Achives: SLOw Down Newsletter #6

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Let's Go SLO!

An Occasional Newsletter for Members of Alternatives' SLOw Down Network - Volunteers who Represent Alternatives and Voluntary Simplicity:

Issue #6 - Winter, 2001


You are one of Alternatives' 650+ volunteers! Yes, the network is growing by over 100 per year.

You will receive this newsletter about twice per year to give you updates on the SLOw Down Network. Your comments, questions, concerns and stories are welcome. Please save this newsletter in your SLOw Down folder.

Thanks for the Feedback! Over 500 members, volunteers and customers responded to our Stakeholder Survey. The results will be reported soon.


Progress Report

IT'S OUT! "Simple Living 101: A Toolbook for Sharing the Joy of Simpler Living through Speeches, Workshops, Events & Study Groups/Simplicity Circles," $10 ready for your binder, or $15 in a binder of recycled material.

Some worthwhile items not printed in "Simple Living 101" are available on our Website at Services: SLOw Down Network: Simple Living 101 Bonus (or go directly to http://www.simpleliving.org/main/sl101.php). Updates to the book will be posted on our website so that you can download them and add them to the book anytime. We do not intend to issue regular updates on paper.

NOTE! When we ask you to make a presentation or when you book one for our benefit, the support materials you need are FREE. (We'll loan you videos and display books which you can return or buy from us wholesale after the event.) Some folks thought that we were developing this new resource to sell to our volunteers. You may choose to buy the entire resource, but if you are scheduled to give a speech, we will send you materials you need for that event.


Here's How to Help

  1. Urge your Christian & Community Access TV channels to air our videos - "Break Forth into Joy! Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." We'll provide free copies if they agree to preview them. We request that you (or they) return the copies to us. If you get a local TV channel to air it, we're provide support materials for you to promote viewing and follow-up.


  2. Please take the media release "Alternatives Offers Speakers and Support for Simpler Living" to your local editor(s). Get it from us by mail or on our website anytime under Information: Media Releases: Non-Seasonal. Also, if you do not want to be interviewed when reporters call us, mark that on the SLOw Down Reply.

    When something appears about Alternatives in your area media - print or electronic (TV, radio, cable) - send us a copy or report it to us with a brief description. We can't afford a national "clip service." We need help seeing if our outreach efforts are working.


  3. If you would like to contribute to the 2001 edition of our most widely-read, family-oriented booklet, "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" please send ideas before February 15, 2001. An item may be new or not, original or not. If it's by someone else, please include a complete description of the source.

    Have a piece of art (line drawing, photo) that depicts the tension between faith and culture? Have a personal experience related to simplifying Christmas or finding in relationships instead of stuff? Have an idea for a worshipful ceremony or a family ritual?

    About 150,000 copies will be printed and it will reach many more through our website for years to come. We intend to translate much of it into Spanish. Lead writer is Bill McKibben, author of "Hundred Dollar Holiday" and other books.

    To read past editions of "Whose Birthday," go to our website. Click on Information, then Archives, then Collections, then Whose Birthday. Or go directly to http://www.simpleliving.org/Archives/XB/XBindex.php

    The article by volunteer Christine Leonard Osterwalder in the 2000 edition was picked by "Horizon," the national women's magazine of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The cover photo by volunteer Phil Claeys, "Prayerful Santa," was carried on the United Methodist News Service website and was reproduced in dozens of publications.


  4. If you have a presentation or outline that you are willing to share, send a copy. If you have experience forming and/or leading a Simplicity Circle or Study/Action/Accountability Group, mark that on your response form. We're getting requests for help to start such local groups and we'd like to refer people to someone in their area.


  5. In summer many conferences and conventions may include a workshop about Voluntary Simplicity. If you're on a steering committee, suggest such as workshop. We'll send you catalogs and brochures to display at events, even if a workshop is not offered.

    Try scheduling a short series (fewer than 13 sessions) about simplifying Christmas in the fall and about year 'round simpler living in the winter, possibly during Lent.

    We have displays of books too. Please call early to schedule your display materials. The books become committed quickly, particularly in the fall.


  6. Scheduled for 2001 is "Quotes & Art" (working title), a collection of serious, humorous, religious and secular quotations and illustrations on voluntary simplicity, sustainability, social justice and related topics for personal inspiration and for publications. Your contributions are welcome! Contact us by Feb. 15th for submission guidelines.


On Our Website...



Take the initiative. We'll back you up! Thanks again. - Sharene Schwarz, SLOw Down Coordinator, and Gerald Iversen, National Coordinator

WHOSE Birthday? Contest

Art's tricky. Each year we try to portray visually the tension between faith and culture to help people question the way we celebrate Christmas. Sometimes the point is obvious. Sometimes a caption for subtle art helps to focus the reader's mind.

The cover of "Whose Birthday Is it, Anyway?" for 2000 - Santa kneeling at the manger - has provoked some interesting, thoughtful responses. It makes a good discussion starter - at home, at church, at work.

So, we're inviting you to tell us what the art means to you. . . by February 15th. Your response can be as short or as long as you choose. Or write a caption for the picture. We will publish selected submissions.

The art appeared in Fall and Summer 2000 Resource Guides and in full color on the cover of "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" 2000. It's available on a flyer and a greeting card.

Success Stories

Share yours too!

We just completed a glorious event called Nativity at Nativity. From our members, friends and families we assembled 83 nativity sets. They were as diverse as they were beautiful representing many lands and expressions of the birth of Jesus. Using the talents of our membership, they were beautifully displayed with abundant color and texture. We invited people to look but not touch. Meanwhile, in our Hands-On Center we invited children to make their own nativity set. We had prepared wine corks specially for this purpose. The children "dressed" the wine cork using fabric and trim from various "stations." The king station was laid out with scraps of velvet and gold brocade, a jewel box full of shiny buttons and beads and a selection of crowns. Mary and Joseph's station was a little more simple with plainer fabric scraps in blues and brown. Each child made each character in the nativity story. It was joy to see them ponder over the right gift or crown for that king and the best color for Mary's robe. And it was a marvel to hear them talk about their creations. We put this Hands-On Center together by recycling our trash - our congregation went through their button boxes and gave us old jewelry. Our crowns were made from spray painted egg cartons. We cut our fabric squares from discarded clothes and material scraps.

It was great to have a book table, where people could browse and buy real Christmas books. It completed the focus on the real meaning of Christmas. No one seemed to miss the tinsel. The main event was Jesus, not Santa!

Frances Hammond, Bloomfield Township, MI

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Shirley and I are having a 3 week series on voluntary simplicity at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines in January. It is hard to describe how much joy it is to advance the cause of Alternatives. Thanks for the great leadership you provide in getting us excited about this ministry. Peace to All, Dick Kiefer

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Grace and peace to all of you at Alternatives. On Saturday, October 28, as part of Make a Difference Day, Midland Association of Churches sponsored an Alternative Giving Fair. Over 30 different booths acquainted Midlanders with opportunities for alternative giving. St. Luke's UMC distributed free copies, which you had so graciously provided, of "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" and copies of your catalog. Over 800 people participated in the fair which featured two entertainment stages hosting different cultural groups (liturgical dancers to gospel choirs). Everyone had a wonderful time and I hope that many will use the ideas to make this Christmas season less commercial. Thank you for the materials you sent.

SHALOM, Dennis Bade, Associate Pastor, St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Midland, TX

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I use "Simple Living 101" as a resource for talks and newsletters. I'm always looking for ways to get the message of simple living across to the public. - Jeanne Wingenter, St. Paul, MN

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Enclosed is a donation as a thank you for facilitating Sister Jeanne Wingenter to come speak at an Adult Forum in preparation for this Advent/Christmas season. She did an excellent job and offered exactly what we were hoping she might bring. Thank you again. Blessing in the coming year. Yours in Faith, Tim Johnson, Pastor, Cherokee Park United Church, St. Paul, MN

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"How to Organize a Christmas Festival and Workshop" was just what I was looking for. I plan to get your video for a workshop and other books for a study group at my church. Thank you! - Cynthia E. Morton, Rossville, GA

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Just did your "Consumo" play in morning worship service and it got a great reception! - Barbara Georgesch, East Palestine, OH

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I'm a Reformed Church pastor in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Last year we engaged on a journey during Advent using the "Whose Birthday is It Anyway" materials suggested by the denomination. This year we are using the "Unplug the Christmas Machine" materials. We had our first class last Sunday. To begin our 6 week series I used session one of Tony Campolo's series "Carpe Diem" to wet the appetite of our class. We begin using the workshop materials this Sunday. All of this to say how fun and meaningful it has been to be able to offer something of value to our parishoners. I appreciate what you do! Blessings! Tim Dieffenbach, Minister of Parish Life

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I am absolutely satisfied with "Simple Living 101." I plan to use it for both individual study and for study groups in my church (I'm a UCC pastor). I have been buying resources from Alternatives for over 15 years. They are outstanding and the way I stay connected to the larger "simple living" community. Yeah! I'm not alone! - Rev. Pamela J. Tinnin, Partridge, KS

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Thank you for the list of possible speakers. I asked Rebecca Dale to speak to our church and she did an excellent job. About 25 people stayed to hear her speak and they were very positive about her and her message. Thank you. Sheila Cubick, Canfield, OH

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I plan to use the "Leader's Guide to 'Unplug the Christmas Machine'" to conduct a local workshop this fall. You provide books that interest me. -Deborah Taylor-Haugh, Olympia, WA

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I will use "Planning an Alternative Christmas Festival" for a fall "bazaar." - Debra Lewis, Williamsburg, VA

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Thank you very much for your prompt attention to my request. Keep up the good work. This information [Whose Birthday] will be of great use to us as we plan to hold an Alternative Christmas Faire at our church in November as a way of helping us all do what you say so well in your statement: "Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly." Again, your assistance is greatly appreciated.

- Debbie Lundberg, Redwoods Presbyterian Church, Larkspur, CA

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I used "Whose Birthday" to prepare a church presentation on celebrating Christmas in the Jubilee Year. Good work! - Joseph Hastings, Seattle, WA

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I plan to teach the class "Unplug the Christmas Machine." Great book! Great service! - Unitarian Universalist Society, Laconia, NH

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I plan to use "Simple Living 101" and the video "Break Forth into Joy" in a program for Sunday School and family camp. I intend to start a group to support Simple Living. - Sue Cepull, Orlando, FL

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I use "Carols with Justice" in a ritual workshop I do. You do good work! - Karin Watson, Langley, WA

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I gave a workshop and retreat on nonviolence and used "Toward a Nonviolent Economy" and "Fire, Salt & Peace" (intentional communities). - Leonard Desroches, Toronto, Canada

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I used the "Leader's Guide to 'Unplug the Christmas Machine'" for a workshop at church. You offer thought provoking items. - The Mante family, Bethlehem, PA

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To read past issues, go to http://www.simpleliving.org/Archives/News/SLOwDownNews.php

SLOw Down Reply [1/01]


Please mark all preferences of service that apply to you.

___ My SLOw Down code should include:

___ S. I'm willing to be a motivational speaker. Using your support material, I may speak and answer questions, facilitate dialog, and hold conversations at conferences, schools, Sunday morning adult forums, etc.

___ L. I'm willing to be a workshop leader. I may lead single or multi-part workshops on "Unplug the Christmas Machine," etc., with activities and audience participation.

___ O. I'm willing to be an event organizer. I may consult with others and help organize events: Alternative Gift Markets, Peace & Justice Fairs, etc.

___ D. I'm willing to be a discussion consultant to help others start and maintain discussion/action/accountabililty groups/simplicity study circles. recycled paper



___ YES! Alternatives means enough to me that I want to be a dues-paying Member.

___ Send me information on ASSIST, Alternatives' support service for simpler living.

___ I have experience forming and/or leading a Simplicity Circle or Study/Accountability Group.

___ I have a presentation/outline that I am willing to share. A copy is enclosed.

___ I do NOT want to be interviewed. (If not marked we may share your name with reporters seeking to speak to someone in their area about simple living.)

___ Send me submission guidelines for "Quotes & Art."


(OVER, please)


Comments, requests, questions, concerns, funny stories:



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October 20 2012 (27 February 2003

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