Readers Forum :: How You Are Making it Through the Downturn with Less

Our readers share their strategies for surviving and thriving in hard economic times.

The New Economy issue of YES! looks at ways we can build a new economy out of the ruins of the old one. Built on new forms of money, democratic finance, and business, the new economy is about increasing the quality of life, improving health, and restoring the environment.

Readers helped us think about this issue and shared how they are helping to create a new Earth- and human-centered economy.

We’d love to hear your comments too. Please email us.

What are you and your family doing to make it through the economic downturn and to help others during these tough times?

Harvest time at La Finca, photo by Sarah Hanningan
Swap It
I have fun by swapping clothes with other women, as well as participating in a yearly December gift swap and a spring stuff swap.
—Barbara Hughes, Portland, Oregon


Work It
I am working with a small committee of volunteers to put on a winter farmer’s market in Dubuque, Iowa. It is a community building event through the winter, plus has really increased the income for the 25-30 farmer vendors we have every week.
—Paul Opperman

Start Fresh
The economy is creating many personal hardships, but on the other hand I feel that we have all been released from some terrible burden of expectation and false hopes about our work lives. It seemed that we were working harder and harder, and yet the threat of losing our jobs to outsourcing, or doubting the spin on how the opportunities drove us on. I have been caught in a race for profits that did not bring benefits to my family or my community. Now there is the exhilarating possibility to create the jobs that we are supposed to be doing.
—Sandra Thaxter


Donate it
Some friends and I have started a club where we meet once a month and bring charitable goods including food and toiletries, to donate to those in need. It is amazing how many “staples” (i.e. oatmeal, canned veggies, raisins, pasta—plus toothbrushes, pads, tampons, and soap) I can buy for $26!
—Sabrina Payne


Love and Show Gratitude
We are grateful for the people who surround us. People have lost jobs, had to work fewer days, give up their homes, and cut back. Our community embraces them and supports them. We have been trying to get together more often, to stay in touch with one another’s lives. Whatever is going on beyond the aura of our community is muted and minimized by the radiance from within. It is not extraordinary love, just daily, regular contact and outreach. We are doing what we are called to do: Love one another, and be grateful.
—Chuck Manske


Freecycle it
I’m reusing a lot—washing out ziplock baggies, trash bags, take-out containers—whatever I can reuse I do. We’re making more at home and going out less, and I’m using resources like Freecycle and Craigslist more.


Jump on it
We sold our waterfront townhouse just before the collapse, and moved to a bungalow on an acre of farmland, where we hope to become as self-sufficient in food as possible. We plan on growing grains, fruits and nuts, as well as the usual vegetables. With any luck we will have extra to share. We joined a local community farm co-op to help preserve farmland and local agriculture. We are both very involved in the community, I am offering my cartographic skills with community mapping, and my wife with local politics. We see this so-called downturn as an opportunity, not a calamity. This is an incentive to focus on re-creating local community, working together, helping each other, and freeing ourselves from the economic bondage of the consumer culture.
—Alan Philip


We are actively forming a coopertive, collaboritive business network. It started 4 years ago with a non profit, Gardens for Humanity. From there one woman owned business was lauched—Jasmine’s Gardens and Landscaping. Now we are working on Lauching "Rebecca’s Farm" with a focus on winter production of greens using cold frames. We are also launching a mushroom growing project. And last year we launched our own compost operation. Most of our funding is through grants. We hope to get our sustainable businesses up so they can then bring in funding for the non profit, to help cooperative small businesses start-ups. We have also just started our own alternative health cooperative.
—Jasmine Shoshanna


Let it go
I am focusing on all the blessings for which I am grateful. I am strengthening my spirituality while letting go of the materialistic world

The readers comments above were made in response to our February 2009 email newsletter

Read the newsletter: Let Wall Street Die

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