Resources for the Good Life

family and simple living

The Center for a New American Dream teaches how to  buy in a more environmentally and socially conscious manner. Instructs  individuals on ways to encourage businesses, communities, and governments  to change the way goods are produced and consumed. Provides downloadable  guides to simplify life, tips for parenting in a commercial culture, and  more., 301/891-3683

Simplicity Lessons: A 12-Step Guide to Living Simply  by Linda Breen Pierce (Gallagher Press, 2003), is a workbook for people  who want to simplify their lives. She offers suggestions, resources, discussion  questions, and assignments that help readers reflect on their consumer  habits, relationship to money, commitment to community, and time spent  with family. Pierce also maintains a website called The Simplicity Resource  Guide, which offers resources for simplifying one's life and instructions  on how to start simplicity study groups. This website can be found at

Simple Living, a PBS series hosted by Wanda Urbanska,  will begin airing on PBS in July of 2004. It will highlight people who  are leading lives of environmental stewardship, thoughtful consumption,  community involvement, and financial responsibility. Check local listings.

The Circle of Simplicity by Cecile Andrews (Perennial,  1998), advises people to focus on creativity, community, and caring for  the environment. Also offers detailed instructions on how to form and  run a simplicity circle.

What Kids Really Want That Money Can't Buy by  Betsy Taylor, Director of Center for a New American Dream, (Warner Books,  2003), advises parents on how to raise children to experience joy, love,  and acceptance without focusing on having more stuff. Ideas range from  reconnecting to nature to creating meaningful family traditions and from  teaching kids media literacy to fighting prejudice.

The War Against Parents by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and  Cornel West (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998), advocates for parents to fight  back against a society where big business, government, and the wider culture  create a hostile environment for parenting. The authors encourage a parent's  movement that will implement a “Parents' Bill of Rights,''  including such items as paid parenting leave, a living wage, and family  health coverage.

finding time

Six Months Off by Hope Dlugozima, James Scott, and  David Sharp (Henry Holt, 1996), is a comprehensive guide for taking a  sabbatical without losing your job or alienating friends and family. Includes  advice on making a proposal to your employer, financial issues, and health  insurance alternatives.

The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes  Work, by Arlie Russel Hochschild (Owl Books, reissued 2001), explores  how excessive work creates stress at home, which in return leads people  to spend more time at work. Explores alternatives to this negative cycle. 

Take Back Your Time, edited by John de Graaf, (Berrett  Koehler, 2003), presents essays, which offer suggestions for reclaiming  Americans' most precious resource. This is the handbook for a national  movement that is raising awareness about the nine extra weeks that Americans  work compared to our trans-Atlantic neighbors.

Sharing the Work, Sparing the Planet: Work Time, Consumption,  & Ecology by Anders Hayden (Zed Books, 2000), explores how reducing  work time can increase the rate of employment and decrease environmental  degradation in industrial societies. Looks at a range of solutions such  as a shorter work week, early retirement, and parental leave. Also explores  political, economic, and cultural obstacles that need to be overcome to  reduce work hours.

In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging  the Cult of Speed by Carl Honoré (Harper San Francisco,  2004), explores the “slow movement,” of people around the world  who are slowing down the pace, bringing depth back to relationships, and  living happier, more productive, and healthier lives in return. Attempts  to integrate modern technology into a balanced life.

Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Vacations That Will Benefit  You and Others by Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, and Anne Geissinger  (Chicago Review Press, 8th Edition, 2003), is a resource guide for vacations  that are culturally enriching and service-oriented. Profiles more than  200 organizations and thousands of opportunities worldwide and in the  United States.

food and the good life

American Community Garden Association has a website  that lists community gardens by cities, provides basic information needed  to start a community garden, tips on gardening with seniors and people  with disabilities, and more.

Vancouver Community Kitchen Project maintains a website  to support community kitchens, which gather people to cook healthy meals.  The website instructs on how to begin a community kitchen and offers resources  for community kitchens in progress.

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, a  web resource, explains Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and enables  readers to do a state-by-state search for CSAs. Provides resources and  ideas on how to eat seasonably and regionally.

community and commons

The Citizens Handbook, a web-based resource, provides  a do-it-yourself guide to community organizing. Also provides instructions  on how to initiate community activities such as community gardens, block  parties, and community kitchens. 

The Community Toolbox, a web resource, offers over  200 sections of practical guidance to develop a healthy community. Sections  include: cultural competence; spirituality; the arts and community building;  analyzing community problems; promoting interest and participation.

Reinventing the Commons, on the web, provides an  overview on the commons as a concept and guides people in writing letters  to the editor on issues that pertain to the commons. 

Intentional Communities provides a city-by-city search  engine that lists intentional communities and intentional community resources.

Superbia! by David Wann and Dan Chiras (New Society  Publishers, 2003), presents examples of communities that are creating  public green spaces, revitalizing local businesses, retrofitting homes  for energy efficiency, and implementing various other sustainable solutions.  Extensive resource guide helps readers implement solutions.

Natural Assets: Democratizing Environmental Ownership,  edited by James K. Boyce and Barry G. Shelly (Island Press, 2003), is  a collection of essays, which document examples and ideas of how people  in rural and urban settings can simultaneously reduce poverty and protect  the environment.

Time Dollar Institute promotes Time Dollars, a medium  of exchange that allows people to convert their time and skills into purchasing  power. An hour helping another earns one Time Dollar. Provides instructions  on now to create a neighbor-to-neighbor Time Dollar exchange. (See YES!  #23).

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