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Faces of Simpler Living BLOG Year 3+

Denver Area (+WY) #220-229
SouthEast #230-272
  • IN, OH, WV, TN, VA, SC, FL, GA, KY
  • Wisconsin (+MN, SD) #273-286
    Local #287-

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    Denver Spring Tour

    POST #220

    St. Paul Episcopal, Lakewood

    Cupcake Nazis

    Charlotte S. and Ed W. hosted a Soup Supper for 25 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 9200 W 10th Ave., LAKEWOOD, CO.

    Ed's into biomass development; urges organic, no till farming. He works for the Alternative Energy Institute (federal program). He recommended Harland Hubbard's "Life on the Fringe of Society."

    The conversation:

    Voluntary Simplicity is not an end in itself. What can it enable me to do, rather than the practices themselves? Beware of Simple Living in the Fast Lane. Do not add more to life or make it more complicated.

    Intentionally leave time and space for meditation. That influences the rest of the day.

    Ask, "What are you willing to give up?" That includes your spiritual life.

    Books are training wheels, not the trip itself.

    Defining "simple" is personal. When is grey dark enough to be black? What's the smallest common denominator?

    Live slow enough to be happy.

    We use activity and stuff to fill personal voids. . . to avoid seeing how miserable we are.

    I stopped giving Christmas presents because I felt too poor. When I stopped getting them, it was very relaxing.

    Reach an agreement or give to a local charity.

    Our family paid attention to what we really wanted and set a dollar limit.

    If I haven't worn an item in a year, it's gone. I keep a limited number of hangers to limit my number of shirts.

    The tipping point for energy will be when cheap energy is on its way out.

    We took control of birthday celebrations at school. We were called the "cupcake Nazis" but now we only have healthy food at public school parties.

    Let's be more efficient. Turn off the lights, turn down the thermostat. Focus on low energy building use. Conservation means giving up. Use "efficient" instead for water and electricity.

    How about a database of resources, such as wood for remodeling, like

    Next time: Praxis at Iliff

    Last time: Local Fall Activities

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #221


    Kathryn T.
    Iliff Seminary students

    Praxis at Iliff

    Kathryn T. of Justice & Peace Studies at Iliff Theological Seminary in Denver offered Simple Living in a Complex World, as the Winter Praxis (weekend course) for 35 students. I was one of two guest speakers.


    * Kathryn had a service trip to Brazil, has written on consumerism and adolescents.

    * Mary, the other guest speaker, has a Mennonite background, has lived in an intentional community for 28 years and has seen poverty in Honduras.

    * Students are taking this class because:

    visited Haiti,
    concerns for children,
    was a young adult missionary,
    is a "convenient liver" and wants to be challenged,
    visited Mexico,
    is a Mennonite with a sense of stewardship,
    discovered Wendell Berry,
    is feeling guilty and is seeking peace of mind,
    is selfish and lazy and doesn't want to work so hard,
    has regrets raising her kids,
    read Wanda Urbanska's "Nothing's too small to make a difference,"
    has a personal and global concern about consumerism,
    has found the initial steps to simplify satisfying,
    served as a Catholic worker,
    has a visceral longing but is not yet ready to let go of stuff,
    is feeling bloated,
    has a sister alli and wants to share simple living with family and community,
    served in the Dominican Republic and is a simple living practitioner,
    took an eco-justice class and feels anti-progress,
    suffers from allergies,
    feels less anxious and worry,
    wants to be free from mental and physical clutter,
    squirmed as he read Simpler Living, Compassionate Life,
    was sickened by the way conspicuous consumption was glamorized when serving as a editor of the Rocky Mountain News,
    is seeking community,
    is tired and anxious,
    was born to view simple living as normal (not a choice),
    wants to see what's available,
    has simplicity skills but sees that is not easy to start living simply,
    in this high growth area of Colorado she sees the problem of consumerism,
    has friends in Sri Lanka who see the difference between the rich and the poor,
    is ready to drop out or at least become less formed by social pressures,
    is sick of American culture,
    wants to take the concept of intentional communities to local churches,
    finds Wesley's writings on simple living scary,
    feels more joy and less guilt because of the recent Unitarian-Universalist emphasis on simplicity circles,
    has found that simple living is not simple if you are not there already.

    Mapping (group process) Why choose voluntary simplicity? Connected concepts

    Doing without leaves more time with children
    Social responsibility and global awareness
    Living abundantly, joyful, freedom, choices when traveling light, stronger community
    Living mindfully. . . in but not of the world
    A sense of accomplishment, having done our homework
    Hear the still, small voice
    Sustainable: viable long-term, avoid degradation of the Earth, practice stewardship
    Awareness of interdependence
    Cooperation instead of competition; accountability
    Awareness of eating and energy use
    Our community has a "free box" in the town square where people can leave things they don't need and others can take whatever they can use without paying.

    Practices (group process)

    Get food at local farmers markets; eat low on the food chain
    Simplicity circles provide accountability
    Re-use, buy second-hand and Fair Trade
    Pray for the Earth and people daily
    Walk instead of drive, use bikes and public transport
    Use a graduated tithe so that you give away more the your higher income
    Turn off the lights
    Live in smaller houses
    Use natural fertilizers
    Take baby steps, such as window blinds, xeriscaping, insulation, use less water
    More simple living education and a support system (parents)
    Less expensive entertainment and recreation, celebrations. Be a cheap date.
    More savings
    Buy Energy Star appliances and fluorescent light bulbs
    Vote for Earth-friendly candidates
    Use Green Energy
    Barter, use alternative economies, such as
    Focus on health: individual, public and environmental


    How to deal with patriarchal families at family meetings
    Non-conforming creates a subculture with a different language

    Next time: "Finding My Way" One-Woman Show

    Last time: Local Fall Activities

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #222


    Mary S-F. from "First Strike Theatre: a Place of Resistance," Colorado Springs, CO.
    xxx xxx
    More Iliff Students

    "Finding My Way" One-Woman Show

    The Winter Praxis (weekend course) "Simple Living in a Complex World" at Iliff Theological Seminary in Denver included a special performance.

    After an opening act by folk singer Lyn B., Mary S-F. presented One-Woman Show Finding My Way for about 60 students and others. They're from "First Strike Theatre: a Place of Resistance" in Colorado Springs, CO.

    We recommend this weekend course model to other seminaries as a way of introducing Simple Living to students. Alternatives oiffers a free membership to seminary students with the hopes that they will have a way of dealing with personal stress and debt and a way to help those they touch in their ministry.

    Next time: Group Sculpting

    Last time: Praxis at Iliff

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #223

    xxx xxx

    Still More Iliff Seminary students

    Group Sculpting

    Kathryn T. of Justice & Peace Studies at Iliff Theological Seminary in Denver offered "Simple Living in a Complex World as the Winter Praxis (weekend course) for 35 students. I was one of two guest speakers.

    THEMES (group activity)

    Simple living cannot be sustained by guilt or far-away authorities. If it is, you'll cheat.
    Retraining is hard. Defining simple living is beautiful.
    Joy and humor are helpful in getting caught up in simple living. Adopt the "silly human" attitude when you make a mistake, such as "Oh, silly me."
    Fear of the slippery slope. We live with contradictions and trade-offs. Seeking purity, we may end up feeling like a freak. The "simple living police" keep us from starting/trying. Middle class training to be effective keeps us from taking on difficult issues, e.g., nuclear disarmament, out of fear of failure. Read Sharon Welsh "Feminist Ethic of Risk."
    The role of modeling. Romanticizing the saints lets us off the hook.

    AGENDA ITEMS (group activity)

    Time and convenience, busyness, how we value time
    Real costs (externalities and indirect costs)
    Forming habits, retraining, ritual, witness
    "The Good Life" which is me-oriented vs. abundant life which considers all creation. The "aesthetic" challenge of seeking beauty in simplicity instead of extravagance.
    Guilt vs. shame, which can paralyze; forgiveness; making the problem so that it's not too big Relationships
    Grief over the dying Earth. How to mourn is the first step.
    Story-telling. Share personal stories of hope.
    Economic class-ism is a radical disconnect and we don't have the means to address it.

    COMMUNITY (group activity)

    Child care: trade time using poker chips, not money
    Gospel "shalom" vision of peace holds community together
    Concern about retirement
    Over population is used against women, for example Chinese tend to choose boy babies over girl babies and now are short of brides. Is the ecological footprint non transferable? We must be nonjudgmental because there is no global standard. It is context sensitive. AIDs has complicated the population issue.


    Form four groups, each one based on a theme, such as community, time or personal choices.
    Three rounds of "sculpting" -
    The group selects a sculptor who - without talking - moves the groups' bodies to show the dilemma or "oppression" of that theme. The other groups say what they see in the sculpture.
    Another sculptor does the same. Then the sculptor puts her/himself into the sculpture and gets "three wishes" of how to change his/her position in the oppressive situation. Examples were leaping out of the sculpture or sitting down and meditating in the midst of the oppression. The other groups comment. The sculptor may explain his/her intentions.
    The group comes to a consensus about the sculpture and then converts the sculpture into a positive one, for example, moving from an exclusive community to a welcoming one. The other groups comment. Then the group can explain their intentions.

    Next time: Funerals & Grandkids

    Last time: Body Sculpting

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #224

    Good Shepherd Presbyterian, North Glenn

    Funerals & Grandkids

    Mary M. hosted a potluck for 20 at Good Shepherd Presbyterian in North Glenn, CO.

    The conversation:

    Instead of spending money on flowers for funerals, set up a list of high priority projects for memorials.

    Check out Neptune Society. Foreign Policy Assoc. selects eight subjects each year for its Great Decisions discussion booklet series. This year is Global Warming.

    Take the grandkids on trips instead of buying so much stuff. Sew a gift bag for each child to reuse instead of wrapping paper.

    Hear Chiropractors on Christian radio in Denver.

    Next time: Meeting Kristina

    Last time:

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #225

    xxx xxx xxx

    Kristina and other guests

    Meeting Kristina

    Patricia B-B. hosted a worship service and then refreshments for 20 at Bethel United Methodist Church in BOULDER, CO.

    Boulder is spiritual but not with traditional denominations.

    Read Walter Wink's "Engaging the Powers."

    Green energy is available here though more expensive. Green products are also more expensive. As they become more popular, their prices will come down.

    Kristina Kahl, a graduate student would like to do her PhD. dissertation on simple living, comparing a faith-based organization like Alternatives with a secular organization. Sara Steen, a tenured professor at University of Colorado, teaches an upper division sociology class on consumerism that includes reading, journaling and a project.

    Kristina's 'Alternative' Ph.D Dissertation: Abstract, Table of Contents, How to Order a copy, Email, Podcast

    UPDATE: See COMMENTS 2012 (6/23/12) for an up-date on Kristina's work.

    Next time: Meeting Michael & Sandy

    Last time: Funerals & Grandkids

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #226

    Michael and Advent Members

    Meeting Michael & Sandy

    Pastor Michael M. hosted Sunday refreshments and conversation at Advent Lutheran Church, WESTMINSTER, CO.

    Mike's spouse Sandy is an AIM, serving as Minister of Music for another church in a resort area 90 miles from Denver. She has just had carpal tunnel surgery. She sincerely invited us back to visit. They own a fire station and have converted it into a home for her and her father who has Alzheimers. She is an excellent cook and baker and makes jams and cans. She has built a youth program beginning with choir for four-year-olds.

    The Youth Director at Advent is from Romania; her husband Wolfgang is a pastor serving another local Lutheran Church. She has provocative bumper stickers on the walls of her office.

    The conversation:

    "Cradle to Cradle" says we can "have our cake and eat it too" when we convert to an environmental economy.

    A lesson from the Depression: When butchering a pig, use everything, nothing left but the squeal, no waste. When slaughtering a cow, nothing's left but the bell. Make everything count.

    Learn about the Amazon fruit "acai" at

    Watch "Addicted to Oil" DVD.

    We draw names at Thanksgiving for handmade gifts at Christmas.

    If you like a company's product that comes in a non-recyclable container, call them and tell them you like it but you won't buy it till it comes in a recyclable container.

    Use cloth bags, not plastic, even for produce.

    Buy a keg of nails for Habitat in another's name.

    Green buildings get the LEAD certification. Reduce energy use, waterless bathrooms. Corporations use the buildings to save money first, not to be good citizens. Visit Companies will only change if it will save them money.

    Tell young adults what the difference a dollar makes when comparing green and non-green products. Show the harm of cheaper.

    UPDATE: Sandy & Michael served as Alternatives' National Coordinators, 2008-2011.

    Next time: Optimizing

    Last time: Meeting Kristina

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #227


    Dick Craft of Thornton, CO, hosted a noon potluck luncheon for ten at First Presbyterian Church, Berthoud, CO: PC(USA) for Synod of the Rocky Mountains, Wyoming Presbytery, Plains and Peaks Presbytery, Denver Presbytery, and other interested folks.

    The conversation:

    Central Presbyterian, Denver, once the largest congregation in the denomination, went downhill in the '70's, and is now growing with families with young children. They have several service programs. The pastor says that this generation defers everything, they want to optimize, it has to be perfect: careers, kids, etc.

    Watch My Super Sweet 16 on MTV. You'll throw up but you'll learn about this generation. At the end of this elaborate party, she gets a $50,000 car.

    America at a Crossroads series on PBS shows how Osama bin Laden was sent to live in Greeley, CO, and turned against the West because of lifestyle he saw there.

    To reach young adults publish a graphic novel, an Anime' book.

    To receive donations, offer automatic monthly bank transfers; credit card contribute to debt.

    To be helpful, be specific. To get started Beginners need tools.

    We have bought into the heresy of economic growth. For example, in WWII we became part of a shared sacrifice; after 9/11 we were told to go shopping to keep the terrorists from winning.

    After the credit cards get maxed out, some get a home equity loan. Where can they go from there when they lose the house?

    I just learned that food is so involved with the environment. Our system of production and distribution contributes to global warming.

    Give wedding gifts to Yosemite Rescue Fund instead of stuff.

    Give away your most precious possessions as gifts, not your leftovers.

    Dick Craft's workshop is being renamed from Affluenza to Rediscovering Abundance.

    Develop interpretive materials for pre-schoolers on simple living with pictures, for example, the child gets to select to animals to be given away through Heifer Project. Explain how this gift will help another child the same age.

    Check out Good Cents (Sense) from Willow Creek Church.

    Elmer Colyer teaches a course at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary on Redeeming the Routines. He's also written articles on Simple Living.

    Next time: Pros and Cons in Cheyenne

    Last time: Meeting Michael & Sandy

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #228

    Pros and Cons in Cheyenne

    Steve L. hosted refreshments and conversation for 30 at Grace United Methodist, CHEYENNE, WY.

    Steve is the Deputy Director of Corrections for the State of Wyoming. His group at Grace plans to meet monthly to deal with environmental concerns, especially global warming. Their first meeting they watched An Inconvenient Truth. I was the speaker for their second meeting. The discussion went on for an hour!

    The conversation:

    What's better: mugs to wash or Styrofoam cups to discard? Bring your own mug, then take it home and wash it with your other dishes.

    Problem of population growth and need for family planning must be part of the simple living picture. $1.2 billion has been spent in six years on abstinence training in the U.S. The results are the same now as then between the control and the test group.

    Housing developments are destroying prime farmland. How will we feed the people?

    Negative publicity seems to be changing Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has good benefits in Cheyenne.

    Vote with our dollars. Hold companies accountable to be moral and responsible to their employees. Work for social justice in wages wherever we live.

    Change what we can change and not waste our time and energy on what we can't.

    Exxon is really bad and controls most gasoline in Cheyenne. Read Thomas Friedman's article "The Power of Green" from NY Times, April 15, 2007.

    Next time: Back in Iowa

    Last time: Optimizing

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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


    POST #229
    Treynor, IA

    Back in Iowa

    The pastor hosted us for worship services and adult forum at the Lutheran Church, Treynor, IA, just east of Omaha.

    Besides serving as interim pastor, he also does development work for Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, IA.

    He and his spouse raise farm animals as well as gardens.

    Bob Y. hosted me at a Sunday morning forum for 20 at First Unitarian, Sioux City. The Unitarian-Universalist denomination has undertaken a national emphasis on simple living.

    Next time: Seagoing Cowboys

    Last time: Pros and Cons in Cheyenne

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    Return to Table of Contents (top)

    SouthEast Tour

    POST #230

    Seagoing Cowboys

    Peggy M. hosted lunch and conversation for 20 members of the Church of the Brethren in MILFORD, IN (near Goshen). Husband Rex runs Camp Alexander Mack, named after the founder of the Church of the Brethren.

    We talked about the value of heating with discarded wood and the value of hand made gifts. Daughter Abbie mentioned the MBA in Sustainable Management at the Presidio School of Management in San Francisco.

    Peggy is writing a history about the Seagoing Cowboys. They brought the first cattle to India and China through Heifer International. She has already written a novel and several articles on the subject. Heifer was started by a member of the Church of the Brethren.

    Next time: Friends of the Third World

    Last time: Back in Iowa

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #231

    Friends of the Third World

    Jim G. and Marilyn W. hosted a picnic/barbeque for 20 at Friends of the Third World in FORT WAYNE, IN. The presentation and discussion was in the lovely, large Fort Wayne Public Library.

    Jim and Marilyn have run the organization most of their married life. They have begun numerous social justice movements that have expanded beyond them, such as Fair Trade coffee and the Fair Trade Federation.

    The conversation:

    World hunger is now becoming world thirst some countries grow short of water, for example, Nicaragua.

    Boil only the water you need, not a whole pan. Water your garden by collecting rain water in a barrel. Keep mosquitoes out of standing water with a filter or a bit of vegetable oil on the surface.

    Use a reel (human powered) mower.

    " . . . Use it up or do without" couplet from the Depression. Let's put a positive spin on it, such as "Share a lot!"

    Wind generators need to be more aesthetic.

    Use solar ovens and roof top solar water heaters.

    Check out and

    Use no Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's). Take the Safe Seed Pledge at run by Jeremiah Gettle (?). (vs. Boycott) focuses on positive decision-making process.

    We used our context or worldview to make choices. Listen to other places!

    Next time: Simply Living

    Last time: Seagoing Cowboys

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #232

    xxx xxx

    Dick W. with members of Simply Living
    Simply Living
    Marilyn W. hosted a noon conversation for 10 at Simply Living in COLUMBUS, OH. Simply living is an active regional organization offering classes on simple living, operating a small bookstore and now starting a low power radio station.

    The conversation:

    It's OK to say you wear a cotton shirt from Africa because it's cool on a hot day.

    Let's find ways to participate in the local economy.

    Worth viewing: "Last Child in the Woods" about the need for environmental education out in nature. Worth studying from Northwest Earth Institute: "Healthy Children, Healthy Planet."

    One of our strongest tools is courses taught in churches but they're limited by staff time and interest from the people.

    Next time: Hunger Track

    Last time: Friends of the Third World

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #233

    xxx xxx
    xxx xxx

    Global Mission Event Participants

    Hunger Track

    I led several workshops at the Lutheran/Episcopal (ELCA) Global Mission Event, Ohio State University, COLUMBUS, OH.

    The two-hour workshop that was part of the Hunger Track had ten participants, the largest number of the five options.

    We talking first about GIFT-GIVING.

    A Master gardener gives her nieces and nephews plants and then works with them in the garden.

    Give hand-made cards containing one's own poetry.

    Tape a monthly dinner conversation and send it to the grandparents.

    Give Time Cards (pledges of time) like a coupon book. This is giving of oneself.

    A work-aholic parent received coupons from her kids to get her time. That was an act of mercy on their part. Now as a grandparent she is committed to her grandparents. She's available at vulnerable time, such as when they come home from school. She taught a child how to cook one summer and now he's a chef.

    We put money into an educational fund for grandchildren, plus money or education abroad.

    We give $5 to each child each month with the understanding that they will follow share (10%), save (10%) and spend (80%) and tell what they did with the money.

    We give to God's Barnyard, the ELCA's Heifer-like program. I create a jigsaw puzzle of a different animal each year (the animal that we're going to give away) to create interest in the project and fun.

    As teens, my frugal dad matched every dollar we earned that we saved for college.

    I had non-Christian parents. They allowed us to go to Vacation Bible School. So I adopted the youth leader at the church as my spiritual godparent. That's why I'm a Christian today.

    Next we talked about FOOD.

    We live six miles from town. I have a medical condition and only have a bike. Getting good food can be complicated.

    Our Earth Ministry Team offers a soup and sandwich Lenten mid-week event with a speaker. One talked about our ecological footprint. I thought we were doing well until I measured ours. What a surprise! We also sponsor a community garden at our church where people can rent-a-row. We may start a community farmer's market to urge buying locally and organic.

    Our weekly community supper runs all year and includes the congregation and the needy. One needy person now has volunteered to be a driver to get other folks to the supper.

    At our food bank anyone can take anything as long as they leave a donation of any size. All the donations go to ELCA World Hunger.

    Organic still tends to be expensive. Our church is a drop-off point for several local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Recipes telling how to use the food in the weekly harvest baskets are included.

    When criticizing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms now in many foods), be careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction against science.

    Next we talked about HOME.

    Clutter can become materials for projects. Practice responsible decreasing.

    Give each of your children one big box. That's all the space they'll ever have for their school stuff. So they have to continually de-clutter to make room for new stuff.

    The banjo's the easiest instrument to play.

    Then we talked about RECREATION.

    I'm teaching my grandkids to play the dulcimer.

    When our TV died, we played games for a year.

    Make friends of neighbors who annoy you.

    Because of my husband's attitude of "You'll never know when you'll need it," I took a week to clean up. It used tough love and he never missed all the stuff I recycled.

    It's OK to bring an item for each person at family gatherings as long as there's a spoken rule that it's OK to pass it on or recycle it.

    Finally we talked about SAVING ENERGY.

    Unplug your appliances when not using them. Otherwise they "drip" energy.

    Some many groups distribute notices at our church on colored paper and only use one side. So we are performing a communications audit. We are encouraging groups to get together and use both sides.

    Next time: Global Mission Event #1

    Last time: Simply Living

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #234


    Earn Your Advocacy Wings!

    Global Mission Event #1

    At the GME (Global Mission Event) in Columbus, OH, I offered two identical workshops. 70 showed up to each!

    The conversation at the first workshop:

    How do we sort out commercial "hits" from non-commercial.

    Focus on cost effectiveness of recycled products, even though they may be more expensive initially.

    Focus on conscious living. Instead of walking and then driving to the Post Office, walk to the Post Office.

    We trade DVDs and got rid of cable.

    For a powerful visual example of energy savings, watch your electric meter when you use your clotheslines vs. using your clothes dryer.

    Buy experiences instead of stuff for your children. In addition to travel, they can select animals to give away to Heifer-type agencies using "Heifer cards" that picture and describe the animals.

    In Omaha our alternative giving program includes six choices. The recipient receives a card explaining the gift and the other recipient.

    Pay your grandkids camping fees and go with them.

    In our retirement home we have a reused card ministry. Some reconditioned cards we send to support others, some we use for scratch paper.

    We send homeless youth to leadership camp.

    We use Lenten waste jars. We give a donation to ELCA World Hunger for each item we throw away, for example food, even small amounts that are not composted.

    Next time: Global Mission Event #2

    Last time: Hunger Track

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #235

    xxx xxx

    GME Participants

    Global Mission Event #2

    At the GME (Global Mission Event) in Columbus, OH, I offered two identical workshops. 70 showed up to each!

    The conversation at the second workshop:

    We save water in a bucket in the shower to flush our toilet. We use water from the dehumidifier to water our plants.

    Any napkins I take from a restaurant I tear up to use to blow my nose. We use cloth napkins instead of paper towels.

    We use old greeting cards to make our grocery list.

    Shut off the faucet while brushing your teeth.

    Use dishes instead of disposables.

    Use florescent bulbs.

    Think of the wattage you use as equal to heating of water at the generating plant. Used fewer watts, less water is heated and wasted.

    Turn off the TV and read.

    Highly recommended for group study Climbing the Sycamore Tree.

    For each new item you bring into the house, five must leave. For each used item, one must leave.

    When showering use a low flow showerhead and turn of the water (at the head) while soaping.

    Unplug the TV when not watching.


    I handed out copies of The Anytime Game to anyone who would play at the GME Global Fest.

    Next time: Advertising and the Primitive Brain

    Last time: Global Mission Event #1

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #236

    xxx xxx xxx

    Beckley Meditaters

    Advertising and the Primitive Brain

    After a Quaker-style meditation, Peggy B. & Joe G. hosted a conversation for 8 in BECKLEY, WV. Peggy is a nursing instructor and Joe a physician.

    The conversation:

    Video public relations releases are showing up in many "news" shows because they're so easy for the TV producer to use.

    "Learn from the World Community" (life standard #2) also means not imposing our way on others.

    The right wing has been successful in marrying Jesus with free markets.

    The difficulty with advertising is that it aims at the primitive part of our brains. Spiritual resistance to advertising such as meditation and dream interpretation is more advanced. They use a more elevated part of the brain. They help us to see through the PR.

    Hypnosis helps use realize the vulnerability to subconscious manipulation for others' gain without our permission.

    "Fair" may be like expecting not to be attacked by a bull because you're a vegetarian. Or girls find marbles and take them to Nazardeen. One gets three, the other nine. Fair?

    Teachable moments are difficult. For example, we don't realize the value of health education until we or a relative gets sick.

    Resilient people who have no electricity live in Tanzania a valuable immersion experience. Visit

    Full withdrawal from middle class culture took a month at a Zen monastery like growing into poverty. It shatters what "normal" and then rebuilds it.

    Change after a crisis like Katrina occurs incrementally.

    Co-housing needs information about building inexpensively.

    Contact the Holistic Nurses Association. Speak at a Social Work conference.

    See The Eleventh Hour by Leonardo di Caprio.

    Country musician Cathy Mateo sings about strip mining.

    Fear is a motivator. I need things to get what I want in life.

    The pharmaceutical industry gives grants to drug and alcohol counselors. The way marketers deal with professionals is base don deception. Addiction is based on self-deception. It deals with the primitive brain, like advertising does. The problem is not the medication it works. It's the mindset.

    When talking about our relationship with the Earth, include plants and animals, as well as soil, water and air.

    Next time: Storytelling Capital

    Last time: Global Mission Event #2

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #237

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    Methodists in Jonesborough

    Storytelling Capital

    Pastor Brad S. hosted a potluck supper for 60 at Jonesborough United Methodist Church, JONESBOROUGH, TN. Jonesborough is the home of the annual National Storytelling Festival. Most of the storytellers on Alternatives' "Stories and Songs of Simple Living" book and CD have appeared here.

    The conversation:

    Economists are worried about savers.

    We need more windmills like in Europe.

    Jogging's a problem with no sidewalks.

    Visit for a Prius electric car conversion kit.

    Progress is a problem. It's common sense to use what we need. Let's differentiate between change and progress. For example, too much packaging in the fast food industry is change, not progress.

    Next time: Wedding Tithing

    Last time: Advertising and the Primitive Brain

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #238

    Wedding Tithing

    Christy W. hosted a Potluck lunch and conversation for 20 at Episcopal Diocese of SW Virginia Resource Center, ROANOKE, VA.

    The conversation:

    Place an Alternatives logo on that can be easily accessed and reproduced to promote the organization and its events.

    Ask questions about holiday gifts to those on your family list. Require charitable giving in lieu of things.

    Church staff members negotiate charitable alternative gifts for each other.

    A campus minister at a women's college dealt with weddings by asking the party to tithe (give 10%) the cost of the wedding to the charity of their choice. She did few weddings.

    Do we ask for money instead of wedding gifts because of the high cost of weddings?

    To prevent a birthday party orgy, pool money rather than gifts, and the birthday child then gives needed items to a selected charity, like the SPCA.

    In Unplug the Christmas Machine, people luxuriate in the memories of Christmases past.

    Focus on doing, instead of giving, for example, picking greens.

    For an office gift exchange, buy a tag of a needy item, such as giving your TV to a rescue mission.

    For a birthday party, have children bring books to give to the school library.

    Next time: Christmas Tsunami

    Last time: Storytelling Capital

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #239

    Christmas Tsunami

    Judy R., Presbytery of the Peaks, hosted coffee and conversation for 15 at Salem Presbyterian Church, SALEM (near Roanoke), VA.

    The conversation:

    Be ready and willing to share aspect of your simpler lifestyle with others.

    The Tsunami of Christmas feels like a salmon swimming upstream.

    Establishing dollar gift limits and contributing to charity are difficult to do. One solution is to go away at Christmas.

    An organization in Blacksburg publishes the costs for all local burial services.

    Avoid credit card debt.

    Contact Peter Illych of Restoring Eden.

    Visit video site.

    Practice Fair Trade for Father's and Mother's Day. Sell Fair Trade chocolate for Valentine's Day and give the proceeds to a medical benevolence foundation.

    Next time: Moving in Two Suitcases

    Last time: Wedding Tithing

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #240

    Moving in Two Suitcases

    Paul and Lois C. hosted lunch and conversation at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, FAIRFAX, VA.

    Paul has opened Fair Trade Winds store in Bar Harbor, Maine, offering primarily goods from Ten Thousand Villages, SERRV and World Find. The project started with a fair each Advent at the church.

    The conversation:

    When I joined the Peace Corps in China, I moved in two suitcases.

    When I went to buy a bath mat at Wal-Mart, I found so many items for kids' bathrooms!

    Live within your means and save some.

    How do we deal with the high costs of final expenses? See "Dealing Creatively with Death."

    The Virginia Synod publishes the Gifts of Hope catalog.

    Parish Partners matches older folks with younger ones.

    Give a family gift instead of individual gifts, like a Fair Trade pack.

    We can still maintain control even though we don't meet expectations of exchanging gifts of equal value. allows us to buy one share of stock from a corporation for framing. It works well for children, especially Disney. It qualifies one to become part of a shareholder action to help bring change to the corporation.

    The web can complicate life.

    Next time: One car keeps activities simpler.

    Last time: Christmas Tsunami

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #241

    One car keeps activities simpler.

    Gene B. and Anne M. hosted supper and conversation for 50 at Our Lady Queen of Peace, ARLINGTON, VA.

    The conversation:

    We gave three rabbits and a llama through Heifer International.

    Visit your local Habitat Re-Store to donate building materials and buy surplus materials.

    Our large family gives each other gifts from Goodwill and library books.

    I buy bargain toys at local consignment shops for the needy.

    We can get a Third World experience at an immigrant community. As I get involved with the Latino community I see signs of affluence.

    Communicate with the charities you support. "Do not share my name with others" and "Only one solicitation letter per year."

    When we feel pressured to choose between two goods, look at the long-term effects of each.

    We prepare a Christmas budget that includes only gift per person (with a dollar limit), non-material outings and letters of love.

    The Catholic program on social teaching, Just Faith, includes getting rid of stuff.

    In Equator the maids clean rooms quickly because the rooms have no nick knack racks.

    An item is gone if I don't love it or use it. The kids participate in the purge.

    Ride a bike and live close to your primary activities.

    One car keeps activities simpler. Jog to the Metro. The parent who takes the kids to school gets the car. This system helps us to talk to each other.

    Next time: Seaweed for Lunch

    Last time: Moving in Two Suitcases

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #242


    Wanda and guest

    Seaweed for Lunch

    Wanda W. hosted a lunch and talk for five in ANNANDALE, VA. The lunch included two varieties of seaweed and other healthy food.

    The conversation:

    We are using Paper Stone to replace our countertop. It's made of paper and glass under pressure.

    Attend Green Fests in D.C., Chicago. Lots of young families there.

    We have one worship service and no bulletin to cut out waste.

    Visit and

    Next time: Mother's Day Anklet

    Last time: One car keeps activities simpler.

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #243


    Counselors at Meadowkirk

    Mother's Day Anklet

    Cheryl H. hosted evening refreshments and conversation at Meadowkirk Camp and Retreat Center, near MIDDLEBURG, VA.

    This is a new camp, still being built after sprawl overtook the previous camp, Glenkirk. Glenkirk was "rustic." Meadowkirk is luxurious in comparison. Now that they have several "dorms" (built largely by volunteers) and a handicap accessible pool, they're building a chapel and cafeteria. Next comes the Inn for folks from DC who want their own private bathrooms.

    The conversation:

    We have a volunteer farm to grow food to donate to food banks and shelters.

    Read Barbara Kingsolver's new "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle."

    Eco-friendly people still want a wedding cake.

    We're raising nerds kids and technology. We need to nudge each other supporting members who live simply because we only see each other at church.

    At birthday parties, give gifts to environmental groups. Have a yard sale for the homeless.

    Praise people's ideas, ritualize them by including them in congregational newsletters and in denominational publications. Stories are powerful. A preacher has the right to talk about people. Use them as sermon illustrations but avoid brands and stuff-talk.

    Our staff gives a gift as a community, a Heifer box, that promotes Christmas all year.

    A neutral party draws names for our gift exchange.

    Give 12 coupons for a wedding gift dinner at your place or ours.

    An adult son gives a fun day that he plans to his mom, though it means a loss of $1000 of billable hours.

    Kids get to spend all day with grandma twice a year shopping for clothes. Teach them about the value of money and to look for bargains.

    I earned my allowance grooming horses - at the rate of 5 cents per horse per day.

    Allowance must cover extras and entertainment.

    Freecycling gets baby stuff for a needy mother and builds community.

    "Trek" inspired a young adult weekly meeting on Simple Living.

    Tell what your church is doing to be greener in the bulletin and newsletter.

    Mother's Day gift an anklet made by husband and two sons. They all braided it together and selected colors that reminded them of her. Movies: "Big Fish" and "Millions"

    Next time: Dancing on the Edge of Pain

    Last time: Seaweed for Lunch

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #244


    John G.

    Dancing on the Edge of Pain

    John G. hosted a potluck lunch and conversation for 15 at St. Edwards' Catholic Church in RICHMOND, VA.

    The Gallini's attended Bob Kochtitzki's (Alternatives founder) original workshop in Richmond in 1974. John now volunteers at the local peace center. St. Edward's has adopted a twin parish in Haiti and he takes groups there to visit.

    Kathlene Kenney teaches a simple living course at Virginia Commonwealth University. The folks who produce the Joyful Newsletter provide a bumper sticker "Joy to You."

    The conversation:

    In this electronic revolution we're compelled to get every new device.

    I have a book problem, so I give them to the Thrifty Quaker, an organization that gives their profit to a different nonprofit each month.

    Ecology is connected with local enterprise, using local suppliers.

    My granddaughter was the flower girl at a recent wedding. Her outfit cost $100, and she had to get an "up do" for her hair!

    We give florescent light bulbs as Christmas presents, though we're concerned because we've now heard that they contain mercury. Grist web site gives advise on how to clean up broken bulbs and how to dispose of them when they die. This is another aspect of fear perpetuated in dealing with ecology.

    Go outside and watch the stars to reduce stress after watching TV.

    It's a spiritual journey to let go of so much stuff, even simple stuff. Letting go brings more peace and harmony.

    Stress causes us to dance on the edge of pain.

    Living simply and acquiring skills go together toward self-sufficiency.

    When you make something yourself, you enjoy it more.

    Next time: No dust and no calories!

    Last time: Mother's Day Anklet

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #245


    Pam G.

    No dust and no calories!

    Pam G. hosted a potluck supper and conversation with the Covenant Discipleship group for 18 at Great Bridge United Methodist, CHESAPEAKE, VA. Most a regular attendees of Pam's Sunday morning alternative service.

    The conversation:

    Stuff is easy to love.

    The EPA needs to regulate emissions for lawn mowers.

    The "green dot law" in Germany requires manufacturers to take back their product when the consumer is through with it.

    Use a broom instead of a leaf blower. Your witness will have a ripple effect on others.

    Use cloth bags.

    In Jamaica they flush their toilets with salt water from the ocean. has some free items as well as local people buying and selling.

    Curbside recycling killed scavengers. Now some drive around neighborhoods before the recycling truck.

    Dissatisfied relationships cause up to shop.

    Use newspapers for flowerbeds instead of plastic. Put mulch on top.

    Instead of giving things for Christmas, take a family vacation. The kids will brag to their friends.

    Kids give out coupons to their teachers for a free 10 minute massage at school before Christmas. No dust and no calories!

    Our kids get ice-skating coupons for Christmas.

    I buy gift certificates in towns that we visit, then send them to our host family there as a Thank You or Christmas gift. It promotes buying locally.

    We give car wash coupons, especially to older people.

    We limit our Christmas giving to a stocking.

    Next time: The Modesty Movement

    Last time: Dancing on the Edge of Pain

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #246

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    Roger H. and friends

    The Modesty Movement

    Roger H. hosted a luncheon for 18 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.

    The conversation:

    Which is better to give away stuff - or Goodwill? We use both.

    Avoid plastic bags.

    Be cautious about pressure to give through payroll to United Way. In some places 70% goes to administration. We control whom we support by giving directly. A group of local teachers support a school in South Africa.

    According to Newsweek, prize-winning agricultural leader Norman Borlog says that organic food is more expensive and contains no difference nationally from non-organic food. He's forgetting that non-organic may contain or be covered with sickness-producing toxic pesticides. Grow your own all year.

    Grocery stores are regulated. Farmers markets may not be. Be cautious. Ask the farmers questions about where their food is raised and under what conditions.

    Dr. Paul Farmer of Partners in Health in Boston has written "Mountains Beyond Mountains." He works in Haiti and says "help one at a time."

    We need to persuade pharmaceutical companies to be more compassionate. It makes business sense.

    Buy generic drugs.

    The fashion industry is so cyclical. Now there's a modesty movement it's cool to be covered up. One company gives a pair of shoes to the needy when you buy a pair (similar to the Red Dot movement).

    Turn air conditioning up to 78 degrees and heating down to 68 degrees.

    Unfortunately, many will not give up anything to make another's life better.

    We may need price regulations to control medical insurance costs.

    Next time: Pool for Christmas

    Last time: No dust and no calories!

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #247

    Pool for Christmas

    Lori S. hosted me at their home for supper in SOUTH BOSTON, VA. Lori's a part-time social worker in a poor area of the state. She will "graduate" next year and live part-time in Greensboro. She's a city girl who has lived in the country for 25 years. She sees more options to spread the message of simpler living in town.

    Jamie L. asked his employees to pool their funds to give a Christmas gift through World Vision or Samaritan's Purse instead of giving him stuff.

    Next time: Simple Living CPR

    Last time: The Modesty Movement

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #248

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    Simple Living CPR

    Robert P. hosted a luncheon for 15 at Faith Community Church, SOUTH BOSTON, VA.

    Read "Dave Barry's Money Secrets," "China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, Touchstone Magazine (for thinking Christians) and FEE (Foundation for Economic Education the Austrian school).

    Dr. Bob likes to share information about Christians living it's like oxygen. He has served on Mercy ships in the Caribbean. He will probably die at the dental chair. Mrs. Bob is caused-oriented, especially for orphanages. They have moved a lot, including Papua New Guinea.

    The conversation:

    Save money on electronics. Buy a used computer.

    The best wedding I've ever planned cost only $1000.

    Don't give grandkids Christmas and birthday presents. Purchase a life insurance policy to help pay for college.

    When I give a hive of bees through Heifer International, I also give a jar of honey.

    We pay $1 per trash bag for curbside pick-up. We have a book exchange at the local dump. Many rural dumps have a simple give-and-take shed called One Man's Trash Is Another's Treasure.

    We give and receive no presents at birthday parties and parents in our area have accepted that.

    Lessons learned in the missionary field affect the children as they grow up.

    Like CPR, we need to renew Simple Living training ritual re-education.

    Turn off the TV it's a conversation stealer. Turning off is a good witness.

    Turn off the AC. Use fans.

    Next time: Yard Certification Programs

    Last time: Pool for Christmas

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #249

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    Suzanne and Henry G. with friend

    Yard Certification Programs

    Naomi J. F.-H. hosted me at a morning Worship Service for 50 and discussion with 25 at Aiken Unitarian-Universalist Church, AIKEN, SC.

    The conversation:

    When they were younger, Henry and Suzanne G. participated in a Quaker Free School in Augusta. From the food co-op they got books on solar living. They ate at a natural foods restaurant.

    Henry learned from the world community when he lived near a gold mine in South Africa as part of his PhD. thesis. The apartment there had no central hearting, so people wore more clothes to keep warm. There was a shortage of wood and people paid fines for wasting water.

    At Christmas we give no adult gifts, only for the grandkids. And something for anniversaries.

    Retirement forces us to make changes.

    Give appropriately through Alternative Gift International for example a sheep for someone who knits. Giving fairs lead us beyond web site giving.

    As a memorial we gave to adopt-a-whale for a lost environmental brother. We sent each other pictures when we were grieving his death.

    In lieu of gifts, we give to three charities and ask recipients for additional charities.

    We give a family photo album of the past year to kids. We give each $100 in $1 bills and they give a percentage to charity. We favor the Seventh Day Adventist and Salvation Army.

    When the onslaught of logo advertising began, we promoted academic T-shirts (like the periodic table), the socially conscious T's.

    From "Stumbling on Happiness" we learn about habituation. Advertising must increase our desire with each repetition of the message. Now we adopt their message subconsciously.

    National Audubon Society promotes a good yard for nature and animals. Grow a garden. Nature hates a monoculture it loves diversity. Clover adds nitrogen, for example. Dandelion greens are good to eat. The National Wildlife Federation also has a certified yard program.

    We put experimental plants in our front yard to encourage other people to go beyond the standard.

    The information glut leads to obesity, so disengage. TV eats talent and throws it away. Watch your favorite TV programs when they come out on DVD to avoid commercials.

    Take care of families clothing and food and teach kids to make it "home made."

    Next time: Charleston's First Fully Green Building

    Last time: Simple Living CPR

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #250


    Ag Dr.

    Charleston's First Fully Green Building

    Dr. William and Elaine?? S. hosted me at their home in CHARLESTON, SC.

    They are long-time members of Circular United Church of Christ; an historic building that has just added a new green educational building. It has geo=thermal heat and cooling, a sod roof, independent heating and cooling, wide porches for shading and better air movement. It can be used as classrooms or small dormitories for work parties. It has 25,000 gallon gray water storage, a low energy elevator that will go down in a power outage. They moved some of the graves to make room for the building. It was 30% more expensive than a non-green building but its low carbon footprint will provide savings over the years. It's the first fully green building in Charleston.

    Bill will retire in 14 months and volunteer part-time for National Health Service Corps and Indian Health Service Corps.

    He would like to see simplified graduations, reducing the cost of robes and all the "pomp and circumstance."

    He's involved in eLearning with free downloadable lectures for iPod. He's concerned that teleconferencing being in front of a screen leads to natural passivity.

    He's involved in Ag medicine - 40% of his time is funded by Clemson for the Co-op Extensions service. He advises county agents on insect infestations, for example, and produces educational programs and materials for the public.

    He's less concerned than the organic folks. He feels that farmers don't use too many pesticides. He feels that the chance of adverse effect on the environment by GMO's is 0. Our digestive systems will take care of any effects. The world's hunger possibilities are endless -- drought tolerant plants, for example. Non-fertile seeds are being dealt with through government encouragement. GMO labeling is not worth the effort.

    Next time: The Granary

    Last time: Yard Certification Programs

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #251

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    Julie & Nelson

    The Granary

    Nelson & Julie H. hosted me for Lunch and conversation at The Granary Whole Foods, ORANGE PARK, FL (near Jacksonville).

    The Granary has been open for 28 years. It's a health food store where Christians can be comfortable, not New Age.

    Five years ago they stopped offering classes and special events. Nelson has built and still uses a fully solar powered car, though he mostly rides his bicycle. He's building an off-the-grid solar building which may become a Quaker-style meditation center. They hope to start a home church and support group with the view that "Build it and they will come."

    He's run a solar consulting business but after 25 years it's fallen off.

    His goal is to be happy and satisfied doing something or not. He's involved in self-reconciliation.

    He's seen amazing personal cases of healing through macrobiotics.

    Julies feels that translations of the Bible each have their bias to keep people of the time down and fearful. She feels that "there's a seat for every rear end."

    They have purchased a "safe haven" in Costa Rica.

    They are now "muddling along in the mediocracy."

    That keeps us from rising us against consumerist is the "downtrodden philosophy." We don't want to lose what little we have.

    Next time: Attraction, Not Promotion

    Last Time: Charleston's First Fully Green Building

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #252

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    Guests at Victoria's

    Attraction, Not Promotion

    Victoria R-F hosted soup supper and conversation for nine at House on Cherry Street B&B, JACKSONVILLE, FL.

    The conversation:

    We put a $5 limit on gifts but they must represent something important to the recipient, meeting some unmet net. That requires us to observe them.

    One friend does "shopping inside her house," giving her items to people outside her house.

    Recycling is inherent in reducing, though reducing is much harder. Reduce by becoming a Bed and Breakfast. You have to clean out your closets.

    Green is the trendy new religion. Some get rid of their cleaning supplies and then buy more "green" supplies. Reduce instead.

    A new car, even a Prius, leads to more debt. Drive less, feel guilty when driving. Use a bike with a cart. Borrow and share cars and rides. Do not trade up. Focus on driving fewer miles rather than wishing for cheaper gasoline. The local bus system is not conductive, so there's a Jacksonville-on-foot site. It's easier not to have a car in Europe. Japan has an annual maintenance fee, which goes up each year as the car gets older. Cars are crushed when retired. Parking is expensive.

    Focus on compost, worm bins and local foods.

    There's little litter in Japan or Korea where older people take personal responsibly for keeping their neighborhoods clean. There's lots of litter in Spain and Guatemala where trash is a sign of wealth.

    The pain is on the wrong end on the recyclers instead of the non-recyclers. That comes from little sense of community.

    Desmond Tutu says, "We are not our brothers' keeps, we are our brothers' brothers." (from "God's Dream")

    We care about what we care for. Use attraction, not promotion, like AA. Modeling be the change you want to see.

    Rebuild community by touching the Earth, not cyberspace.

    Borrow and loan tools, that leads to teaching how to use them and starts a loop of sharing. Dog sitters are a sign of broken community. Small neighborhood festivals build community, for example, a house-to-hour (progressive dinner) Shakespearean festival. Each stop is responsible for 5 minutes of Shakespeare.

    Next time: Radical Gratitude

    Last time: The Granary

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #253

    Radical Gratitude

    Victoria R-F is a member of River Keepers. Her B&B is one of the last river homes in Jacksonville, where the lawn goes right down to the river. It's registered as a Quiet Garden.

    She's vice-president of UrbFarmers, whose motto is "Ride the elephant the way it goes." Attach "gourmet" to anything to make things happen among the wealthy. For example, her mini-gardens provide gardeners with fresh arugula any time. She says, "Any thread leads through the labyrinth."

    She believes in Naican: radical gratitude, being part of a network. The gift of the negative is a Buddhist concept. Gifts came from her divorce, for example, not just smiley faces. In our culture of victimization, we need to see the wider angle. The first Naican inventory is of one's mother, then one who's done you wrong.

    Things that that person/place/experience have given me
    Things I gave to that person/place/experience (occupation)
    Problems I caused that person.
    Never go to column four: problems that person caused me. That's the default. That's where we already spend more of our time.

    Start with earliest memories and move forward. The one who hears your Naican focuses on specifics, not abstracts.

    The wounded healer works for good.

    The Christian call to love our neighbors is in opposition to capitalism. She's found her path through Buddhist, some through AA.

    Jung has said we cannot use skills of the morning of life in the afternoon. When you retire, say no to offers, then decide.

    If you trash your body, where will you live?

    Might Alternatives become a carbon offset as a way to pay our new National Coordinator? Can we be a sustainability organization?

    She relearned dream facilitation a Kanuga Camp, an Episcopal place in Hendersonville, NC.

    Read "Cultural Literacy" by E.D. Hirsch (1987). Our verbal illusions now are based on pop culture rather than literature.

    The hero's journey: separation, ordeal, return with wisdom.

    Next time: College Student Budget

    Last time: Attraction, Not Promotion

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #254

    xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx


    College Student Budget

    Bruce C. hosted supper and conversation for eight at Presbyterian University Center, TALLAHASEE, FL.

    The conversation:

    Dave Ramsey's Christian financial literacy program is effective but expensive.

    A budget for college students would be helpful.

    Son Matthew will live in the Social Justice dorm at Florid State University as a first year student.

    Buy food locally, through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) if possible.

    Next time: Hunger Banquet

    Last time: Radical Gratitude

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #255

    xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx


    Hunger Banquet

    Stephanie B. hosted lunch and conversation for 25 at the Diocese of Orlando, ORLANDO.

    The conversation:

    We have to take our recyclables to the county landfill.

    What can the person in the pew do? Start with "10 Tips for a Simpler, More Meaningful Christmas" (in Alternatives' web site archives) and "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"

    Some 60% of the people in the diocese are just getting by.

    Is it a problem to be interested in science? Investigate biomimicry.

    We have a dilemma of teens expecting a new T-shirt for each youth trip. Instead, have each one wear the same color on the same day. If you must have a new T-shirt, give it to the young people in the host country, then take a picture all together. Another word of accompaniment ministry is co-missioners. It means to walk with people in need, not try to solve their problem but learning from them.

    Holding a hunger banquet like the one from Oxfam, is a real eye-opener. A few guests get a gourmet meal, most get a bowl of rice. At another event, the women must carry bottles of water on their heads and distribute them to everyone twice a day. Only then can the men distribute crackers to everyone.

    On Dec. 8th one parish is having a Fair Trade Cafe, including mass, a Guatemalan farmer dinner, singers and interactive education on fair Trade.

    On Oct. 20th, a Just Faith (based on Catholic Social Teachings) will hold a conference/workshop featuring Jack Jesreal.

    Letter-writing to leaders works better than email.

    10 Commandments for Drivers

    Donuts and Doctrine is a new way to introduce catholic social teachings after mass.

    This meeting has inspired participants to urge the diocese and its parishes to recycle.

    Next time: Bless Someone Else

    Last time: College Student Budget

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #256

    xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx


    Bless Someone Else

    Sue C. hosted a potluck supper and program for 47 at First United Methodist Church of Downtown ORLANDO, FL.

    The conversation:

    Read "Making Peace with the Things in Your Life" by Cindy Glovinsky.

    Professional organizers, urge downscalers to "bless someone else" (with you possessions).

    Christians understand downscaling quicker than non-Christians when approached about stewardship, such as "Don't store up treasures on Earth." Investigate

    RUF Reformed University Fellowship is a college ministry, not a youth group. May have been inspired by Intervarsity Christian fellowship.

    Under 40's meet at First UMC once a month. Recently they held a citywide scavenger hunt. Each proved they found the proper item by photographing it with their videophone.

    The church will hold an Alternative Fair and gift catalog Nov. 4th.

    What is a reverse mission? When we go to another country to learn instead of solving "their" problem.

    We're urging our Refreshment Committee to use Fair Trade coffee and tea.

    Orlando has poor public transit.

    80% of what we own we don't use.

    Give meaningful items at a bridal shower.

    Celebrate throughout the year, for example birthdays, rather than so much at Christmas.

    Urge credit card legislation on the state level.

    Listen to, a conservative radio commentator who's anti-credit card.

    First UMC has a sewing ministry. They make cloth bags, quilts, jumpers long pants and shorts for needy school children. Soon they'll make PJ's the children in Russia.

    First UMC's computer ministry refurbishes computers to send to Africa and Latin America. They also train repair technicians from those countries.

    For birthday parties for elderly, give notes and pictures in a presentation folder. That's much more meaningful than mass-produced stuff.

    A Gift for Teaching is one of 20 free stores in the U.S. It's been names the most sustainable nonprofit in Florida.

    Next time: Urban Cafe Court

    Last time: Hunger Banquet

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

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    Urban Cafe Court

    Steven B. of Spirit of Joy Lutheran hosted supper and conversation, for seven in ORLANDO, FL.

    The congregation participates in the Hospitality Network, which creates four apartments at the church for a week to help families that are transitioning back into a home.

    His new restaurant will do a charitable night in September for volunteers of the Network.

    Promotion idea: get a free cup of Fair Trade coffee when you bring in your church bulletin.

    Suggestion box for graces. Encourage people to say grace before meal.

    Spirit of Joy is ten years old, an emerging church, Jeff Lemon, pastor. They use the Willow Creek model and have Walt Callestad's view of the future.

    Steve's sold insurance for 25 years. He likes the Mennonites and Friends too. He's active in the synod. Denise has been a delegate to the synodical Lutheran Outdoor Ministry.

    The service is 90 minutes in a gym. Steve's on the Outreach Team, which has ten points of service, including food distribution. The church is an old bowling alley, converted with the help of the Mission Investment Fund. The members did sweat equity for a year.

    Luther Spring, Gainesville, is the synod's camp.

    The conversation:

    Young adult materialism is instilled by Depression babies in conflict with MTV. Obama says to get to know culture, such as Afghanistan.

    The image in Haiti, Burundi and Cuba is spontaneous joy in worship, such as children singing.

    59% of Americans still live in the state they were born in, e.g. Detroit, such the cycle of ignorance continues.

    Money does not buy happiness. A vendor refused payment for sugar cane because the church had furnished pigs for her family. It was all she could give back. We need to learn to receive.

    The restaurant will have no-flush urinals and two-flush toilets. The cups are made of corn: Fabrikal.

    Romans 12:2 & Acts 2:42

    Young adults put pictures of items on a computer instead of an album to bring back memories.

    They've had ELCA anti-racism training and now give workshops.

    Our Easter tradition is a bar-be-cue in the park. The Easter bunny does a bible study with the kids.

    Give a bag of stucco cement to waterproof homes in BERUNDI.

    Young adults are hungry to serve and to be spiritual.

    Denise did credit card collections, now she's a vice-pres. and branch manager.

    Bahamas citizens cannot gamble in the Bahamas.

    Guilty grandparents sometimes undermine the mom and give kids lots of stuff.

    Denise wants to share her wealth while she's alive. Gifts can be blessings or burdens. We learn through periods of drought. Kids don't get to ride parents success. God allows drought and abundance, joy and suffering. That makes us rich. Share experiences, learn to forgive.

    Biofiber wheat board counters at restaurant. It's the most green of any renovation in Florida. To-go boxes are bagassee from sugar cane. Bison instead of beef, salmon from eco-fish in Seattle.

    All organic and Fair Trade tell the story.

    Everything you do is impactful, so make it Christian.

    What you do with your money is important. He's been influenced by Chick-fill-A.

    Develop Alternatives for Simpler Business, for example, he pays 10 cents per hour for bike rides; one hour extra per week for volunteering.

    Outreach's ten points involve the largest team, for example, they fix old bikes for the homeless.

    See COMMENTS 2012 - Synod Resolution on Fair Trade, SCROLL to 3/21/12.

    Next time: St. Columbkille

    Last time: Bless Someone Else

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #258

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    St. Columbkille

    Chris M. and Mary H. hosted supper and conversation for 27 at St. Columbkille Church, FORT MYERS, FL.

    The conversation:

    When we seek peace and justice, our economy will change and prosper.

    Conversations with children are small steps to simplicity. Learn from the Parenting for Peace and Justice Network. Young adults want to change the world.

    I was afraid of my rich grandson's reaction when I gave him goats for Haiti. His buddy liked it, which helped. I enclosed a handwritten letter from his grandmother. All of them liked it and even named their goats.

    We tried a Thrift Store Christmas. That way no money went to rich stockholders,.

    Joe laid down the law no gifts for adults. All of his brothers-in-law thanked him.

    Draw names for gifts along with suggestions of appropriate gifts. Decide on a dollar limit ahead of time.

    Share secret family recipes in a binder. Add some each year.

    Some high school girls formed a swap closet for formals. They were service minded and helped each other, especially the disadvantaged.

    Give a Family Tree book as a gift.

    Next time: Sustainable Sarasota

    Last time: Urban Cafe Court

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #259

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    Sustainable Sarasota

    Jodi J., director of Sustainable Sarasota, hosted brunch and conversation for five in SARASOTA. FL.

    Her house is made of two 1890's "cracker shacks" small rural homes. Her yard just became a certified Wildlife Habitat.

    The 2030 pledge started in New Mexico to urge the design of green buildings. Local governments have benchmarks to eventually be carbon neutral by 2030. For now they increase the code of energy efficiency. Sarasota Co. is the first country in the country to sign the pledge. Five cities signed earlier. Now the U.S. Congress of Mayors has signed. Recently the U.S. Conference of Counties signed to need LEED gold standard. It provides incentives for local builders, such as fast tracking permits three days instead of 8-10 weeks.

    Sarasota has passed the Green development resolution that every new home will be green. Incentives include rezoning that special exceptions re resolved in six months instead of a year. Inspectors get a $500 bonus for taking green training.

    However, budget cuts have slowed the process, the public library fro example. Sarasota has the largest solar array in Florida. Publix grocery store chain is building their first green store. An off-grid community is being planned. Their green office building is part of their local tour. While Foods store has a silver LEED rating. Martina Navratilova is greening her home and becoming the spokesperson.

    The conversation:

    Buildings are becoming logos, e.g. MacDonald's.

    We need balance between making living and being green.

    There are four natural cemeteries in the U.S. San Francisco is creating one in a tree grove. In North Carolina people plant a tree with each burial. (That may become too disorganized.)

    One of the unintended consequences of green is that better cars use less gas, producing fewer taxes, leading the less revenue to repair the roads. The Rocky Mountain Institute says take time to plan. Compare with the consequences of doing nothing. These are complex issues.

    Should we use the carrot or the stick to get green? Both.

    Chicago's green roofs have been saving energy for ten years by keeping the buildings cooler. Now they're coming to Florida.

    Speaking to diverse audiences means avoiding religion.

    Read Metropolis Magazine from Manhattan.

    Living buildings give back. They're carbon free on non-virgin land.

    Florida has a consistent influx of people and new ideas.

    A new irrigation ordinance limits yards to 50% sod and groups water users together but there's no penalty for non-compliance. When it was being considered Monsanto threaded the University of Florida but the head of the Extension service would not back down. Monsanto feared that other counties would follow, which they did, leading to fewer sod sales. A fertilizer ordinance is coming. It all boils down to politics.

    Dress codes for corporate types are needed to be accepted.

    We need to find lour voice in local and federal politics.

    Air conditioning and mosquito control changed Florida 40 years ago.

    Next time: Garage Sale Christmas

    Last time: St. Columbkille

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #260

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    Garage Sale Christmas

    Marci M. and Pam W. hosted supper and conversation for 22 at Chapel on the Hill United Church of Christ, SEMINOLE, FL

    The conversation:

    We're planning on a "victory garden" at church for kids.

    The media have us afraid. Instead, we need to go with the flow.

    Let's use fewer toxins on our grass.

    I want to start a natural pesticide factory in the dead zone of violence and unemployment in Ohio. We can't afford these option at Lowes. Stop phosphate mining.

    We have a Garage Sale Christmas with a $5 limit.

    Our best Christmas was when single mom and son spent time together having fun and then cooking and serving in a homeless shelter.

    We produce a Christmas book of recipes, memories, and keepsakes. We add to the notebook each year.

    Next time: Techno Misery

    Last time: Sustainable Sarasota

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #261

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    Techno Misery

    Pastor Todd S. hosted me at three morning services of 250+ and a discussion group of six at Spring Lake United Methodist, BROOKSVILLE, FL (near Tampa).

    Their young group is involved with TeamEffort, youth program of service and learning.

    The conversation:

    We saw bits of Affluenza on YouTube.

    Technology can cause misery, for example when cell phones are unreliable.

    Focus on what causes distractions from faith and life.

    Many teens don't want to spend time with their parents. They're being raised by MTV and their peers.

    Put books from Alternatives in the church library after reading them.

    Next time: Adopt-a-minefield

    Last time: Garage Sale Christmas

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #262

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    Truman and Joan


    Truman and Joan M. hosted a breakfast and conversation for 17 at Central United Church of Christ, ATLANTA, GA.

    Truman would like churches to receive cars and boats, like NPR stations do. NPR uses auction houses and gets about 50% of the resale value after a $140 selling fee. Charitable groups could receive, clean up and then sell them on AutoTrader. That would increase the donor's tax deduction. It would provide a job by hiring a coordinator. Or maybe a men's group would do it.

    The conversation:

    The church has had an Alternative Christmas for three years, urging people to give to groups like adopt-a-minefield and local church causes. They pay for kids to go on mission trips, which improves relationships with adults.

    Our Green Team sells compact fluorescent light bulbs.

    An unused resource is youth at large music festivals.

    How do we help tent refugees? Might the U.N. promote simpler living?

    Next time: Both Fruit and Seed

    Last time: Techno Misery

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #263

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    Both Fruit and Seed

    Bo P. hosted a luncheon conversation with Resource Associate Rick B. at Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, ATLANTA, GA.

    The theme of the General Assembly is intentional response to poverty and human rights. Alternatives is invited to have a display and workshop.

    Rick is part of the Spiritual Formation Network.

    People go church shopping looking for what they have for the kids instead of asking, "Where does God want me to be?"

    Simple Living is both fruit and seed. It grows out of our relationship with God. It causes us to ask, "What can you afford to give away?" Simple Living sets us up for spiritual formation.

    The typical family has two cars and a nice house but are not tithing so they can't afford to give anything away. If one decides to change, to simplify and the other four don't, how can s/he lead the others? We need to ask, "Who are you?"

    Personalize the recipient of our gift, for example, not the Salvation Army but tell the stories of the people whom our help affects.

    Ask the kids, what are the ecological impact of leaving the lights on?

    Churches vie for members. They don't want to hear the simple living message. It may affect their efforts to get easy members.

    CBF is developing partnerships with Bread for the World and talking to Heifer.

    CBF is resisting being a denomination. It's a fellowship of moderate Baptists. CBF has an offering for global mission, including their rural initiative of the 25 poorest countries in America.

    CBF is looking for partners. They don't want to own anything but be a clearinghouse of trusted resources like Alternatives'. That's a more Gospel way. CBF links the congregation to the resources providers. CBF gives a stamp of approval. It tries not to draw lines. (The Southern Baptists rejected Creation Care.)

    Next time: 12 Items of Clothing

    Last time: Adopt-a-minefield

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #264

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    Peachtree People

    12 Items of Clothing

    Steve V. hosted a potluck supper and conversation for 30 mostly young adults at Peachtree Baptist Church, ATLANTA, GA. Peachtree is a teaching parish for Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

    The conversation:

    Check out and

    A worthy Buddhist goal is to limit ourselves to twelve articles of clothing per season.

    Next time: Mail Order Drugs

    Last time: Both Fruit and Seed

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #265

    Mail Order Drugs

    Don C. hosted a breakfast and conversation for 35 senior citizens at Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice and Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility (NEER) at Community House, PLEASANT HILL, TN.

    Don runs NEER for the United Church of Christ. He has hosted Jan Ressenger on Education Advocacy from the UCC Office of Outreach and Justice.

    The conversation:

    Mail order drugs contain excess packaging. Contact both the drug company and the Consumer Products Safety Administration to urge a balance between safety and excess packaging.

    Dollar General and its cousins promote blatant consumerism.

    Avoid both paper and plastic bags use cloth.

    In one project recent high school graduates ask older people to tell them about their lives and ask for advice.

    Lift up idealistic young people.

    Two stickers on the same bumper: "Vote Republican" and "Buy Me Lots of Things."

    Next time: Bat Sanctuary

    Last time: 12 Items of Clothing

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #266

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    Bat Sanctuary

    Pastor Donna A. hosted a lunch and conversation for 15 at Cave City / Highland United Methodist Churches, CAVE CITY, KY.

    The ranger who belongs to the church had a revelation about the church's bats. Let's create a bat sanctuary. They're the best bug zappers and we can harvest their fertilizer.

    The conversation:

    Common excuse. I know there's so much more that I could do. Since I can't do it all, I'm tempted to do nothing.

    Glasgow, KY is starting a food co-op.

    Avoiding corn syrup is like not buying from China.

    HGTV or Discovery has a Green Night of programming each week/month.

    Read Lost Mountain by Erik Reece about coal mining.

    Next time: Balancing Stress and Convenience

    Last time: Mail Order Drugs

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #267

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    Pr. John and guests

    Balancing Stress and Convenience

    Rev. John H. hosted a gathering for four young adults at Christ Church United Methodist, LOUISVILLE, KY.

    The conversation:

    I have a friend who needs to live more simply. She shops and eats out a lot. I'm not jealous. What can I do? Be with her as a model without following her example. Invite her over to eat at your place.

    We must balance stress and convenience. Since simple living is not easy, it can add to stress when we're busy. Convenience can reduce stress. Convenience products, though, can be wasteful.

    I have guilt about over consumption. Accept forgiveness and take baby steps to improve.

    **Stopped to meet composer and pick up his hymn for my retirement. LINK?

    Next time: CTS

    Last time: Bat Sanctuary

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #268

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    Art V. showed me Christian Theological Seminary, INDIANAPOLIS, and introduced me to some key people.

    Stress and debt are especially hard on second career seminarians because they're already used to a higher life style.

    Although the seminary has no speaker series, it holds a Forum each Thursday at 1 p.m. Carol J. is responsible for Life long Learning.

    Academic Dean Carolyn H. taught in China for a year. Husband Jim teaches at Earlham School of Theology and Bethany (Church of the Brethren). They're a two hybrid family. She said, "We need to keep the car peoples' feet to the fire."

    Next time: Earth Charter Indiana

    Last time: Balancing Stress and Convenience

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #269

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    Disciples staffers

    Earth Charter Indiana

    Linda W. hosted a lunch gathering for 25 at Disciples Center, INDIANAPOLIS, IN.

    The conversation:

    My compost pile is always hungry. We also use a rain barrel to water our yard.

    In Amsterdam we pay higher taxes so the government provides housing and food for the needy.

    Chicago has been developing green buildings for over ten years.

    Interfaith Environmental Coalition has developed a politician survey for the upcoming election.

    Earth Charter Indiana has a goal of making Indiana sustainable by 2016. One-half of that goal has do to with personal choices conservation and consumer choices.. We must change the image that simple living is deprivation.

    Next time: 70 Reasons

    Last time: CTS

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #270

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    Younger and Older

    70 Reasons

    Pastor Bill M. hosted a supper gathering for 25 at Zionsville Christian Church, ZIONSVILLE, IN.

    The conversation:

    If you hide grandma's dishes, they accumulate no memories, so no one will want them.

    Grandma sends a letter to the family members. If you want anything of mine, it's yours. But you must not give me any more stuff. Just give me tickets always two, so we can go together.

    For my 70th birthday, 14 family members gave me a list of 70 reasons why I'm a good person.

    For one Texas wedding, a family member wanted to borrow $60,000. For our wedding we had a dessert reception and made our own decorations.

    Louisiana now recycles up to #7.

    Request donations for the Family Fund managed by our denominational foundation, instead of stuff. The interest from the fund goes to Church World Service (CWS) after payments to the survivor(s). After death 25% of the growth goes to our congregation, 25% to Week of Compassion, 50% to CWS (at least 50% must goes to church agencies, the rest could o to individuals).

    Next time: Visiting Cuba

    Last time: Earth Charter Indiana

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #271

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    Host Kent

    Visiting Cuba

    Kent N. hosted a mid-morning conversation for 20 at St Peter's United Church of Christ, CARMEL, IN.

    Kent and other members of the church have made several trips to Cuba and El Salvador.

    Cuba has the lowest infant mortality, the longest life expectancy and the lowest AIDs infection rate in Latin America. They use hygiene and prevention. Herbal medications and condoms are available in any drug store. The congregation has two partner congregations in Cuba. They visitors got more than they gave. When they offered to bring gifts, they were told to "fill your pockets with love and come in down." The Cubans are able to distinguish between the American people and the American government.

    Ten visited El Salvador for a week in June (including three teens) with Christ Pax to promote North/South understanding. It was a tough trip. They met with base communities, began to understand living with powerlessness, how people of faith deal with deprivation. They visited a coffee co-op to see how Fair Trade is important. They met Lutheran bishop Gomez. They hope to go back each year.

    The conversation:

    Trade Joe's has recycled toilet paper. Sunflower Market has vending machines to refill your Earth-friendly detergent so you need only one jug.

    Reduce and reuse are more important than recycle.

    My husband keeps a journal of his bike errands and appointments.

    I quit my job to spend more time with our young family. We're happier now. Time is more valuable than money. We give a photo album each year to our family for Christmas.

    Read The Wal-Mart Effect to consider the importance of our buying decisions.

    Mazon (the Jewish response to hunger) urges 3% of all celebrations weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc.

    Next time: The Abbey

    Last time: 70 Reasons

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #272

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    Mother and child guests

    The Abbey

    Greg B. hosted a lunch talk for five at The Abbey coffee shop, INDIANAPOLIS.

    Marshall G. belongs to Quaker Earth Care Witness, Burlington, VT, and Second Helpings food rescue where they have cooked and sent 3.5 million meals to shelters. He organizes conferences for Awakening the Dreamer Changing the Dream This group from Latin America and California says that for social change America has to change it dream.

    Greg, a substitute teacher, promotes environmental economics through the Earth Conservation Corps.

    Nurture shade trees and goats.

    WE have much to learn from the industrial world too, especially Europe. Zero Emissions Research Initiative.

    Jobs keep families from having five meals a week together.

    The conversation:

    Next time: Cool Congregations

    Last time: Visiting Cuba

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    Return to Table of Contents (top)


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    Cool Congregations

    Bobbi G. hosted an evening gathering for 60 at Sinsinawa Mound Center, SINSINAWA, WI.

    The conversation:

    When a Dominican Sister celebrated her Diamond Jubilee (75 years in the order), she requested that in lieu of gifts for her, friends give to help with water exploration in Ghana. After several dry holes, the project finally struck water!

    When oldsters downsize, allow the children to select the items they want.

    Our three children have given me all I ever wanted for Christmas. Now I have a precious collection of hand-made cards representing each year of their life.

    My friend gave away most of her earrings and she's happy about it.

    After my presentation and discussion, Paul Schultz spoke on "Your Ecological Footprint." Before coming to Dubuque, IA, he worked for the American Friends Service (Quakers) in Chicago. Think of our planetary resources as a bank account. We need to use the interest, not the principle.

    Solar ovens can be appropriate technology.

    In the midst of global climate change, we must reduce our impacts of the pounds of Co2 that we produce. The US average of 55,000 pounds per household is twice that of Germany, 3-1/2 times that of Sweden, 5 times that of Mexico and China.

    Buildings are the most impact-ful, followed by travel (vehicles).

    Individuals can get carbon offset credit coupons, for example, from Native Energy. It's a sin tax, and indulgence. Get green tags at airports.

    Use a power strip to turn off all appliances to avoid phantom power loss. If you leave them plugged in, they still draw power in ready mode.

    Cool Congregations pledge to reduce energy consumption by 10% in households, as well as the church building. We need incentives and disincentives to motivate people, e.g. paying for garbage pick-up. Recycling is like playing the rent.

    PVC plastics are much worse than PET for recycling.

    We can check out Kill-a-watt meters that measure electricity use from Alliant through libraries.

    Dubuque is leading a pilot project for Green Cities in Iowa. On Sept. 26th they're holding a Growing Sustainable Cities conference.

    Next time: Enact Teams

    Last time: The Abbey

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #274

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    Barbie & Tim

    Enact Teams

    Barbie P. hosted a lunch for 15 at St. John's Lutheran Church, MADISON, WI.

    Hubby Tim A. likes to camp, hike, canoe, make beer, play the mandolin and trumpet (though not at the same time). He does lake management for the Dept. of Natural Resources. Barbie plays the French horn in a brass quintet at the church. Their two children are five and nine.

    The city has an Enact Team which gets neighbors together to talk about household environmental action. St. John's church has their own Enact Team to provide resources and present curriculum for action in homes grassroots action on solid waster, water, energy efficiency, transportation, etc. The teams document and measure the changes. The city helps by sponsoring a web site for stuff exchange. St. John's adds the faith dimension Care of Creation. The church started by a group studying "Simpler Living / Compassionate Life."

    St. John's also has an extensive social justice involvement. They partner with Luther Social Service and the local homeless shelter to provide emergency shelter which is used every day. They plan to remodel the church so that it can be used more effectively every day.

    The conversation:

    I really appreciate your Advent calendar.

    The church is totally capitalistic.

    I'm working to reduce my possessions.

    Couple Alternatives' program with Bill McKibben's emphasis on local economies.

    Read "A Short History of Progress" by Ronald Wright.

    Next time: Quilt Retreat

    Last time: Cool Congregations

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #275

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    Laura, Ashley and boys

    Quilt Retreat

    Ashley and Laura N.-O. hosted at supper for six in LODI, WI.

    Ashley is the former Business Manager of Alternatives. He now coordinates transportation for senior citizens in Sauk Co. He plants a large garden each year with the hopes of becoming a subscription garden. Laura is a social worker and a serious quilter. They have five children two in college. Eventually they would like their home to become a quilt retreat a very specializes Bed & Breakfast.

    George, 80, and Thane R. He has retired from UMC ministry twice. They will refer our materials to the Christian Ed Director at Lodi UMC. They have four children one son a socialist, a daughter a member of the Assemblies of God quite a variety.

    The conversation:

    Capitalism doesn't satisfy emptiness.

    The importance of integrity

    Institutional Christians are at risk.

    Ashley contributed to many Alternatives' resources, notably How to Celebrate Any Day. Laura also contributed, especially Sermon for Any Worship Service.

    Next time: Bob Fest

    Last time: Enact Teams

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #276

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    Bob Fest

    I met many wonderful folks at our booth at the "Bob Fest" or "Fighting Bob Festival," an annual event in BARABOO (always Saturday after Labor Day), named for "Fighting Bob La Follett," a populist governor of Wisconsin. In addition to progressive speakers all day, dozens of exhibitors network with folks from 8-5.

    Next time: Farm Aid Corruption

    Last time: Quilt Retreat

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #277

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    Guests with Fr. James

    Farm Aid Corruption

    Fr. James M. hosted coffee and conversation for 20 after 9:30 and 10:45 mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church, PORTAGE, WI.

    Fr. Jim is active in numerous social justice organizations and has participated in peace actions locally and at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha.

    The conversation:

    Aid to corporate farms is corruption. Also, the food distribution problem in non-industrial countries is stymied by corruption.

    A reverse retreat where we are served and we are the student is difficult.

    Sex as a recreational activity has led to many problems.

    We buying kids clothes after they have spent their allowance is for the parent more than the kid.

    For Christmas we practice re-gifting, we give homemade and give to charity.

    Christmas gifts are less meaningful if children get whatever they want whenever they want it.

    Next time: Don't Make Me Amish!

    Last time: Bob Fest

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #278

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    Young guest

    Don't Make Me Amish!

    Mary Ann D. hosted evening coffee and conversation for 40 at First United Methodist Church, WAUSAU, WI.

    The conversation:

    The small amount of Mercury in compact fluorescents is much less of a problem than the mercury burned in producing the extra energy for incandescent bulbs.

    Australia has outlawed incandescent bulbs.

    When I try to simplify at home, my kids ridicule me by saying, "Don't make me Amish. Mom."

    A new group is forming Simple and Sustainable Living Network of Central Wisconsin. They have offered the Simple Eating Challenge to buy 10% of your food produced within 100 miles for 10 days.

    I want to redirect simple living statements to public elementary art students so they can understand them, not see them as religious, and can incorporate them into their art.

    Also, the snack and lunch programs the servings are too big, too high in sugar and fat. Appleton is working on an action to counter the same thing in their schools., as is a coalition for eating disorders.

    In Spain and other European countries, your hotel key card automatically turns off the lights and TV when you leave your room.

    Next time: New Baby Casserole Shower

    Last time: Farm Aid Corruption

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #279

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    Young adult guest

    New Baby Casserole Shower

    Susan G. Z. hosted a lunch for 15 at Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church, STEVENS POINT, WI, on the theme "Simple Living and Celebrations," co-sponsored by ICE (Interfaith Community for the Earth made up of 14 groups) and SACS Sustainable Agriculture in Communities Society. SACS manages large organic garfdens. sells bags two for $5 made of recycled plastic at the Prairie Chicken Fest to improve endangered habitat.

    The conversation:

    One young adult has problems communicating with the older generation about sustainability.

    I give coupons for mending clothes very popular. We also give for eye surgery in Guatemala, drilling of waster wells, goats (or a share in a goat), quilting fabric, I-beams for a new building through Church World Service. Our grandkids make refrigerator magnets that relate to these gifts.

    We limit our family Christmas gifts to $1 per person to $4 per family. Its a fun challenge to make something with those limits. We are "modeling by enjoyment."

    Christmas comes every year whether we're ready for it or not. You may need to skip a generation when trying to change. Talk to grandparents instead of parents if necessary.

    We had a recent wedding for only $2000. It was very beautiful. People were really taken by it. My mother made my wedding dress. For our dessert reception we collected recipes and gave a recipe booklet to all who attended.

    For my baby reception, we had a casserole shower. It was a blessing!

    Next time: Bottom Feeder Consumer

    Last time: Don't Make Me Amish!

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #280

    xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

    Young adult guest

    Bottom Feeder Consumer

    Susan G. Z. hosted a supper gathering for 25 at Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church, STEVENS POINT, WI, on the theme "Creating a Sustainable Life: Avoiding the Consumerism and Debt Spiral."

    The conversation:

    Use the library.

    At Ghost Ranch in New Mexico a rabbi at a workshop stressed honoring the Sabbath by not buying on Sunday. It may be more effective to reduce buying all week long.

    Find more information on stores and products in the Better World Shopping Guide. Get a discount when you buy them in quantity.

    Patronize local, independent businesses.

    I shop at yard sales and goodwill but I still obsess just as much about buying. I still buy name brands and am snug about saving on them. I'm a bottom feeder consumer. My family is passing as high spenders. Study feng shui to develop more disciple.

    I confess as a catholic and a psych major that I love showering but feel guilty about using so much water. Take fewer showers, turn off the water while you scrub and get a low flow showerhead.

    When I buy, I ask, "Do I really need this?" Do I need to drive this trip? By doing this am I taking something away from someone else?

    The idea of thinking globally is new to the U.S.

    Use home made cleaning supplies.

    The county offers Financial Wellness Counseling through the Univ. of Wisconsin Extension.

    Packaging needs to be part of our buying decisions.

    Cleaning used toys well is more work than buying them new but less expensive.

    Americans are getting poorer. Though farmer's markets generally do not accept food stamps, some counties are devising other forms of exchange for the poor.

    Bottled water is only appropriate when a municipal water supply is not safe.

    Where can we get compact fluorescents for appliances refrigerator light, for example?

    Next time: Guilt Monger

    Last time: New Baby Casserole Shower

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #281

    xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

    Young adult guest

    Guilt Monger

    Denise V.-H. hosted a breakfast and conversation for 20 at Memorial Presbyterian Church, APPLETON, WI.

    Beth L. is the state coordinator for Bread for the World Wisconsin. She offers workshops around the state.

    The conversation:

    The problem with fluorescents is that they're not bright enough.

    I'm a guilt monger. My #1 roadblock is the feeling that I haven't done enough. Read "Beyond Guilt."

    I have a sign that encourages me: "I can't do everything. I can do something. I won't let what I can't do stop me from doing wheat I can."

    It takes time to live simply. It's a process of unplugging.

    At Christmas the family comes one day to share. The kids play instruments; we tell stories and sing, like a mini-talent show.

    Ecos Sustainability for Fox Valley used The Natural Step as a study guide. Also, the Appleton library has a study series.

    To see Jesus in the face of the poor, get involved in a family mentoring program. It will help you too.

    Some poor carry bags of clothing that does not fit them. It gives them security. The wealthy do the same with their stuff even if it doesn't fit.

    30 of us went on a Global Odyssey to experience the world. It changed our lives. We made our own arrangements, slept in church basements and reflected on what we saw, the Calcutta train station, for example.

    Cheer from Adbusters E-nough! E-nough! We've got enough stuff! (repeat)

    Our daughter had her wedding dress made in India for $25 (including a lovely scarf) and brought it home in her backpack.

    Read David Obey, Wisconsin Congressman, "Raising Hell for Justice" (Univ. Wisconsin Press).

    Next time: Appealing to Hippies

    Last time: Bottom Feeder Consumer

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #282

    xxx xxx


    Appealing to Hippies

    Nancy S. hosted a gathering for four at a restaurant in APPLETON, WI. Nancy, Lynn and Pastor Jim from the new Living Waters Community Lutheran in Waupaca, WI, are appealing to folks who do not feel comfortable in other traditional church settings hippies. They work with People for Peace and Mission and Values Network (which this year is focusing on justice).

    They're planning an Alternative Advent Market and workshop this fall. Nancy has for years offered an Advent trivia tin with a question for the day. Her kids love it. Pastor Jim organizes a Christmas tree burning bon fire on Epiphany.

    Next time: School Scrap Paper Competition

    Last time: Guilt Monger

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #283

    xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

    Young adult guest

    School Scrap Paper Competition

    Carrie M. from Our Lady of Lourdes hosted a gathering for 20 mostly young adults at Nicky's Lionhead Tavern, DE PERE, WI (near Green Bay).

    Carrie left her lucrative corporate job to work as a part-time youth director at her church. She and her friend Juliana started Theology-on-Tap to draw young adults into theological discussion over beer. That now includes a series of speakers for young adults. Carrie and her husband have just had their first child.

    The conversation:

    Whenever one of my friends buys a shirt, he gives away five.

    Recommended reading: "Not Buying It" a year without shopping.

    I confess that I work for the electric and gas utility company. I drive a hybrid, turn off our Air Conditioning at peak times, and have a high efficiency washer and dryer.

    Making gifts at Christmas is not simplifying for me, it's more stressful.

    I like stuff! I need a simpler life.

    Patronize World Good, fair trade in Madison.

    In our school district we keep boxes of scrap paper at the copy machine. We have personally ands school competitions within the district to see who can use the least new paper.

    The worm bins to make compost at school are smelly.

    We sponsor a World Hunger Banquet so that people can experience the difference between our excess and others' insufficiency.

    I use water from my dehumidifier to water my plants. (Also use it in your clothes washer.)

    Make friends with farmers and you'll get free zucchini. Subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture local subscription garden).

    Give spare books to the library as a fundraiser.

    Take extra packing peanuts to UPS for a refund. Use canvas shopping bags.

    Take your coffee mug with you.

    Next time: Kitchen Play Days

    Last time: Appealing to Hippies

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #284

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    Kitchen Play Days

    Pastor Susan S.-A. and Pastor Chris J. sponsored a lunch and conversation for 30 at River Falls United Church of Christ, RIVER FALLS, WI.

    The conversation:

    Ask you city for recycling bins at ballparks and other public places if they're not already there.

    Why is recycled paper more expensive? Because the consumer has to pay for the change in infrastructure.

    Wrap gifts in the funnies. Wrapping paper cannot be recycled because of the metals in the ink.

    What is your take on methanol? Urge your state legislators to offer support for organic farmers so they can grow ethanol-producing plants organically. Growing them with traditional oil-intense methods is an energy loss. It takes more the produce it than it yields. Also, sugar cane and switch grass have higher yields of energy than corn.

    We turned off the TV and don't miss it.

    I got a "Chico bag" from the food co-op that folds up into its own little draw sack. Home Depot sells a bag for $2 that hooks onto a shopping cart.

    Businesses exist to give consumers what they want. So vote with your dollars. Now the system is based largely on cheapest price. So change the system. Go beyond speaking truth to power. Go beyond inner feelings. Buy locally grown.

    We need ideas for composting at church.

    Why live simply? Because God owns everything. Go beyond morality.

    Try kitchen play days. Kids and parents get together to work together in the kitchen.

    Our club is involved in the statewide America in Bloom competition for a Greener River Falls. Part of it is sprucing up businesses.

    Next time: The Hospitality Place Revisited

    Last time: School Scrap Paper Competition

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #285


    Hosts and guests
    xxx xxx xxx xxx
    Lynn and husband

    The Hospitality Place Revisited

    John and Eleanor Y. and Pastor Steve S. of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, hosted a supper and conversation for ten at The Hospitality Place, CIRCLE PINES, MN (north of Twin Cities).

    It was fitting to end my touring at the same place it began, The Hospitality Place (see POST #17). Also, I had met Pastor Steve on a tour of Texas the previous year (see POST #156).

    Next time: The Red Rooster

    Last time: Kitchen Play Days

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    POST #286

    xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

    Guest and Mary

    The Red Rooster

    Mary H. hosted a supper and conversation at North Highland United Methodist Church, ABERDEEN, SD.

    Mary runs Back on Track: Long term disaster Recovery for her region of South Dakota that was affected by the May, 2007 flooding, funded by UMCOR, Lutheran Hunger Program and local donations.

    She has now retired from national committee of the United Methodist Church but stays active in her local church.

    Hubby Cal runs a large soybean and wheat farm. They love to travel and have visited every continent, including Antarctica. It was "awesome," she says. They have taken kids along, including work teams. She attended the Earth Summit in Rio and met Al Gore. She sees climate change happening.

    Their son Erik was changed by their trip to Zimbabwe. He saw how it was possible to have a beautiful life in a mud hut with few possessions. He and spouse Molly agree on a simple life.

    Mary is a lay speaker and active in the South Dakota Peace & Justice Network in Sioux Falls.

    The conversation:

    I like Target. Shopping makes me feel good. But not Wal-Mart.

    I feel bad about buying. Distinguish between needs and wants.

    We donate at Christmas. It's fun to find new charities to support. But it's hard to give up stuff.

    The Red Rooster Coffeehouse supports local musicians and artists. Faith leads us to build community there. We print our logo on re-used T-shirt and pullovers.

    Next time: Shooting a DVD

    Last time: The Hospitality Place Revisited

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    END Wisconsin Tour

    Return to Table of Contents (top)

    POST #287

    xxx xxx

    Guests Darrell and Magda
    xxx xxx xxx xxx
    Guests with Rita

    Angela and Pete produced most of the electronic resources, including the DVD.

    Shooting a DVD

    We held our annual local volunteer recognition event for 20 at Mayflower Congregational Church in Sioux City. We used the opportunity record my tour talk "Simple Living Struggles and Solution" to make a DVD.


    (from left) Jeff G., Cheryle P., friend, Pete, Matt
    About the same time we held a DVD Release Party for "$imply Enough: Straight Talk from Tony Campolo & Shane Claiborne on Simple, Just Living" to honor the producer Pete I. and the graphic artist Jeff G., both of whom donated many hours to the project.


    See the video, photos of its production, study guide, etc.

    Next time: ??

    Last time: The Red Rooster

    Why this blog? Visit post #1.

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

    End Year 3

    Return to Table of Contents (top)


    POST #288

    2008-2011 Speaking Gigs

    Worship speaker, St. Mark, Lutheran Church, Sioux City

    Siouxland Peace Coalition, Sioux City Public Library

    Student Seminar, Morningside College, Sioux City

    Worship Speaker, First Unitarian Church, Sioux CIty

    Vacation Bible School Speaker, Our Savior's Lutheran, Sioux City

    Feb. 19, 2009, Northwest Iowa Sierra Club at Morningside Public Library, Sioux City, IA

    May 11, 2009, Interfaith Resources annual banquet at Mayflower Congregational Church, Sioux City, IA


    POST #289

    Bethel Lutheran, Templeton, CA

    When we arrived on Central Coast of California, we made a deliberate search for a new congregation. We gladly decided on Bethel ELCA and Pastor Amy. I told her that she could call me on short notice anytime to sub for her.

    And that's what happened. She called on a Saturday. She was ill. I preached the next morning. Rita said I was never more convincing.

    Bethel is now our 'home church,' though we continue to spend at least two months in the spring and two in the fall in Sioux City with our children and grandchildren.

    Read more about our pledge to our children.

    St. Andrew Lutheran Church Adult Forum, Ames, IA

    POST #290


    Pastor Ernie Caltvedt served as our librarian for several years when Alternatives for Simple Living was in the geodesic Earth Dome in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. After he retired, he moved to Ames to be close to family and Iowa State University. He is now an active member of St. Andrews Lutheran there.

    Rita and I travel to Ames twice a year primarily to see Ernie. He invited me to be the first speaker for the 2012-13 Adult Forum series at his church.

    Some 20 folks came to see my 30 minute video about the five Life Standards of simple living, and then present questions, comments and confessions. I also introduced my new organization Simple Living Works! and my new collaborators at Jubilee Economics (JEM) and handed out JEM's new information card. The response was perceptive, as one would expect in a university town. Their comments and my responses, in brief, were:

    "Are either of these organizations involved in political policy making?" SLW! is not a 501-c-3 organization; Jubilee-Economics is. 501-c-3 non-profits cannot get involved in partisan politics. Both are prophetic ministries rather than pastoral ministries. Pastoral ministries focus in congregations on worship, education, outreach, care and fellowship. They avoid controversy. Prophetic ministries, in the spirit of the Old Testament prophets and Jesus, help people see the consequences of the their actions. They embrace controversy.

    "Change will affect somebody -- positively or negatively." Yes, we must look for the long-range benefits, not just short-term ones.

    "Might we practice simple living for personal satisfaction or to help the poor or both?" Definitely both. It's such a joy to get the burden of stuff off our shoulders. And "live simply that others may simply life."

    "I noticed an increase in the number of appeals I receive in the mail. How can I decide which ones to support?" I never give to an organization whose request comes on non-recycled paper. And if the appeal includes a postpaid return envelop, I send it back with the note to remove me from the mailing list and, if I'm interested, I give my email address. Finally, check them out at

    After worship one of the attendees of the adult forum came up to me and declared that she had had a flash of insight during Holy Communion. Prompted by the Life Standard about Caring for Creation, she asked herself, "Why are we using disposable communion glasses?" She was determined to get that changed.

    I followed my standard practice of greeting people when they arrive and then seating late-comers. One elderly gentleman told me I should be a college professor because "You could sure hold the students' attention."

    I no longer seek speaking engagements or plan tours, as I did 2005-2007, during which time I spoke to 300+ groups in 40+ states.

    SLW! does not sell resources nor solicit funds. All resources are free and the organization is all-volunteer. We recommend donations to Jubilee Economics.


    POST #291

    Occupying the Flagstaff Bridal Fair


    Despite the success of the Wedding Alternatives packet and its book version The Alternative Wedding Book, I'd never been to a bridal fair. They seemed so commercial, so extravagant. Now that my daughter's getting married, I get to go along to the Bridal Fair in Flagstaff, Arizona.

    I didn't want to spend two hours talking about photography packages and overpriced cakes and honeymoon locations, so I devised plan to be a little subversive. I'd carry a copy of the book with a little sign "Free Copy?" My daughter saw right through that ploy when I asked to borrow her copy, and proclaimed, "Nothing political today, Dad."

    So, I made a little sign "Want to Simplify Your Wedding?" The lady in charge quashed that plan. But she gave me permission to talk informally to guests there.

    What should my approach be? I need to be able to tell my story quickly. I can't expect to hold a stranger's attention for more than ten seconds.

    "Hi, I'm Jerry, father of the bride today. I'm giving away a free book on simplifying weddings. Would you be interested? It's on-line. I can give you the address and you can read it at your convenience."

    I approached guys first, thinking they would be most interested. Then older women, then couples. Only two said no, and most of the dozen I approached were really thankful!

    You could try the same thing.


    Atascadero UMC Women

    POST #292


    The 20 women seemed to have a strong interest in the XL Keystone pipeline, fracking and phantom power, the constant loss of low level power when we leave any appliances plugged in, even when not in use, such as micro-appliances, e.g. cell phone chargers. They gave numerous examples of the annoying number of commercials on TV. They seemed interested in urging their church to use recycled paper for worship bulletins, etc.

    They were well prepared for my presentation. The pastor had just finished a sermon series on "ENOUGH: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity." Though a stewardship tool, it ended with My Personal Goals and Commitments that included: 1. I will thank God daily for all my blessings, 2. I will seek contentment and simplicity and live within my means (spending goal), 3. I will seek freedom from the bonds of credit and debt (debt reduction goal), 4. I will seek to wisely manage the gifts God has given me, investing and saving for the future (saving goal), and 5. I will worship God each week by the giving of my tithes and offerings (2013 giving estimate). The insert included an Electronic Funds Transfer Authorization. [Thrivent Financial provides a convenient giving plan for all Lutheran congregations.]


    Rita and Gerald

    Mustard Seed Associates, Seattle

    POST #293

    July 31, 2014

    Podcast featuring Tom and Christine Sine

    Christine Sine interviews Rita and Gerald Iversen for her Godspace blog

    More approaches to the Five Life Standards I've taken since I was here several years ago.

    Five Life Standards of Living More with Less

    1. Do Justice
    I always wear a Message Shirt in public.
    I recommend Progressive Titles for local Public Library and then promote them in a monthly regional eNewsletter.
    I check out charities on before giving, giving only if the organization has at least four (of five) starts and reasonable administrative salaries.

    2. Learn from the World Community
    We promote Fair Trade, primarily through

    3. Nurture People
    We are modified 'snow birds' to protect our health and to meet our pledge to be with our children and grandchildren as much as possible.
    Iversen Family Fund through InFaith Community Foundation

    4. Cherish the Natural Order
    Since we now live largely in a desert, we have developed creative was to save water: xeriscaping and zero flush toilets
    Advocating for Earth: online, face-to-face

    5. Non-conform freely
    We avoid the compromised commercial media and trust alternative media, such as and and selective podcasts.

    DISCUSSION on the Five Life Standards

    Recommended -- FREE: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most by Mark Scandrette from InterVarsity Press (paperback or Kindle)

    Blaine & Joanie are moving on faith to a farm to focus on nutrition-dense foods, especially for those who have allergies.
    Brian 'Wolt' Wolters, founder and Exec. Dir. of, and spouse
    Other guests: John, Stephan, Kari
    Hosts: Christine and Tom Sine at Mustard Seeds Associates, Seattle

    1. A family consults on giving to charities. Member can join in or not.
    Beggars -- stop and talk, give something if you feel God-leading; crunch bars are better than cash. Take time to find out about resources in your city, those caring for people on the street. Then give beggars a list of local resources.

    2. Theo's is a Fair Trade chocolate factory in Seattle. Agros Coffee focuses on Central American development, 'pro-sumer model.' Subscribers get a monthly order and newsletter. Solano Beach Pres. Church, San Diego, helps people develop their own businesses so that attraction to go north is not so strong.

    3. The Sine home is a multi-generational triplex.
    Part of the farm model are farm-stays, host 1-2 4-H students per year from around the world, exchange students. Farm-stays marry ag and ecology, e.g. FarmStays International
    Willing Workers on Organic Farms: WWOOF, e.g., five days on an apple farm in Japan, free room/board

    4. In Calif. some cities fine people who do not water lawns for 'lowering property values.' There's real value of local, native species in your garden; how people perceive scarcity and abundance; healing mentality. Wild blackberries are better than sprayed berries; insects serve as food; eat weeds in spring when shoots are tender instead of irradicating them 'reduce ability to reproduce, e.g. knot weed; MSA Eco-village harvests and serves native plants and gives 'wild tours' to identify edibles, e.g. nettles Property codes and caring come into conflict. Example: small houses; collecting rainwater; Michigan destroys raw milk though it's in demand
    Develop theology for Care of Creation. Examples: Not Ordinary Times, Interfaith Power and Light; Green Teams in congregations
    Jesus chose his moment. Not enough conversation that Jesus was a revolutionary.

    5. Shut off commercial media; who can we trust? Reading 'press' from other countries, such as RT and Al Jazeera-English, even BBC, Deutsche Welle
    The huge blogosphere has eliminated the 'common source of truth' that older guys had. It's great to connect with each other rather than witnessing a presentation.
    Tom Sine has moved to a new planet -- now he's on Facebook, seeks tutor.

    St. Mark Lutheran Church (ELCA), Sioux City. IA

    POST #294

    Oct. 12, 2014

    Adult Forum in conjunction with Fair Trade display/sale for Sharing the Dream in Guatemala

    DISCUSSION -- 10 people

    'My Name Is Malala,' at 17 the youngest Noble prize winner
    Wall for missionary to church building to raise awareness of their work
    Visit Sharing the Dream in Vermillion, SD,on next congregational outing

    Now that our teenager is going to college, we are beginning to simply our home life.

    Northwest Iowa Sierra Club, Sioux City, IA

    POST #295

    Oct. 28, 2014

    Monthly community meeting

    DISCUSSION -- 25 people

    ELYSHA Elysha Iversen, Peace Corps alumna (Kenya), now Grand Canyon park ranger, member of Search and Rescue team: only take with you what you need on backpacking patrol -- also emotionally: ''I thought it was lovely & insightful when you mentioned two important things that you want to work on: being a more loving person, and encouraging conservation. Those two are connected. You see, I am a Park Ranger and can go on patrols into Grand Canyon for several days at a time. Whenever I go on a backpacking patrol, I carry with me only those tools I need. Leave behind the stuff I don't. I think that's true emotionally as well. No reason to 'carry' grudges or judgements or resentments. That stuff just weighs you down.''

    In response to my talk on new 'takes' on the Five Life Standards, Bill Blankenship told of a young couple who has plenty of money, yet lives in a very small house. They hear the bird sing, 'cheap, cheap, cheap.' Thrift can touch on all five Life Standards.


    POST #296
    Tenebrae Service, Bethel ELCA, Templeton, CA
    Good Friday, April 3, 2015 -- Christ's Seven Last Words from the Cross
    #6. Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit. Luke 23:46
    Personal Reflection by Gerald 'Jerry' Iversen


    POST #297

    Paso Peace Circle


    It's a touching story. The Paso Robles, CA, Peace Circle was formed about a year ago by a WW II U.S. bomber pilot -- about to turn 99 -- and a survivor of the Allied bombing of Dresden at the end of WW II -- then age five. Dick and Hart have become fast friends and meet every week. The larger circle meets once a month to pursue inner peace and then to promote peace resolutely in the wider community.

    Since SLW! has changed significantly in the past three years, I painted the picture of its new internet-based structure: Weekly Digest (blog), twice monthly podcast and monthly eNews.

    Comments (10 present):

    Check out Charter for Compassion and Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR).

    "I'm overwhelmed by the plastic smell whenever I visit Walmart."

    Trade Joe's now "recycles" its food, passing it on to local agencies.

    Pearl M., resident expert on the Calif. drought, reported on the upcoming vote on formation of a water district for the Paso Robles Water Basin. Since the Central Coast (San Luis Obispo County) is the epicenter of the drought, we are very sensitive to water waster, especially by grape growers. SLO Co. has over 300 vineyards.

    Northwest Iowa Sierra Club, Sioux City, IA

    POST #298

    Sept. 27, 2016

    Monthly community meeting

    40+ people

    I started by showing my latest T-shirt acquisitions, including 'Welcome Refugees,' 'Live Generously,' and 'Slow Thinkers Keep Right.' Then I introduced Bethel's 'Celebrating Ugly Food' Project and played three audio tracks of Pr. Amy Beveridge, GleanSLO reps and Paula Wansa, taken from the Sept. SLW! Podcasts (and Oct. TCGP Podcast). I made an effort to relate a Calif. project to Iowa. So much on the agenda that there was little time for Q&A. No one asked for samples of bulletin inserts or gave me an email address for blog, etc.

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