Thursday, May 31, 2007

Featured Family Friday

Meet the No Impact Man and his family.

"For one year, my wife, my 2-year-old daughter, my dog and I, while living in the middle of New York City, are attempting to live without making any net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets…"

Colin Beavan has begun the no impact experiment where he faces the daily activites of making bread, eating all locally grown food, hand washing his clothes, and other taks to remain at zero impact. You can follow his story on his blog Here are a few posts that I recommend:

May 31st--A way forward for capitalism?
Colin quotes from Barber's book Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole."The problem is, Barber said, that capitalism in the United States no longer services existing need, because most of our needs are met.... How wonderful, Barber suggested, if capitalism turned back to its job of filling real, existing needs."

May 29th--Something sad
Colin discusses the impact of the Iraq war on a man and his wife. "How many of our boys and girls have been permanently scarred by this war for resources? Is it worth their sacrifice? Could there be more peace if we were willing to have a little less?"

May 17th--An interview with Green Options
Colin is interviewd by Amy Stodghill about his experiment and gives a quick look at where he is at and the conditions he faces. " I support people who are trying to make a difference. Maybe they can't be no impact, but I support people that are making an effort. "

Does anyone have comments on capitalism or his view of the current war and our possible infulence?
(thanks Jodi for informing me of this experiment.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

World Ark Magazine

More than 2 billion people in the world are living on less than $2 a day. If you don’t get the World Ark magazine, you are missing out on some great articles about this topic and so much more. Distributed by Heifer Int’l, the magazine promotes “Ending Hunger” and “Saving the Earth.”

Monday, David featured some movies that have helped him expand his world view. World Ark has helped me do the same. With book reviews, articles about the effects of Hurricane Katrina, catfish decline in Cambodia, overview of Free/Fair Trade & so much more, it provides some great information that will hopefully inspire us to get involved in making a difference in the world.

How can you get it?
If you donate to Heifer, you may already receive World Ark. If you would like to borrow or lend out the magazine, please post here. I would love to pass these along to others who would benefit from them.

Where do you get your world news about others in need? I’d love for us to share our best resources for learning about the world around us. >carrie.

Monday, May 28, 2007


We rented an obscure movie entitled Powaqqatsi the other night. "Powaqqatsi" is from the Hopi language and means an entity, a way of life, that consumes the life forces of other beings in order to further its own life. The entity in Powaqqatsi is the North (the new world) and the one being destroyed is the South (the old world). A montage of images and music (there are no words during the entire movie, so beware if you were looking for a plot) reflect that the new way of life driven by technology is placing many cultures around the world in danger of extinction. The film doesn't preach an agenda of anti-technology, but rather shows the consequences of what we have done in the past and the danger of where we are heading.

On that note, I thought I'd list a few of my favorite movies that have a poignant message (by the way, Lance Brock gave me the idea of creating a list of movies).

1. The Constant Gardener. We saw this movie when we returned from Africa and were moved by the authentic images from the slums of Nairobi and the beautiful countryside of Kenya. Moreover, the film has an indicting message for corporations that seek gain at the expense of oppressed people. It also reminds me that helping one person, even when I can't help everyone, is still a worthwhile endeavor.

2. Gandhi. Ben Kingsley does a masterful job of portraying the revolutionary in this epic from the 80's that is way too long and pretty cheesy at times. Nonetheless, I'm challenged every time I see the subversive yet non-violent methods that this little old man uses to topple the colonialism of the powerful British empire. I think our violence is at least partly a result of a lack of imagination and creativity.

3. Born Into Brothels. A documentary about children who grow up in the brothels of Calcutta's red light district and are given a new opportunity by a woman who exposes them to the art of photography. These children reach above their extreme poverty and find hope through one person's love and compassion.

4. Hotel Rwanda. During the 90's, I didn't even realize that genocide was taking place in Rwanda. This reminds me of how myopic we Americans can be. I'm sure that similar films could be made about Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

5. Who Killed the Electric Car? I didn't know that GM produced an electric car, and subsequently pulled it off the market. This documentary made me wish I had an electric car instead of the gas-powered car that I drive (not that I'm coveting). Hopefully, sober minds and economic demand will prevail, and one day these cars will replace our gas-guzzlers.

6. The U.S. vs. John Lennon. John Lennon was a peace activist. He protested against the Vietname War to the point that he was under surveillance by the American government, which tried repeatedly to deport him. It turns out, he had a lot more to say than I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

7. Why We Fight. This documentary chronicles the development of America's military industrial complex and it's role in our global imperialism. Although we're told that our country fights for democracy, much of it is really just about money and keeping our defense industry intact. Apparently, George Washington said our country should never have a standing army. Unfortunately, we've failed to see his wisdom.

Do you have any other movies to add to this list?

- David

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Featured Family Friday

Long before I clued in to the fact that the ways of Jesus go hand-in-hand with a life of simplicity, I was intrigued by the concept. One of the first books to peak my interest was Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James. Though not Biblically-based, the book is full of practical ideas for cutting away the excess that creeps into our homes and hearts. Below are a few of the author’s “100 ways to slow down and enjoy the things that really matter” that our family has implemented into our lives over the last several years.

One of St. James’ “hardcore” simplifying suggestions is to stop making the bed. Not much of a challenge ‘round these parts! Canceling magazine subscriptions and not taking the newspaper has saved counter space, money, and the time of pilfering through it all…not to mention trees! We stay up-to-date on current events via the Internet. Living in a smaller house (compared to the average American) has forced us to reduce clutter. We’re not doling out cash to rent storage space, by golly! We also like to leave our shoes at the front door to keep from tracking who-knows-what-funk into our home. This practice also helps maintain our flooring. Plus it just feels more like home running around in our bare feet! We make use of our answering machine and don’t answer the phone just because it's ringing. And many years ago, we decided to drop call waiting; we felt that answering the obnoxious beep was like allowing someone to interrupt your conversation with someone else. Not cool. So we saved a few bucks and got rid of it. Most of the time we pack our own lunch. Healthier and much less expensive. We are also proponents of the adage to work where you live or live where you work. For us it means less stress (due to sitting in traffic), less money spent on gas, less wear-and-tear on our vehicle, and a whole lot more time with each other. And finally, one of my favorites: learn to laugh (some suggestions come more naturally than others!).

Isn’t much of the motivation to simplify about freeing up time and energy for our relationships? Matthew 6:19 reads: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth….Store your treasures in heaven….” The only thing we can carry with us into the next world are people. So why not rid ourselves of as many earthly treasures as possible? And instead focus on storing up the treasures of God’s children. Jana

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who picks up your garbage?

"No one changes his or her life overnight. A few changes that last for the rest of your life are far more powerful in their impact than dozens of changes that you can only sustain for six months or a year. The trick to changing your daily actions permanently lies in your finding a way of living that integrates your desire to make the world better with your desire to pursue your own personal dreams." --The Better World Handbook

I often become overwhelmed in trying to figure out how to live out community and feeling that I need to change everything in my life to accomplish this. There are two commercials (not that I am trying to promote consumerism here) that speak out community to me and give me hope that it isn't as complicated as I try to make it. The first one is the Coca-Cola commercial that says, "You give a little love and it all comes back to know you gonna be remembered for the things you say and do."
And the other one (an insurance commercial?) shows how one person helps someone in a small way and then that person helps another and the chain continues until it comes full circle.

Yesterday, I witnessed this "community" living from my kitchen window. The garbage truck pulled up and our next door neighbor (80ish) came walking out with a paper bag of goodies in hand and gave them to the driver of the truck. The two men, working outside the truck, emptied her trash cans and then kindly returned them back inside her fenced yard so she would not have to. This is our neighbor who also pulls in our garbage can and often sweeps our driveway (we think because we have allowed her family to park in our driveway when they come to visit her). After witnessing this interaction, it made me want to know the people of my neighborhood, whether it is the garbage men, the mailman, or my next door neighbor and to not stop short of just saying "hi" but displaying some act of kindness in their life. My challenge this week is to find one small way to live out community that will be impacting and also permanent.


Monday, May 21, 2007


I took the opportunity this weekend with a wedding at church and having to drive back and forth to Bellevue a couple of times to listen to the uncut version of Shane Claiborne's interview on American Public Radio. And in listening I had one of those, "Oh my... I can't believe I've not thought this through before" moments. He was talking about how so many churches have Statements of Faith, about what members are expected to believe, but very few have Statements of Practice, about the types of lives the members are expected to live. I don't know if that's a matter the lack of accountability people want in their lives or our desire to not mess in someone else's business. I hope that that's something that this group won't have a problem with, particularly with regard to the simplicity we are trying to affect in our own lives.

The question that I would have for the group is this: What would be some suggestions for a Statement of Practice for a group like this?

And let's get a little crazy... What would be a Statement of Practice for a 1300-attendee church?


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Featured Family Friday

On Fridays this blog will attempt to feature the journey of a person or family with respect to simplicity, community living, and/or peace and justice making.

Here is where we (Sarah and David Wilson) find ourselves on the journey:

Upon returning to Nashville from Kenya in 2005, we decided to move into a smaller house in an urban community. To do so, we had to get rid of some of the furniture and other "stuff" we had. For example, we decided that we didn't need (or have room for) two TVs anymore, one being a big-screen -- instead, one "small" 32" TV would suffice. We forewent a garage and lots of storage space, which also meant we couldn't add more things to our house without getting rid of something. This has helped keep our appetites to acquire more things we don't need in check. (It would still be nice to have a few more closets, though.)

When giving gifts, instead of buying our friends more stuff that they don't need, we often opt to make a donation on their behalf to a charity we think they might appreciate. Most of us already have all that we need so we find that we are honoring the person we are "buying" for and also giving to a community (often third world) that is out of our daily reach to help. Here are a few that we have supported on different occassions:
Mother's Day-- Food for the Poor; Birthdays-- Made In the Streets, International Justice Mission, Amnesty International; Baby gifts/showers: Abandoned Baby Center/Feed the Children.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Wasteful Society

The journey to simplicity is often about the small decisions we make every day. And our daily lives are full of waste. Too often, we are wasteful because it’s convenient, and because we can.

Did you know that 5% of the world’s population lives in the US, yet we produce 50% of the world’s waste?

Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz, & you will probably find that there aren’t enough resources on the planet for everyone to live like we do. We buy too much, we use too much water & energy and we throw too much in the landfill.

Here are my Top 5 small daily changes that make a difference.
  • Recycle - Recycling a 6-ft stack of newspapers saves the life of a 35 ft tall tree.
  • Share & Swap –Trade things like magazines, gift bags & clothes.
  • Bring your own cloth grocery bags for all types of shopping. You won’t believe how sturdy they are.
  • Cloth napkins & dishtowels instead of paper towels – Plus, it makes you feel special every day.
  • Repurpose Creatively - Wrap gifts in newspaper, turn gift bags into notecards, & use paper scraps for grocery lists. Just this month, Martha featured gifts wrapped in old maps.

  • These are just a few ideas. The possibilities are endless. For more ideas, visit or Green Learning. >carrie.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Inviting Others to Dinner

    Below is a "simple" saying by Jesus presented by Luke. I have rarely heard it discussed, let alone seen it put into practice.

    Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed."

    I find this is to be a difficult teaching.
    Not that it's hard to understand. On the contrary, it's quite simple.
    However, it is yet another example of a subversive message by Jesus that challenges those in power. Here and throughout the gospels he uses the notion of "table" as a microcosm of society and shows a new order, set agains accepted cultural norms.
    It's somewhat easy to dissect the polemic pronounced by Jesus and analyze how he rejects the status quo. It's more difficult, however, to put it into practice.


    - David

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Hopeful Beginnings

    "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -M.K. Ghandi

    We hope from this blog that individuals can be connected in a way that challenges each of us to change the world. We, the authors, first humbly come, recognizing that we are merely presenting ideas to discuss and debate but do not come declaring that we have discovered all the "right" answers. Our hope is that many will visit and comment with their ideas and even suggest new topics to cover that will help each of us make small changes that make big impacts on the world around us.

    Here are some of the topics that we will try to touch:

    --Spiritual discussions & ideas
    --Practical Ways to Save & Reduce Waste
    --Family Features – Your journey in simplicity and community
    --Companies & Products – The good, bad & the ugly.
    --Exchange/Share Post – listings of things available for trade
    --Services Post – What you do that may be of use to others
    --Community – Events in areas of town, ideas about how we can live in community
    --Environmental & Health – Products, Food, Earth, Gardening
    --Service – How can we help those in our community
    --Consumerism --affects on Americans
    --World Issues--Global & Local Needs
    --Book Reviews, Sites of interest & Suggestions

    Today, we have added a new suggested site recommended by Doug. Please check it out!

    My review of The Irresistible Revolution

    Hi all.

    I read Claiborne's book last fall and here's the take that I had on it from my blog back then. It might be a jumping off point for some discussion on it.

    Well, as I've mentioned, I finished The Irresistible Revolution this last weekend. And I will say at the outset that it's a very good read. I can't say I enjoyed it, because it's the type of reading that you don't really enjoy, because of a couple of reasons. 1) It makes me realize how big the task of caring for the poor and marginalized is. 2) It makes me realize how inadequate I really am to try and help with even a small corner of that task. More on that later though...

    One of the most interesting things about this book is the stories that Shane Claiborne tells about his life so far. He went from organizing student protests for the homeless to deciding that he wanted to spend a summer in Calcutta with Mother Theresa (so he called her up and asked her if he could come; she answered and said yes). He then came back to the States and did a year long internship with Willow Creek Community Church, which was a huge culture shock for him. These stories are really interesting as is his perspective. One thing he talked about was trying to feel like the rich at Willow Creek were as in need of help as the lepers and those in extreme poverty that he interacted with Calcutta. But one thing he said that Mother Theresa said to look for was the poverty that everyone had, and he realized that the rich or well off had a poverty of relationship. They were lonely. That was very intriguing insight.

    He quoted from Dorothy Day a lot and she had some interesting quotes. For instance, "When I fed the poor, they called me a saint; when I asked why they were poor, they called me a communist." Something else that Claiborne talked about was that people of privilege and middle class will often use charity as a buffer to keep from being around the poor. It's easier to give money to a cause than it is to actually be around those we claim to want to help. That was an extremely convicting idea.

    Last Friday, when I first mentioned this book, Sam Davidson commented that Shane's life and theology were very consistent, meaning he really lives what he believes. He acts on his theology. I'm not sure I can really be the extraordinary radical that Shane and the community at the Simple Way in Philadelphia are, but maybe it's the goal to become an ordinary one.


    btw, Carrie, did you ever find someone to scan your pictures in? If not, email me and we can talk about it.


    Monday, May 7, 2007

    And so it begins...

    A small group of Nashvillians met yesterday to discuss what this means to be a "follower of Jesus." We did not come to any conclusions but we did come up with a few ideas and more questions that followed.

    1. Living in community is essential... but what does this look like?
    Possibly it is about proximity. If we lived closer to each other, things like child care and sharing what we own are much easier. But how close should we live?
    Possibly it is in the same neighborhood or even possibly in the same facility (a complex of small apartments with a common area where we all can gather and invite people from the community).

    2. Living out a socially responsible life...but who does that include?
    Possibly it includes the homeless, or the divorced, or the single mother, or the children living in the projects, or the workers in sweatshops.
    Possibly it includes all Americans (rich or poor) who are lost in consumerism.

    3. Living a simpler life...but how do we define that?
    Possibly it is owning less things, giving more things away, or sharing our things.
    Possibly it is working less hours (if possible), or saying "no" to the busyness of our lives/children's lives.

    There are many more ideas floating out there with even more questions that follow. But, again, this is only the beginning of where we hope to go.