The most current comments are at the bottom of the page.Jan.-March | April-June | July-Sept. | Oct.-Dec.
Good to see the work you're doing. The new design looks great. I'm still semi working with John de Graaf [producer and author of Affluenza], but I'm focusing more on the subject of creating community. My latest book is Living Room Revolution: A Handbook for Conversation, Community, and the Common Good. (New Society) I'm still trying to get study circles going, and maybe you'll help revive interest in the subject of simplicity! It's certainly more relevant than ever.
Congratulations on your good work!
author of the (new!) Living Room Revolution, and
Less Is More, Slow Is Beautiful, Circle of Simplicity
I like your new [eNews] format. Thanks for all you do!
Yes, format is readable and the content is easily accessible. You are a blessing to every New Year!
Is it possible to purchase the CD from the archives? I have the PDF file of the curriculum-Are music booklets available?
I am from the Congregational Church, UCC in Jacksonville, IL. You visited the church years ago for a conversation with a small group.
Congregational UCC, Jacksonville, IL
REPLY: So good to hear from you, Sue. I am forwarding your request to the ELCA Archives. They are maintaining Alternatives' resources and providing them at nominal cost upon request.
I hope you'll stay in touch with SLW! through social media of your choice - blog, podcast, eNews, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest.
The Good Life includes several components.
1. The basic curriculum is in the binder and in the SimpleLivingWorks.org Archives for free. (It is also on the CD-ROM in the binder.) Make all the copies you need for your leaders.
2. The music CD contains all the songs (voice and instruments) , primarily for accompaniment. One copy came in the binder.
3. The music booklet contains the words and music for keyboard and voices. One copy came in the binder. You may want to make the copies you need.
Contact Info: ELCA Archives [Evangelical Lutheran Church in America] 321 Bonnie Lane
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
archives AT elca DOT org
NOTE: This is not the ELCA headquarters building.
P.S. On a personal note, see brief blog on my visit to your church at Post #118, yr 1.5
What does ANY of this have to do with simple living? I do appreciate what you are doing, yet to me, you have gone beyond your name.
All the best.
REPLY: Thanks for asking.
Our mission is equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly. All the free resources and services we provide aim to further that mission. I hope you'll follow our blog or listen to our podcast.
1/7- New Design via blog
Nice, Gerald. Thanks for your work.
Thank you Gerald for those kind words about Beyond Guilt and Courage to Think Differently. You do important work. May God continue to give you courage and wisdom...George Johnson
We are requesting permission to reproduce Christmas Game 1997 as a Gathering For All Ages resource sheet in our Seasons of the Spirit Christian education program.
I have attached two Word documents to this email. The first is a letter of request that explains our intended usage of your material as well as a brief description about our curriculum. The second is a permission form to be filled out and returned when permission has been granted.
Please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
NORTHSTONE Books / WoodLake Publications
9590 Jim Bailey Road,
Kelowna, BC V4V 1R2
E-Mail: BrendaA AT woodlake DOT com
So good to hear from you.
When Alternatives for Simple Living was dissolved in 2011, I licensed Alternatives' resources under Creative Commons to prevent abuse.
You are welcome to use The Christmas Game 1997 in your educational curriculum. Send me the URL when it's released so I can link to it. You also may want to consider Christmas Game 2 and the Anytime Game.
Please include credit such as: Copyright Creative Commons. More resources at SimpleLivingWorks.org.
You may know that Woodlake has published several of Alternatives' collections. Since I have revived Alternatives as Simple Living Works, I have promoted Treasury of Celebrations and Seasons of the Spirit in numerous blogs and podcast show notes with links to your site. You may want to follow us on social media.
Alternative Wedding Book
For the last 15 years as my friends have been falling in love and getting married I made it a habit to buy them The Alternative Wedding Book, mostly because I really like the subtitle: Create a beautiful wedding that reflects your values and doesn't cost the Earth. Having not gone through the experience of wedding planning myself, I was glad when my friends raved about the gift. Now having been through the wedding planning process myself, I realize just what an essential tool it is. The book truly lives up to its subtitle.
When my husband and I got engaged I got a copy for us and it served as both a light to guide our way and a foundation in the oncoming storm of commercialization of the wedding industry.
Right from the start, the book kicks off with the solid advice: create a budget right away and stick to it followed by keep it simple. Those two tidbits were sanity keepers and helped us minimize conflict during the planning.
So many websites and television shows are all about the trappings of weddings: dresses, rings, decorations, music, photographers. Sure those things are important and decisions about them can reflect your priorities. However those websites and televisions shows don't address the real issue which is: who are you and how will you reflect that in your wedding ceremony and share it with the community that is precious to us.
I find it strange that many of the wedding related websites and shows don't even touch elements of the ceremony. This book gives samples of ceremony outlines, ideas for symbolic activities, musical suggestions. It is genuinely helpful in the crafting.
Here are a few strategies that worked well for us.
In order to focus, we identified four themes that were important to us. We then integrated those themes into our decisions for venue, our vows, our decorations, and our spending.
Next, as part of the budgetary decision, we set priorities. This gave us the peace of mind knowing that what was most important to us would be covered and gave us an excuse to easily turn down the myriad of “special offers” we received as an engaged couple.
As we knew we wanted a zero-waste event, we then checked out an 'event kit' from a local non-profit so that we would have reusable table settings for the rehearsal dinner, selected settings that did not need a lot of decorations, coordinated a charity to receive all remaining reception food, and set up an online honeymoon registry so that we would not receive stuff as gifts. This way people's involvement could be something they really wanted to give. We emphasized that their presence and prayers were really what we wanted.
One page simple invite
So many things can be done on-line: free wedding site where we used the budget tool and the guest list to monitor our status. We posted event information. Honeymoon registry site so that friends could contribute to our memories.
Wedding felt like camping with 100 of our best friends and the reception was like having them over for dinner (except we didn't have to cook!)
An idea that was supported in the book was participation. We contacted close friends and family to see if/how they wanted to be involved. We ended up with over 40 volunteers, which we divided into teams: music, decorations, clean-up so that people could contribute to the event and not have to spend money.
Focus on not owning, but reusing:
Wedding dress from a consignment shop (absolutely beautiful full lace, in my budget and didn't need to be fitted!)
Wedding rings made from recycled gold and gems
Invitations and bulletins from recycled paper
Ceremony in a wilderness area. Carpooling encouraged.
One of the most important aspects of the book is that it validates the notion that your wedding ceremony is that, yours. It need not be the prepackaged commercial binge that is purported by society to be the standard. Our wedding was just that, ours and I am really proud and happy that we stayed in budget, supported local vendors and had a zero waste event in a wilderness area.
I plan to continue giving the book to friends who are preparing to wed. By the way, it's available free and complete as Wedding Alternatives at SimpleLivingWorks.org including an updated Supplement; also in Spanish as Nuestra Boda.
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In the Show Notes is a link to my blog Occupying the Flagstaff Bridal Fair, which I hope you'll find both humorous and enlightening.
And I've added Meredith Gould's helpful book Getting #Married: Using Social Media to Celebrate the Sacred to the Wedding Alternatives Supplement.
Entirely too much money and emotional resources are spend on wedding ceremonies and too little on the marriage itself. In a hungry and hurting world it is offensive to spend thousands of dollars on one day with no regard to its impact on the less fortunate. One can have a very nice service without spending so much.
John M. Germaine, pastor, United Methodist Church (3/9/14)
Jennifer Oehme Knepper
Glad to stumble upon this resource! We host an alternative gift fair every year in Lancaster PA and are really looking for ways to curb consumerism around the holidays and throughout the year. Check us out at Gifts that Give Hope: Lancaster's Alternative Gift Fair. Would welcome your ideas!!
Gifts that Give Fairs
A recent survey by the national non-profit, the Center for a New American Dream, revealed that 70 percent of Americans would welcome holidays with less emphasis on material gift giving and spending!
REPLY: So glad to hear from you. Check out Simple Living 101: Tools for Activists, especially chapter 3: events. You may want to add to it, as several have.
I was doing a search for you because I had purchased copies of 'Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?' in the past for distribution at the alternative gift fair which we have held annually now for 6 years and are working on year 7!!
I'd like to explore materials that you may have for use in the faith community to encourage this idea of alternative giving. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Do you have any 2013 copies of 'Whose Birthday?' that you'd happen to have leftover?? Do you plan on making the pamphlet again in 2014?
Our website is www.giftsthatgivehope.org/lancaster
THANK YOU for your time!!!
So glad to hear from you, Jean. Yes, I produce 'Whose Birthday?' each year online, all under Creative Commons,
which means you can use all or parts of any edition that will help meet your needs for free. Visit
For more on Alternative Giving, please visit
I will add you to my monthly eNewsletter. I hope you'll connect through your favorite social media (click the Social Media button at the top menu at SimpelLivingWorks.org), such as blogs, podcast, Facebook, etc.
For the text of a simple flier to hand out, visit
Be in touch anytime.
How kind of you to share my books and blog with your audience. I really appreciate it. You continue to inform and motivate people to move in the direction of simple lifestyle. That's great. I just 'liked' you on Facebook and was already following you on Twitter.
I trust we will continue to be able to cross-fertilize in our work.
AWESOME. . . . AWESOME. . . . really like the new 'social media' approach to your powerful message. Fruitful Blessings!!
Office of Family Ministry Coordinator
Christ the Redeemer
Lake Orion, Michigan
Is there an easy way to find a color picture of the bunny coming out of the tomb with the heading, 'Who's Risen from the Dead, Anyway?' I found the graphic in some of the material you sent, but I'd like something poster sized to project on a screen for the children's sermon on Sunday, if possible.
Your sister in Christ,
Rev. Carol R. Cannon,
co-pastor, Trinity and Pleasant Hill United Methodist Churches
Bamberg SC 29003
Alternatives' bunny resurrection art was created as a bulletin insert before my tenure. I've never seen it in color.
I suggest you either project it from my site or copy it from the site and project it as a graphic. It's in a large file, so it may load slowly.
The source of the graphic for each blog is given at the bottom, in this case GRAPHIC: Spirit of Simplicity ART #3-A551-1
Open http://simpleliving.startlogic.com/indexoth.php?place=archives/Articles/SpiritA3.php#3b Then scroll to #3-A551.
Thanks for your interest.
I figured out a way to do it. And if it doesn't work that way, I was able to print a copy on cardstock to show the children. I remember a poster of it years ago -- in the 1980's -- but I can't find my copy.
Thanks for keeping the spirit of Alternatives alive.
Pastor David Halaas
St. Mark Lutheran Church, Sioux City, IA
Re: SLW! Blog: Social Media Post #5 - eNewsletters
Thank you for your time, reflection and sharing so eloquently in word and art your spiritual riches. Deo gracias for Gerald.
Charles Kyle, PhD
Re: SLW! Blog 'eNews #32 - Tony and Shane Uncut'
My, oh my! You are certainly offering a wealth of possibilities for all those who want to keep working at simplicity! I am awed at the spread and variety of the resources you gather together and offer for others. Keep at it!
Re: SLW! Blog 'Easter in the Grand Canyon'
This moved me to tears. Beautiful.
Re: SLW! Blog 'A Personal View of the Ascension'
It's one of the things we learn, isn't it. That when it is time to let go we have to really let go--and let things fall as they may. I've sometimes found myself in the next position after yours, presiding over a decline. It's important to remember that what is best for each of us (to leave or not to leave) is also best for the group--that's how God's economy works, and the outcome is not in our control. A fascinating idea to compare this social process to the ascension!
Ellen Roberts Young
Thank you. I appreciate your resources, and have been an alternative celebration fan for decades and continue to try and simplify my life!
Alice Ann Glenn
Re: BLOG SLW! eNews #33
I'm with you, Jerry! My family still doesn't quite believe in dramatic climate change, but I do, and I worry about not only my grandchildren (my children are all age late forties to almost 60), my grandchildren and the three great-grandchildren I already have, and I am encouraging them not to have any more. We do try to be 'green' but I agree that even that doesn't have an impact. And to think there are so many deniers still, seems as though they have blinders on!
Keep up the good work.
Re: Blog Why Are Danes So Happy?
Deb here from the Northwest Earth Institute (we corresponded years ago about Voluntary Simplicity!) I especially enjoyed this blog/email update as I too come from Danish stock and used to live in Copenhagen while I was young. Incidentally, my father (Bob McNamara) served as the pastor at the International Church of Copenhagen in the 1980s. Fun to notice the small world of connections we live in! I was able to visit Denmark again a few years ago with my family and was so struck by the quality of life there...
Thanks for your good work and I always enjoy the updates!
Director of Organizational Partnerships
Northwest Earth Institute
720 361 2686
Unsubscribe. Too political.
Wow! Hurray for the Danes!
Thanks for posting this, Gerald! I'll be reposting. I find this inspiring in the otherwise consistently sad news about human society, the environment & the rich-poor divide.
The one European city all my immediate family has been in though not at the same time. I have observed something similar in the neighboring socialist state of Sweden -- nowhere did one see outlandish homes that put other ones to shame. There was an observed evenness in the culture and communities.
Nice piece on Danish happiness by my friend Jerry Gerald Iversen!
John de Graaf
I like the fact that you point out it's about contentness not happiness. Happiness is experienced briefly, contentness is a state of the mind the majority of the time.
I think the most important point you make is the need to shift from consumerism to contentedess. We will never find happiness in constantly striving for more goods and services.
Kate Pendergrass Norlander
Re: Blog Let's Learn About Ramadan
Thank you Gerald for fostering understanding among believers. We all have so much in common. I was taught. 'When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do. . . put oil on your head and wash your face so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.' Matthew 6:16
Charles Kyle, PhD.
Encourage the good!
Mary Lou Fritsch Wheeler
The passages and journey of the Spiritual Life can cross over religious boundaries quite well... Thanks, Gerald!
David E. Cox, PhD.
I have 'liked' you on Facebook, so I can keep up with you there.
Thanks for all your work and the great difference you are making,
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I greatly appreciate being on your mailing list. I'm always striving for simple living, and your 'pep talks' really help.
Ann Patella, Hiram OH
Re: BLOG Social Media Post #9-Internet Radio
Could be a lot simpler without Internet !! We could just read the Bible !!
If they would read the bible for their own edification, problem is they don't, they read it with a purpose to feel superior to everyone else, picking and choosing what they want out if it to follow! And then missing the whole point of what Jesus taught!
Re: BLOG Thank the Rich
Interesting point of view, Gerald. I'm used to the Crazy Christian Community, so it's a pleasure to hear from a sane God lover.
We all (the 100%) share Mother Earth, breathe the same smog filled air, eat radioactive fish from the Japanese coast, and eat the same fruits and vegetables sprayed with poisons left over from stockpiles of chemical warfare suppliers. We are all in the same boat contaminated by corporate obligations to get the maximum ROI ($$$) for investors!
'For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves (and the rest of us) with many sorrows.' First Timothy 6:10
Charles 'Charlie' Kyle, PhD., Chicago, USA
Well said. Nice to think that those who learn voluntary simplicity might be teachers and leaders when things get bad.
Ellen Roberts Young
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Your Beatitude driven life style and your ink drawing of the crucified Christ are very inspirational. Thank you for sharing.
Hi, Uncle Gerald,
I just wanted to let you know I got a chance to listen to your podcast tonight and enjoyed it, will continue listening to them when I can.
Last year in December I realized this year would be a major change for me, though at the time I couldn't see what it was, but I knew by this coming December my life would look differently. And it certainly has begun, as I began to downsize my things to move into a tiny house, I also had to begin to understand the relationship we carry with things. It isn't an easy path and hauling off loads of stuff to Salvation Army and Mustard Seed Thrift here in Arkansas has been a real experience...still more to go before I am down to my minimalist amount that will fit in my tiny home which my son Matt will be building in California out of a lot of repurposed materials we have begun gathering.
The hard part has been letting go of animals which I had collected. While not all have gone I have downsized my horses. I feel that moving to Arizona where water is a precious commodity having a herd of horses (albeit miniature) is still not a practical idea. While I am in a location that has power, etc., I am hoping to be able to be totally off grid as well as develop a water catchment system. And my son Craig introduced me to the keyhole gardens which will be my goal for producing some of my food. Sometimes I wish I were younger doing this, but alas I was too busy working long hours to understand what needed to be done...or as I say I was being trained in ways I didn't understand to be strong enough to go out on my own and do something so radically different than most people expect me to do at my age :)
Anyways I was looking for some inspiration and positive information and enjoyed yours and wanted to let you know.
Love, your niece,
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I have really enjoyed these [updates], and they've given me much food for thought.
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Shane's 'Jesus was Homeless' T-shirt reminds me of the time about 400 interfaith leaders bought one share of stock in Jewel Tea Co, so we could attend the annual stockholder meeting in Chicago. United Farm Worker organizer Alice Thompson came dressed in a black and white striped prisoner uniform with her leg shackled to a black plastic bowling ball that she carried around. A sign identified her as Bruce Church, owner of Red Coach Lettuce & convicted of for unfair labor practices against farm workers. We testified that Jewel should stop doing business with this law breaker!
Charlie Kyle, Chicago
Does Simple Living have any accumulated wisdom on necessity of Cable/Satellite TV and Internet/Smart Phone -- where to stop etc.? Seems like it takes a chunk of change, and increasingly so, to keep all this stuff. A lot of it seems to be habit that one has gotten used to and now 'can't live without.' But surely there is an alternative . . . John
This note was the inspiration for my new 'Ask Slim' blog.
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I've recently just discovered -and read - the Unplug the Christmas Machine book. I visited your website and read the archived information with the workshop leader guide and participant guide.
Is permission still granted for others to use this material to lead workshops?
Also, are bulk/discount orders still available for the book?
I am the Director of the Welcoming Ministry at my church as well as an HR/Training and Development professional.
Thank you so much for your help!
Mason, OH (suburb of Cincinnati)
So good to hear from you, Beth.
Yes, anyone can use our online Leaders' Guide and Participants' Manual at no charge. No one is allowed to sell copies of these.
We no longer sell anything, so bulk/discount orders of the UNPLUG book are available at independent book sellers, locally or online. You may resell the book at your workshop. Please let me know whom you choose and how your event goes so I can share your story with others.
I taught that book [UNPLUG] for years in the 1990s. It is still more than helpful.
Judy L. Jernberg
In response to my blog 'Is Simple Living Libertarian?'
We wouldn't have food, most people wouldn't have water, shelter, heat, much of anything without community. How much does one give and how much does one keep? Is that how we divy up our lives? A slice of this here and a piece of that there? Give your heart, your time, and your money if you have. Just like love, the rewards will be heavenly.
thanks to Gerald Iversen for this bit of good sense...
John de Graaf
I am pretty liberal in my beliefs that what I have I share with others. I also have to take care of myself first, after all even the second commandment tells me to love my neighbor as myself. The problem comes when I am being overly concerned with protecting myself, my assets, etc. This is when I have to turn to the gospel. How much to I keep for myself & how much do I share, this also means my inner self, not just my material belongings and of course money. I give more than 10% of my time to others, I can't give 10% of my earnings, I can barely get by & I have trimmed away vacations & luxury items.
I have more than I need to survive, I am not wanting for anything. I am a widow and am not living beyond my means, I have played that game and it was almost a disaster, somehow I managed to get out of that situation after we lost our family business, those were tough years.
One cannot give 100% of their substance and then expect others to come to their rescue. I don't want my family to worry about my financial or health situation, I take care of what has been given to me, I don't believe God asks more of me than this.
Jackie Richer St Hilaire
Thank you for sharing this article, Gerald.
Re: blog Alternate Veterans Day, 11/11
A good time to pray and reflect on the writings of Robert Jay Lifton, especially Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima, Random House (New York City), 1968.
Lord, have mercy on us.
CLK Chicago EEUU, Charlie Kyle
Re: my blog Legacy Reflections by JUSTO GONZALEZ
Thank you for these very timely resources and for connecting with me on Linked In. I was just going to start to look for resources for the Advent Candlelighting, so these will come in very handy. I'm delighted to see the authors are friends and former professors from my Seminary days, Catherine and Just Gonzalez.
Re: blog Send a Message! Be the Message!
I love your idea of 'wearing a message.' Although I admit I gave many of my T-shirts with words on them away since too many were just advertising one time events like a walk or run for various causes and weren't appropriate for work. I'll have to think more about your idea of spreading 'the Word' in more significant ways.
Thanks also for spreading the word about simplifying Christmas and the various writings I have done on this topic.
I will be doing a hour program with Headstart parents about Christmas presence verses presents. I would like to use some of the material you created to give as a worksheet for them to complete in class. I adapted it for use for our young families. I have attached the material I would like to print for the participants. I am asking if I can get permission to use this material in my presentation. Please let me know if it would be okay. Thanks!
Shawano County UW-Extension
So good to hear from you, Nancy.
'Unplug the Christmas Machine' is one of the few resources on our site owned by someone else. I am also sending this email to the author, Jo Robinson, because you are adapting and making copies of her work. She has been quite eager for us to promote her classic book, so I don't anticipate any objection.
Thanks for the credit at the bottom. It needs also say: Adapted from 'Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season' by Jo Robinson and Jean C. Staeheli. Used by permission.
Stay in touch. I'd like to share a report from your workshop.
You are right, Gerald. Jean and I are happy to give our permission for Nancy to adapt our work.
Wishing you a merry and meaningful Christmas!
New comment on your YouTube video: 1. Angels We Have Heard on High
I love this video.
See the complete Carols with Justice collection. text and sing-along (text and audio).
Nice stuff, Gerald! Keep it up!
St. Paul Lutheran, ELCA, Mayville, WI
This page last updated 9 Jan. 2015
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