Orwell on Beggars

In 1933 George Orwell stated in a short essay, “In all the modern talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of of it, what meaning is there except “Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it”?

Well it seems to me that we have not moved to far from there in the last 75 years. The question foremost in my mind now is if an economic downturn helps us focus differently, towards other things then money. Or on the other hand does it instead focus us even more intently on money as the root of all.  From what I am seeing all around me people are focusing more then ever on how to “get there”.  

I personally am going to take this oppurtunity to align what I really believe in with my feelings about money.  It will be a challenge, but I will get there.


Why Money Matters

Money matters whether you like it or not.  This might fire someone up that is choosing to live voluntarily on less.  In fact many amazing people are choosing life paths that include less money, on purpose.  They figure out all kinds of creative ways like bartering, free cycling, charity and more to avoid money.  They want nothing to do with it because it creates so many problems.  So does money matter to them, obviously it matters a lot, they are doing everything they can do avoid it.

I am not total satisfied with my personal relationship with money, but I know it matters.  I refuse to hide from its light and dark sides.  Is it possible to define a right and wrong when it comes to earning money or is it all shades of gray.  What do you think?  I am sure I don’t know.

Banks Don’t Have to Charge/Pay Interest

I think people assume that banks have to charge interest or pay interest in order to operate.  That really does not make sense.  Banks do operate without interest and the more I think about it the more it makes sense for them to.

The Kiva loan site previously mentioned got me to thinking about interest free micro loans.  This bank in Michigan added fuel to the mental fire.  The Michigan bank bases a lot of it’s practices on the goal to conform to Islamic laws around money.  I think a new look at money and lending from the many lenses of the major religions could be valuable.  Christianity has a bit to say about interest and money as well.  The religions of the world offer up  a great long-term moral compass and we should use the lessons taught to make our way forward.  This seems especially important in the current financial environment where morals seemed to be loose at best.

In order for people to be able to have a new system they must be able to operate financially.  The best way to transition to the new is working within the current system.  I hope to continue exploring the practicalities of operating in a world with no interest.  Once you move beyond the idea that your money should grow just for being money you can start to get creative in regards to what it should grow for.

Non-Profit Focus – Kiva – #1

I believe that a number of non-profits are helping to shape the world.  Many people know about the major non-profits, but I think people could do their local community some good by seeing what efforts for change are going on near by.

One of my favorite “global” non-profits is Kiva.  They help to match up lenders (us) and financially needing individuals with micro loans.  Their goal is to help people all over the world to come up with the starting capital to better their lifes.  I will talk often on this blog about all of the changes we need to make and how money is a huge factor in that change.  It is important to remember that for people forced further down the economic scale are often living closer to the life I aspire.  At the same time they don’t have the capital to make sustainable changes.  I think micro loans have the ability to change this.

Kiva’s site has a great interface and I always enjoy looking at my pages.  If you are so inclined, check them out!


Tiny House and Neat Hotels

I love small houses.  They remind me of sailboats.  The efficient use of space and energy just seem to make sense.  One of the most creative small house advocates is Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.  If you want to challenge yourself and review some great plans check his out.

I also could not pass up posting a heads up on this great hotel project.  This really gets the juices flowing, people are doing it.  We all have to push to keep the momentum of doing things “different”.  Not all the things that are tried will make sense or work ultimately, but that is just fine, we have to make it out to try.


Now this look pretty inviting to me.


Local Artists designed the interiors.


The recycled airstream trailers are all on the roof of a historic hotel.

Check out the link here for more pictures and information.

Big Loops, Little Loops, and Lollipops Part I

I was listening to a radio program on preserving food and the guest mention that for some people putting up food was an economic and political act of defiance against the current system and “big loops.”  An example of a big loop might be the activity and energy it takes for an apple grown in New Zealand to end up in a grocery store down the street from my house.  By eating local, growing your own, preserving your own, eating in season and other steps your are shrinking your loops.

My goal as I move forward is to try have smaller loops in my life and support Lollipops when they make sense as well. 

This little picture is a good, yet simplified example of what I mean.  If you really think about all the steps involved it will boggle the mind.



Religion – What Is It Not Good For

I am not religious by any commonly accepted measures.  I don’t identify with any specific religious group or adhere to specific religious rules that could be attributed to a certain religion.  I do read different religious texts and follow many well know religious thinkers.

I do however, think that the wisdom that religions have to offer are on balance amazing!  Now I can site all types of examples of specific church situations that are negative.  What I have found is that most of the time it is the person that is the real problem not the religion.  So when I hear that another “strong” Christian cheated on his wife, I don’t think Christians suck, I think that guy sucks.  When I hear that another Islamic “terrorist” did x,y,z I think about the futility of violence and sadness of the event.  I don’t think about Islam. 

When I read some particularly gruesome ancient law in a religious text I shake my head and count my blessings that we are beyond that.  I could never take a single religion lock, stock and barrel.  Life is change and variance, we have to be flexible to reach our potential.  I take what I can from the worlds religions and try to give back what I can as well.  Someone will tell me that such and such religion is bad to the bone.  Well if it really has nothing to offer, then fine I will move onto the next, but so far I have found so much good stuff I am optimistic there is more to learn.

 A single religion cannot give me all the answers, but I think that all religions together have found many of the answers.  Religion is not good as a shortcut to a myopic view of the world.  On the other hand, the knowledge of the worlds religion is fertile ground for those of us who wish to dig in the soil of new ideas in the hopes of cultivating our own garden of wisdom.

Good luck in your personal quest for wisdom and fulfillment!!

Gardening what you Eat

I love gardening.  That is right I am in my 30s and I love plants.  It seems to me that more and more people are realizing just how fun and exciting plants can be.  My personal plant passion is edible plants.  One of the most magical recent memories happened last summer.  Every weekend (remember I am a working stiff) I would open the door and the whole family would head out to graze the land.  This specific memory happened on a sunny day when a neighbor stopped by.  We chatted as the kids ran around (ages two and four) and all of the sudden he stopped in mid sentence and said, “hey your kids are eating those plants” he seemed very concerned.  I looked over and noticed they were eating some mint leaves.  I told him that they eat all kinds of things in the yard.  He was shocked and concerned that I would let them, because they might eat something that was not good for them.  I explained carefully that I taught them what they could eat and not eat and that as of yet I had never had a problem.  The kids proceeded to show him five different things that they ate within ten feet of where we were standing.  He shook his head is disbelief, as I smiled with pride at my children and plants.

We live on a large city lot in the Pacific Northwest, but on that land we have a growing number of plants you can eat.  I can’t recommend growing edibles enough!  I hope to add some pictures as the weather turns.  I just put in my spring plant order and my favorite nursery www.raintreenursery.com.  I am by no means a master gardener, but maybe others can learn from my mistakes.

$5,000 Paper House

So reading about the new $5,000 paper house gets me excited.  The problem is that is seems like all of the interesting new ideas outthere never reallly happen.  I think this has to do with the lack of integral thinking and the inability of developed markets to incorporate new ideas.  The places that can afford easily to do something like this won’t let it happen.

Every person with a large yard could erect one or even five of these nice little units in a short time.  I see a benefit for the homeless for sure, but I also see a benefit for those that just don’t want to start running on the hedonic treadmill, yet don’t have an alternative.  Lets say that before you buy your first house or first car someone explained that with $10,000 you could have a house (shelter), bike (transportation), nourishment and health insurance for a year. 

The big question now for this person is what do you WANT to do for work knowing that you NEED $5,000 – $10,000 per year not $50,000.  This changes everything, but the question is will the dominate system let it happen.  I am worried that the answer is no, but I would love to be proved wrong.

Oh and what I would really love to see is ten of these little units inside a commercial green house on an acre of land with permaculture gardens and cottage industries on site.  This is the future, if we will let it happen.

Back on the Horse

I am going to really try and do this blog thing. I have so much going on that it seems like the last thing I should do. On the other hand, the more I think about it, this is the first thing I should be doing. So let the blogging and maybe someday participation of readers begin!

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