Alternatives' North American SLOW Down Network started in 1997. The network reached 850 volunteer members.
"People throughout North America seem really hungry for information about living more simply," said Gerald Iversen of Simple Living Works! - the successor to Alternatives. "Our hope is that people can learn ways to simplify their lives so that they are not overtaken by stress, debt and guilt. Our SLOw Down Network offers help." Iversen said.
The SLOW Down Network - short for Speakers, Leaders, Organizers, Workers and Discussion groups - are typical of volunteers ready to speak or lead workshops at churches, service clubs, schools and other gatherings about Simpler Living. They consult on organizing events, like Third World Fair Trade Shows, and help people start Simplicity Circles and study/accountability groups.The group is more recently known as the Simpler Living Community Network.
"Some folks think that simple living is only about frugality. Yes, it starts with simplifying one's own life. Then it grows to helping others -- both the needy privileged to reduce their overconsumption, and the needy non-privileged to improve their quality of life. The third step is to work to help systems, like businesses and governments, work toward sustianability, even if it doesn't seem profitable in the short run. In all three steps there's volunteer empowerment," Iversen said.
"We provide tools for simplifying, such as print resources, audio and video. But the best motivation to change comes through face-to-face sharing, eduation, support and accountability. That's how volunteer empowerment happens.
We provide free materials upon request for conferences, meetings, conventions and other
events. It has a newsletter for the volunteers. It has a handbook called
"Simple Living 101: A Toolbook for Sharing the Joy of Simpler Living through
Speeches, Workshops, Events & Study Groups/Simplicity Circles." A free copy is available at
>> Archives >> Simple Living 101.
Some worthwhile items not printed in "Simple Living 101" are available at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Volunteers >> Opportunities >> Simple Living 101 Bonus.
In addition to talks, workshops, events and discussion groups, volunteers also do these type of things:
* They urge their local TV channels to air Simpler Living videos -- "Break Forth into Joy! Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and numerous others.
* They give feedback resources. Many volunteers reviewed "Simple Living 101" before it was published. They share presentations and outlines.
* Volunteers line-up engagements for themselves and for others about simplifying Christmas in the fall and about year 'round simpler living in the winter, possibly during Lent. In summer many conferences and conventions may include a workshop about Voluntary Simplicity. Volunteers display catalogs, brochures and books at events.
* Volunteers distribute free copies of small resoources in event mailings and personal correspondence.
When volunteers take the initiative, exciting things happen.
Eric Jon Hoffman of Oregon, IL, led eleven "Unplug the Christmas Machine" workshops in one season!
MaryLynn Bell, Post, TX, gave a workshop using the video "Break Forth Into Joy!" She expected about twelve people; 33 showed up. Some were standing, some sitting on the floor. She concluded, "Maybe 'Simple Living' is becoming an important message."
Susan Deaver, Springfield, MO is an avid gardener with a strong commitment to stewardship. She says, "I am especially pleased to have a copy of 'Like a Garden' by Sara Covin Juengst. This author's work exemplifies what lies in the heart of every gardener. We are all connected."
Susan presented a gardening workshop at her church and, "The response was terrific! We were expecting 8-10 people to attend. What a surprise, when our actual attendance was nearly three times that! What an honor to share with so many dedicated and committed servants. This response has motivated me to continue my personal mission in helping people rediscover our connection with spirit through gardening. I am planning to facilitate a group study using 'Like a Garden' as the text and study guide. I am interested in connecting with others who are also interested in the promotion of stewardship."
Susan expresses a common sentiment, "I am very pleased to discover your organization. Your mission is a testimony to authenticity and provides the support needed to make responsible changes for simpler living. I embrace this discovery joyously since I have always been an advocate for responsible and mindful living. My sincerest thanks and appreciation to all of you."
Greg Gillispie, a Presbyterian pastor in Charlotte, NC, and former radio deejay likes to help spread the message of voluntary simplicity in his community. He says, "I'm excited about what you are doing and understand the need to connect with others."
Reece Bookout, pastor of First American Baptist Church, Warren, IN, has recently started taking steps toward voluntary simplicity. He says, "I am afraid that I have not fully shaken off all symptoms of 'affluenza' yet, but I have a deep conviction that materialism is depriving many Christians of the true abundance available from God. I, as well as many others I know, love God, but seek security in things."
Don and Sarah Martin, Winter Park, FL, are both speakers. They have been inspired by Doris Jantzen Longacre's books - "More-with-Less Cookbook" and "Living More with Less" - since they first came out. They say, "Although we have lived extremely simply in the early 1980s ('off the grid' in a solar house in Kentucky doing social justice work), we now live in an "urban village" and practice voluntary simplicity in the midst of Orlando's suburbia and the entertainment/tourism mecca of Disney, etc. We believe many other Floridians must be ready to make changes in their lives, away from the glitz and the emptiness."
Pamela Vogt, Oneonta, NY, leads "Unplug the Christmas Machine" workshops at her church. She says, "Amazing when we all talked to our children about the Christmas celebration and how little gifts were the main interest or memory!"
Nancy Meehan Yao, Memorial Presbyterian Church, St. Augustine, FL, led a midweek religious study, ROOTS (Religion On Other Than Sunday). For more information on this event, visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Volunteers >> Opportunities >> "Simple Living 101" Bonus.
Sally Landes gave the workshop "Unplug the Christmas Machine" at the Foothills Unitarian Church. She plans to give this workshop again to the new church forming in Loveland, Colorado and to offer it to the public through the local community college where she teaches. She says, "I enjoyed giving this workshop and feel it is very worthwhile."
Lois Culler, Fairfax, VA, put out the resources for a book fair that was at a retreat for Christ Lutheran Church. Then she placed the books on a sale table during Advent at her church and saved the items for a family ministry reading group. She will be placing some in her church library. She says, "Alternatives provides such a wonderful service and I want to express my appreciation for all you do. I have used your materials in different settings at home, at church and as gifts."
Nicole Carlin, Pittsburgh, PA, says, "Class #1 went really well, and there are plans to rerun the series in the fall to reach a different group of the congregation as well as a connection to be part of a lecture series at Carnegie Mellon University. The church is willing to purchase a list of resources that I select for the library."
More self-starting volunteers are welcome. Alternatives provides free, online back-up - presentations, support materials and newsletters, and coaching.
Started in 1973 as a protest against the commercialism of Christmas, ALTERNATIVES has produced printed resources, videos, and workshops that encourage people to examine and challenge the consumer society. Its aim is to promote living justly and celebrating responsibly, by offering resources featuring creative, simple ideas. SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives offers free seasonal and year-round resources for adults and children. Or e-mail SimpleLivingWorks@yahoo. Visit www.SimpleLivingWorks.org. #######
Editors: For more information, contact Gerald Iversen. To REPRINT any of the popular Advent/Christmas annual booklet "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" do so under the Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial, share-and-share-alike license.
NOTE: A wealth of Alternatives' material is on our website for easy downloading! Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org. Click About Us, then News. For many inspiring articles for your use, click Archives >> Articles.
This page last updated 3 October 2013 (originally 27 February 2003)
Simple Living Works! * SimpleLivingWorks@Yahoo.com
BLOG: SimpleLivingWorks.WordPress.com | Blog INDEX
PODCAST | Podcast INDEX
MISSION: Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly // An all volunteer educational organization.