Category Archives: giving back

Month of Hundreds

The “Month of Hundreds” is now over, a social experiment of sorts that a Portland woman, Jill Ginsberg, chose as a way of honoring her recently belated mother. She spent every day for the past month giving a hundred dollar bill to a stranger, and then sharing her/their story in her blog. Like many, I first found out about her quest in an Oregonian article.


Jill’s mother was a holocaust survivor, and after loosing her affluent lifestyle at a young age, lived the rest of her life “Believing financial ruin was just around the corner.” Even once she should have had no founded fear of providing for her family, she “lived forever with a deeply held conviction that life was defined by scarcity and want.” Jill seems to appreciate most of the values her mother passed along, but she is honest in questioning whether her mother’s adversity toward charity really helped her live her life to the fullest.


I would highly encourage you to read Jill’s blog, it’s partly a story about shifting your view of money and giving, but more so a story about how important it is to connect with others, and how we can all make an impact in the lives of others – C note or not. And, fair warning, it may make you cry.


Could you give a hundred dollars to a stranger?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Solo Vacations

We chose to take solo vacations this summer for a few reasons. First off Hubby had a few weeks more vacation, since I sucked up mine through maternity leave. Secondly, backpacking is something we simply can’t do together with young kids, although we are planning on a short backpacking trip together.


Hubby is gone backpacking this week in the Wallowa Mountains, mentoring through Big City Mountaineers. He is no doubt high on fresh mountain air and freedom from fatherly responsibilities.


Although I was admittedly enjoying myself at the Oregon Country Fair, I’m definitely missing him now that I’m home. I’ve been mentally counting down his return, and attempting to keep some chaordic balance. 


I naively thought that I would be super-Mama, and have the house tidy and all the to-dos tackled when he returns. But I got quite the surprise when our Big Guy was sent home with dreaded lice, which has been running rampant. Needless to say, I’ve washed a mountain of laundry and am ever grateful for our extra capacity energy efficient LG washer/dryer.


It’s been a lesson in patience and humbleness, and I sure hope Hubby is having more fun than me this week! Sometimes absence does make you appreciate the abundance you take for granted. 




Do you ever take separate vacations?
How do you make them equitable and manageable?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Global Gratitude

After writing about the importance of asking for more money, I feel the need to reflect on how grateful I am for gainful employment and a gratifying career. It’s important to remind myself just how rich Americans are in the global picture, and how fortunate we are to have such a high standard of living.


Where do you rank on the global rich list? I found this brilliant site where you simply input your salary and it ranks your global wealth.



I double majored in International Studies and Environmental Studies, and recall first learning about colonialism and the so-called Third World. Here’s a quick video from a Princeton professor who discusses the need to reframe the global economy to meet the needs of the poorest billion people. Don’t worry, it’s not overly academic.


How do you help your children understand just how lucky they are to have fresh vegetables and comfortable shoes? I found a very talented graphic who created some genius graphics from the statistics about what the world would look like if it were a village of 100 people. I am definitely going to save this for the day when my kiddos ask me to explain the inequality of the world.


Do you feel rich?
How do you get global perspective?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Green Giving

I don’t know about you, but I always find it a challenge to buy gifts for adults. There are lots of great green gifts out there for grads and dads, but honestly I’m not sure if they really need any of them. What do you give someone who has everything?


This year I decided to give my Dad and Father each a micro-loan through Kiva. You can give true gift certificates, but I wanted to be thoughtful about it so I chose.


For my Father, I found a woman in El Salvador, Ana Vilma Gomez, who needs funds to support her kitchen that serves traditional meals. I was actually looking for someone with a bee-keeper business since my Grandfather kept bees, but she came up when I searched for honey and seemed like the right recipient for my Father since he traveled through Central America before I was born.


For my Dad I found a mechanic from Bolivia named Luis who is building his business with his wife. I liked is hard-working profile and how he poised to prosper if he can secure a relatively small loan.


I wrote about Kiva and posted a video that you can check out too.


Have you given a loan/gift of Kiva?
Use this link to lend your first $25 for free!


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Beach Clean-up

My first SOLV beach clean-up was sometime in my teens, and it had a big impact personally. It was empowering see volunteers dotting the beach on a common mission to restore the beach to its natural beauty and remove the hazards of humanity. I don’t know if I should feel proud or disgusted, but SOLV reported over 50,000 pounds of garbage removed at the last beach clean-up. I haven’t participated in a formal beach clean-up since college, and I’m ready to make this a family tradition. It’s a simple and fun way to feel both an immediate gratification and a long term connection, both socially and environmentally. 

We’re also going to be “yurting” with friends at a campground, which will certainly make it an affordable getaway. If you haven’t been to a yurt before, they are semi-permanent tents (originally from Mongolian nomads.) Oregon’s state park yurts include beds to sleep up to five people with lighting and small heaters. Yurts are like hybrid-camping with basic amenities in a campground atmosphere, and a great way to get in nature during the off season. We’ll get a campfire and s’mores without the need to bundle up like marshmallows ourselves. We’re also not going to be roughing it entirely as we’re staying near a small coastal town and will be grabbing pizza on Friday night and planning brunch on Sunday. My only advice is to plan early, at least in Oregon, yurts are so popular that they are booked six months in advance…so plan your next family adventure soon!

Do you participate in clean-ups with your family?
How about yurting?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

PS The Spring 2010 beach clean-up totaled over 70,500 pounds!