Response 2011-12

Testimonial/Feedback/Comments/Response INDEX

Correspondence around the founding of Simple Living Works! in 2011

March 8, 2011

Sandy Olson, Alternatives for Simple Living

Gerald, I am truly sorry that Alternatives is closed. It cannot make it in this context. Perhaps we will find a better way to change the world. You do have good plans and we hope that it will work. There certainly is a lot to do. Sandy

March, 2011

Hi Gerald,

I think it is time to let go of Alternatives. We did some great things, and it is okay to let it go now. As my pastor says, 'God calls us into places, and God calls us out of places.' It is all okay. All will be well.

Melanie Hardison
Presbyterian Hunger Program
April 18, 2011

Hi, Gerald!

I appreciate your dedication to voluntary simplicity, and your willingness to promote it.

The ELCA has agreed to archive materials about and created by Alternative for Simple Living. In doing so, these materials will be available to the public. The ELCA Archive has a process for receiving and cataloging materials. Electronic materials will be made accessible by computer; hard documents will be available to those who request them. Once the receiving and processing of Alternatives documents are completed, there will be nothing to update, as Alternatives is now an historical organization and will not be producing anything new. Once Archives has processed all the materials, the work is done, there will be nothing to update, and we don't anticipate spending any time on it.

If you would like to start a new organization or just a new monthly e-newsletter about voluntary simplicity, you certainly don't need our permission to do so! You can just start one, right? And if you'd like to point people to the ELCA Archives as a place to access material that was created by Alternatives, you are welcome - and encouraged! - to do so.

So, to my way of thinking, Alternatives has been dissolved with its history preserved and a plan to keep its signature piece (Whose Birthday?) going. There's not anything left to do there. But the need for voluntary simplicity continues, and if you are starting something new, I wish you great success!

Nancy Michaelis, ELCA Hunger Program

END of correspondence around the founding of Simple Living Works!


I have been living a simple life style for all of my 80 years, a function of being poor for all that time. For me, it is more about preserving and protecting the earth, our home, than about being a Christian which I am no longer. I will not subscribe to this. I do not need your reminders, and any spare $$ is allocated where it is needed more.. VMP
Gini Paulsen

angela herrmann

Thanks for doing the e-newsletter!

We have a simple living co-housing community that is looking for new members. We are located in rural West Virginia. Please post the Intentional Communities web site of community sites. We have two couples on two leases with two open leases. One out of four of us is Christian but we work hard for a more just and ecologically balanced world. http://directory.ic.org/20814/Hickory_Ridge or http://directory.ic.org/ for the over all site. We definitely are into simple living - growing much of our own food, making our own solar PV energy, and building our own homes.
Robin Wilson
Hello Mr. Iverson,
My name is Abby Sasscer and my family and I practice voluntary simplicity. I have started a ministry in response to the growing need for families to live a life of simplicity. I grew up in the Philippines where I witnessed poverty first hand. When I came to America as a teenager, I desired so much to live simply so others may simply live.

In 2008, I wrote a spiritual e-journal entitled Simplifying Your Domestic Church and have had 500+ downloads since its release. I am now in the final phases of publishing a children's book that teaches little ones to live simply and share with others. It should be released around Easter 2012.

Thank you very much for your newsletter as it affirms our desire to live in voluntary simplicity. When you have the time, feel free to visit my ministry website at www.projectnazareth.info . There are wonderful articles there that describes my mission and a radio interview as well.

Take care and a Blessed CHRISTmas to you and yours!
May God Bless You and Your Family,
Abby Sasscer
Project Nazareth

Thank you, Abby. I will spend more time on your website.
Peace, Gerald

Hey Gerald, Thank you so much for your ministry!! I love your newsletter and always look forward to the next one. I most cherish your recommendations and reflections.
Thanks again, Merry Christmas,
Scott Makoutz
Gallatin Tree Care llc
ISA Certified Arborist RM-74491
Member International Society of Arboriculture
Member American Society of Consulting Arborists
Natural Approaches to Tree Health

Thanks for taking this on.
You might want to look at your format - not very attractive, readable or easy to access. At least mine comes with multiple lines between every sentence. Perhaps start off with substance, not logistics.
John Hilpert

I've been reading your newsletters and have forwarded them on to a few folks I'm fond of here. Thank you for keeping up this work.

Your voice is gentle and reassuring.
Ashley Nedeau-Owen

My plan for this year is Eat Sitting at a Table, an idea from Michael Pollan. I am returning to childhood living by eating at mealtime except for an occasional evening apple or popcorn snack. Thanks for these good things.
Gretchen Denton

Looks good! I liked the percentage breakdown regarding share save spend. Real numbers mean something. I also enjoyed your personal pledge.

I hope you enjoy your walk today. Remember that you are part of God's creation. Caring for your personal health is part of caring for creation.
Elysha Iversen
Flagstaff, AZ

Hi Gerald,
I have been meaning to write to you to thank you for continuing the simple living outreach. Things just seemed to fade away last year wtihout any notice or explanation. I am trying to think of the name of the couple who took the reins from you, but that is eluding me. I hope they are well, and that it wasn't some kind of serious health issues which prevented them from continuing. In any event, welcome back and thank you for your outreach.
Tony LoPresti

Thank you, Tony, for your abiding interest.

After Alternatives closed, Sandy and Michael, ELCA and PC-USA encouraged me to start another organization. The PC-USA pledged to continue publishing the Whose Birthday? annual booklet. The ELCA has pledged to maintain Alternatives' archives. I hope that happens because I expect the ELCA to outlive me!
So, after waiting six months I began a new eNews, in a time when I sense a desperate need for voluntary simplicity.
I was disappointed but not bitter. I am determined.
Thanks for your encouragement.


Hi Gerald,
I can understand your disappointment and truly appreciate your hard work. It is not always easy to hold off the bitterness, so I commend you for doing so. Holding it off is also very practical as it is difficult to be productive when your heart is filled with bitterness. Good things are worth the work and this ministry is surely a good thing. With economic times the way they are, some people have adopted involuntary simplicity but hopefully that will be the gateway to the voluntary kind.
Thanks again, and I hope you can continue your joyful witness for a long time to come.
Tony LoPresti
We just had a sermon in church about the give, save and then spend. This was so timely for me to receive.
Thank you.
Sue Geer
Jan 14. 2012

Congrats on this new iteration.
Vicki Robin

Thank you very much for keeping on with keeping on!
Our congregation faithfully used WHOSE BIRTHDAY regularly
Since I retired, I have publicized it in our Presbytery but have no authority to command its use!!
Glad you will continue to send e-news and other information about Simple Living!!
Rev. Dick Gibson
Presbyterian Hunger Program HAE, Seattle

Thank you for the link to Who's Risen to the Dead. We will use it as a Lenten study at Faith UMC. Fargo, ND. Keep me on the list.
Patti Kratky

Thank you for your thoughts and inspiration.
Susan Hayward-Brown

I appreciate receiving the newsletter on simplistic living. Thanks for your good work--keep it going!
Darrell L. Layman

Thank you for your years of service.
Emma Holdener OSF

Hi Gerald,
Thanks for your continuing-now volunteer- efforts to educate people about simple living. We met years ago at Broomtree Farm in SD.
Rev. Barbara Stroud-Borth

Thank you, Gerald. So glad you are doing this. I've been involved for MANY years!
Thanks, Pastor Sue Ringler, Guardian Angels Catholic Community, Tempe AZ

So glad to know that you are still alive and THINKING about the important things in life. I remember many years ago driving to Greensboro to find Alternatives. I still use your publications and hope you will offer some more. We need them! KEEP AT IT!!
Marjorie Northup

Dear Gerald,
I wonder if you have considered starting a blog? Simple living should go over very well in an environment. What are you doing on twitter? Just remember, there is always more in God's world. Here's to more simplicity!
Karen E. Taylor

Thanks for taking this on. If you think it appropriate, I want to share some information. The fronts of Christmas cards (and other cards too) can be mailed to the St. Jude's Children's Ranch, where children make new cards and sell them. The address is: St. Jude's Ranch for Children, Recycled Card Program, 100 St. Jude's St., Boulder City, Nevada, 89005-1618. Thanks. Keep up the good work.
Maria Pedak-Kari

I am panic. Too many beautiful words these days, in the church, in sermons, in organizations, in human rights meeting, in environment ecological meetings, in politics, speeches all over. What you are doing may be a Prophetic role, the voice in the wilderness. Please let me believe at least this that world will be a better place one day! Keep up good work.
Freedom for all, or freedom for none

This looks very interesting and helpful! Thank you for persisting and offering us resources for simple, responsible living.
Doris Knight

Pamela Koebel

I got the simple living email. Thanks.

Please allow me to recommend a much better website on solar cooking: http://www.solarcooking.org/

I really think this is the place to refer people. It is a non-profit that promotes solar cooking in many places in the world, like refugee camps. The website also has plans for various kinds of cookers people can make for themselves. I made and use the cookit and the basic box cooker. If you want a photo, i can send.

I hope you are doing well these days.
Sincerely, Cathy Brechtelsbauer, solar cook for many years now - summers only tho'
A life isn't significant except for its impact on other lives. -Jackie Robinson

I would like to send a contribution to encourage your work. Please give me a mailing address and a name to make my check to.
Will Alexander

Hi - A While back I ordered a DVD from you regarding starting a simplicity circle. I plan on getting one started after Easter and cannot find that DVD at all. Are these still available and if so, I would like to reorder. I know as soon as I do the first one will turn up. Thanks
Peace and Blessings,
Bev Davis, Pastor, Ebenezer UCC, Stratford, WI

Greetings, Pastor Bev,
I hope you're well.
I will try to help you. If you ordered the DVD before 1/1/08, you ordered it from me. If after 1/1/08, from Dillon, CO. Both of those offices are closed now.

Do you recall the title? If it was a DVD (video), it might have been Simple Living: Struggles and Solution or Simple Enough or Break Forth into Joy. The first one can be viewed anytime on-line free (30 min. based on the 5 Life Standards). If you have video player software, it loads immediately at http://simpleliving.startlogic.com/download/00-SLSS-Main%20Talk.movRead

Or watch it in segments at http://simpleliving.startlogic.com/indexoth.php?place=archives.php

If it was a CD-ROM (text), it might have been Simply the Best, a big collection which included Simple Living 101, a handbook that included Simplicity Circles.

In addition to my Simple Living Works! eNews, I'm working with Jubilee Economics Ministries, which has several wonderful study guides. Visit JubileeEconomics.org, click on resources. Also, we work with Faith and Money Network, which has just published a helpful study guide. Visit FaithAndMoneyNetwork.org to order a copy.
Gerald Iversen

Thank you, Gerald. I already receive mailings from these great people.
Ashley Calhoun

Thanks, Gerald:
There are young people at Assembly Mennonite where I attend who are using Trek in our congregation's focus on shrinking our ecological footprints. Everything we ever do for the causes we believe in makes a difference.

I appreciate your ongoing championing of Simplicity.
Yours in peace,
David Schrock Shenk

Dear Gerald,
Hello again from Orlando. We shared a meal with some of our folks from Spirit of Joy several years ago. I thought I would share our take on Fair Trade. We passed (unanimously) a resolution to Synod Assembly in May to be supportive of Fair Trade and start using the purchasing of the church and congregation members to help that movement. See below.
Steve Beumer

Fair Trade Resolution

WHEREAS; As Christians we are called in Romans 13: 7-10 to 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' which includes how we interact with one another in a global marketplace.

Whereas; As Christians in the affluent, developed countries we influence a huge portion of the global spending for food, clothing and other items.

Whereas; Those people in developing countries can greatly benefit from our purchasing power to help marginalized farmers, growers and artisans by using the concept of fair trade to support and grow those in these markets. These purchases now represent $1.2 billion of goods just in United States.

Whereas; numerous Christian and specifically Lutheran church bodies around the world have been advocates for making Fair Trade purchases a priority. Among the most prominent commodities that have been certified Fair Trade are coffee, sugar, tea, vanilla, olive oil, wine, soap and flowers.

Whereas; doing no wrong to your neighbor is not an act easily accomplished in a global marketplace but as Martin Luther was clear in his explanation of the seventh commandment, our duty goes beyond simply refraining from stealing, we should in fact endeavor to help our neighbor 'improve property and income.'

Therefore Be It Resolved; that Spirit of Joy asks the Florida Bahamas Synod to take a leadership position to encourage all of our congregations to seek out options to incorporate Fair Trade items into the life of the congregations.

And Further Be It Resolved; that this resolution urges the Synod to move to use Fair Trade products at future Synod Assembly's, ministry gathers, at the Synod offices, Luther Springs camp and other opportunities where this can be encouraged.


Best to you and we so enjoy receiving the newsletter.
Richard Kiefer

Thank you, Gerald!
Best wishes,
Carol Holst, PostConsumers.com

Do check out these materials.
Looking forward to being with you, Wolt, and your friends.
Tom Sine


Hi Gerald,
Tom Sine forwarded my your newsletter. Could I get added to your distribution list?
Also, you may be interested in learning more about The Overflow Project. Here's a live simple video sharing how a few people are choosing to simplify.
Brian Wolters

I am glad to see that the Simple Living emails have been re-started.
Thanks and God Bless,
Walt & Janet Lewis, Fort Myers, FL

Gerald, there is a lot of super information in this issue -- thanks so much for sending it to me.

Dear Gerald Iversen:
Simple Living Works is a real revelation for me, as a long time attender of Quaker Meetings who has somehow left the simple living concepts behind, and yearn to return to them. I've been navigating around the website for a little while today, and your use of so much in the way of audio resources and contact accessing concerned me at first, as one who is severely hearing impaired. However, I began to realize that the site contains such precious items (to me) as scripts where I can read what is being said!

I live in the San Joaquin Valley which can usually be classified as an ecological desert. That's on the one hand. On the other hand, our rural existence here (35 yrs.) has taught me that many of my rural neighbors, utilize (and always have) some of the very models of simple living that I, who grew up in Los Angeles, had only read about.

There is a lot of bridge-building to do between those who embrace the discussions of simple living and those who equate even the mention of it as a threat. However, we can learn from one another on this subject and when we do, it sets us back on our heels in surprise:) We have a lot more in common than we thought.

So thanks for continuing to send out the emails. I am glad SLW has archives, because I missed a lot! I am hoping that there are others in our Central Valley ELCA (and other) churches who are engaged in this worthy endeavor.
Peace, Patty Silva
Deaconess Patricia Silva
Lutheran Deaconess Association/Lutheran Deaconess Conference

Hello, Gerald and Rita:
Nice to meet you and I am going to take your good offer under advisement. We are, as in many of our local churches, mainly retired, older folks. However, I'm thinking about gathering as many younger people as possible. I assume we don't all have to be Lutherans....? Since I just discovered Simple Living Works! it might take a little while.

My experience in Quaker meetings many years ago, made a huge difference in my life in many ways, and I would have to say that learning to live simply on a voluntary basis, intentionally, with sustainability--personal and ecological--as the goal, definitely left its mark on both my husband, Leland and myself. Now, in this time of economic flux, it might not be as voluntary for some of us as it was those many years ago, and we need to revisit not only the skills involved, but their basis in faith in Community.

Deane and I just watched some of these great videos--we may use them for a church Social Justice Forum we have--with thanks for them, Sandy Irving, Raleigh, NC - Presbyterian (USA)
S & D Irving

Of course, you are welcome to use my note, we enjoyed seeing you in the videos and your teaching style--we especially like the 'guilt-free' atmosphere as we are good at feeling guilty. Also enjoyed the Campolo-Claiborne chat. Thanks for keeping on keeping on with us folks!
Peace to you,
Sandy Irving

Hi Gerald!
How are you? I am hoping you remember me....I am the graduate student who came knowing on your door, both literally and figuratively, and asked to do my research project on Alternatives almost 5 years ago! You and Rita were gracious enough to let me stay with you and do interviews with people you connected me with! I cannot tell you how grateful I am for all of your hopitality, cooperation, and support that you have provided for my work. So, again. Thank you. I cannot believe how much time has passed since we last talked! I do hope you and Rita are doing well. I had heard that you both moved to California...is that correct?

To catch you up to speed. . . right now I am in the middle of writing my dissertation. I plan on being done by either winter or this upcoming spring. As you are well aware, Alternatives has shut down. I was very sad to see it have to close its doors. I, too, felt a sense of investment (though not as much as you!) and was disappointed that all yours and others' hard work had ended. But needless to say, it was so wonderful to see that you have hitched your simplicity wagon to another group! I was pleasantly surprised to get the first newsletter! And have since checked out the videos you have on youtube!

I am wondering if you could help fill in a couple of historical holes for me. I am trying to write a brief overview of the history of Alternatives, and while I have looked over the web archives, I still cannot find some information. As of now, a couple of questions I have are:

1) Did Alternatives do any speaking engagements before (pre) 1995? I know you had set up volunteer network (that was pretty much unsuccessful) to help/do presentations and that you also went out and did alot yourself. But I am unsure if any other previous directors had and where they did them (generally speaking) if they did do them. Any information is greatly appreciated.

2) this question has to do with the mission statement: pre 1995 the word Christian was in the mission statement. When you became director it got taken out. I am wondering what the reason was to take it out?

Please note that I have no judgements or opinions on the answers to the questions- just needing to get the info. I would like very much to send you the final version of my dissertation and/or articles that are (finally) produced after years of research. Overall, my data chapters are addressing key themes including: individual Simple Liver identity (how is it formed), organizational identity (this looks at boundaries as a key feature for the demise of the organization), the impact of intersectionality (race, class, gender, and religion) on social networks, and Simple Liver collective identity. It is hard to condense a dissertation into a few sentences but I did want to provide some insight as to the project. Also note that all names (people and the organization) are pseudonyms.

I do have an article coming out in a journal soon (they have yet to tell me the date) and when I get the final version from them I would be more than happy to pass that along to you- if you are interested.

Again, I appreciate all the help you given both in the past and the present. Any insight on the two questions are greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you!
Kristina Kahl

So great to hear from you, Kristina! I'll share your note with Rita.

1) Did Alternatives do any speaking engagements before (pre) 1995?

Milo Thornberry did some workshops. I remember seeing wokshop outlines in old files, which were passed on to my successors. I'm not aware that anyone did any extended speaking tours like mine. The Founder Bob Kochtitzky was a visionary but less of a maintainer. He helped the CBS Evening News with their five minute story Christmas Eve on families practicing alternative Christmas, and had two appearances on the Donahue Show. (I assume you've seen the brief history at http://simpleliving.startlogic.com/indexoth.php?place=what.php#TableCont)

2) this question has to do with the mission statement: pre 1995 the word "Christian" was in the mission statement. When you became director it got taken out. I am wondering what the reason was to take it out?

Christian was replaced with "People of faith" shortly before my time to make it appear more ecumenical, though most of the resources were still geared to the Christian calendar. And frankly, we didn't want to be identified with fundamentalists.

Yes, I'm definitely interested in the journal article. I'll share the link with others who may be interested.


My dream is to live in a yurt. Everyone thinks I'm crazy (except for certain rural folks). I joined the WWOOFing organization and am off to do some gardening work and sleep in a tent for a week in exchange for R&B and a swim in a nice lake. After working in the corporate world, & education, I decided that animals, plants and people (in that order) really make me happy.
Be well,
Maureen Hopkins

The video on Simple Living was great--thanks so much.
Marilyn Lease
11/15/12 (by phone)

So glad to be back in touch with you! I need a copy of the Leader's Guide to Unplug the Christmas Machine Workshop. So glad it's now available on the SLW! site.
Pamela Hunter, Joyful Lutheran Church, Forks, WA

Gerald - I wanted you to know that you and the philosophy for Simple Living have made such I huge contribution to mine and my family's life. Thank you for everything you do.

My family and I now live on Ambergris Caye in Belize, and I teach at a Caribbean Medical School. I just finished my blog post on Facebook about this advent time and the importance of simplicity in this time of Advent. I wanted you to know how you and your work has shaped so many decisions for us in these last 8 years. Know that you have made a difference in the lives of the Galbraith Family (Galbraiths Go Global on Facebook) and we are profoundly grateful. Humbly and Sincerely Yours, Paulette Galbraith

'Life is not lived quid pro quo. Life is lived with and for the people we love, otherwise Life means nothing' - PFG

Paulette L. Foster-Galbraith M.D., D.A.B.F.M.
The Wellness Center at Saucier TM
Committed to the Health of Your Body, and Spirit
Saucier, Mississippi

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Director, USMLE Review & Grand Rounds/Community Lecture Series
The American Global University School of Medicine, Belize
Manatee Drive, San Pedro Town

So good to hear from you, Paulette. Unless you object, I would like to share your thoughts to encourage others. I will keep your Facebook address but remove your contact information, unless you want it included.


I would be humbly honoured - You have been an inspiration to my family - thought you might like the post about flying back today to the rat race. Galbraiths Go Global is all about living life outside the Rat Race and the huge insight into how that has changed our lives. Alternatives gave us the vision to do that. Have a great weekend and know you are a blessing to so many, Paulette Galbraith
Gerald: thanks. You are always going forward smartly. Merry Christmas.
Warren and Beverly and the State of California
Gerald - Hope you are well and enjoying keeping this great email going!
Treva and Balbir Mathur, Trees for Life

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