Category Archives: activism

Taxing Priorities

If you divvied up your household spending into a single dollar, what would your pennies be spent on? 

I’m guessing that the bulk would go toward housing and feeding your family, with transportation and child care requirements taking up another chunk of your “dollar.” Ideally you’d have enough money left to “play” with and that spending would reflect your unique values and interests. Yet, I’d be shocked to find any family I know spending significant portions on a security system or theft insurance.

So, it still stuns me that the majority of federal taxes, our hard earned money, goes toward military spending. In 2009, U.S. taxes spent more on past military debt than education and energy/environment policies combined. Here’s a great graphic that shows where your money was spend, you can check out a full report from the National Priorities Project.

Think about it for a moment, where are our priorities as a nation?  I respect service to your country, but is military indebtedness going to make our children safer?

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

4 yrs from now?

I felt the calling to start this blog not because of some new revelation, but because I feel like this is the time to up the ante, share ideas and connect. I can’t afford to wait until my children are older and life is “easier.”
All parents know how quickly kiddos grow and we suddenly our internal clock is measured by their growth. In the daily hubbub, we don’t often take the time to reflect on what type of a world they will inherit.

My co-worker shared two inspiring activism groups: 
mothersactingup on behalf of the children
They were writing about a new convergence of worldwide action called  Four Years. Go.  This short video says everything I’m feeling and want to express.

I hope you’ll join the call to action.

How old will your kids be four years from now?

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

Live: Story of Stuff

After putting Girly to bed and kissing the Boys goodbye, I headed for a rare treat of an intellectual night out. I was jazzed to see my new personal guru Annie Leonard, the intrepid “host” of The Story of Stuff  at my favorite place:  Powell’s City of Books.  

It’s hard to express how energized her talk made me feel. I feel like we both just touched the tip of the iceberg.  I found so many personal connections to her own story. Like Annie, I’ve been thinking and learning about environmental/social issues for twenty years. Annie talked about how peers told her that she needed to get out of her head and listen to her heart.   One of the wisest people I’ve ever known, tribal elder Grandma Aggie , once told me that the longest journey we will ever take is 9 inches, from our head to our heart. Like Annie, I’ve had my own challenge of taking issues and myself too seriously and I feel like I’m finally finding my voice by sharing my story in bite-size blog posts. Unlike me, Annie has already reached over 8 million people worldwide with her video!  Like me, Annie is an activist at heart. I started my career in the non-profit world as a climate activist, and now consider myself an “online activist” and I’ve already shared some of my favorite organizations/causes with you (check activism category). In spite of being highly educated about the issues, Annie is also hopeful. She reminded me of my all-time favorite quote, the Hopi Nation Prayer, which ends like this:

“The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Suffice to say, Annie’s story left me totally inspired.

So, I broke a cardinal rule, and bought her new book. Annie even signed it to “Green Mama” so if you’re in Portland, I’d love to share it with as many Mamas as possible. I’d also encourage you to consider buying a copy yourself (already on the NY Times best seller list!) to share amongst your friends.

The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And a Vision for Change

Lastly, Annie’s message resonates so deeply with me that I can’t help but share more with you about her book as I read it. I hope you’ll make the connections with me and together we will find ways to live in sustainable abundance, without all the toxic stuff!

Are you an Annie Leonard fan? 
Who inspires you?

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

Pipes Cost

You might want to plan on spending more money on your family’s basic water and sewer utility costs in the near future and for generations to come. The amount may vary depending on your location, U.S. or otherwise, but the trend is definitely upward. 

Before I go any further on this topic, I want to give a big hallelujah for being eternally grateful that my family enjoys these “services” for a relatively minimal price. It is awe-inspiring that generations before us were able to accomplish such engineering feets, and gut wrenching to know how many people around the planet cannot rely on this simple “luxury.”

In p-town you can buy 4 gallons clean water for a penny!   So if you’re trying to save your family some money, don’t even think of grabbing some bottled water…but do watch the new video! 

Even though the current distributions systems are pretty inexpensive, aging infrastructure is going to be costly to maintain. Public underfunding of this critical human service needs to be addressed. Most Americans spend way more on bottled beverages than we do for all the water we use to drink, bathe, wash everything, play…you get the point! (More info on EPA’s Water Infrastructure page)

While traditionally known for advocating to protect and restore rivers, American Rivers is now campaigning to maintain a cost-effective water supply and  fund clean water infrastructure  in order to prevent pollution. This is not your typical sexy mega-fauna activism topic, but what would the burden be on on our children’s generation if we don’t pay for the infrastructure maintenance now?

Certainly less glamorous than a glass of clean tap water, our sewers that whisk away waste and storm water are like an unsung hero in the world of city infrastructure. Storm water is the top source of non-point pollution; meaning we don’t really know where its coming from, but it’s being gathered off roofs and streets and in many cases flushed to the river.

Sewers/storm water management can also go a long way toward continuing existing urban environmental problems or being part of the solution.  Green stormwater solutions actually cost less than traditional discharge fees, but industries and municipalities have to be proactive.

Recently the “sewer” portion of utility bills actually explains that we each pay a Portland Harbor Superfund charge. River clean-up actually hasn’t begun yet, since industry is bickering over who is most potentially responsible, but the bottom line is that we are starting to pick up what will amount to be a very big tab to restore the river. Check out Willamette Riverkeepers’ site for more info on how to get involved. 

Do you think your water/sewer rates are fair?
What would pay to buy the convenience of reliable infrastructure? 

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

You Win Some You Lose Some

Some days don’t go as planned and you just have to make it up as you go. The past few days have been like that for me. Instead of being healthy and happy for Girly’s big 1st, three of the four of us were feeling green, and not the good kind.

Lose – I found out that the email sign-up was accidently misdirected! So, if waisted a moment of your life trying to sign up, I profusely apologize. Please give me another moment by signing up!

Win – Once I was feeling remotely better, I managed to get together donations to drop off at the Goodwill.

Lose – I realized that most of my cast-offs were generous freebie offerings from family members, and I need to do a better job of politely saying no.

Win – I made a few score finds at the Goodwill, including a pair of cute Girly jeans, two Berenstain Bear books for BigGuy, a National Park to-go coffee mug for Hubby, and a cute purple checkered blouse for myself.

Lose – I caved on emotional purchase, and couldn’t help myself from buying the original Parent Trap 1 & 2; as a twin, it’s one of my favorite childhood movies.

Win – Both Oregon ballot measures 66 & 67 that I shared in Green Taxes, passed overwhelming!

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