve and Lisa's cousin.

Family Funeral

At my sister Cathy's Memorial Service and reception I talked to nephew Steve. He's dealing with his loneliness by working hard. He sees himself living simply, especially by exercising and eating healthy foods.

I explained to niece Lisa our need to engage young adults. She agreed to host a focus group of 6-8 later this summer, primarily parents from her daughter's Waldorf School.

Next day I drove to Rudolph Steiner College in Fair Oaks where Waldorf teachers are trained. I learned that involvement with parents and bookstores would come through local schools. I met the Director of Development and the college bookstore manager.

You too can talk to relatives at family gatherings about simple living. People are especially open at "teachable moments," times of crisis when they see that their lives could use help. We can be helpful without being pious.

Next time: Getting Help

POST #25


Pastor Greg has served as chair of Alternatives' board and supports the staff face-to-face.

Getting Help

Niece Lisa encouraged me to visit with Dr. Cherry, a specialist in Chinese medicine. He prescribed some herbal medicines for my anxiety.

The challenge of keeping Alternatives going is at times both invigorating and burdensome.

Simple living is not easy. Support through a simplicity circle can help. Visit

Next time: Helpful Ideas

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

POST #26a

Helpful Ideas

Sharon S. in Grass Valley, CA, is a Jewish (former Episcopalian) psychotherapist in her 60's. She runs two offices, has two children in their 40's who have young children. She's strongly antiwar.

She made several thoughtful points:

1. Young families are older now (having children later), especially professionals.

2. Parents need to ask, "Is there really a benefit to all this activity for my kids? Her friend Cindy, a stay-at-home mom, trades transportation and baby-sitting with others -- co-op/barter. She limits and supports her kids in three activities.

3. Pressures are different now -- succeed! All are expected to go to college.

4. Talk to other nonprofits who have successful web sites, such as Heifer Project and Earth Ministry.

5. She wants to start a simplicity circle/support group.

6. Consider a web chat room; seek volunteers to monitor it.

7. Read "The World Is Flat" by Tom Friedman.

8. She freezes local produce for the winter so that she does not support industrial agriculture that underpays their workers, e.g. Chile.

9. She pays her taxes with credit cards to build up flight miles, then pays the balance off that month.

10. The dove is Christian, Jewish and Muslim. (We use a dove on Alternatives' brochure).

Might you be willing to help us monitor a chat room? Be in touch.

Next time: More helpful ideas

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they're far apart.

POST #26


Sharon finds simpler living both serious


and enjoyable.

More Helpful Ideas

Sharon in Grass Valley believes we are addicted to power, e.g. bigger cars, the right to be a bully. We are drunk on power. We are under the delusion that if we have more stuff, we have more power.

She thinks Alternatives needs to be empowering -- empowered not to be stressed, not in debt, empowered to have just enough. Say, "I choose to empower myself, not the credit card company. I empower myself, not the success drivers, not the stressors."

How do you take charge (not control) of your life, rather than spending or drugs taking charge of me? Stop giving over to them. What are you choosing to do about it? You have power over your attitude, what you say and do; but not over others.

Sharon uses our Simpler Living Any Year Calendar and 40 day guides for Lent and Advent as a spiritual disciple. She gives our Advent calendar to her kids and others in her Christmas cards. Excellent ideas!

You are bound to find encouragement in Alternatives hundreds of free resources at Archives.

Next time: Off to North Carolina

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Return to Table of Contents

North Carolina Tour

POST #27


My spouse Rita loves plants. Here we are at the gardens at Duke University, Raleigh, NC.

Off to North Carolina

Rita and I traveled to North Carolina for ten days. Unfortunately, her father died during the trip, so she flew to San Diego for his funeral.

Members and volunteers in NC are very hospitable. I spent only one night in a motel.

Rita helped me see some obvious guidelines during the trip:
* Turn off cell phone during meetings.
* Try to stay calm while she’s driving.
* To reduce stress, get portable GPS unit (Global Positioning System) that we can use in our own car or in a rental.

Our wide array of free audio and video resources are available at ArchivesAV.

Next time: BIG Catholic Parish

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #28

BIG Catholic Parish

St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh, NC, is growing rapidly (with peeks at ages 7 and 38). The parish has 4400 families with a 20% loss and 20% net gain each year. Its hard for the parishoners and staff to build relationships because of so much transience.

We met Paul A. His Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) group flopped because it’s hard for people to get to mid-week class. So, he uses the parish’s web site. Some folks are resistant to building a relationship via computer.

Paul has Friday Bible Study group for women. His 5-week Earth Care workshop from EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was quite appealing to his parishoners.

Paul wants to produce a syndicated video show on Catholic Social Justice teachings for his parish site and then beyond (but not for ETWN, the conservative Catholic cable network).

He participates in Arts for Justice Ministry, part of national Just Faith program.

He advises us to keep the Catholic and Protestant versions of our annual Christmas booklet "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" Scripture based. Provide color PDF downloads.

Policy does not allow him to put a permanent link on his web site for Alternatives. I urged him to carry articles about us that included a link or internet address. He may put Alternatives audio on his site, however.

Maybe you and your congregation or agency could do the same.

He seemed weary but determined. Simple living is not easy. But its rewarding.

Next time: Sandy & Friends

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #29


Dennis, Dean, Sandy and Sheila

Sandy and Friends

Sandy and Dean I. are trying very hard to live simply in a quickly changing neighborhood, where small bungalow houses are torn down and $850,000 houses are built on lots. She buys from Ten Thousand Villages and local farmers market. She’s a good and healthy southern cook. A Prebyterian, she seems to have very good relationship with her own children. She and Dean have a long standing marriage. She works in the health care field and serves as guardian to Terrell, an African-American teenager.

Husband Dean likes sailing. A man of many projects, he says he doesn’t always get them done. He’s proud of living in an all steel solar house built after WWII. He works varying shifts at university computer security service, has good sense of humor and a positive, optimistic outlook.

Both were very gracious hosts, open to sharing information about contacts. Of their three boys, two are married, one looking. First grandchild on the way. They may be good contacts.

Catherine, or "Cat," is in her 20s. A Quaker, she does improvisational theater, lives in a house with other drama-types, works at Whole Foods part-time, lives a simple life herself. She has a good sense of humor and wears dreadlocks with orange yarn. Her parents are active Quakers.

Douglas, a church organist since 16, is now in his early 50’s. He’s optimistic. He provides quality control of nursing homes. His spouse Sheila, a Presbyterian minister, formerly served as a DCE (Director of Christian Education).

Dennis and Cathy are Mennonites. He golfs. She, a preschool teacher, is outgoing and affirming.

Next time: Cat Ideas

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #30


Great ideas! (from left) Cathy, Cat, Douglas, Rita, Dennis, Dean, Sandy, Sheila at a delicious vegetarian potluck super in Raleigh, NC.

Cat Ideas

Cat seems to be aware of how to communicate with 20-somethings. She suggests:

1. Hold a regional or national conference; a workshop at Presbyterian Peace Conference.

2. Contact Mennonite Service Adventure.

3. Contact Meredith College (quasi Baptist) and Guilford College (Quaker).

4. Participate in Youth Quake, a national Quaker youth event held every 3-4 years in different locations. Visit their web site.

5. Contact Max Carter at Guilford College. Max is also active in Simplicity Forum, of which Alternatives is a founding member.

6. LiveJournal contains youth blogs, for example, Making your own clothes is fun.

7. Visit DiaryLand.

8. Tiny Revolutions. Use your own plate at school instead of disposables.

9. Organize or infiltrate book discussion groups.

10. Contact an organization in the Triad (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill).

Your suggestions are welcome too.

Next time: A New Lifer

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #31


Steve with Misty Rose

A New Lifer

Steve M., risk taker, divorcee, father of two boys and girl, grandfather of three, scuba diver, storyteller, owns a print shop. He employs people who need a second chance, like prisoners, battered women, uneducated, low income. A former Disciples of Christ minister, he now ministers through his business. He’s put the cross over the doorways and on his wallet. He retreats every two years to a monastery, where he’s a friend of the abbot.

He rewards himself every year. He does offset printing of long jobs, not retail. He has a modest collection of wine. His old dog Misty Rose is very well behaved.

He’s on good terms with his children who live simply. They are 34, 27, 24. Benjamin and Amanda are missionaries in France. All are minimalists.

He serves on the board of directors of local Youth for Christ. He attends the international convention of the United Methodist group Emmaus Walk in Nashville, TN. Contact Kiwanis headquartered in Indianapolis.

Title Idea: "Less Is Best at Christmas

He asked "How can I help?" and agreed to serve as a volunteer coordinator.

He meditates each morning to be open what God is saying to him. He no longer uses books to help his meditation.

Steve showed continual, sincere concern for my health and spiritual well being.

See his testimonial in the Winter, 2006, edition of Alterartives Donor News at Donate >> Newsletter.

Next time: Eager to Help

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #32

Eager to Help

Lloyd S., executive director of Durham, NC, Urban Ministries, is working on an MBA. He’s eager to be helpful.

He took me to meet the North & South Carolina CROP director, Joe M. The Carolinas have 70 walks and the top three in the country.

In the Durham area is a tremendous disparity of distribution of wealth. Lloyd feels that’s where the rest of the country is headed. Raleigh is 20% African-American; Durham is 40%. His shelter serves 100-120 each night and is supported by mainline churches.

He offered to send our newsletter to members of the local Bread for the World group.

There are many colleges and universities in the area. In Raleigh are St. Augustine, Peace College, Meredith, and Shaw.

He suggested Seminary Outreach for Spiritual Formation Class. Contact the Dean of Chapel. He teaches such a class at a local seminary.

We talked with Mary Ann C., head of social justice at Immaculate Conception, Lloyd’s church. She has three intergenerational assemblies (with workshops) each year. Wants a simple living curriculum (8 part?). She suggested contacting Young Life, an ecumenical group of college students working with high schoolers.

Wow! So many possibilities. So many ideas.

Next time: Meditation and Simple Living

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #33


Steve with Misty Rose

Meditation and Simple Living

Had Chinese supper with Steve Mayberry. He has meditated each morning for an hour for the last four years. It took three months to get into it. He no longer uses books. Sits quietly on his patio and is open to what God is telling him to do -- running his business and his life. He’s stopped working Saturdays, still works 12 hour days. He’s lost 40 % of his business in the last year to larger companies who are moving into his market.

Native Americans believe that between 3-4 in the morning is when the spirits are moving, he hasn’t managed to make it then yet. Plans to retire in five years and do something else, but doesn’t know what.

He jogs 1-2 times a week, serves as President of his local Kiwanis Club, and does volunteer work, such as reading to students. He enjoys a flexible blendings of work and personal life.

In the morning he left us a goodie bag.

Next time: A Day at Duke

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POST #34

Jim G.

A Day at Duke

Jim G. at Duke University sent out the following invitation. So could you.

Dear friends,
Gerald Iversen, the National Coordinator for Alternatives for Simple Living, will be in Durham next Friday, and would like to meet with some people who are interested in/practice simple living. Specifically, he's trying meet as many people as he can who are interested in this issue and how to get the message to a younger audience.

Having been a member for a long time, I've agreed to help get the word out. Right now, I've tentatively said that we could meet here at the Fuqua School of Business and purchase lunch here.

So, if you're interested, please let me know as soon as possible if you could attend. Share this information with others you think might be interested.

Thanks to your prompt attention to this matter. Enjoy the weekend.

Peace, Jim

Dennis D. replied:
Jim, nice to hear from you. Though I’ll not be available, relay one of my pet peeves on recreation. Seems to me we should all participate in activities that involve human power like cycling, walking, canoeing, sailing, hiking, etc. Fossil fuel recreational pursuits like power boating, jet skis, four wheeling and the like are not only bad for the environment but also don't burn many calories, especially for kids who need to be physically active.

Next time: Jesuit Volunteer Corps

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #35


Eric, Uwe, Ginger and Jim at Duke
Eric, Uwe, Ginger and Jim at Duke in a happy mood

Jesuit Volunteer Corps

Jim G., Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, information management for development, is in his early 50s, married to attorney. They have two teenagers. House on a lake. Recommended Dennis Darcy "99 Says to Simple living" -- pet peeves for recreation. Serves on Immaculate Conception stewardship committee. Strives to capture relationship each morning with God.

He’s connected by cell phone when on vacation because management position may require decisions.

Jim suggested that the eNews include tips. Make it more visually interesting, e.g. Fuquas 3 min. Monday Morning Message (audio).

He’s concerned about time management. Examples include kids activities, work and family time; negotiating with a spouse who’s as interested in voluntary simplcity; and a mother who built a huge retirement home. (It was a high efficiency house but she was disappointed in the cost.)

Next time: Discussion at Duke

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POST #36


Discussion at Duke

All members of the focus group at Duke University, Raleigh, NC, have served in Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC).

Ginger, a 25 year old, coordinates the Jesuit Volunteer chapter, plans a yearly event and sends out information to other alums. She’s comfortable with debt and investment. She likes to build connections between people.

Eric, a divorce lawyer, is married to a corporate lawyer who also teaches at Duke’s business school. He’s 35. They have no kids. They live deliberately. He uses Wiki (community site) and blogs. He didnt find much on the internet about simple living. He’s frustrated living in suburbia. This was his first meeting with JVC. He’s really looking for support to live simply in a situation with lots of money but a shortage of time. Even on vacation they feel conflicted about being available by cell phone and email. They struggle with the complications of high income.

He wants 1) information, 2) motivation (self-help), e.g. Janet Luhrs (, and 3) community. The web can be used to screen face-to-face involvement. He blends work and personal time during the work day and evening. He’s on the internet. He’s less likely to read a book than use the internet.

Is this "Yuppie Simplicity"?

Uwe, 35, from East Germany, is an Assistant Prof. in science and social policy doing Genome research. He sees European life as less complicated. Europeans have six weeks of vacation guilt-free. Here he has less time to reflect.

He says that one can’t judge a culture as good at simple living because some live simply intentional or by necessity. When he moves from culture to culture he acclimates. As a child his family had no car or TV. He prefers design and color on the web.

Jim feels that the national becomes regional. Regular people making their way without so many possessions become a community outside of society. They become integrated, representing Simple Living. Let’s bloom where we’re planted.

Next time: Greensboro

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POST #37

xxx Greensboro126

Suzanne and Betsy talk with Rita in Greensboro, NC


Suzanne S. and Betsy H. met me at a bookstore in Greensboro. Suzanne, a Presbyterian minister, wore a T-shirt proclaiming "Justice Is not Just Us."

Are we willing to do something as simple and as public as putting a bumper sticker on our car to promote some aspect of simple living -- such as justice -- as she did? If not, what’s holding us back?

Suzanne could use some clips from our audio CDs during worship. She will provide a link to our web site on her church’s site. She sees young adults in debt "diving for the bottom." She likes our "Simple Choices" game concept for them.

Betsy works for National Peace and Community, a reconciliation group. She attends a church that has 2000 members.

Young adults don’t question the rat race. Voluntary is central to voluntary simplicity. It’s a hard sell for the poor.

Let’s ask, Would you rather have time with your kids? You can step back. Relationships are central.

On the way to Boone we had a Japanese dinner in Wilkesboro. In Boone we stayed with author Katerina W.

Next time: Boone

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #38

Josiah127 Josiah127

Josiah and Josh


After breakfast with Katerina we met with David H. and his group.

He's a counselor and psychotherapist. His family has intentionally downsized their personal possessions. He does bee keeping as a hobby with his sons. His office is in a house next to his old home that he has used with city employees.

As a member of the Orthodox church he urges us to add Orthodox Advent -- Nov. 15th -- to "Whose Birthday?" [Note: He’s written an article for 2006.]

He has four children. He feels the pressures from inheritance of antiques. His focus on time management came from a traumatic event (9/11). He benefits from the church calendar focus on three types of days -- feast, when he can eat meat; penitential, when he eats no meat; and ordinary, when he eats some meat.

David Shi, the President of Furman University, has written a history of Simple Living in America.

Next time: Interdependence Day

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POST #39

Jim and Mark, Josiah and Josh share a light moment in Boone, NC.

Interdependence Day

Josh, 22, gradate of Appalachia State University (ASU), works with his parents herbal wholesale company. They buy plants from people in area. He’s interested in living historically, possibly at Turtle Island, in a traditional lifestyle. Turtle Island is a 1200 acre nature preserve and small farm, an inspirational, intentional community. He feels that working to create a world like that would help others come to sustainability. He says we don’t have to live extravagantly to be happy. He uses the internet.

INTERDEPENDENCE DAY is an alternative holiday each July 3rd. Its farm oriented and includes ASU musicians. Josh and the other organizers invited their extended families, focusing on strength and meaning in community. No one was put off by the date (next to July 4th). They served venison and veggie burgers and stressed farms markets and local foods.

ASU’s Earth Day is seen on campus as more for "hippie" students. It focuses on fun and service.

Josiah, a super senior in history at ASU, is son of a Christian School principal. He appreciates the spiritual focus of Alternatives. He sees the spiritual benefit of simple living as freedom from distractnedness. He says, focus to be fruitful, more creative and free. It’s better not to get something than to waste it or dispose of it. Coming together around a local project is better than the internet. He’s getting ready to build a house of dirt, straw and clay.

Katie is a senior at Science and Math High School in Raleigh. Her father is building an eco-home and then eco-village, off the grid. She wants to be a medical missionary. A vegetarian, she’s eaten no meat for 8 years. Her school requires her to do 60 hours of community service.

Mary Margaret "Meg" H., a high school sophomore, showed Rita how to make necklaces. Beading is different without being weird. Meg’s mom is a tobacco prevention coordinator and advertises awareness. She recommended the novel "Gospel According to Larry."

Mark, an instructor at ASU in biology, has led Northwest Institute courses at his church. Now he doesn’t need so much. He says,

We're Christians but were trashin’ the place.

He encourages relationships. A lot of divorce happens because of time, stuff and money.

The group agreed to meet monthly.

We had lunch at vegetarian restaurant with David and Josh. Then Josh took us to Turtle Island. What an experience!

Next time: At Katerinas Place

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POST #40

Katerina had more books in Alternatives catalog than any other author.

At Katerina’s Place

We had Saturday Dinner with Beth T. and Tom and Clare M. at Katerinas, all Episcopalians.

Tom and Clare have four children. He’s a retired principal, now a volunteer for dyslexia society; she, a retired RN.

Tom would like a shorter, more condensed version of Unplug the Christmas Machine. He supports Green vendors through Mast General Stores. They have a swap table for employees. A former Marine, he does management training. Loves Peter, Paul and Mary. Supported Nicaragua Witness for Peace. Though they are now downsizing to 1/2 income, they pledged to "help as we can."

Katerina asked, "Who’s bringing up the children?"

On Sunday, we attended St. John Episcopal in the Woods with Katerina and Rudy, who at 71 is becoming a high school history teacher. Beth is asst. rector at Holy Cross Episcopal. She spoke on the parable of the weeds and the wheat.

Next time: Young Family Issues

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POST #41

Young Family Issues

Scott M., early 30s has been a sixth grade teacher for 10 years. Now he’s also adjunct instructor at Appalachia State University in American social problems. He wants to teach High School history. He and Anna have three children, 5, 3, 1. They have a Southern Baptist, middle-class background. They are 100% vegan, started 10 years ago.

Scott said, We must deconstruct culture and step back. No cell phone, no cable. But the grandparents are in consumer mode, so they give the grandparents’ gifts to Good Will.

They feel a disconnect between the Gospel and the church, so they donate beyond Christian and conversion-oriented organizations. They give to Evangelicals for Social Action and Sojourners.

They found humility and sacrifice in the Christian Missionary Alliance. Since 1997, the local congregation has tripled in size but is not willing to rock the boat. For example, they are not willing to use Alternatives’ bulletin inserts and to participate in the college teach-in against war.

They are part of a large home schooling movement.

Debt is not a problem. Their parents taught financial responsibility. They want two more children. They ask, Can we afford it? They can reuse the siblings clothes but more organic food would be required. They bought a computer and pay $50 per month for DSL. They keep their own garden.

Adoption is expensive. They are altruistic -- if everyone did it, adoption would solve some social problems. A large family is "creating activists."

Scott’s athletic, likes to play soccer. Martial Arts are expensive. Another tradeoff. Music training for the kids creates a tension between costs and opportunities. So, they ask the grandparents to pay for lessons rather than giving stuff. He teaches three classes for more income (so Anna can be at home) but he sees the kids less.

He wants to ride his bike to class but it’s too far and steep.

They look for family-oriented resources. They like our selections.

He suggests we make 30 Years of Alternatives CD-ROM more like a childrens game, easier to navigate.

He recommends more quotes from books on line, ratings and reviews. (See Feedback/Testimonials/Comments/Response). His note is dated 3/2/05.

Next time: Charlotte

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #42


On the trip from Boone to Charlotte we received word that Ritas dad had died. I spoke briefly at the 5:00 service at Christ Episcopal, greeted folks afterward.

Verdery K. is former rector at St. Thomas Episcopal, Sioux City. He sees Alternatives evolving for the next generation. We need to be concerned about the packaging, the delivery system. The message is fine. We need a marketing person for our excellent concept. Relationships are vital for young adults. They are not responding to print.

Fundamentalists invest staff, time and space in children and teens. Parents say, "Connect with my kid and I’ll be there."

Some intense people are hungry to get off the treadmill but there’s a cost to it. Harvey Dorfman, baseball counselor, says, Keep going to bat. You can’t control the outcome.

The young have a herding mentality. They prefer face-to-face recommendations from friends. We witness to our own generation. So we need to find a young appealer.

He recommends wooing the bartender -- Directors of Christian Education and pastors. Target regions or cities and Vacation Bible School.

Next time: Activist

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POST #43


Dennis T.-F. directs education for all ages at Queen of the Apostles, Belmont, NC. He’s 36, loves jazz. He and Liz have Anna, 8; Julia, 4; Laura, 4 months. They struggle with grandparents gifts. The children box up the excess and give it away. Good lesson!

He posts web site downloads on church bulletin boards from Alternatives and others (BuyNothingChristmas). At Third-Sunday-of-the-month youth mass he makes announcements and then hands out alternative material.

This affluent parish has Tuesday night adult classes.

He participates in Fort Benning demonstrations. Runs SOS Circle for Charlotte, NC. He recommended Jesus the Rebel by John Dear. Dennis also coordinates Trialogue -- Christian, Islam, Jewish -- and is working to develop a center at Gaston College.

He might help coordinate a simplicity circle. He will send the names of families who use "Whose Birthday?" He will serve as a volunteer coordinator.

Dennis suggested we offer audio on our web site: MP3 files of all of our audios.

He had lots of other good ideas. The National Catholic Reporter and Sojourners are good models for wills and gifts of stock.

Most web site visitors will "take it as it is." They tend to prefer PDFs with color rather than plain text.

Ask Quakers for money.

Emerging churches in Charlotte attract young adults.


Consider affiliating with colleges, e.g. Iowa State, Ames -- for funding, especially for research.

Adopt-a-student (a person rather than a project). Adopt-a-seminary-student/family.

Help Young Married’s focus on reducing and avoiding debt.

Next time: Lincolnton VBS

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #44

Joy & David129
Joy & David

Lincolnton VBS

I was invited to participate in Vacation Bible School in Lincolnton, NC.

Joy and David C. are two of the original sponsors of our "Break Forth into Joy" video. I presented them with a new copy of "Break Forth" and two of our other videos.

Robt. C. came from Hickory. He runs C.I. Publishing, our source for much of the art in "Spirit of Simplicity: Quotes & Art" collection.

Tim and Ann W. have 11 children, 7 natural and 4 adopted from Nicaragua. She’s the pastor of Salem Church and another small church and she home schools the children. Tim is a stock broker with Wachovia securities. In addition to their home, they have a lake cabin and a "school," a home they use for home schooling. He says, "we have plenty of money."

Next time: More Lincolnton VBS

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #45


Tim & Ann
Dean, Joy, Robert and young friends

More Lincolnton VBS

Since I was given 90 minutes, I gave an abbreviated standard talk and then asked for comments and ideas for our Young Adults Initiative.

David sees a change in the college population to a strong desire to conform in an atmosphere of fear messages.

Don H., an African-American grandfather who runs a basketball camp, says, "They think they want to be different. They conform to their peers, not their parents."

Nick works with prison kids, 11-17. They want more involvement with the Lord.

Robert sees few criteria for accuracy on the internet.

Joy sees more retractions in newspapers now, though they're hidden.

Young adult Janet finds the internet convenient.

Young adult Grace grew up without TV. She attends Converse College. She was affected by "Amusing Ourselves to Death."

Candace, 22, college graduate, African-American mother of two, sees youth apathy. So inundated with information, they have become blase’, they look past the ads, going over the edge. Standards in movies have changed since she was a child.

Nick sees credit card debt at colleges.

Joy sees too many choices; kids are impatient.

Janet says to remind kids that they are enough.

Robert sees kids growing up with dysfunctional parents.

Another African American Christian young adult feels the desire to keep up. It is hard to find a balance of "necessities."

David says that researching products demystifies them.

Harriet and Ron have two young adult children. She sees that bundling items causes us to buy more.

Robert says that teens raised with Simple Living appreciate it when they go to college. We need to focus on young parents.

Tim says that extended families stick together.

Joanne’s hubby Don is retired pastor. They draw names at Christmas. Each person lists preferences, including charities.

Joy says college kids want to "get outside of yourself" on web sites. They want to hear, "You are different." When they are feeling weak, they have trouble reflecting back to good times. She asks three questions before she buys -- Do It need it? Can I afford it? Do I really want it?

David feels the pressure on his business of planned obsolescence. As a professional photographer, digital cameras are more expensive and have shorter lives than older film cameras.

Ann attends a home schooling convention.

Next time: Montreat

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POST #46


Jim at Montreat in Asheville, NC


Montreat, a jewel of a Presbyterian camp and retreat center, is half an hour east of Asheville, NC.

Jim and Susan M. are Life members. He is now the executive of the Delaware Presbytery. Previously they were at a Presbyterian Church in eastern North Carolina.

He brought a group of students from his presbytery to one of Montreat’s six week-long Youth camps/conferences. Montreat includes the Conference Center, Anderson College and cottage owners.

Each conference day includes “morning energizers,” a one hour multimedia plenary, then for application, small groups (20-30), followed by chat rooms (4-5). No one can be from the same church or group in the small groups and chat rooms. Kids stay in dorms or cottages. If in cottages, they provide their own cooks. Jim is the cook. At 7:30 p.m. they have worship with “the preacher.”

Montreat, the Southern Conference Center, is now reaching some northern churches. The Northern Conference Center is Ghost Ranch, NM, which leans more toward arts and spirituality. More evangelical Presbyterians go to Sun in the Sun at Hilton Head, SC. Montreat is more revivalist, so some progressives stay away.

Jim and Susan, both graduates of PSCE (Presbyterian School of Christian Education), have a daughter 20, and a son, 17.

The planners at Montreat tend not to see their racial problem, so changes must come from the grassroots. Curriculum doesn’t bring renewal.

After PSCE Jim became a camp director, then to Union seminary, Richmond, VA. Now PSCE and Union are merged. Montreat leader Bob Tuttle and wife are also PSCE grads.

Jim suggests reaching Christian Educators through the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Clarice, an African-American young adult, works with young adults for the Presbytery. She says, focus on economics and relationships -- family, parent, where does God fit? They’re not concerned with the five life standards of voluntary simplicity.

Susan recommends the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Associates. PCCCA has an annual conference to develop and select curriculum. The National Council of Churches may collaborate for funding.

Next time: Lake Junaluska

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they’re far apart.

POST #47


Board member Rachel shares some personal thoughts.

Rachel’s Personal Thoughts

I have been told before that I take things way too personally. Sometimes it is people saying that I will get burnt out, and not hold onto my passions if I am so hurt by the things that go on around me. This is who I am.

I was a child who prayed for world peace, cried when I heard that an animal was hurt, and got very angry when a friend was hurt by another. I have always been very sensitive to others feelings and emotion, and to issues around the world. I gave my parents many guilt treatments about recycling as a preteen; they still remind me that we recycle because of my complaining. I will not eat veal, because of the cruel treatment of baby cows, which I learned about when I was in high school.

I was what they would call a serious child that worried about many things. I kind of thought that I was alone in feeling so intensely for the world, until this last January. I was at a conference and heard the preacher speak of why she was in ministry. She told of how she saw others hurting and physically felt her heart ache. Wow. This is me.

When I hear of others suffering, it deeply hurts my heart. The risk is that I will become too extreme, or get burnt out. So, I resolve to have my heart hurt, take action, and have my friends help me keep it all in perspective. There is only so much I can do, and God knows this, I just have to have help remembering this.

Rachel Giessen
Youth in Mission Coordinator
Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church
Fort Worth, TX

Next time: Lake Junaluska

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #48


Loy and Karen at the Good Word Resource Center

Lake Junaluska

Loy L. directs the Good Word Resource Center at Lake Junaluska, a United Methodist Church retreat center, half an hour west of Asheville, North Carolina.

Karen G., an Alternatives life member with spouse Russ, happened to be there. She gave me names of leaders to contact for United Methodist Women, Green Teams, young adult ministry and youth.

Soul Fest, sponsored by Upper Room at Lake Junaluska, deals with spiritual formation.

Good Word Resource Center uses the NOW model -- Nurture, Outreach, Witness.

I took a quick 90-mile trip to Knoxville, TN, to meet Carolyn Greenwood. She has a 13 and a 15-year-old daughter. She sees cell phones and blogs creating "buzz." She attends a liberal Presbyterian church and is teaching a class on "Simple Living, Compassionate Life."

Next time: Asheville, NC

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #49


Katie W. arranged for several people to meet with us at the Asheville, NC, District United Methodist Church Office. Her hubby David is a retired UMC pastor from Barnardsville.

Sarah (20’s) and Rita (40’s) were working to coordinate their youth programs.

Sarah wants a rally, party or event to promote simple living. Cooperate with 10,000 Villages at Belle Chere, the last weekend of July.

David suggested Saturday morning tailgate market.

Rita, a mother of four children, shops at WalMart. She hopes they’ll lower the cost of recycled products.

David: Educate the church to go green.

Rita: In small towns being green is unpatriotic, probably because of shutdown of industries.

David: We need to start in our own homes.

Sarah and Rita are willing to test the Simple Choices game. At church game night, the kids move every 20 minutes to interact with various parents.

Next time: Jayne and LeGrand

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they’re far apart.

POST #50

Jayne and LeGrand

Jayne and LeGrand S. have four children. Three are married -- ten grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Their children have been volunteering for 20+ years in Bolivia doing health work in poor communities, teaching the people in public health during 10-day workshops. Their agency, CurAmericas, started by Methodists, is now ecumenical.

LeGrand loves and displays fine art, especially from the developing world.

LeGrand wore a Witness for Peace shirt. He’s gone to Cuba with the Witness for Peace leader, Gail Pharis. Amy Summers of Warren Wilson College is on the board of Witness for Peace.

They invited Eric S., 27, and Amanda, 25. LeGrand praised Eric as "Brilliant, communicates well."

Eric wears Earth shoes. He’s a Disciples of Christ ministerial candidate. A graduate of Mars Hill College and Vanderbilt Divinity School, he’s Director of Christian Education at Baltimore United Methodist Church. Lots of young families there thanks to Kelly M., the childrens director.

Amanda, a graduate of Duke Divinity School, is the youth minister there.

The churchs annual Birthday for Jesus benefits orphans but tends to confuse children of the congregation who don’t get gifts as well.

Next time: Living Off the Grid

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POST #51


Susan and Kim live off the grid on the side of a beautiful mountain.

Living Off the Grid

I met Susan and Kim C. in their off-the-grid home up the mountain beyond Barnardsville, NC. Kim has ridden his bike in RAGBRAI (across Iowa) 7 years. They grow 60% of their food in their extensive garden. These "almost vegans" both retired at 50 and moved from Chicago to live simply. He was in computers, she in physical therapy.

At Warren Wilson Colleges’ Green Walk-About I meet Stan Cross at the Environmental Learning Center.

The young are distracted by starting careers and families. "We don’t own the Earth, we borrow it from our children."

The Millennium Eco System Assessment from the UN quantifies the degradation of the ecosystem, using the ecosystem service approach (those services we don't pay for). Sixteen major ecosystems are now beyond repair!

Simple Living is fun and it challenges our creativity to find uses for things rather than throwing them away. Ask, How did they use to do this?

Susan and Kim were keynoters at a Simple Living two day conference and workshops, sponsored by Holy Ground, Asheville, NC. Susans also presented "Unplug the Christmas Machine" for the United Methodist Church, Waynesville.

Kim just returned from Global Climate Change: Interfaith Power and Light, a 20 state cooperative. He was disappointed that it focused on the institutional and not the personal. Alternatives can fill the lifestyle, consumption and personal responsibility void. The North Carolina Council of Churches, an interfaith project, has a strong voice in the cooperative. It deals with energy issues, green power, cleaner emissions, a commission to advise the governor, Simple Living workshops, conservation, embedded energy in consumer goods, church energy audits.

He was disappointed that radical change is needed, not just the pill of alternative energy. By avoiding radical change, they are saying, "Don’t scare the children."

Author and activist Julia Butterfly Hill has audience minimum requirements, which she will waive for students. When asked, "What can we do?" she answers "live simply."

North Carolina has four flavors of Quakers. Kim works with Young Adult Friends of Yearly Meeting in the most liberal grouping, Southern Appalachian (9 states). Susan works with Young Friends (high school), focusing on the Earth Charter. They both edit the Yearly Meeting newsletter.

Susan has organized a quarterly buying coop. They run Earth Day events emphasizing all local and organic foods.

Kim and Susan will test Simple Choices game. Kim will help to develop a game prototype.

They will consider raising their membership level, especially after hearing at a recent conference how the World Wildlife Fund gets most of their money from large donors.

Next time: Asheville Again

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Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #52

Asheville Again

Susan P., husband and two sons, Asheville, NC, have no clothes dryer. She works with two churches: Grace Covenant Presbyterian (member) & Circle of Mercy (interfaith). She works for High School health services.

She invited three friends to supper. Elaine B. is the Outreach Committee for Grace Covenant. She said that young adults need to see the light; they feel a need to be upwardly mobile. Colleen B. does kid's programming at Circle of Mercy; she's a Heifer volunteer; a Warren Wilson College graduate; served in Africa for a year with the Mennonite Central Committee. Kay C., a Berea College grad, has kids 2-1/2 and 6 and farms llamas. They expressed concerns about TV, video games and rap songs.

Susan’s husband Dean, a junior high math teacher and Middle School youth advisor at Grace Covenant, had concerns about wedding and prom dresses. He sees relationship issues, for example, speaking in a group. He recommended a Care of Creation video from Earth Ministry.

Susan said she never had enough time to do all the good she wanted to do.

Next time: Youth Guru

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #53

Lake Junaluska Youth Guru

Marty C. at Lake Junaluska, NC, United Methodist Retreat Center knows more about young adults than anyone else, according to Loy L.

Lake Junaluska conducts Vacation Bible School 10 times each summer. The Division for Young People defines Young People as 13-30.

The less paper the better -- email and e-news are best. To Young People, making a difference is more important than making a dollar. they are big into retro -- 1950s sci-fi look.

Expert Leonard Sweet says education must be experiential, not just books. Feel it, not just understand it. Experience to understand. Debrief more than pre-briefing. Do an activity, then debrief. For example, try shaving cream off a balloon to learn unconditional trust.

The EPIC model of ministry with young people means:
E = Experience
P = Participatory, do it, participate in changing the world, then help others do it; for example, articles referred by email from one Young Person to another.
I = Image driven, post literate
C = Connected, web based communities, chat rooms, message boards

The spoken word can be valuable. Lou Gigilio, a college speaker from Northpoint Community Church, Alphratta, GA (part of the emerging church), has popular iPod downloads.

Green Generation focuses on how we deliver, not just what we say.

Most Young People are either hard-core carnivores or experimenting vegetarians (10-15%; vegans 3%).

Young People can believe two opposing views (oxymorans), for example, being concerned with free trade and price.

Young People are web centered, not print centered. Track your web site click-throughs.

MethodX is a both/and, not either/or site. As a portal, the readers choose their direction. All sections of a home page need to lead to the eStore (catalog). Create different highlights for student, families, church leaders, etc.

Offer a "save as" catalog for the readers hard drive. Send a postcard and email to alert readers to a new catalog. Cross-reference the web site archives. Send readers there from the e-newsletter. Make all new resources available as PDFs (no need to convert past resources to PDFs).

Next time: Loaves & Fishes Alternative Gift Market

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #54

Loaves & Fishes Alternative Gift Market

I met Michael P. at First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, NC, to discuss their church annual Christmas Fair.

Michael has been in the ministry 13 years, has kids 8 and 5. He’s Youth and Mission Director (Outreach committee).

The Loaves and Fishes Market (fair) is in its fourth year. It supports many local non-profits. It runs the first weekend in December, Friday p.m. and Sunday a.m. for members (who give 80-90 % of the money) and for the general public. He may try a table at the mall with volunteers from the agencies. Children decorate cards with colors and stickers. Children also see examples of their gifts, for example, nails, 2x4s, mosquito netting are used for malaria prevention.

The neighboring United Methodist Church has also conducted a Fair Trade festival.

Alternatives working through churches is a good idea. People want connections. More community-oriented activities can span conservative/liberal divide.

Equip parents to give tools to their kids. Too much ’baggage’ complicates Christmas celebrations.

Next time: International YMCA Service

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

POST #55

International YMCA Service

Both Clarence & Lucille S. are 90 & sharp. They served the YMCA for over 40 years, 17 years in Jerusalem. Their home contains many pieces of Middle East art. He’s a Habitat volunteer. She loves to tell stories of their service.

Farewell to North Carolina.

Although we may not be able to devote our lives to international service, we can have life-transforming cross cultural experiences by visiting countries in the developing world, both to give and receive, to help and learn. It’s possible to move beyond tourism.

Next time: Deliberate conservation in the suburbs

Why this blog? Visit Post #1.

Simple Livers need to support each other, even if they are far apart.

End North Carolina Tour

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Page updated 11February2013