Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why we need simplicity, now more than ever

I awoke to the news of the second catastrophic earthquake to hit the western hemisphere within two months. Photos of collapsed buildings, bridges and roads are a sobering reminder of just how powerful nature can be. And earthquakes suck. A lot. There is no warning and there is almost little you can do to completely prepare for them. We are always looking for someone to blame when catastrophe strikes, but it is hard to point the finger at an enemy when an earthquake hits (though most start with construction that fails and those responsible for help that is slow in response time).
What is most frightening is the fact that both earthquakes hit in areas that had not had a major quake for centuries. It makes people wonder, 'where next'? There is most likely going to be fatigue in donations after the big push for Haiti, and with hope, I pray that the loss of life will be infinitely smaller than Haiti.

Living simply can give us the ability to prepare for the occasion when disaster strikes-conserving your money and your energy for when you may truly need it or, when it is needed to help others who cannot help themselves.  You could live your life in constant fear, or you can live your life aware that it is finite and beautiful. Simplicity helps you accept that possessions are just “things”, so that if they are lost, it can be of lesser consequence. Use less resources, keep the environment clean, and pace yourself, for life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Help get “The Simplicity Connection” into the Los Angeles Public Library!

Go to this link, and fill in the blanks (the answers are The Simplicity Connection, C.B. Davis, Trafford Publishing 2009, ISBN: 978-1-4251-4998-7) you don't even have to be a card holder to suggest a purchase. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reading List: Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days (Vanessa Farquharson)

I picked this one up based on its title and cover, and decided to give it a fair chance because these days, I pretty much will ready anything with the word 'green' on it. The title is pretty gimmicky, most likely aimed at urban 20-somethings like Vanessa who love their designer purses and trendy cocktails but can't seem to silence the voice that reminds them of their childhood diet of environmental education. She gets kudos for taking on some big issues that I personally can't convince myself to do (giving up the car, shutting off the cable, and unplugging the fridge) but with a goal of 366 environmental challenges (the project fell on a leap year), the list is quite a bit uneven in places (like: 68. Using a natural bronzer, 250. Not using any toothpicks, 356. Going skinny dipping, and 363. Deleting all spam and stale emails from my Gmail inbox)

The highlight for me was when she got No Impact Man Colin Bevan to admit how exactly he and his family gave up using toilet paper for their own year-long challenge-information that was not included in Bevan's book or  documentary and answers he would give to interviewers were always curt and left the question unanswered. She did write one of my favorite new quotes about: “the compost hitting the wind turbine”.

If you're looking for solutions, it is worth a scan only if you are new to the challenge of being more environmental but if you've been around the eco-block a time or two, the list will leave you thinking you've heard it all before. (or you can just head to her blog, which she's since stopped updating, the full list of 366 changes is:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Go 'dils!

Well it may be February, but spring has definitely sprung here in southern California. The daffodils have been in bloom since late January, but today was the first day over 70º and you could feel the city just breathe a sigh that the cold rains are seemingly gone. I found it a great day to pull down the curtains and run them through the wash to get rid of the winter grime. The sun gave me a new creative energy that's propelled me through the day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

So it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to write about The Cove, the now Oscar-nominated documentary about dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. When first released last August, it didn't make much of a splash (no pun intended), in that it stayed mainly in the art houses and the reviews I read didn't even inspire me to drop the ten bucks to seek it out. But now, hopefully since its release on DVD and the press it will receive from award season, more people will give it a chance. I expected another activist/eco-documentary, but what I didn't expect was how affected I would be by the story. Called “Ocean's Eleven-meets-Flipper”, it follows a team of marine biologists, adrenaline junkies, high-tech filmmakers and animal activists on a journey to expose the horrific slaughter of 23,000 dolphins each year in a small inlet in Japan. The true reason for why this community feels the need to exterminate so many dolphins so brutally is not really made clear (is it because their culture depends on dolphin meat for food? Because the fishing industry fears that dolphins eat too many fish? Is it that protecting dolphins under International Whaling Commission guidelines would call more attention to Japan's whaling industry? And if any of these are actually the reason, why are they treating the cove as such a dirty little secret?)
The cast, with their movie-star good looks and top-of-the-line equipment (courtesy of Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas' company that most notably created all those Star Wars movies and creatures) lead a covert operation to capture on video what hides behind the stone walls of the cove and expose to the world the truth about the slaughter. The music was beautifully done, the narrative so suspenseful it gave the plight of these animals even more urgency. I would have liked to seen more interviews with Taiji locals, surely more than just the 2 councilmen featured (and the angry fishermen who threaten the filmmakers' and cover their cameras) had some insight into why their community was a part of this practice. There is some highly graphic footage contained in the movie, but by the time you reach this part of the story, you are so drawn in by the suspense of learning the secret of the cove that can't look away. And hopefully, the world won't turn away until the slaughter stops.

Learn more about the movie
Take action
 Buy the DVD at

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jumping in the Freecycle Pool

Well, I've taken the plunge and joined the other free-cyclers in my neighborhood and I have to say what a great way to both get rid of something you don't use and also try to find something you truly will use all without spending a cent. I lurked on the message boards for a few weeks before trying to decide what it was I wanted to ask for (a battery operated pump for my balance ball-still no offers though) but after seeing a WANTED post for a Roomba and realizing mine was just sitting in the utility closet collecting dust, I figured why not pass it on to someone who could appreciate it. Most freecyclers arrange time and place to make their exchanges, but the cheapest and easiest way for all parties I figured was to just leave the item on the porch and the WANTER could just pick it up at their convenience. No fuss, no muss. And no hard feelings if or when the item breaks because it's all for the low low price of FREE! And even better there's no obligation—say you really need a new blender, what do you have to lose by posting a request? If you find one, you've saved yourself the money (and the manufacture of a new product), if you don't find one, you're no worse for trying. To find a group in your area:
And Freecycle's not the only place Care2 ran a list of 5 other online free or trade sites.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Okay, I think I'm back on track here... off for errands yesterday and despite driving to Pasadena, I managed to stumble upon everything I needed to do on my to-do list. Started the morning with a little YMCA yoga (my teacher remarked she was excited that she for once knew the teams in the Super Bowl but didn't know whether to root for the Ponies or the Angels...refilled the printer in cartridges at Cartridge World... got some organic (relatively local) fruit from Whole Foods (farmer's market most likely was canceled due to rain)... stopped at the Glendale Library to feed my addiction of eco-themed books (Cheap by Ellen Ruppel and Two Billion Cars by Daniel Sperling & Deborah Gordon)...and found a giant Salvation Army thrift store having a 50% off Saturday with which to test my new theory: "Ugly Sweater, Pretty Yarn" (so stay tuned to see if I can actually create something attractive by unraveling and re-knitting). Impact was relatively minimal, I'd say probably an 85% on the simplicity scale, best yet, it was an enjoyable way to spend a drizzly Saturday morning, which I believe is what simplicity is truly about.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I’ve been feeling a little lost in my practice lately—things that I would have easily been able to handle, now they seem like a chore, or worse yet, I don’t even second guess taking the easy way out. Errands to do on my only day off, and I’m in the car driving all over the city even though it’s a beautiful sunny 65º day and everything is an easy bike ride away. I’m feeling very uninspired in my simple life and stuck with moving my book forward to the masses…I hit IKEA yesterday and came out with a bag full of stuff that I know I don’t truly need (though I can try to defend it all only closer examination 36 hours later, it really is all just disposable superfluous crap)—I can’t even blame any of it on the winter doldrums (though I suspect too many carbs and not enough exercise are partially to blame). So what to do when creativity hits the wall? Turn to those who know the challenge first hand: tonight’s viewing of No Impact Man (the documentary) sparked some embers: it’s time to get back to the farmer’s market on Saturday for local fruit. It’s time to get back to local environmental activism and volunteer. It’s time to stop taking the easy way out by cranking the heat when I’m chilly and sitting in front of the computer all day refreshing my Facebook page. It’s time to try a new motto on for size: [NOTHING NEW] and to use it as a guiding principle in moving forward. There’s big new projects on the horizon and I’m going to need all the help, guidance, and inspiration I can get.