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Spring, 2006: Paul Canavese and Ann Naffziger

Winter, 2006: Maryanne Van Buskirk

Fall, 2005: Steve Mayberry

Spring, 2006


Paul and Ann offer home made pie at their new home in Alameda, California.

Two Young Adult Lifers

Paul Canavese and Ann Naffziger are a couple of our youngest Life Members. Both Catholics in their early 30's, they married each other in 2004. They hope to start a first -- sharing a position on our board of directors.

Both have theological training and background in both voluntary simplicity and community living. They are vegetarians, grow vegetables in their garden, raise chickens, and host a beehive on their property. That may not seem unusual until you realize that they live in Alameda, California, a small city packed in between Oakland and the San Francisco Bay.

Ann and Paul intentionally planned their wedding with their faith and the values of simple living in mind. They wrote their own Rule of Life together, in the tradition of Christian religious orders. They decided against many traditions they felt took away from the sacredness of the event. They utilized Wedding Alternatives information in their planning, and Ann was pleased to find some articles in it from friends she knew in Oregon. Ann and Paul contributed to Wedding Alternatives Supplement #1, which is now available, and have been asked to write a book on simple weddings.

Ann earned Master of Divinity and Master in Biblical Languages degrees from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley (part of the Graduate Theological Union). She currently serves as Director of Religious Education for a Catholic parish. She previously served as Area Director of Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in Portland. She also is a part-time hospital chaplain, spiritual director, and scripture teacher. She has written articles as a freelance writer for America, Commonweal and other Catholic publications.

Paul is a software engineer by trade, and has worked in the technology industry for the past thirteen years. He has also been pursuing a theology degree part-time for the past eight years at the Franciscan School of Theology (also part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley). He is currently writing his thesis on Christian discipleship and daily life issues, and plans to graduate with a Master in Theological Studies in 2007. Paul has been active in teaching about these themes in his parish and beyond, through preaching, publications, and small group process. He also launched the site www.gospelliving.org as part of this effort.

Ann and Paul belong to an ecumenical retreat community that includes Bryan Sirchio. (We carry Bryan's J-Walking in our Resource Guide.) The group is closely affiliated with Harvest Time (www.harvesttime.cc), an organization that works with the Biblical vision for economic justice.

Ann and Paul are expecting their first child this summer, and are ready to take on a new challenge of raising a child while still embracing simple values.

They hosted Alternatives' Gerald and Rita Iversen at their home when they visited the Bay Area.

You can learn more about them at .

Consider joining Paul and Ann as Life Members, Dual Life Members or Perpetual Members (which you can will to your kids!).

Why a Simpler Life?

• It leads to freedom. Consumerism leads to stress and debt. Simplicity leads to generosity and freedom.

• It leaves room for more joy. It is such a relief to get the burden of stuff off our shoulders.

• It builds relationships. We are told thousands of times every day by commercial advertising that we will find meaning and happiness in life through stuff. Voluntary Simplicity says we will find happiness and meaning in life through relationships -- with ourselves, with others, with the Earth and with God.

• It promotes to justice. By using only our fair share of Earth resources, we leave them for others around the globe and to future generations. 'Live Simply that Other May Simply Live.'

• It Cares for Creation. A simple life is Earth-friendly.

• Celebrating is one part of a total life of integrity. That's why we focus on a simpler, more meaningful Christmas in our annual Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? booklet, which we send to members each year. Share copies with others!

• Our Young Adult initiative is the first step on the life-long journey of simple living. Only we can simplify our own lives (unless we are forced to simplify involuntarily by a disaster). Alternatives can help.

Taking Action - How to Make a Difference

1. Join Simpler Living Community Network. Visit SimpleLiving.org, click Volunteer, click Activities to Try, select an activity or invent a new one, do it, tell us so we can tell others.

2. Read 'Guidelines for Change.' Visit Volunteers>>Activities To Try>>Simple Living 101: How to Influence Others.

3. Order Simple Living 101: Toolbook for Activists Shy or Bold (on paper or CD-ROM) and it's accompanying audio CD, 'Living Simply and Loving It!' Each are available by request for a donation of $100 or more.

4. Plan a public event, such as 'Unplug the Christmas Machine' Workshop or read 'How to Organize a Community Festival' in 'Alternative Event Organizer's Kit, or Simple Living 101.

5. Send us names and contact information for people who may be open to Voluntary Simplicity.

6. If you're not getting our eNewsletter, send us your email address. It's called 'Simply :60' because it's meant to be read in under a minute. It not only keeps you up-to-date on recent resources, but it's a regular gentle reminder to live more simply.

7. Renew your membership promptly and consider moving one step higher on the membership ladder. Consider a special gift for the Young Adult Initiative. Consider giving something automatically each month.

8. Think beyond yourself. Ask, 'Who could I share this Premium with after I've benefited from it?'

9. Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org often -- maybe daily. It's dynamic. There's something new on our home page every day. Read about the wonderful folks I've met on my travels in 'The Face of Simple Living.'

10. Pray for Alternatives.

Winter, 2006

Lifer Gives Monthly


Maryanne Van Buskirk of Columbia, MO, has been a Life Member for quite a while. Now she has decided also to make a regular monthly pledge to Alternatives. At the beginning of each month we charge her pledge to her debit card and send her a receipt. It’s convenient and satisfying for her and so helpful for us.  Thank you, Maryanne!

Here are Gerald Iversen’s memories of a recent visit.

I arrived at Maryanne’s home Saturday evening, to be greeted by her house mate and their four dogs. Mary Ann is a disabled Presbyterian pastor whose allergies keep her largely home bound. Her service dog is trained to detect scents that could cause her to go into shock.

She’s agreed to serve as a Volunteer Coordinator for Alternatives’ SLOW Down Network, something she can do from home.

I visited her church, Trinity Presbyterian, and thanked the members at the 8:30 and 10:45 services for their support through the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Everyone calls pastor Raymond I. Massey by his nickname, RIM. His sermon on the crossing of the Red Sea about God’s command to “Go Forward!” was especially encouraging. The church sends 23% of its budget as Mission Gifts and wants to give more.

Maryanne fixed me a whole wheat waffle for breakfast and a wonderful salad for lunch. We were joined by another local member, Sharon Tepper, for a conversation at 2:00. Sharon was director of Lutheran Family and Children Services and then of Rainbow House for children in abusive situations. Now she’s social worker for maternal care at the local Boone Hospital.

Sharon sees signs of hope. Young people are aware that two working parents is not a good situation, so they’re trying creative ways to avoid it, such as job sharing. They are willing to give up something to gain something more important. Dave Ramsey’s debt reduction program, for example, has a ritual for cutting up credit cards.

Maryanne appreciates Alternatives’ holiday emphasis. She reminds us that people with disabilities are still people.

“We need to value what we have (family, friends, community, memories) and what we can give. My life
matters if I make a difference, not if I have more. Making a difference comes one-on-one,” she says.

As people rebuild from natural disasters, let’s ask, “How do we have a good life without all these things that can be lost so easily? Let’s focus on what has meaning.”

Please consider joining Maryanne by pledging a regular amount. How much and how often is up to you. You can change your pledge any time.


What will it take to make our Young Adult Initiative succeed?

  1. We need referrals for our mailing list – church members, friends, relatives, colleagues.
  2. We’re asking you to pledge a LIFE membership ($1000) payable in installments that fit your life. Or move up the membership ladder at least one step. Or give a onetime gift for this initiative. Or give gift memberships. All donations are tax deductible.
  3. We need more ideas. As you talk to young adults, if an idea “clicks,” send it to us.
  4. Share our resources with others. Read them yourself first, then don’t let them gather dust.

Letters from Lifers

Dear Friends,
We are pleased to “aquire” an extended membership at long last.
Gerald called last month asking for some “names” and we are compiling a list. We are talking with friends about “youth-oriented” ideas as well.
My neighbor (a non-Christian) is looking for a resource for her son’s “covetousness.” He is 9 and just really wants “stuff” and more “stuff” than anyone else. I am enclosing an additional funds to our order to cover the cost of any resource you might think appropriate. If there is no such resource, just keep it as a “round up” amount.
Thank you,
Lora Mohr, Barrington, IL



Fall, 2005

Alternatives’ Latest Lifer


“This past June an e-mail came my way from Gerald Iversen, National Coordinator, saying that he and his lovely wife, Rita, were coming to North Carolina to personally meet with supportive members around the state. I was impressed that they would make such an effort for the benefit of the Alternatives’ organization. I immediately e-mailed back offering my place to stay when they were in the area. My good fortune, they accepted!

“This focused my thinking about my devotion and commitment to what I believe in. I value and practice simple living. Refusing to buy “stuff”, reducing, reuseing, recycling all make sense to me now and for the next generation. I nurture the ideal of doing justice. I greatly value instilling such worthy and noble values with our children. But how
is this done? What means do we have to strive towards this end result?

“A few weeks before the Iversens arrived, it came clear to me that a primary resource of the reading and book buying I do to promote the simple and justice-oriented life style comes from Alternatives. I was also convinced to help support them. Money is a means to an end. I like the end result Alternatives’ is striving towards.

“The term ‘Lifer’ is a bit ironic in this context. A Lifer often refers to someone in prison for life. I offer a new definition to say a ‘Lifer for Alternatives’’ is that special person willing to substantially-financially under gird an organization that promotes their personal values now and for the future. Money will pass away. Instilled values are from one generation to another.

I am delighted to have met and visited with the Iversens for those few days. Gerald has wonderful stories to tell of how members’ lives are changed through the publications offered by Alternatives’.

Stephen Mayberry,
Lifer for Alternatives

Page updated 11 May, 2015

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