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. www.newdream.org, 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 www.gallagherpress.com/pierce/
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.
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. www.timeday.org
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. www.communitygarden.org
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. www.communitykitchens.ca
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. www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa
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. www.vcn.bc.ca/citizens-handbook
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. http://ctb.ku.edu
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. www.earthisland.org/tbi
Intentional Communities provides a city-by-city search engine that lists intentional communities and intentional community resources. www.ic.org
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). www.timedollar.org
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