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Any Year Calendar

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QuoteArt: PetersDancingPerson

Simpler Living Daily Alternative Calendar for Any Year (or Every Year)

Also known as. . .

Alternative Any Year Calendar

  • Updated for 2017
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  • GRAPHIC: 'Dancing with Spirit' from "Spirit of Simplicity: Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice."

    Table of Contents


    January

    The Life Principles of Voluntary Simplicity

    HELPS: Simple Living QUOTES || SLW! Podcast: The 5 Life Standards || Thematic Index: Living More with Less

    Life Principle #1: Do Justice

    Justice

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice.
    More ART

    1-New Year's Day. Reflect. "The Lord of hosts is exalted by justice." -Isaiah 5:1

    2-Voluntary Simplicity is not about following rules, but about living by principles. Living more simply is about personal responsibility. It's seeing where our lives may be extravagant, even out-of-control, and deciding what to do a little at a time to cut down on overconsumption. Don't begin cold turkey. You might get frustrated and give up.

    3-20% of the world's population - the Overconsumers - use 80% of the resources and the other 80% - the Sustainers - use only 20%. Our planet cannot sustain life if everyone lived like the Overconsumers. The motto of voluntary simplicity begins to make sense: Live simply that others may simply live. This calendar challenges us Overconsumers - virtually every person in North America, Western Europe and Japan - to offer up an Environmental Tithe, to reduce consumption of all resources by at least 10%. God put us on Earth to be stewards of Creation - sustainers, not abusers; protectors, not dominators.

    4- Living more simply may mean dealing with our own resentment when others don't "get it." When we are making corrections to live more responsibly and others don't seem to have the slightest inclination to change their wasteful ways, we may feel angry. We can be living testimonials. We are not judgmental but we speak up whenever we have the chance.

    5-Simplicity is not "living on the cheap." It's more than being frugal, far from being a tightwad, and surely not being a miser. In some cases it may mean actually paying more for tools that are Earth-friendly. Instead it's a journey to find more meaning, more joy, more fun in life by getting out from under the burden of so much stuff - to remove the barrier of stuff that keeps us apart from other people, from God and even from ourselves.

    6-Epiphany. Consider using Alternatives' An Epiphany Celebration, in your congregation. Or read it here.

    Innocents

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    7-The first principle is not "Think about Justice," or even "Believe in Justice." It's "Do Justice!" Besides our prayers, our contributions, and our pressure on governments, we help the world's poor by consuming less, thereby making more available for others. Biblical justice reflects God's great love for the poor and our parallel call to live in a way that positively responds to their needs.

    8-In face of an economic system and an advertising industry that pressure us, we CAN take control of our own buying patterns! We can beat this addiction of overconsumption day by day... and then share ideas of simpler living with others.

    For more information

  • Living More with Less, pp. 22-29
  • Treasury of Celebrations, Introduction and pp. 127-129
  • To Celebrate, pp. 27, 87-89
  • View Alternatives' video Break Forth into Joy!: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle, Main Segment.
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: Simple Living
  • Spirit of Simplicity ART: Voluntary Simplicity
  • Sing Justice! Do Justice! and Carols with Justice
  •  

    Life Principle #2: Learn from the World Community

    World

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity: Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice
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    9-Reflect. "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" - Micah 6:8. We have a great deal to learn from people in Developing World countries, most of whom live simply by necessity, not choice. More about food in October.

    10-All things are connected. We want to help those poor people with THEIR problem OVER THERE. However, we need to realize many of their problems are caused by OUR problem OVER HERE, our overconsumption.

    11- A black bishop from Africa said, "White folks... yes, they're the people who can sing and NOT move at the same time." African music can help liberate other Christians.

    12-For every Christian that North America and Western Europe loses, Africa gains three! We have something profound to learn from our African brothers and sisters.

    13-Ask yourself, "What can I live without?" Be uncomfortable. Take something off - a watch, an earring - as a reminder of less. Are you a slave to the clock? Are you burdened by too many clothes or jewelry? Take something off.

    14-Even people from our highly technological medical establishment are now seeing the potential of learning from native healers/shamans. We are learning natural cures from the rain forests.

    15-What do children say when they want to do something they know is irresponsible? "But everybody's doing it!" Let's try that in our lives. "But God, everybody's driving a new car.... But God, everybody builds a big, expensive house that's many times bigger than they need, claiming it's for equity when the kids leave home.... But God, everybody has a yard that looks like a golf course so that nobody complains that we're lowering their property values...." Sounds just as silly and disconcerting as kids' requests to sleep outdoors on a sidewalk overnight to be in line for tickets to a rock concert.

    16-Voluntary Simplicity is a consciousness, an awareness. It is a matter of personal responsibility. Before we buy or use something ask, "Do I really need to do this?"

    Monday, Jan. 16, 2017--Martin Luther King Day (Third Monday).

    For more information:

  • See Alternatives' video Simply Enough: Tony and Shane on Simple, Just Living, with bonus segments.
  • Also see late June: Planning Alternative Christmas Events

    Life Principle #3: Nurture People

    Nurture

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity: Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice
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    17-We find meaning in life through our relationships with God, the natural environment and people, not through stuff. Often we allow our things to own us. We go into debt paying for something. We have to maintain it, then secure it so nobody steals it! What owns whom?

    18-Create a game with yourself that you can play with your children or grandchildren. It's OK to admire things in stores and say, "I like that. I like THAT. I LIKE that." Make it not OK to say, "I want that," or even worse, "I need that."

    19-Think of the mall as a museum. Everything there is on display for your pleasure, but somebody else owns it. As you stroll through the galleries say, "Thank you store person for putting this here for me to see. I'm so glad you're responsible for all this stuff and I'M NOT."

    20-Intimacy... getting to know someone well... opening oneself up. When we choose to be intimate with our spouse, things can get in the way. To be intimate we may choose to take something off... to take everything off. Stuff can get in the way of intimacy in other situations as well. We can learn to recycle stuff and put relationships first.

    21-Cooperative, non-competitive games nurture relationships. Try The Christmas Game I, The Christmas Game II, The Anytime Game, Lifestories: a fun board game of telling tales; Futurestories; and Conversation Pieces: Parents, Kids and Other Animals. See September 19 for more titles.

    22-A weekly family meeting at a set time helps to coordinate schedules and gives children respect, inclusiveness and empowerment. It can also diffuse arguments. At a time of tension, one can say, "Let's take this up at the family meeting." Take turns taking minutes. Follow with family fun-time.

    23-Reading aloud year-round, as well as telling one's own stories, builds relationships. When a parent reads to a child, a grandparent to a grandchild, spouses to each other, the act is as important as the story.

    24-"Quality time" can be a myth, an excuse to spend a little time together in order to spend more time working to make more money to accumulate more stuff. Quantity time is also needed for healthy relationships, being there... in sports and fun, worship, talking, the arts. If you find this is a problem, discipline yourself to keep track of relationship time and increase it 10% each month till you reach your goal.

    For more information. . .

  • Living More with Less, pp. 37-42.
  • View Alternatives' video Break Forth into Joy! Family & Children Segment.
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 2. Building Community
  • Spirit of Simplicity ART: Building Community
  • Clusters: Alternative Lifestyles for Families and Single People
  • Other January holidays include
    Martin Luther King Day (Third Monday).

  • Read Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 130-131
  • To Celebrate, pp. 89-91
  • Consider Alternatives' "Dr. King Was Right" bulletin insert for your congregation.
  • MLK

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    Life Principle #4: Non-conform Freely

    25-The forces against living simply are extremely powerful and devious. Some of them are quiet, unwritten... like how we dress in church, how our house will look at Christmas time. But many of them can be loud, in-your-face forces that work to get as deeply into our pocketbook as possible. (See September for media pressures.)

    26-Let's say what overconsumption often represents - addiction. As any addiction, it is powerful. It takes great will power, faith, and the right tools to beat an addiction. The addiction of overconsumption is reinforced by our culture. It is encouraged, fed, promoted by peer pressure and by advertising. We are told it is patriotic to buy, that our economy depends on it, that we are "worth it." We are worth much more than our stuff!

    27-Worth Reading: the classic Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

    28-Small groups could benefit from: Living More with Less Study Guide, Your Money or Your Life Study Guide, Simple Living / Compassionate Life. Alternatives' video Break Forth into Joy!: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle won a Gold Medal at the Houston International Film Festival!

    29-"Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"-from Matthew 6:24-33. How do my clothes reflect my personality and my values? Did the people who made my clothes get a fair wage for their work? Go to your clothes closet. Choose enough clothes to wear a different outfit each day for a week. Put the other clothes aside. Wear only the clothes you've chosen for the next two weeks. (from Trek)

    NonConform

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    30-Shop at Goodwill and other thrift shops. Wear clothes from other cultures. Support others who break clothing stereotypes. Show the great fraud of "The clothes make the man" and "Dress for success." Is wearing "nice" clothes to church a matter of giving God our best? Wearing expensive clothes is giving our best to ourselves and our clique-mates.

    31-We can object when people suggest dress codes for voluntary events, such as company parties or church activities. Must men always feel obliged to wear a tie?

    For more information

  • Living More with Less, pp. 51-72; pp. 99-117 (Clothes).
  • View Alternatives' video Break Forth into Joy! Taking Action segment.
  • Simple Living 101: Toolbook for Activists
  • For more 'Non-conform Freely,' see September: Media Literacy
  • Life Principle #5: Cherish the Natural Order, appears in April and May.

    Return to Table of Contents


    FEBRUARY

    Celebrating More Responsibly

    Celebrating QUOTES

    Music/Worship

    YouthChoir

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Worship Alternatives: Art
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    1-Musicians are not exempt from the call to offer help to the needy and to care for God's Creation. Urge your congregation to put on a benefit concert, including some music of social responsibility. Worthwhile musicals are Lazarus from Bread for the World, and The Race: A Simplicity Musical from the ELCA Hunger Program.

    2-Write a letter to the music publishers your congregation uses the most. Urge them to use recycled paper and soy-based inks when they print their music.

    3-A great, inexpensive hymnal on social responsibility is Banquet of Praise from Bread for the World. Give a copy to your Minister of Music and offer to buy more copies for your choir, youth group or congregation.

    4-Alternatives' Worship Alternatives collection includes hymns, litanies, etc. on global justice. The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada (TheHymnSociety.org or 800/THE-HYMN) has several collections and papers on topics related to Voluntary Simplicity, including Sing Justice! Do Justice!

    5-BWAAG (Better World Artists' & Activists' Guild) says, "Never underestimate the power within you to make a better world." This non-profit, national ecumenical network of individuals who are committed to enriching the peace and social justice ministers of congregations and related organizations has produced several recordings and songbooks.

    6-Investigate Alternatives' booklets and recordings Sing Justice! Do Justice! and Stories and Songs of Simple Living.

    7-In Celtic Christianity, the wild goose is a symbol for the Holy Spirit. Wild Goose Songs from the Iona Community in Scotland are very direct and powerful.

    8-After the Bible, the hymnal often is the second most important book to many Christians. If you do not have one, buy your denominational hymnal for your office and home for private and family daily devotions. Read one hymn per day as poetry. Sing the ones you know.

    More on celebrating more responsibly in November and December.

    For more information

  • Living More with Less, pp. 188-208 (Celebrations)
  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 10-13, 39-126
  • To Celebrate, pp. 11-26.

    Other February holidays include

  • 19th-Day of Remembrance (To Celebrate, pp. 94-95)
  • Purim (To Celebrate, p. 95 )
  • Chinese New Year (To Celebrate, p. 96)
  • Black History Month
  •  

    Preparing for Lent, Easter and Other Spring Festivals

    9-Celebrations belong to people. They are not natural resources to be strip-mined each year for the sake of profit. Treasury of Celebrations channels our desire to celebrate into activities that truly nourish the human spirit, express our solidarity with all the Earth's people, and respect the environment. If you are not satisfied with consumer-oriented celebrations, this big book of creative ideas will help you resist consumer pressures and celebrate in a more spiritually fulfilling, joyful way.

    10-"Freedom from anxiety is characterized by three inner attitudes. If what we have we receive as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we possess freedom from anxiety. This is the inward reality of simplicity. However, if what we have we believe we have gotten and if what we have we believe we must hold onto, and if what we have is not available to others, then we live in anxiety. Such persons will never know simplicity regardless of the outward contortions they may put themselves through in order to live 'the simple life.'" -Richard Foster

    11-Alternatives' numerous Worship, Study & Activity Guides for Lent and Easter include "An Easter Seder" (meal) and "A Passover Seder." Some resources are intergenerational.

    12-Lincoln's Birthday. What values do we really admire in heroes? Who do we pick to be our heroes?

    13-"If I give away all my possessions... but do not have love, I gain nothing." - from I Corinthians 13. What keeps me from giving the gift of myself more often? What non-material gifts could I gave on the various gift-giving occasions during the year? (from Trek)

    14-St. Valentine's Day

  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 132-133
  • To Celebrate, pp. 92-94
  • Spirit of Simplicity
  • St. Valentine is the patron saint of prisoners. Distribute Alternatives' bulletin inserts "The First Valentine: I was a prisoner and you visited me," or "St. Valentine, Thoreau & Other Prisoners of Conscience: When Conscience and Government Collide."

    First Valentine

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity: Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice
    More ART

    15-Alternatives' numerous 40 Day Calendars for Lent (as bulletin inserts, a poster or booklet) can be used within lectionary cycles or not. Some also come in Spanish; one is for children.

    For more information read Treasury of Celebrations, Part III, pp.127-227

    On Ash Wednesday (beginning of Lent) we are reminded of our mortality. What do we really want to accomplish in our lifetime? Daydream about people living in harmony in a clean environment. Make the fantasy as positive and fun as possible. Focus on the people and the Earth interacting, not on "stuff," things, possessions or money.

  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 135-140;
  • To Celebrate, pp. 97-100
  • Worship Alternatives: Lent/Holy Week/Easter
  • Lenten sermon series
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Celebrating Lent/Easter
  • Podcasts: Let's Get Ready for a Simpler Lent and Easter and Susan Vogt on Alternative Lenten Practices
  • Rites of Passage

    17-Treasury of Celebrations: Create Celebrations That Reflect Your Values and Don't Cost the Earth contains life affirming ways to celebrate holidays and rites of passage, such as births, graduations and deaths. It draws material from the six Alternate Celebrations Catalogs published from 1973-87 by Alternatives and adds new ideas in its 384 pages. To Celebrate: Reshaping Holidays and Rites of Passage is the only predecessor of Treasury still in print.

    18-The average American wedding now costs over $27,000. We can find value and meaning without going into debt. Wedding Alternatives (The Alternative Wedding Book) helps create a beautiful wedding that reflects true family values and doesn't cost the Earth. It comes in English or in Spanish (Nuestra Boda).

    19-The January-February, 1997, issue of Modern Bride Magazine contained 940 pages! The Alternative Wedding Book offers alternatives to engaged couples, clergy and others... alternatives to the bridal magazines and professional bridal consultants. It encourages couples to use their imaginations as they incorporate their values and family and ethnic traditions in planning meaningful wedding celebrations. It's a practical planning guide with personal stories from people who chose more than the status quo wedding.

    20-The Alternative Wedding Book details ways to sort out what is important to you and make your wedding what you want it to be. It gives guidelines for ceremonies (with eight complete examples) and practical and cost-cutting tips on food, flowers, decorations, photography, clothing, music, location, setting, entertainment, invitations, even choosing rings. The Wedding Timeline/Checklist is a fast and easy way to make sure your plans run smoothly and that everything gets done. The Budget Worksheet will help you save money and time.

    Monday, Feb. 20, 2017--Presidents' Day

    21-What messages about material goods do I get from my church or faith community? Do my closest friends push me toward deeper values, or make it harder to live them out? (from Trek)

    22-New Road Ministries (803/892-2556) offers bereavement seminars and video. The classic Dealing Creatively with Death and numerous children's books dealing with death and grieving are valuable resources. Also natural funerals.

    For more information read

  • Treasury of Celebrations, Part IV, pp. 228-284
  • To Celebrate, pp. 169-218
  • The Alternative Wedding Book
  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 250-264
  • To Celebrate, pp. 191-201
  • Podcast: Rites of Passage + Wedding Alternatives
  • Other February holidays include on Third Monday-President's Day (Washington's Birthday observed) (To Celebrate, p. 95).

     

    What Is "Enough"?

    23-Meditate on the concept of "enough." "Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need." - from Proverbs 30:7-9. "The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little." -II Corinthians 8:15. Do I think a world where everyone has enough is part of God's vision for humankind?

    24-"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?"-from Isaiah 55:1-5. Do I give the people who love me what they most want from me? Am I able to spend the time I need to build special relationships with the people I love?

    25-What is a good balance of "deferred gratification" and "taking no thought for tomorrow?" Will the amount of things I own continue to grow throughout my life, or will I eventually say, "that's enough"? How much do I need to accumulate before I can do what I really want to do? What am I doing now to enjoy life?

    26-Spend an evening with one of your parents, a grandparent or other friend who has retired. Invite them to talk about the choices they have made about how to spend their lives. What choices have brought them the most joy? What do they wish they had done more of?

    27-Do I use the things I own to build walls or bridges between myself and others? What messages do I receive about the need or desirability of "having my own space"? Who gives me those messages? If a fire destroyed my place, who would I ask to give me emergency housing?

    28-Meditate on "hospitality." What is the finest gift I can offer a visitor who comes into my life? When have I been received into someone's home or living space with great hospitality? What did they do to make me feel welcome? Who makes me feel most at ease in his or her presence? How does he or she make me feel at ease?

    29-Leap Year Day. What to do with an extra day? How can I work for just enough without tying myself into knots of guilt and despair?

  • All excerpts from Trek: Venture into the World of Enough. Its companions Earth trek and Parent trek.
  • Also Worth Reading: How Much Is Enough? by Art Simon
  • Welcome to the World of Enough workshop
  • Enough blog
  • Return to Table of Contents


    March

    Global Justice

    Peace and Justice QUOTES

    Hunger & Homelessness

    1-Our language shapes the way we think. Inclusive language opens us to more inclusive lives. Inclusive language may seem a little awkward because it feels new or different, not because it's wrong.

    2-Using inclusive language does not assume that everyone is alike or even equal in abilities. It recognizes that each person has different gifts but that we treat all with respect, not with prejudice. All are of equal value in God's sight.

    3-When we hear the term "politically correct" or "PC," someone may be denigrating inclusive language.

    4-"Sexism," "racism," "ageism" are expressions of prejudice, that we "pre-judge" people by their age, race or gender. We make up our mind about someone before getting to know them. All of these are very real. They combine prejudice and power. We can't escape prejudice but we can catch ourselves, say "Ooops," and instead be open to the person.

    5-Our attitudes about global justice are reinforced by language. We may think of people in developing countries as less than we because of their race or income. We may take a condescending or superior attitude, wanting to help "those poor souls." Instead, let's offer our help, not impose it, like we would want others to offer us help when we're in need. We're all family... the human family.

    6-Beware of media and organizations that spread unconscious and excessive American nationalism, that suggest that Americans are superior than others because of our great wealth and power, that play on our fear of the unknown.

    7-Do we impose titles on people, such as "Mr. and Mrs.," that they have not requested? Do we call people by their first names or diminutives when such may show a lack of respect?

    8-International Women's Day (Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 141-144; To Celebrate, p. 107)

    For more information

  • Treasury of Celebrations, Part I: Making Choices, pp. 14-87.
  • For Worship Items on Hunger
  • Orthodox Lent usually begins in March.

    Hunger and Homelessness (continued)

    homeless

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    9-Front line organizations, such as World Vision, Oxfam, Care, Heifer Project, Self Help, provide direct aid and self-help programs to needy people. Advocacy groups, like Bread for the World, lobby governments to do more for the needy. The U.S. government has access to more resources than do private organizations that depend on contributions. Participate in Bread's OFFERING of LETTERS at your local chapter or congregation or in your home.

    10-Investigate global justice magazines, such as New Internationalist: the People, the Ideas, the Action in the Fight for World Development

    11-Your congregation probably has a Social Ministry Committee. Find out what the members do. Typical projects are direct help, such as serving at the local Soup Kitchen, or education, such as a Social Concerns Fair. Resolve to participate in one project this year.

    12-Your denomination probably has a national or regional hunger office. Contact it, find out what it does and consider giving it a contribution this year. Church World Service (800/456-1310 or ChurchWorldService.org) sponsors the national interfaith CROP Walks each year. Either walk or sponsor a walker this fall. Help start a walk if your community doesn't have one yet.

    13-Worth Reading

  • Sojourners: Faith, Politics and Culture
  • WORLDWATCH produces the influential Vital Signs report and the annual State of the World.
  • Bread for the World (800/822-7323) issues the annual Hunger Report.
  • Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> AboutUs >> Links.
  • 14- Check to see if your city and state have a Human Rights Commission. Make one phone call to find out what they do to confront prejudice. Check the government section in the front of your phone book.

    15-Simplicity is not romanticizing poverty, monks, the Amish or people who struggled through the Great Depression. We only diminish those people's devotion or struggle, and we tend to try to make the journey of discipleship look silly or "for others," unrelated to us, untouchable. Poverty is NOT fun. Two thirds of the world population live in poverty involuntarily. We have a choice.

    16-"Just as you did it to one of the least of these... you did it to me."-from Matthew 25:31-40. What sense of connection with people in need can unlock my compassion and generosity? Was there ever a time when I really didn't have enough money? How did or does that make me feel about people who are wealthier than me? (from Trek)

    homeless

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    Peace/Violence

    17-St. Patrick's Day (To Celebrate, p. 108). Ponder "If you want peace, work for justice." August 6 is Peace Day or Hiroshima Day.

    18-The pursuit of Peace: 12 steps of peacemaking can make your faith more than just talk. 1. Pray for peace and for one another. 2. See faces. 3. Learn names and stories. 4. Take the first step to love. 5. Reach out and touch. 6. Find common ground. 7. Make relationships concrete. 8. Give peace offerings. 9. Learn languages. 10. Eat together. 11. Celebrate together. 12. Stand with those in danger. -Ann Helmke

    19-Does your denomination have a Peace and Justice office? Investigate Fellowship of Reconciliation, an association of religious Peace Fellowships. Call 914/358-4601, ask for a copy of Fellowship Magazine.

    20-Contact Center of Concern: Promoting Global Justice and Peace since 1971 (CoC.org) or Pax Christi (PaxChristiUSA.org) which works for peace for all humankind.

    21-First Day of Spring (Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 145-148; To Celebrate, pp. 108-110). What can you do to reduce street crime? Would you join a brigade to remove gang-related graffiti?

    22-Alternatives offers many resources designed for children or people who work with children (like parents!). We hope to affect children's buying habits early because they are targeted by so many advertisers. A well-intentioned grandmother said, "I like to spoil my grandchildren when they're little. But when they turn ten, I CUT 'EM OFF." We're hoping to be a little more helpful.

    23-Read Alternatives' "War Toys and Christmas: A Contradiction in Terms" and "Organize for Peace: How to Start a Peacemaking Group in Your Church."

    For more information
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 4. Peace & Justice
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Peace & Justice
  • Advocacy/Boycotts

    24-Central America Week.

  • Treasury of Celebrations, p. 141
  • To Celebrate, pp. 110-111
  • 25-Over the years people of faith have used boycotts to reduce poor social practices among businesses, such as Nestle Company's practices in the Developing World. The organizer of that boycott is still at work for other causes - Corporate Accountability International (formerly InFact.org: Challenging Corporate Abuse, Building Grassroots Power, Since 1977). Most denominations have an advocacy office. Contact yours and find out what they do. Alternatives' "Reaching Out Through the Media" helps promote events and causes.

    26-Small, every day protests can be effective. Businesses listen to buyers. Most want to avoid controversy. Most want to do business quietly as usual, even if some results are harmful or wasteful... as long as they're profitable. The strongest way to challenge such businesses occurs when we might diminish their "bottom line." Change to a different maker of a similar product that is less wasteful. Then write a letter explaining your concern or join an organized boycott to make sure that the egregious company gets the point.

    27-Assertive folks buy one share of an offending company's stock, file shareholder resolutions, attend the annual meeting and verbally protest the company's policies.

    28-NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE -- To find out what boycotts are currently in effect, get Green America's Boycott Action News, (800/58-GREEN or GreenAmerica.org). It gives names, addresses and phone numbers of the organizers and the targets, and the reasons for the boycott.

    29-An organization like WorkingAssets.com/CREDO (800/548-2567) provides long distance, credit card and investment services and is an advocate for change. Their profits go to a wide variety of grassroots organizations, voted on by the customers annually.

    30-Find out who your local, state and national government representatives are. Your local library or League of Women Voters can provide a list of names, addresses, phone and e-mail. Write at least one letter expressing your support for laws (and lawmakers!) that protect the environment, not degrade it. You can also call your senators' and representative's office in your part of the state. Check directory assistance.

    31-Government officials are influenced by hand written letters instead of signed form letters or "petitions." Most organizations will supply a sample letter on an issue that you want to address. You can then word it in your own style. Address your letter to: Senator ___, United States Senate, Washington, DC 20510; Representative ___, House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515. Or call the Capitol switchboard (202/244-3121) to talk with your members of Congress or to get their FAX numbers or e-mail addresses. Close a letter with "Please let me hear from you on this issue." Most will respond, at least with a form letter presenting their position.

    Return to Table of Contents


    April

    Earth Care

    Care of Creation QUOTES

    Voluntary Simplicity Life Principle #5: Cherish the Natural Order

    Nature

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity: Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice
    More ART

    Water

    1 - Read the Story of the Creation in Genesis chapters 1 & 2. Reflect on 'And Lord God put the human in the Garden of Eden to take care of it.' -Genesis 2:15.

    2 - Our water is both precious and finite. While water covers 3/4 of the Earth's surface, 97.4% is salt water; 1.8% is frozen; only 0.8% is fresh water. Let's challenge the wasting and poisoning of our water supply. Over 1.5 billion people lack safe drinking water. Here's an invitation to conserve!

    3 -Turn the water off when not needed while washing hands, shaving, brushing teeth. Washing hands with tap running constantly takes two gallons; only one with the tap off and on. Shaving, tap on, 20 gallons; tap off, only one; brushing teeth, tap on, 10; tap off, only 1/2!

    4 - How much water would I use each day if I had to pump or carry it by hand? (from Trek) Normal toilet flushing uses 5-7 gallons. Fill a small milk jug and put it in the tank. Better yet, install an efficient toilet that uses fewer than 2 gallons.

    5 - A small leak from a faucet can waste 50 gallons of water per day. Fix leaky faucets. When using public facilities, report drips to the proper authorities. Ask why automatic sprinklers are running in the rain. Why do we water the street? When appropriate, recommend a drip system instead of sprinklers for lawn and garden.

    6 - The average washing machine uses 40 gallons per load. Can you wash fewer loads each week? Review your rationale for washing. Is it based on global solidarity, health considerations or advertising? "Sparkling clean" sells more soap but might do nothing for our health.

    7 - Take only the number of showers you really need. Try one fewer this week. Need a shower to wake up? Wash your face instead. Install low flow shower heads. A regular shower uses 25 gallons; tub bath, 36. But a wet-down, soap-up, rinse-off shower uses only about four gallons! Turn off the water while soaping.

    8 - It takes 1000 gallons of water to produce one pound of aluminum. If your state does not have a deposit on beverage containers, petition your state representatives to require it. Reduce or cease using aluminum cans altogether. Both producing and recycling aluminum are financially and ecologically costly.

    SLW! blog: Toting My Water

    cc

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    Holidays that usually fall in April:
  • Ramadan
  • Second Week before Mother's Day-National Farm Worker Week
  • Holy Week (week before Easter), including Palm/Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday (Resurrection of Jesus)
  • First Day of Passover
  • Orthodox Easter
  • April is Financial Literacy Month

    Learn more about these holidays in Treasury of Celebrations and To Celebrate.

    cc

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    Energy

    9 - At church, home or office heat only the part of the building you are using, not the whole thing, with high efficiency space heaters.

    10 - Set thermostats no higher than 68F in the winter and no lower than 78F in the summer. Dress appropriately. Style is no excuse to waste energy! Layers of clothing can be put on or taken off to keep comfy. Use the body's natural heating and cooling systems.

    11 - Consider using spot lighting rather than general lighting. Convert incandescent bulbs to fluorescent or other high efficiency bulbs. Turn off incandescent lights whenever not in use; turn off fluorescent lights if you do not expect to return within an hour.

    12 - Wash the dishes by hand today; get somebody to help; tell jokes. Hang the clothes out to dry this week. Inquire about an energy audit from your local utility.

    13 - Plan recreation that gives physical exercise and/or builds relationships but uses little fuel or other nonrenewable resources. Take only short trips or carpool, walk, bike or use public transit.

    14 - Turn your water heater thermostat down to no higher than 120F. After heating and air conditioning, the water heater is usually the biggest user of energy in a house. Wrapping it in a thermal blanket will increase it's insulation and your savings.

    15 - Worth Reading - Creation Care Capsules and Eco-Justice Notes

    16 - Read the Story of Noah in Genesis 6-9:17. Reflect on 6:19-22 and 9:8-17. God does not want the Earth harmed.

    For more information

  • Living More with Less,pp. 43-50.
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 5. Care of Creation
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Care of Creation
  • Eco-sermon
  • EarthApple

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity: Care of Creation

    Chemicals & Waste

    17 - Reflect on the implications of the Prophet. "Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?" - Ezekiel 34:18

    18 - Reduce the use of make-up by at least 10%. Let your natural beauty shine! Be aware of the pressure on women to conform to "Madison Avenue's" standard of appearance. Read labels. If you must use make-up, only use brands not tested on animals.

    19 - Reduce the use of chemicals for cleaning. Then use only biodegradable, "green" products. Are our standards based on health or appearance? Can our Earth afford the "whitest white"?

    20 - Reduce chemicals on your lawn and garden. Consider a low-maintenance lawn (like Buffalo grass) that requires less water and mowing. Reduce lawn mowing by at least 10%. An average gas mower cutting an average American lawn pollutes as much as a 300 mile car trip.

    21 - The first R is the most important... and hardest for Americans... REDUCE. That's what Simple Living is about. As important as recycling is, it is not an excuse for waste. It's more important to REDUCE consumption and waste.

    22 - Earth Day. The Earth belongs to God and therefore cannot be held perpetually. -Leviticus 25:23

    23 - How can I learn to say joyfully, "Here. Take this. It is the best that I have." When have I most joyfully given to someone in need? What allowed me to give so joyfully? (from Trek)

    24 - E the Environmental Magazine is a bimonthly, independent publication that works to inspire people to educate themselves on issues in order to take action to effect change personally and/or politically. Visit EMagazine.com

    LordForgive

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    Consumables

    25 - Think of the implications for the Creation of John 3:16-21 - "For God so loved the world..." People, animals, plants, all Creation.

    26 - Use cloth napkins. Throw a paper napkin away only after it's completely used.

    27 - Share at least one newspaper or magazine subscription with a friend or neighbor or read it at the office or the library. Renew subscriptions based on need, not out of habit. It takes 17 trees to make one ton of paper from non-recycled sources. It takes about 280 gallons of water to produce one large Sunday paper (after the trees are grown).

    28 - Recycle paper, metal, glass, etc. Set up properly marked bins at home, church, work, school. Volunteer to help get the materials to the recycling center. If your community does not have curb-side pick up of recyclables, petition City Council to start it, even if it means an additional fee or tax.

    Arbor Day (last Friday).

    29 - Take your own mugs, plates and silver if you go to a fast food restaurant. Use them instead of disposable cups and plates. Keep these items handy in your car or on your bike. Make a list of other disposables to avoid.

    30 - Avoid toys and products that use batteries. When batteries are unavoidable, use only rechargeable batteries.

    For more information

  • Living Simply and Loving It audio
  • Return to Table of Contents


    May

    May 1-7-- Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff Week and Digital DeTox Week, the last week in April) from the Center for Screen-Time Awareness. Escape the Fantasy - Get Real! No more radiation, laugh tracks or gratuitous violence. And once you try real life, you may never want to go back to the simulated variety again. Visit ScreenFree.org

    Care of Creation QUOTES

    Earth Care - The 4 R's

    ReDuce

    1- Ponder: "There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less." - G.K. Chesterton

    2 - During a family or community meeting ask, "Are we committed to work through this calendar together? What is our 'comfort level' in reducing consumption? (10%?) How far are we willing to stretch? How do our faith and church help us or hinder us to make a commitment to God's Creation?"

    3 - Conduct a Personal Environmental Audit. How much waste do I produce? How much of how many resources do I waste? How do I overconsume? Make a list. Add to it as you go. For help, try Better World Handbook .

    4 - So many positive changes are possible. Don't try to do them all at once. Start now, even if you're unsure of the result. Getting started is what's important. As we succeed, we're more open to doing something new. Take this pledge or write your own. "For the sake of myself, of others and of God's Creation, I pledge to learn about my overconsumption and to do what I can to curb it."

    5 - Cinco de Mayo (Mexican independence day)

    6 - Evangelical Environmental Network produces Creation Care Magazine and has issued several books. It encourages small groups and conducts service projects. Visit CreationCare.org. Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation conducts a series of explorations of nature (weekend seminars) and other activities. Visit EcoStewards.org/rcfc.

    7 - Until my son graduated from high school he had not been able to save money. Despite all of our modeling of frugal behavior, he spent it as fast as he made it. Then he said, "Ya know, Dad, if I don't spend so much money, I don't have to make so much money."

    8 - We hope that our children will not succumb to the pressures of overconsumption that most call success. There are two ways to have the money we need. We can earn more, or we can spend less. Voluntary Simplicity says we'll have more time and energy for what really counts - for God and for the people in our lives - if we choose to spend less on things we really don't need.

    Other May holidays include:

  • 1st-May Day (To Celebrate, pp.115)
  • Ascension Day
  • Shavuot (To Celebrate, p. 116)
  • Day of Pentecost (coming of the Holy Spirit)

    Pentecost

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    ReUse

    9-ReUsing means to use something over again. RePurpose: use it again in a different way. ReFuse single-use consumableslike styrofoam cups. Use things that can be repaired. That's not easy because so many thing are designed to break. It's called "planned obsolescence." We can buy tools and appliances and shoes that can be repaired but we need to do our homework to find them. It's not convenient.

    10-Most denominations have an office dealing with Creation Stewardship or Eco-Justice. Contact yours, or Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI.org).

    11-Educate yourself a bit about the subtle but powerful forces working against Earth. Petition state and national governments to require "full pricing" of goods. Full pricing includes the environmental impact of the making and disposing of goods.

    12-Help reduce pollution. For example, learn about the detrimental effects of golf courses. In Hawaii the runoff from the rapid growth of golf courses for tourism is killing fish and making many residents sick.

    13-"If riches increase, set not your heart on them."-Psalm 62:10. "Those who trust in their riches will wither."-Proverbs. 11:28. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth." -Matthew 6:21, 19. The biblical injunctions against exploitation of the poor and the accumulation of wealth are clear and straightforward. The Bible challenges nearly every economic value of contemporary society.

    14-Some European countries require manufacturers to be responsible for the final disposition of their products. That should make manufacturers a lot more concerned about how the product is built, repaired and recycled. Petition government to make the manufacturers here responsible for an item after it's been used.

    15-Put a bucket in your shower to catch the cold water while you're waiting for the hot. How many relatively easy uses can you think of for the water in the bucket besides watering your indoor plants?

    16-"Do not damage the Earth or the sea or the trees." Revelation 7:3.

    Other May holidays include on the Second Sunday- Mother's Day (Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 158-164; To Celebrate, pp. 116-122).

    ReCycle

    17-Recycling means making something new out of something that's already been used. We recycle glass, paper and metal. We drop a can in the bin and carry the bin to the curb on recycle day. That's a start. But that's really the easiest and least necessary part of the whole cycle.

    18-Even more important is pre-cycling - evaluating a product before buying it to make sure it is environmentally sound. Reduce the need for recycling. Avoid products that use excess packaging. Let manufacturers know you care. Chide the wasteful ones. Praise the helpful ones. Go shopping with a cloth bag. If you forget, request a paper bag and later use it to line your trash can. Decline plastic bags. Reuse all bags.

    19-Then close the loop... buy products made of recycled materials, such as plastic lumber. It does little good to recycle if we don't then buy the products we use made of recycled materials. Recycling is not an excuse to keep on overconsuming as long as we recycle. Buy only the paper products you really need. It may for the time being cost a bit more to buy and use recycled paper. Sometimes it costs more to do what's right. Can we afford not to care for the Earth?

    20-If a solicitation arrives that does not contain the recycled paper logo, send it back in the postpaid return envelope with a protest letter.

    21-Worth Investigating

  • Forum on Religion and Ecology. Visit ReligionAndEcology.org
  • Earth Island Journal from Earth Island Institute. Visit EarthIsland.org
  • Earthkeeping News from North American Coalition for Christianity and Ecology. Visit nacce.org.

    22-We get so much junk mail, phone calls and email. To prevent your name, address and home phone number from being used for direct mail or telemarketing purposes, register free of charge with the Direct Marketing Association's Telephone Preference Service, PO Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014. For more information visit NewDream.org, click on Junk Mail..

    23-"The Earth is the Lord's and all that is in it."-from Psalm 24:1-6. Contemplate a flower very closely. Notice the detail. Watch a sunset long enough to see it slowly evolve. Be in awe of Nature. But beware of "Bambi Talk," thinking and speaking of animals as "cute." The balance of nature is held by life and death competition among animals and plants. All creation deserves respect. Beware of cartoons that trivialize animals and nature, and of animal-based fads that sell more comic books, clothing and other stuff. Mammals, fish, birds and insects are not humans and need to be respected for their place in God's Creation.

    24-TargetEarth.org has developed a rainforest conference center in Belize. With the mission "Serving the Earth, Serving the Poor," CEA has service opportunities in 15 countries; a full semester academic program; a retreat center in the Sierras; and field stations in Zimbabwe, Brazil and the U.S. Its Eden Conservancy buys endangered lands.

    ReStore

    25-Do you get "Living on Earth" on your local public radio station? If so, tune in or subscribe to the podcast. Visit LoE.org. If not, petition the local manager to carry it and help find an "underwriter" to fund the broadcast.

    26-Restoring... remember what grandmother says, "You got it out. You put it back!" The most common example is trees. But this also relates to sustainable agriculture... putting natural, not synthetic nutrients back in the soil. Restoring helps make up for past mistakes but never should be used as a reason to make future ones. And some resources cannot be restored, like oil and topsoil.

    27-"A tree farm is not a forest." A forest is an eco-system with animals and insects. A tree farm is a place to produce a crop to make more paper, building materials, furniture, etc. Tree farms may be necessary but are not an excuse for de-forestation or clear-cutting.

    28-At a population of 265 million, Americans constitute about 4.7% of the current world population, yet are responsible for 30% of the total global resource consumption. We have earned ourselves the dubious distinction of becoming the most over populated nation on the planet. Over population is determined not by the number of people, but by the degree to which a population is out of balance with the environment. [Continued]

    29-If we do not change, the 567 million people projected to be born in the US in the 1990s will cause more environmental degradation than the 915 million projected to be born in the global South during the same period. Do we have the right to do that? -John Leon Fish

    30-What does Jesus' cleansing of the temple tell us about our role as disciples? He was upsetting the status quo. Shall we be about the actual cleansing of God's Creation? Has it become a den of thieves? How can we prevent it from continually being corrupted by pollution and greed? Are we willing to deal with the resistance to change from the polluters? Look to 350.org for support.

    31-EarthMinistry.org produces Earth Letter, its "mini-Journal of Christian environmental spirituality" and a variety of programs, workshops and resource materials. It's mission is to engage, educate and inspire individuals and congregations to deepen our relationship with creation and with the God of creation.

    Other May holidays include on the Last Monday-Memorial Day (Treasury of Celebrations, p. 164-166; To Celebrate, pp. 122-124; bulletin inserts).

    Justice

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    June

    Alternative Giving

    Alternative Giving QUOTES | More Alternative Giving Resources

    Contributions

    1-Reflect. Substitute the word "stuff" for money. "No one can serve two masters... You cannot serve God and wealth."-Matthew 6:24 (also Luke 16:13)

    2-Confused by all the requests for money? Call your denominational office or consider a clearinghouse like IPM -- International Partners in Mission: An ecumenical ministry for justice and hope -- that focuses on small, grassroots efforts around the world (ipmconnect.org). They do the homework. You choose the organizations you prefer or let them choose.

    3-Most groups now have foundations or endowments that receive tax-deductible gifts while you're living or after you've died. Check with your denomination. Consider bequests in your will for your congregation, for your denomination and for other worthy organizations.

    4-Some credit cards give you "cash back," some charge no annual fee, others have lower interest. The best ones give a percentage of your purchases to charity. Many environmental groups offer these "conscience cards." We use GreenAmerica.org VISA. Read Lee's blog 'A Credit Card That Does NOT Use a Mega-Bank.'

    5-Most of us use some criteria to decide who and what to support. Several national magazines investigate non-profits and then publish lists of "worthwhile charities." CharityNavigator.org rates thousands of charities according to effectiveness and lists the salaries of the executives.

    6-Investigate FaithAndMoneyNetwork.org (formerly Ministry of Money): Discipleship, Compassion, Stewardship, which offers "Developing World pilgrimages," leads workshops and publishes a newsletter. Also, "More Than Money" quarterly from the non-profit Impact Project explores the personal, political and spiritual impact of wealth in our lives (MoreThanMoney.org).

    7-Development Funds allow you to decide how much of the return you keep and how much provides credits and small business assistance to poor microentrepreneurs throughout the world. Community Loan Funds provide a low but stable return and support small businesses.

    8-"One's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions."-from Luke 12:13-34. What do I own that is not necessary for the activities I find most meaningful? What would I do with my free time if I only had to spend half as much time working? [Trek]

    For more information read Treasury of Celebrations, Part II: Gifts, pp. 88-126.

    To obtain materials on Alternative Gift Markets, see To Celebrate, pp. 44-46.

    For a list of agencies you may wish to contact for more information on a specific area of concern or for the purpose of making a charitable donation, see

  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 285-288
  • To Celebrate, pp. 223-224
  • Giving Calendar

    Volunteering

    9-Reflect. "For the love of money is root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains." -1 Timothy 6:6-10.

    Justice

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    10-Many denominations have a volunteer youth corps, placing high school and college graduates into places of need for one or two years. The U.S. government's Peace Corps (overseas assignments) and VISTA program (Volunteers in Service to America-stateside placement) do not restrict by age.

    11-Most service agencies (like Lutheran Social Service or Catholic Charities) and service clubs (like Lions) welcome and need volunteers. Over 250 fraternal organizations, such as Thrivent Financial Services, plow their profits back into our communities and congregations by giving challenge grants and encouraging volunteerism.

    12-NGO's - "non-government organizations" (like Red Cross) - can be very effective in meeting social needs. Some, like Habitat for Humanity, are heavily volunteer driven. Some, like Big Brothers and Sisters, are very personal and one-on-one.

    13-Learn how to say NO, THANKS. Most volunteer work is meaningful. But most organizations will ask for more and more. We have to set our own limits.

    14-Flag Day

    15-When the neighbor child comes to the door selling posters or overpriced holiday wrap, send a contribution directly to the person in charge at the school or church. That way, your contribution supports the program (not just a fraction of it after the fundraising company has its cut) and is tax deductible. Express your concern to the PTA or official that business interests may be taking advantage of the kids. Offer to help raise funds another way.

    16-Fundraising items that are useful and carry a message are available from Earth Care. Their program for children includes environmentally friendly products... greeting cards and wrapping paper made of recycled paper at a discount, such as Northern Sun, Jim Morris T-shirts, EarthShirtz and Social T's.

    More Alternative Giving

    17-Reflect. "Keep your lives from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.'"-Hebrews 13:5

    18-Translate your environmental tithe into cash. How much money have you saved so far by conserving resources? Give that amount to an environmental organization, preferably a grass roots Christian one.

    19-Jesus washed others' feet and instituted the Great Meal as symbols of community. As a national community, our extravagant lives impact negatively on people around the globe. Besides prayer and almsgiving, what other ways can we work for Eco-Justice?

    20-Consider "giving of ourselves" by volunteering time for groups that help the truly needy... tree planting, public education/information, protest letters and boycotts of polluters, lobbying governments, restoring housing, developing rooftop and community gardens. "Giving of ourselves" includes our special skills, like writing, carpentry, sewing, making music. What activity has little or no value in our lives? TV? Movies? Could we reduce some entertainment to allow more time for volunteering?

    21-First Day of Summer (Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 166-170; To Celebrate, pp. 124-129). "God loves a cheerful giver." -2 Corinthians 9:7. Jesus calls all who would follow him to a joyful life of carefree unconcern for possessions: "Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you."-Matthew 5:42

    22-Jesus experienced a slow and painful death for our sakes. The possibilities for new relationship with God and others that he invites us to can be lived out NOW with Creation. Pledge to help bring about reduction in the negative environmental impact of our companies, churches or schools.

    23-Jesus went through hell for our sakes. Are we willing to follow his example? Take personal responsibility for breaking the cycle of addiction to overconsumption. Pledge to raise your children in an environmentally sensitive way and to set a good example for them.

    24-Alternatives' gift card & envelope "We Honor Christ's Birth by Continuing His Work" helps when we give gifts in other peoples' names. Check with them before giving or give to groups they already support or have said they would like to support.

    25-At the mid-point of the year, do you feel more free from the burdens of "stuff" separating us from others, from God, from ourselves? How many of the ideas were you able to try? Seriously. How many can you continue? How can we share our experience with others in a friendly, non-judgmental way? We can be living testimonials to a simpler, more God-pleasing life.

    For more information
  • SLW! Blog: One Way to Solve Our Beggar Dilemma
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 6. Alternative Giving
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Alternative Giving
  • Other June holidays include on the Third Sunday-Father's Day (Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 158-164; To Celebrate, pp. 116-122)

    Planning Alternative Christmas Events

    26-Many churches and groups organize Alternative Christmas events in the fall. Alternatives' How to Organize an Alternative Christmas Community Festival (also in To Celebrate, pp. 44-46) and Planning an Alternative Christmas Workshop might help. The three basic plans can be used singly or combined.

    #1. Offer information about worthwhile organizations and encourage people to give a monetary gift in someone else's name. Most people consider it an honor to receive a "gift" that makes a difference. Contact Alternative Gifts International (800/842-2243 or AltGifts.org)

    27-#2. Sell to or give to others crafts and clothing from artisans of non-industrial countries. Your family and friends get beautiful gifts at reasonable prices. Developing World artisans get a fair price for their work since volunteer fairs and shops don't take a large share. Contact: SERRV International (SERRV.org); Ten Thousand Villages (TenThousandVillages.com); Friends of the Third World (FriendsOfTheThirdWorld.org) and Sharing the Dream (SharingTheDream.org).

    28-#3. Organize an Alternative Christmas Workshop at your church. Several churches might work together. Go beyond gift-giving to the purpose of celebrating Christmas. Give people other ways to celebrate. Use support materials like Unplug the Christmas Machine and Leader's Guide to Unplug the Christmas Machine Workshop, also in audio. (See December.)

    29-To shop by mail for Developing World Crafts, contact those on June 27th and read The Conscious Consumer: Promoting Economic Justice Through Fair Trade from Fair Trade Resource Network. Also see Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 285-286; To Celebrate, pp., 219-223.

    30-Heifer Project International (Heifer.org) provides livestock and training to needy families in 100+ countries. Their Gift Catalog offers clothing and crafts. Their World Ark receives gifts in others' names.

    Return to Table of Contents


    July

    Economics QUOTES

    Money & Goods

    Green Business

    1-Meditate on the many kinds of abundance in life. "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."-from John 10:7-18. "The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy."-from Psalm 65. "The mountains and the hills before you shall burst forth into song."-from Isaiah 55:6-13

    2-A Green Business is a company that strives to make a profit while making the Earth and its people a top priority. It takes responsibility for the short- and long-term effects of its products. It may have a Code of Ethics like the Ceres Principles.

    3-One of the best sources for information about Green Business is Green America's (formerly Co-op America) National Green Pages: A Directory of Products and Services for People and the Planet. Discover thousands of socially and environmentally responsible businesses. Find hundreds of tips to save you money, improve your life and protect the planet. Meet the green businesses that are rewriting the rules of commerce... and succeeding. Call 800/58-GREEN or visit GreenAmerica.org. A Green America membership includes a very worthwhile journal.

    4-Independence Day. Immigrants? Refugees? Illegal aliens? Celebrate the Fouth by welcoming strangers.

  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 170-172
  • To Celebrate, pp. 133-136
  • Bulletin Inserts

    5-Are garage sales a good thing? Signs of frugality? Promoting reusing? Sharing good stuff with folks who can't afford new stuff? A good fund-raiser for worthwhile groups? What is the intent? To simplify our lives or just to clear out a bunch of stuff we're tired of so we can load up on what's new and exciting?

    6-Is it better to buy in quantity at warehouse markets for economic stewardship, or to support the local small business? Yes. We wrestle. Living more simply is not simple.

    7-Worth investigating - The E. F. Schumacher Society (SchumacherCenterForANewEconomics.org) promotes the ideas of Schumacher's classic Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered and implements those ideas in practical programs that link economics, ecology and culture.

    8-"One's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions."-from Luke 12:13-34. What do I own that is not necessary for the activities I find most meaningful? What would I do with my free time if I only had to spend half as much time working? (from Trek)

    For more information read Living More with Less, pp., 73-98 (Money).

    Green Investing

    9-When investing, be aware that some mutual fund companies, families of mutual funds, insurance companies and other investment companies have "green" funds, "socially responsible funds" or at least "social screens." These screens are criteria that companies must meet before the investing company will invest.

    10-The most common screens are no tobacco, alcohol or armaments. Other screens deal with hiring practices, employee conditions, etc. Some companies announce their screens to attract investors. Other companies keep their screens quiet not to scare investors away.

    11-Many people feel that the only thing that matters is the financial return, not their consciences. They fear that such screens will mean lower returns. The irony is that companies with screens have been keeping up with and in some cases out-performing those that have none! Socially responsible investing may also be profitable.

    July 11-World Population Day

    12-The number of green funds and families of funds is increasing. Some of the oldest and best known are Pax, Calvert, Working Assets and Parnassus. You can deal with these funds directly.

    13-One of the best sources for information on green investing is Greenmoney Journal: Socially & Environmentally Responsible Business, Investing and Consumer Resources (GreenMoneyJournal.com).

    14-More resources - The Clean Yield: Principles and Profits Working Together (CleanYield.com); NCFE (National Center for Financial Education, NCFE.org); and The Pocket Change Investor (available free online at a href="http://www.goodadvicepress.com/pci.htm"> Good Advice Press.

    15-To pay less income tax, keep your taxable income as low as possible and give away as much as possible. Some taxes can be sheltered or delayed. The income is not claimed until retirement when, supposedly, your income (and tax bracket) is lower.

    16-Saving for retirement? Security is more than money. In old age, friends, family and faith provide comfort. Network now! Put relationships in your account, not just funds.

    Green Products

    17-The tenth commandment is against covetousness, the inner lust to have, which leads to stealing and oppression. Might the 11th Commandment be: Thou Shalt Not Tempt Thy Neighbor. What can we do to discourage coveting, such as not buying, wearing or displaying expensive things?

    18-Seventh Generation: Products for a Healthy Planet (SeventhGeneration.com, 800/456-1177) is based on the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."

    19-The X Generation, the 13th Generation, may be the first generation in America's history not to have more prosperity than the preceding generation. X'ers may not have the disposable income to buy and consume and... Maybe they're lucky! Maybe they won't have all the temptations that recent generations have had... the peer pressure to be the best, to spend the most, to conquer the world. (Continued)

    20-This seems to be a generation ripe for Voluntary Simplicity. The less they spend, the less they have to make. And THEY'RE STILL OK! They're no less important than the spendthrifts who preceded us. In fact, they have an even greater chance to do something really important because they won't be burdened with all that stuff. They have great prospects... and hopefully less baggage.

    21-Simple Living Network sponsors a range of resources, including on-line communities at SimpleLivingForum.net.

    22-Beware of collections. The appeal, the "beauty" of collections is that we pay for the items but never use them. Collecting is an additional source of income for manufacturers. Collectors bought over $30 million of the Elvis Stamp from Post Office Philatelic stores for collections, not to deliver mail. (Continued)

    23-Collectors hope that an item's value will increase in the future. It may... to other collectors! As long as we perpetuate the myth that rarity gives worth, collectors are safe. Baseball cards, comic books... without the need to possess, even if the item has virtually no intrinsic value, the system falls. Collecting gives false security... financial and psychological.

    24-Non-conforming freely may happen both privately and publicly. Consider some non-mainstream media. Investigate Simple Living; YES!: A Journal of Positive Futures; Center for a New American Dream at NewDream.org or PODCASTS.

    Personal Finance, Credit & Debt

    25-Use credit cards wisely. Have only one. Use it only for purchases that you can pay off at the end of the month. Then do it! Be aware that credit cards vary in annual fees, monthly interest, late charges. Preferably, use a debit card, which takes money from your account.

    cc

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Worship Alternatives: Art
    More ART

    26- For long term debt, such as a home mortgage or car purchase, consider your options. The first is always "don't go into debt." Find a simpler house, a simpler car. Consider borrowing from relatives or from yourself (such as cash value in a life insurance policy). Never use a credit card.

    27-Avoid credit card cash advances. They have no grace period. Interest begins accruing immediately. Credit card "checks" are a form of the dreaded cash advance.

    28-Beware of credit card promotions! One huge credit card processor proclaims "Simplify your life in the New Year!... Consolidate your holiday bills... It's definitely time for a break - from high interest, from holiday bills, from seasonal stress - from the everyday. Get the break you deserve.... With fewer bills to pay, you could end up with extra time and money on hand each month." Except for short-term "promotional rates," their typical account pays over 17% interest. Then came a notice that, among other increases, the late payment fee increased from $10 to $20!

    29 - Debt is the companion - the Enforcer - of the addiction of overconsumption. Debt is a monster, a mobster that would control your life! Avoid debt by controlling consumption.

    30-Saving for kids' college education? Spend time with them now, help them develop. Then don't pressure them to be a part of a "get-ahead" system that may leave them stressed out and in debt.

    31- Consider barter, community loans, exchanging services and goods, prepaying your mortgage to free up cash, and even alternative currencies like that in Ithaca, NY.

    For more information
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 7. Economics
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Economics
  • April is Financial Literacy Month

    Return to Table of Contents


    August

    Personal Choices, Happiness, Fulfillment

    Sustenance QUOTES || ART

    Work, Stress & Health

    1-Several paths lead to Voluntary Simplicity. In secular "downshifting" one may take a different job with a smaller income and less stress. Then move into a smaller house in a rural area, grow some vegetables, gain control of credit cards and pay off debts. That's downshifting to increase personal happiness.

    2-Christians try to live more simply for some of the same reasons. But there's more... to be in touch with God and to help others. Simplicity is a way of life of integrity, living as a disciple of Jesus, walking our talk.

    3-"Be still and know that I am God!"-Psalm 46:10. Take a few minutes each day for meditation and prayer, with or without devotional material. Be silent, be still, be open to what God may be telling you.

    4-Here's something so many can agree on! So many issues keep people apart. Here at Simple Living Works! we hear from many different people - all excited, or relieved, or cautious but interested - that there really is a group working on the over commercialization of Christmas. Thank you to all the editors of magazines and so many others who have helped us get out the good news of Simple Living! Encourage your editor to run an article about Alternatives.

    5-Moderate the Work Ethic. Learn how it so permeates our thinking and interaction with others, especially our children. It can be a killer!

    stress

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    6-Peace Day/Hiroshima Day

  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 172-174
  • To Celebrate, pp. 136-139
  • Use Gifts of Peace Packet.
  • How to Fold a Paper Peace Crane
  • 7-Let's listen to our bodies and minds. Don't ignore mental, physical or spiritual symptoms. Pain means something. Years of stress may be stored up before symptoms appear. And then WHAM! Reduce stress by exercise and verbalization of feelings. Physical activity alone is not enough. Speak out loud, even if to yourself, while exercising.

    8-Working ten hour days and feeling really productive? Or feeling accused or "not good enough"? It's all stress. The body doesn't distinguish between "positive" and "negative" stress. We can't eliminate stress. We can moderate it. Learn the basic techniques of massage. Find a partner who can give a decent back rub.

    Support

    9-Living more simply can be lonely. Others in our families, in our church, in our social circle may think we're weird. Find another Simple Liver. Maybe start a support group or study circle. This site has guidelines and recommendations of several excellent study guides.

    10-Simple Livers connect for support... by social media, mail, phone, e-mail, face-to-face through the Simpler Living Community Network. Visit SimplerLivingWorks.org >> Volunteers.

    11-There's a great hunger for help with simplifying. If you could speak about Voluntary Simplicity or if your group wants a presentation or display, contact lifestyle ministry of your denominational hunger program. Check out the emphasis of your denominational Women's Organization.

    12-For information on living in community with others, consider Communities magazine - Life in Cooperative Culture. Hear SLW! podcast episode 49 with Fellowship for Intentional Community

    13-7 Golden Rules for Good Health - 1. Eat breakfast. 2. Eat nutritious snacks moderately or not at all. 3. Get seven to eight hours of sleep per day regularly. 4. Maintain ideal weight. 5. Exercise aerobically at least three times per week. 6. Use alcohol in moderation or not at all. 7. Don't smoke.

    14-Simplify-organize-delegate - in that order! -from Simply Organized.

    15-"Time is NOT money" - Doris Janzen Longacre. Many programs about time management and organizing our lives urge us to get the most out of every minute. Why? Who's telling us that we must continually strive to do more, work faster, get better organized, be the best? Those "values" drive us to be "successes," to make lots of money, regardless of the effect on family and Creation. Christian discipleship calls us to make good use of God's gifts, to be stewards of Creation, to put relationships above buying, maintaining and protecting more stuff.

    16-We may need to be better organized and to make better use of our time to benefit others and ourselves. But why? If it's to acquire and consume more things, it's bound to be disappointing. Meaning comes from relationships with God and other people, not from stuff.

    For more information

  • Living More with Less, pp. 140-171 (Homekeeping); pp. 269-288 (Strengthening Each Other).
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 9. Sustenance
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Sustenance
  • Transportation & Travel

    17-Many organizations offer educational tours to learn first hand about economic and social conditions in developing countries. Contact your denomination's office of Global Mission or the Center for Global Education at http://www.augsburg.edu/global/. Consider Trips of Perspective offered by Faith and Money Network or Delegations to Southern Mexico with Jubilee OneEarth Economics

    18-Practice "Eco-Tourism." Take the Earth, the ecology, into account when traveling... the people, plants, animals, terrain, air and water. Step out of the "bubble" that most Americans travel in. Shed expectations about food, language, etc. Investigate TransitionsAbroad.com: The Guide to Learning, Living and Working Overseas.

    19-Small groups, big adventures with Intrepid Travel

    CLOSED--Forum Travel International (ForumInternational.com), a leader in eco-tourism, offers over 1200 trips in 135 different countries worldwide. Developed over the last 30 years with concerns for the environment and the socio-cultural effects of tourism, packages are crafted to the travelers' time and budget. Naturalist-guides ensure that you experience the natural and cultural diversity and richness of your destination.

    20-What price am I willing to pay to swim against the tide? What am I able to do while riding the bus that I cannot do while driving a car? What feelings do I have as I ride the bus? Investigate modes of alternative transportation.

    21-A Creation Awareness Center (Green Congregation Program) is your church building, grounds, programs and people. A church that becomes a Creation Awareness Center makes the celebration and care of the Earth a dimension of its total ministry! Visit WebOfCreation.org.

    22-Care of the Earth is highlighted in worship. Adult and Sunday School classes are offered on environmental issues. Members are encourage to reduce, reuse, recycle and restore. Area environmental concerns are discussed and acted upon. Church building and grounds are kept up to reflect energy efficiency and environmental concern. And, in many other ways, church members are encouraged and empowered to act as caretakers of God's Earth in the church, their homes, the community and the world.

    23-Your congregation becomes a Creation Awareness Center by: A. Assessing your church's current involvement in Earthkeeping, B. Sending interested representatives to meetings to explore with resource persons and with each other about how we can make this vision come true, C. Creating a priority in church for celebrating God's ongoing creation, and for making environmental concerns an important part of our ministry, D. Working on areas within the church building and the life of the congregation that need improvement, E. Reviewing the environmental assessment again to measure progress and to point up needs.

    24-When planning a public event - a worship service, a concert, a meeting, a convention - follow environmental guidelines so that your event is a witness to care of Creation. And say so, for example, using the recycled logo on the event program.

    For more information

  • Living More with Less, Transportation and Travel, pp. 172-187
  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 167-170
  • To Celebrate, pp. 126-129
  • Homes & Buildings: Construction, Energy Generating, Appliances

    25-When some folks retire, they build a new, larger house, "just in case the kids come to visit." When others retire it's to show the world what status they have achieved during their working years. Ask, "How much space can we justify taking up now that we're alone?" Then downsize! Isn't it cheaper and MORE JUST to pay for motel rooms when the kids come than to maintain a palace for those few visits?

    26-Women's Equality Day (To Celebrate, p. 140). In the United States, August 26th, Women's Equality Day, marks the anniversary of women's right to vote, won in 1920. International Women's Day, a day to honor women, is celebrated throughout the world. Set on March 8, the day commemorates a march of women garment and textile workers in New York City in 1857.

    27-When considering renovating, building new or adding on, consider alternative construction, such as the geodesic dome, straw bale or rammed earth home. One of the best sources for information and the latest, most efficient technology is RealGoods.com -- Off-Grid Living since 1978 (800/762-7325).

    28-Raise the roof! The goal of Habitat for Humanity International (800/HABITAT or Habitat.org) is to eliminate inadequate and poverty housing as a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, Fuller Center for Housing from the founder of Habitat.

    29-Like to save some money on your energy bill every month? There are some relatively inexpensive ways you can add to or change your heating system - called retrofitting - that can save. If you need a new furnace or plan to build a new building, there are big ways you can save. Consider living "off the grid," independent of the power company. To learn more about alternative power sources to supplement what you already have, investigate Real Goods' Solar Energy Sourcebook at RealGoods.com.

    30-Typical North Americans buy four-bedroom houses for two people. Why? "Because we can." Imagine the surprise of friends and relatives when a family of four moves into a smaller house and a parent takes a job at half salary so that they can spend more time together. Why? "Because we can!" Study Guides worth reading: Six Weeks to a Simple Lifestyle.

    31- He asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" - from Luke. When, if ever, do I come face to face with poor people? How does that happen? What values and beliefs are reflected by where I choose to live? (from Trek) The question is both WHO is my neighbor and HOW to be a neighbor.

    For more information

  • Living More with Less, Homes, pp. 118-139; Meetinghouses, pp. 230-244.
  • Worship Alternatives: Other Times/Hunger
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Celebrating Other Times
  • Return to Table of Contents


    September

    Media QUOTES

    Non-Conform Freely

    Media Literacy

    1-Most of us know so little about something so powerful and pervasive in our lives: the media. We're familiar with print media (magazines and newspapers), electronic media (television, radio, cable and the internet) and other media (telephone, billboards, direct mail). But do we recognize its effect in our lives, our families, our society, our world?

    PiedPiperTV

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    2-We think of media as ways to receive information or entertainment. But the powers of commercialism see the media first and foremost as ways of delivering customers to advertisers. Through those eyes many other common items become media - anything that can carry a logo, a name - clothes, buses, sports stadiums. An average American sees 16,000 commercial impressions per day!

    3-Media Literacy is an attempt to educate people about the power and techniques of the media. It includes the effects of advertising on our desires and the impact of violence on our behavior.

    4-Media Literacy is directly connected to Simple Living. True meaning and fun in life come from relationships with self, friends, family and God. Stuff is a burden, a barrier, that prevents us from cultivating those relationships.

    Advertising is largely a powerful and devious obstacle to living more simply. Advertising tries to create needs in us that we don't have. To get us to buy things we really don't need... stuff that gets in our way of finding real meaning and happiness in life, stuff that uses our time, money and energy but gives little in return except the desire for more.

    5-A helpful resource about the media is We Know What You Want. Learn about Screen-Free Week (formerly Turn Off TV Week).

    6-Contact Media Literacy groups for your own development, for the protection of your family, for the educating of your friends. Visit MediaLiteracy.com and Univ. Oregon Media Literacy.

    7-Center for Media Literacy, the largest producer of media literacy teaching materials in North America (800/226-9494 or MediaLit.org). The Media Education Foundation (800/659-6882 or MediaEd.org) provides educators and others with video resources toward the development of a critically minded, media-literate public.

    8-Center for Science in the Public Interest (cspinet.org) fights alcohol and tobacco billboards. Citizens for Media Literacy promotes citizenship in the age of mass media.

    For more information

  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 8. Media
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Media
  • September holidays include: First Monday-Labor Day

  • Treasury of Celebrations, p. 176
  • To Celebrate, p. 143
  • Advertising & Public Relations

    9-Advertising can give us information to meet our basic needs... food, shelter, etc. Objectionable ads create false expectations and needs that are really wants or desires. Are we really better people because of the beverage we drink? Will we be sexier if we buy a certain kind of car? Will we be more popular or successful if we wear certain kinds of clothes or perfume?

    10-When watching TV, ZAP the commercials (mute the sound). No need to be assaulted by aggressive car and soda pop commercials. Some consider ads "the price of admission." That's exactly what advertisers want you to think. The air waves belong to the people. We owe advertisers nothing!

    11-Avoid wearing commercial logos which attempt to convey status and promote overconsumption. Fingernail scissors will cut embroidered logos off of sweaters. Only wear messages that convey values that you truly believe in. Be the Message!

    Sept. 11 - 9/11

    12-If a national magazine carries an article that criticizes the tobacco industry or questions smoking, one large tobacco company that also owns food companies will pull its FOOD ads from the magazine.

    13-Some advertisers are trying to capitalize on our desire for simpler lives. An expensive luxury car is hyped with a picture of the shiny vehicle and the word "Simplify." A national restaurant chain uses the slogan "Simplify your life. Eat out more." The Masters of Doublespeak!

    14-In the name of "research," some advertisers - without our permission or even our knowledge - place cameras in grocery stores to photograph our eyes as we shop. When we look at cereal, for example, a camera records our reaction to various boxes and even measures the length of time we focus on each box. This "research" helps advertisers decide what sells.

    15-Are you a "news junkie?" Most commercial news broadcasts and talk shows stress the sensational. Too much stimulation from them can develop cynicism, even paranoia. Yes, we need to be informed, to protect ourselves. But moderate the input from commercial broadcasts and consider the alternative press, including public radio and TV. Giving up something for Lent? Give up some media input... news and entertainment (wherever the line between them may be)... a-news-ment?

    16-The Media Foundation (800/663-1243 or Adbusters.org) sponsors Buy Nothing Day and publishes the irreverent magazine Adbusters: Journal of the Mental Environment. The Center for Media and Democracy (PRWatch.org) publishes PR Watch:Public Interest Reporting on the PR/Public Affairs Industry.

    Alternatives to TV, Video Games, Movies, Gambling

    17-Is there any difference between watching a concert by the Three Tenors or a game at the Three Rivers stadium? Professional sports, movies and the fine arts may be on different spots on the entertainment continuum, but they're on the same line, as long as there's a passive audience. A Beethoven symphony is engaging to some. So is a hard fought hockey game. And they may represent the same thing... struggle between good and evil. Let's support the Arts by DOING the ARTS ... drawing, writing, dancing, reading aloud. If we feel incompetent, let's take a class. (Continued)

    18-Amateurs and professionals are on a continuum too. The difference is not between "good" and "bad" art and entertainment but between passivity and involvement. Passive entertainment makes money for somebody else, so it's promoted. Active entertainment takes no more time but takes our energy. "The system" is designed primarily to keep us passive, to let professionals do the work while we pay them outrageous salaries. Non-conform freely. Reduce passive entertainment; increase active arts.

    19- Play non-competitive, communications games with your family, such as Everyone Wins: Cooperative Games and Activities. See January 21 for story telling games.

    20-Alternatives can help equip you to present children with alternatives to TV, to be prepared for weekly family fun time, to help develop your child's social conscience, to help develop your child's spirituality and interpersonal skills.

    21-First Day of Fall/Autumn

  • Treasury of Celebrations
  • To Celebrate, p. 143).
  • 22-Worth investigating:

  • FAIR.org: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
  • Environmental News Network at ENN.com
  • 'Living on Earth' on National Public Radio or LOE.org
  • Link TV: Television without borders, your connection to the world at LinkTV.org, DISH TV 9410 or DIRECTV 375
  • 'Enviro Close-up' with Karl Grossman (EnviroVideo.com) on Free Speech TV
  • Free Speech TV: What Democracy Looks like at FreeSpeech.org, DISH TV 9415 or DIRECTV
  • Alternative free news sources: AlterNet.org, CommonDreams.org, ReaderSupportedNews.org
  • Nancy Perlman of Educational Communcations, Inc. produces Compendium newsletter, plus radio and TV programming. Visit EcoProjects.org
  • SierraClubRadio.com
  • 23- "But seek first God's kingdom and God's righteousness and all these thing will be given to you as well." -Matthew 6:33.

    24- If you find gambling "fun," set a limit of what you would normally spend for an evening's entertainment. If you're given free chips as an incentive, spend them (and any winnings) and no more. The addiction of gambling is no "better" than any other addiction, legal or illegal.

    TValtar

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    Marketing

    25-Most marketing tries to create constant dissatisfaction and personal inadequacy. We need one more thing - THIS thing - to be happy. Ooops. Didn't work? Then try this. "A satisfied customer is not." (from Fool's Gold)

    26-Beware of Spin. The purpose of public relations is to interpret events in the best interest of the client (a company, group or government) that the firm represents... not necessarily the public's best interest. "Spin doctors" are generally public relations people who "put a spin" on an event, to get the public to see the event in their client's best interest. We can't avoid all spin, all interpretation. Be aware of their purpose. Then beware.

    27-Some pet food is marketed not for the benefit of the pet but for the "tastes" of the owner. Beware of owner-driven pet food advertising. If you have a pet, consult with a veterinarian or a pet store owner you really trust.

    28-Help prevent pet overpopulation. If you join your local ASPCA, make your membership specifically for the spaying and neutering of pets.

    Take care of your pet if you have one. Pets are not people. They are God's Creatures too. But with people starving around the world it's no better to be lavish with pets than with ourselves. Everybody needs to live more simply, including our pets!

    29-Petition your governmental representatives to make advertising a non-deductible business expense.

    30-Jean Kilbourne (JeanKilbourne.com) has produced videos (Killing Us Softly, Calling the Shots and Pack of Lies) and gives illustrated lectures on the cumulative impact of advertising on attitudes, values and behavior. MediaWatch.com challenges racism, sexism and violence in media.

    Other holidays in September/October include:

  • First Day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur (Jewish High Holy Days) (Treasury of Celebrations, p. 177-178; To Celebrate, p. 144)
  • Sukkot: Festival of Booths (Treasury of Celebrations, To Celebrate, p. 145)
  • For more information
  • Worship Alternatives Art
  • Worship Alternatives Contents
  • Return to Table of Contents


    October

    Sustenance

    Food

    1-Reflect on Luke 12:22-32 or Matthew 6:25-33. Don't worry about what you'll eat or what you'll wear. That sounds like encouragement to live more simply.

    2-Learn about the power of "cheap food." Resist using foods that deprive other countries of food and have little or no nutritional value, such as coffee. Caffeine is an addictive drug. Other beverages, like fruit juice, can be just as socially inviting.

    3-Reduce your consumption of red meat by 10%. It takes many gallons of water and many pounds of grain to make one pound of beef for our table.

    4-Vertical integration of food is the process in which the most powerful resource becomes monopolized. The people who sell the food also control distribution, processing plants and production. We can vote against it with our dollars by shopping at Farmers Markets, by supporting community-based agriculture, by refusing to buy out-of-seasoFthn fruits and vegetables.

    5-Consider fasting one regular meal time or one day per week. Use the discomfort to deepen awareness of poverty. Offer the savings to the poor.

    6-Help supply soup kitchens by gleaning unsold produce from grocery stores. Find out if you have a local Food Bank. Visit SecondHarvest.org: The Nation's Food Bank Network. Who do they help? Can you help too?

    7-What "bottom line" do I use to decide what something is worth? Do I eat my food slowly and reflectively, or do I most often eat on the run? How could I buy more of my food from farmers in my area? (from Trek)

    8-Food Co-ops like Blooming Prairie provide nutritious food. If you don't have a retail store in your area, you may have a buying co-op which takes orders once a month and delivers the following week. Be cautious of some "health food stores."

    Celebrating Ugly Food on SLW! Podcast

    For more information read Living More with Less, pp. 245-268 (Eating Together).

    Recipes (from Developing Countries) & Food Preparation

    9-Cook with the World Community. Investigate recipes from other countries, especially developing countries. Obtain at least one alternative cookbook, such as the Mennonite's World Community Cookbook series: More-with-Less Cookbook; Extending the Table; the more recent ones Simply in Season and Simply in Season for Children. Hear an interview with the series editor on SLW! Podcast.

    10-Vegetarians come in several flavors: those who eat no red meat; those who eat no meat; and Vegans, who eat no animal products (no milk, no eggs). Contact The Vegetarian Resource Group: Vegetarian Journal at vrg.org, or EarthSave.org: Personal Food Choices: Global Results.).

    11-Reduce processed food by at least 10% at each meal. Cooking "from scratch" takes more planning and time but is more nutritious and fun when done together. Make menu planning and shopping a social event, instead of a chore.

    12-Serve and take only what you and your household can eat. Go back for seconds if you're still hungry. Focus on flavor, not quantity. Try to throw nothing away. Develop clever ways of using left overs. Proudly eat chicken backs!

    13-Research indicates that a typical in-home American father has only three minutes a day of direct conversation with his child. Also, an American couple that are still married only have five minutes a day of meaningful verbal exchange.

    14-We can learn more about community by doing meal preparation and clean-up together. Vow to eat at least one meal a day together. Often we allow the school, the community, the TV, even the church to take away our common meal.

    15-We Americans now eat a great deal of expensive convenience food - at home or in restaurants. Many of its nutrients are processed out. We work more hours so we can afford more expensive food that's fast so that we can work more to buy more expensive, hollow, highly processed food. Can we find ways to stop the cycle?

    16-World Food Day (Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 188-191; To Celebrate, p. 146). Contact U.S. National Committee for World Food Day at WorldFoodDayUSA.org.

    For more information, read Food and Celebrations, Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 57-69; To Celebrate, Chapter 4, pp. 71-86; Living More with Less, pp. 245-268 (Eating Together).

    Other October holidays include: Second Monday-Indigenous Peoples' Day; Columbus Day (To Celebrate, p. 145)

    worldSeed

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    Sustainable Agriculture, Organic Farming

    17-Shop at Farmer's Markets. Eat mostly fruits and vegetables that are in season in your area. Most Americans are far removed from the source of their food and from the people who grow it. Our food travels an average of 1300 miles to reach our tables.

    18-Children's Sabbath. Children's Defense Fund (ChildrensDefense.org) publishes CDF Reports and sponsors Children's Sabbath. Take a stand for children in worship services, educational activities, community service and advocacy efforts.

    19-Top 10 reasons to buy organic: 1. Protect future generations, 2. Prevent soil erosion, 3. Protect water quality, 4. Save energy, 5. Keep chemicals off your plate, 6. Protect farm worker health, 7. Help small farmers, 8. Support a true economy, 9. Promote biodiversity, 10. Taste better flavor.

    20-We are endangered by the pesticides that have been banned in this country but exported to and used in poor countries. Write a letter to a government official protesting the dumping of toxic chemicals in Developing World markets.

    21-Investigate sustainable agriculture and sustainable economic development.

    22-Biodiversity protects our food supply. Famines can result from monocultures. Extinction is forever. Contact SeedsOfChange.com: Organically Grown Seed (888/762-7333) and Seed Savers Exchange at SeedSavers.org.

    23-Landmines make farming a very dangerous business in many parts of the world, particularly Southeast Asia. Petition the federal government to work for the elimination of the use of landmines that cripple, maim and kill civilians.

    24-United Nations Day (Treasury of Celebrations, p. 191; To Celebrate, p. 146)

    Gardening

    25-Worth Reading: To Till It and Keep It: New Models for Congregational Involvement with the Land (715/294-2831). The primary goal of Permaculture Activist (POB 1209, Black Mountain, NC 28711) is to provide information useful to people actively working to establish permaculture systems "on the ground."

    26-A weed is called "a plant out of place." A weed is in the eye of the beholder.

    27-Organic gardening involves the use of natural herbicides and pesticides. Composting vegetation from the garden and the kitchen (no meat!) builds up the soil. Low maintenance composters work slowly. Adding worms and natural enzymes speeds up the process.

    28-Gardening in an urban environment can be accomplished successfully in the total absence of land. Create rooftop gardens, especially on office buildings. Usually there's plenty of space, plenty of sun and access to water.

    29- Subscription farming is a cooperative effort between a farmer and a group of subscribers. The subscribers put up the capital for the crop and help in the busy season. In return they get their share of the crop each week during harvest.

    30-"Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." -from Matthew 6:19-21. Do my gadgets make me more or less fully human? What makes something designed to help me cross the line into weighing me down? (from Trek)

    31-Halloween (Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 192-196; To Celebrate, pp. 147-150). Reformation Day (To Celebrate, p. 150).

    For more information
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 10. Faith
  • Spirit of Simplicity ART: Faith
  • Return to Table of Contents

    AnyRoom

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART


    November

    Celebrating QUOTES

    More Celebrating

    1-Let's Talk About Christmas! How are we going to celebrate Christmas this year? What is really most meaningful? Who's going to do what? Are we willing to spend less on ourselves and give more to the truly needy? Ask your family, relatives, friends questions like these. Write down your decisions and post them.

    2-For help, use "Let's Talk About Christmas!" Worksheet. Consider using the widely read resource, the annual Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? Timeless past editions are available online.
    Remember International Buy Nothing Day (adbusters.org). Yes, it's the day after Thanksgiving!

    3-Simplicity is a disciplined life - disciplined, not punished or deprived or joyless. We are given great freedom to care about all of God's Creation, rather than nurturing the perversions and idols that our society has created and worships - our "stuff." Stuff exists to meet our needs. But if we spend our time, energy and money nurturing it instead of our relationships with God, others and ourselves, it will own us, control us and ultimately destroy us and the Earth.

    4-The Jesse Tree - Many meaningful symbols help us focus on preparations for Christmas during Advent... the Advent wreath, Chrismons, and the Christmas tree. When so many commercial symbols try to distract us from the real meaning of the season, the Jesse Tree is a lesser known but also powerful, visual focal point. (Continued)

    5-At the beginning of Advent (no later than four weeks prior to Christmas) cut a branch from a lilac or forsythia just above a bud and place it in a vase filled with water. Make the cut clean and at an angle. A vase filled with clear glass beads and water will provide support for the Jesse Tree. Maintain a water level above the cut and the Jesse Tree will blossom by Christmas. Lilacs, regardless of their blossom color, will bloom white when forced this way. (Continued)

    6-Isaiah foretells the end of the Assyrian rule over Jerusalem as God "hack(ing) down the thickets of a forest with an ax," razing it to stumps. The Israelites - David's line - had been so razed. Then comes the promise in Isaiah 11: 1-2, from which the Jesse Tree gets its name - "A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." And from that line will come the Messiah... a new branch from a stump... a branch stronger and more fruitful than the original tree. (Continued)

    7-The Jesse Tree is beautiful by itself. But it can also hold ornaments, symbols of the season of Advent, the season of waiting... a scroll to remember the prophecies... a dove to remind us of the peace that comes with Messiah... a crown for David's son, Solomon... a rose with twelve petals, one for each of Jesse's sons from whom sprang the twelve tribes of Israel. (Continued)

    8-As we hang the ornaments - usually one per day - we tell the related story. The prophecies come to life with the appearance of blooms - new life from an old branch - as they did with the birth of Jesus Christ. For more information about possible designs of the ornaments, contact your public or church library.

    Preparations

    9-For our widowed fathers who live far away we produce a simple video Christmas card. While our children are home for Thanksgiving, we take an hour and put together a 20 minute greeting on tape. We use parts of Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? We sing some carols, including Carols with Justice. We avoid anything showy. (Continued)

    10-For a video Christmas card, we try to model the things that are important to us, things we really do and believe in - like delivering poinsettias as a fund-raiser for the Battered Women's Shelter - not things we want others to think we do and believe. The sound isn't professional, the production's not slick - no editing, no special effects - but it's us! It is relatively easy and a lot of fun. Everybody gets their say, though not everybody gets their way.

    11-Veterans' Day

    12-View and discuss Alternatives' video Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

    13- "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish... all ate and were filled." -from Matthew 14:13-21. Do I miss the chance to do what I can because I can't do it all? (from Trek)

    14-For your church or group consider using one of the following. Focus on an appropriate or interesting theme. (Dates are given only for reference.)

  • Guidelines for Alternative Giving
  • Models for Prayer and Worship
  • Resource Packets
  • Bulletin Inserts
  • Calendars
  • graded Activity Guides
  • Adult Discussion & Activity Guides, such as
  • 15-ChurchWorldService.org distributes the exceptionally attractive Global Calendar and greeting cards of color pictures of people from around the Earth.

    16-Start saving Sunday comics to use for wrapping paper for gifts. Recycle Christmas cards by cutting at the fold. Write a personal message on the back and use as a post card. Save envelopes.

    For more information

  • February
  • Voluntary Simplicity Study Action Guide
  • To Celebrate, pp. 27-86
  • Worship Alternatives: Advent/Christmas/Epiphany
  • Spirit of Simplicity QUOTES: 3. Celebrating
  • Spirit of Simplicity Art: Celebrating Advent & Christmas
  • Unplug the Christmas Machine

    17- The Christmas Pledge

    Believing in the true spirit of Christmas, I commit myself to:
    Remember those people who truly need my gifts
    Express my love in more direct ways than gifts
    Examine my holiday activities in the light of my deepest values
    Be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends
    Rededicate myself to my spiritual growth

    18-Make a Plan. Set small and specific goals. Want to minimize Christmas preparations? To feel more relaxed this holiday season? To spend more relaxed time with the children this Christmas? Want to give less commercial gifts? (Continued)

    19-Look at your goals and think of one, two or three activities that will help you accomplish them. Unless you are assured of other people's cooperation, it's best to focus on activities that you can do by yourself. (Continued)

    20-Next describe these activities in simple written sentences - what you are going to do and when it should be done, for example: Goal: I want to simplify my gift giving. Activity 1: I will write letters to Aunt Carol and Aunt Rebecca suggesting that we give gifts only to the children and mail those letters by October 1. (Continued)

    21-Share your plan with your family. Choose your time carefully. Wait until they are in a relaxed and accepting frame of mind. Be nonthreatening. Unless the other family members have done a lot of thinking about Christmas, introduce the topic gently. Take the time to explain your reasons for wanting to make changes. Once they know your sincere motives, they are likely to be more supportive. Finally, talk to others as soon as possible. Many like to plan for Christmas early.

    22-Brainstorming is fun! It requires withholding judgment on any idea, letting ideas come out from other ideas. Linear thinkers may be more goal oriented and circular thinkers may be more creative. Both are necessary. A balance of both is optimal.

    23-A Birthday Gift for Jesus - When we celebrate a birthday, we are careful to give what the person really wants or needs. Is there any doubt what Jesus wants from us? He insists that in order to give to him, we must find him in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned. By helping to provide a goat for a farmer in Honduras, a decent home for a family in rural Mississippi, or food for those who are victims of war, we can give Jesus a birthday gift he really wants.

    Contact organizations listed in Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? for more information on how to give money, time and skills to those in need.

    24-Read and discuss Isaiah 58 as part of your preparation for observing Thanksgiving.

    November holidays include: Fourth Thursday-Thanksgiving Day

  • Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 178-188
  • To Celebrate, pp. 155-160
  • Bulletin Inserts
  • Friday after Thanksgiving-Buy Nothing Day on 'Black Friday.'
  • Justice

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART



    Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?

    25-Use Alternative's Christmas Budget Worksheet (Cost Analysis Form), to estimate how much you spent on each item last Christmas. Then total it. This is private. Don't feel guilty about how much you spent or proud about how little. Decide what percentage of that amount your family is willing to give to truly needy people this year. We recommend 25%. You may decide on 10% or 50%. (Continued)

    26-Now we may feel we have just as many things to buy and people to buy for, but with less money. We have several options. We can drop some folks or activities from the list. We can buy less expensive items. We can draw names instead of everyone giving something to everyone else. Or we can practice Alternative Giving. That's done in various ways. The first is deciding how much of last year's budget to give away and to whom.

    27-Say to yourself, out loud while looking in a mirror. "I'm OK. I'm enough. I don't have to prove how good or strong I am by using my purchase power. I don't need to own or show-off my stuff to be accepted or loved. I'm forgiven for my past waste and extravagance."

    28-Simplicity is the greatest peace making tool we have in the war between the have's and the have-not's.

    30-Surprise is a key element of gift giving. To avoid bad surprises, do not rely on mind reading. Instead, help your family members and friends select appropriate gifts - and also reveal some fascinating personal preferences. Ask each person in your gift exchange circle to fill out the questionnaire. (Continued)

    31-Voluntary simplicity is not Scroogism. Gift giving IS appropriate, especially if it is not just habitual, not based on catalogue shopping and mall hopping. Add meaning to your giving by giving appropriate gifts... gifts based on information about the recipient, not what interests the giver or what the giver would like to receive.

    For more information

  • Advent: Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 198-206; To Celebrate, pp. 27-48.
  • What Does Jesus Want for Christmas? pageant + Carols with Justice
  • Let's Get off the Christmas Roller Coaster audio
  • Return to Table of Contents


    December

    Celebrating QUOTES

    Responsible Celebrating

    Advent

    1-Begin using Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? Use the calendar of your choice every day, the Biblical reflections each week and the services and other activities as appropriate. Some editions have an audio version. Review the User's Guide.

    XB05

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Worship Alternatives: Art
    More ART

    Ten Tips for a Simpler, More Meaningful Christmas

    2-Tip #1. Plan ahead. Instead of going on auto-pilot the day after Thanksgiving, hold a family meeting to decide what the group really wants to do and who's going to do what. Use Alternatives' "Let's Talk About Christmas!" Worksheet to guide your discussion.

    3-Tip #2. Avoid debt. Refuse to be pressured by advertising to overspend. Use credit cards wisely. Avoid cash advances. They have no grace period, interest accumulates immediately.

    4-Tip #3. Avoid stress. Give to yourself... a peaceful space, for example. Don't assume that things have to be the same way they've always been. For more on stress, see August.

    5-Tip #4. Draw names rather than everyone giving something to everyone else in your giving circle. Set a ceiling for each recipient.

    6-St. Nicholas Day (To Celebrate, pp. 34-40). Tip #5. If you need a symbol for giving (in addition to Jesus and the Wise Ones), learn about St. Nicholas. Santa Claus has been completely taken over by commerce. Read, share, use Alternatives' "St. Nicholas: A Puppet Play" or "A Saint Nicholas Day Celebration."

    7-Tip #6. Give appropriate gifts. Get to know the recipient. Give what they want to receive, not what you want to buy. For help, use the "Appropriate Gift Questionnaire"

    8-Christmas Is More Than Gifts and Glitter - The effort to celebrate a simple Christmas is led by a small, ecumenical nonprofit group called Alternatives. Organized in 1973 to protest the commercialization of Christmas, Alternatives provides encouragement and support for those who want to celebrate Jesus' birthday. The group emphasizes relationships and traditions over things, hoping to avoid stress and debt.

    For more information see March and November and read Living More with Less, Celebrations, 188-208.

    Other holidays in December include

  • Dec. 24, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017Hanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights) (Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 196-197; To Celebrate, pp. 161-162)
  • 15th-Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe (To Celebrate, p. 162)
  • More Advent

    9-Tip #7. Give alternative gifts. Give 25% of what you spent last year to the truly needy... individuals or groups locally, nationally or internationally. For help, use Alternatives' Christmas Budget Worksheet (Cost Analysis Form).

    10-Human Rights Day. Contact your denomination's Human Rights Association and find out what they do.

    11-More Tip #7. Buy crafts and clothing from developing countries at alternative gift markets, not from commercial importers, so that the artisans receive a fair price for their work. For more, see June.

    12-Yet More Tip #7. Give of yourself, not just "stuff" - a coupon book for future services (such as baby-sitting or an "enchanted evening") or something baked, sewn, handmade, composed, etc. For more, read "Gift Giving" in Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 39-56, or To Celebrate, Chapter 3, pp. 49-70.

    13-More on Giving of Ourselves... giving something more meaningful than stuff for the giver and the receiver - giving ourselves, not our money or things bought with our money, but our time and our special skills. (Continued)

    14-Baking, sewing, woodworking, composing poetry or playing music. The point is not just to find a substitute for a thing-gift at Christmas but to build and strengthen a relationship that will nurture and be nurtured all year long. (Continued)

    15-Hand-made coupon books for promises of time or services at the convenience of the receiver, not the giver, are both generous and well received. Coupons for child care, for a special meal, for lawn mowing... you name it.

    16-Tip #8. Give children ONE thing they really want, rather than so many gifts. If need be, pool funds.

    Yet More Advent

    17-Tip #9. Take turns opening the gifts around the tree, so that each gift can be admired and each giver thanked. To avoid the emphasis on gifts, don't put them under the tree until after attending worship service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

    18-When I was a child many of the relatives would gather on Christmas Eve for a grand meal. Then we would gather around a tree that always reached to the ceiling. It was surrounded by a mountain of gifts. Everybody gave something to everybody else. With little fanfare I would start ripping into all my stuff. It seemed that no one paid much attention to what others were getting. After an hour or so it was over. (Continued)

    19-One year I asked my dad if we could go to church on Christmas Eve. He agreed. But I didn't ask until Christmas Eve. When we got back, the others were pretty unhappy. We had changed the plan. We hadn't considered the group. Now, after we all go to church, we gather for some favorite foods. We take turns opening our gifts with considerable fanfare for each one. Though we are only four, it is more meaningful than when there were a dozen!

    20-Tip #10. Make changes slowly but persistently. Don't try to change everything and everybody all at once. The resistance will make you feel defeated and lonely. For more help, read the classic Unplug the Christmas Machine, especially Chapter 9: "Christmas Revival", or "Getting Started" in Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 70-87.

    21-First Day of Winter (To Celebrate, p. 163)

    22-We have much better symbols of Christmas and giving than Santa, who has been completely taken over by commercial interests to sell us more stuff. We have Jesus giving himself to us and the Three Wise Ones giving gifts to Jesus. We have St. Nicholas, who gave gifts to the needy. Let's not confuse our children with stories about Santa. Let's tell the real stories of our faith.

    23-One Christmas my mother bought a new plastic Santa to put on the top of the tree. I didn't think much of it. When my Dad saw it, he quietly insisted that it come down. After all, he was Sunday School Superintendent. Mother replaced Santa with a Christmas star. That incident had a profound effect on me. As greedy as I was as a youngster, I got the point that we celebrate Jesus' birth, not the coming of Santa Claus.

    24- Share memories and stories besides gifts and food. Play Alternatives' "Christmas Game."

    homeless

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Worship Alternatives: Art
    More ART

    Christmas begins (12 days till Epiphany)

    25-Christmas Day (birth of Jesus observed). For more information read Treasury of Celebrations, pp. 207-225.

    26-First Day of Kwanzaa. For more information read To Celebrate, pp. 163-164.

    27-Keep your tree and decorations up until Epiphany, January 6th, when the Wise Ones arrive with their gifts.

    28-Holy Innocents. Read, share, use Alternatives' "Remembering the Holy Innocents: A Service for December 28th."

    Innocents

    Graphic from Alternatives' collection Spirit of Simplicity:
    Quotes & Art for Simpler Living and Global Justice

    More ART

    29-There are three levels of working toward justice.

    1) Symbolic acts, like giving up a meal, help change us though they do not alleviate another's hunger. Education and worship are largely symbolic acts. Though they don't make any thing, they feed our spirits and minds. Symbols are powerful!

    30-2) Sharing our resources of time, money and energy are small steps to alleviate another's situation.

    31-3) Systemic change, which is more complex, requires recognition of a need for change by communities and governments. It requires conversation, negotiation, a commitment to cooperation, and constant pressure from caring people.

    Return to Table of Contents


    About the Calendar

    The Simpler Living ALTERNATIVES Calendar for Any Year

    Caring for All God's Creation Through Simpler Living

    The Purpose of This Calendar

    We can change our wasteful habits into Caring for God's Creation. We can start by living the "Environmental Tithe" - by reducing our consumption by at least 10%.

    This calendar attempts to influence various aspects of our lives. Each month has a theme and related topics; ideas to Contemplate, reflect, meditate or pray; to Self-evaluate and discover; to Investigate and educate ourselves and others; and to Act, agitate and advocate. For serendipity a new topic may appear "out of the blue" from time to time. Also, the "voice" of this collection of thoughts and recollections may change from one day to the next.

    How to Use This Calendar

    Start Any Day... Start TODAY! Time and seasons are cyclical, continuous. Time does not begin with January and end with December. Jump in ANYWHERE. This calendar can be used any year. It includes no days of the week.

    Read each day's thought by yourself, with others, at home, at the office; as church bulletin blurbs, as newsletter fillers, etc. For brief excerpts, you don't need permission. Write down and share your ideas and resolutions.

    Want more copies of this calendar for others? It originally came as a flip-style desk calendar or as bulletin insert masters. Now you may format it and distribute it as you choose under a non-profit Creative Commons license.

    ©Creative Commons (originally 1997, 2007 Alternatives for Simple Living). Produced in cooperation with Environmental Stewardship and Hunger Education, Division for Church in Society, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (800/NET-ELCA).

    Quotations from New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.

    Return to Table of Contents

    About Alternatives

    Simple Living Works! (formerly ALTERNATIVES)

    Alternatives was an interdenominational, non-profit organization for "equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and celebrate responsibly." Started in 1973 as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas, it encourages celebrations year-round that reflect conscientious ways of living.

    Throughout its 40 years, Alternatives has helped lead the movement to live more simply and faithfully. The many staff members and volunteers of Alternatives have developed a wide variety of resources, organized an annual Christmas Campaign, held the Best and Worst Christmas Gift Contest, led numerous workshops, and reached countless people with the message of simple, responsible living.

    Alternatives emphasizes relationships and traditions over things, helping to avoid stress and debt, and promoting alternative giving - helping the truly needy instead of spending so much on ourselves.

    Alternatives was operated by a small staff which reported to a national Board of Directors. We were funded by memberships and donations, grants, and sale of resources. Everyone is welcome to use Alternatives' services, regardless of their religious beliefs. You need not be a member to use our free materials or services.

    Resources originally produced by Alternatives on simpler living and related topics (such as hunger, the environment, media literacy, etc.) for Advent and Christmas, for Lent and Easter, for weddings and for year-round use - some in Spanish - for adults and children - are now available for free on this site.

    Mission Statement

    Simple Living Works! continues Alternatives spirit and mission -- Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and celebrate responsibly.

    Alternatives' symbolic logo

    The circle represents the Earth. The tree and the star answer the question Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? Alternatives has been pointing people to Jesus at Christmas time since 1973. The tree and its shadow also form an arrow, urging us to change directions, to turn away from overconsumption to alternative, simpler, more people-oriented ways of celebrating and living. The entire logo is a stylized "A" for Alternatives. The lettering of the name is simple but strong.

    Supporting Simple Living

    Why Become a Partner?

    It is essential to restore moderation and perspective to celebrations that are too often self-indulgent. Changing the way we celebrate is an important first step in adopting a more responsible lifestyle.

    Self-starters help us challenge the way our consumer society continues to usurp our holy days and exploit people and the environment. With your help, more and more people can experience the joy that comes from celebrating and living in ways that affirm all God's creation. We invite you to join us in support of this vital work

    How to Join

    It's simple. Just click Volunteers and Partners at the top of any page.

    Together we can help the world embrace the dream of a better life for all. Won't you join us today!

    Return to Table of Contents

    NOTES

    ** Days marked with asterisks contain resources originally available from Alternatives.

    PAGE REFERENCES are given regularly for three especially helpful resources. Obtain a copy and refer to it throughout the year.

    Treasury of Celebrations=Treasury of Celebrations: Create Celebrations that Reflect Your Values and Don't Cost the Earth
    A complete free copy is available at Archives >> Treasury of Celebrations.

    To Celebrate=To Celebrate: Reshaping Holidays & Rites of Passage (Alternate Celebrations Catalog #6)
    Excerpts are available at Archives >> To Celebrate.

    Living More with Less=Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre

    Resource Alert! will help you obtain a special resource before it is recommended for use.

    Many organizations, publications and resources are mentioned in this calendar. Be selective. Our ministry is promoting simpler living as a lifestyle of integrity. Ask for your choices at your public or college library. If they don't have them, ask them to get them.

    We hope that all the information here is correct. Over time some details will change. To save space, only phone numbers are given for most organizations. Or search the internet for organizations' websites.

    Return to Table of Contents

    Updated March 9, 2017

    Simple Living Works! * SimpleLivingWorks@Yahoo.com
    BLOG: SimpleLivingWorks.WordPress.com | Blog INDEX
    PODCAST | Podcast INDEX
    VIDEOS: YouTube.com/SimpleLivingWorks
    MISSION: Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly // An all volunteer educational organization.