Dec 31, 2006

thoughts on simplicity movements

Took some stuff to the Really Really Free Market yesterday, which has moved indoors (780 Valencia) for the winter. Ran into a good friend, unloaded a few items and took a few home as well.

I was asked by one of the better journalists how I feel about some of the simplicity movements that don't get as much media coverage as this crazy compact. In some ways this was a method of questioning the media's interest in the compact rather than these other groups. I've always found that interesting myself.
I've been aware of other ways of approaching simplicity/consumption issues, and I think most people in the compact have. Clearly, this is not something new (second hand ideas are often best, too!). I only hope that the coverage given to the compact makes people more aware of resources and groups like the Really Really Free Market.
It seems that the fringier movements are perceived (often erroneously) as somewhat exclusive. I can see how getting involved could be intimidating, and perhaps it comes down to what motivates different simplicity groups, often motivation is the unifying factor for the people involved. I'm fairly assertive and have yet found myself feeling shy or lacking in requisite hipness to effectively contribute to established activist groups. My problem or the organization's problem? Likely both.
With the compact, the challenge is the unifying factor, making it a more disparate population with varying motivations. But it comes w/ the same accusations of pretentiousness and the same subset of purists to vociferously judge those less hardcore than themselves. Considering the lighthearted and humble origins of the compact, this has been a surprising outcome. This commitment was made among friends and remains a friendly venture. It's been a rockin' year compacter's. way to go!

Dec 28, 2006

2007 & Christmas Recap

With 4 compacting days left of 2006, I'm constantly being asked if I'm going to do this for another year. I think some folks in the original group are up for another year, minus one crazy day, currently dubbed the "jubilee day".

I don't know if I can commit to another full year right now, so I'm going month to month. January 2007 is going to be a compact month for me, though I might also participate in the jubilee day.

On another note, I wanted to share some of the clever Christmas gifts I got this year.

I'd heard of Kiva.org before, but am learning more about this organization that gives micro loans to small businesses. My brother made me a lender by contributing in my name.

A contribution to Family Builders by Adoption in my name has given me a great opportunity to talk my friends (not a few of whom are newly weds) about the option for adoption.

Perhaps that's one of the coolest things about donation gifts: you get to talk to folks about the organizations or the purpose that the money will serve.

My sister gave me " a day of culture" with her. She's provided ideas but in the end anything is possible. I really like this gift, time is a very valuable commodity.

The compact really made Christmas easier for me. After a whole year of telling people about it, my friends and family really thought about giving me (and presumably others) something that isn't a thing at all. Thanks folks!

Dec 18, 2006

Last Minute Christmas Gifts!

So I'm a big fan of the non-thing Christmas gift. Mostly because the things I give or get are usually ... wow, useless. So that's how my association w/ the Compact began, with last year's Kyoto Christmas (see below for those ideas). This year I'm recycling some of those gifts but trying not to be entirely predictable.

So here are some other gifts that I'm giving this year.
For the boss ladies: a block from our local dvd rental shop. So that's 20 or 25 rentals, I know they go there, they'll appreciate it.

For the extended Fam
(which is really really large): One cd of pics from my travels to the Middle East, including sites relevant to Christianity/Christmas. They'll dig it, even if it takes until next Christmas to pass the thing around to everyone.

For the folks
: Similar but also including some books I've picked up, and some ink for printing the pictures. I had the same printer as my dad and have a left over cartridge. Also including pix that I took at home w/ them before I set out for more extended travels.

But perhaps my favorite gift this year is the one for my sister and her new husband:
Damn I hope she doesn't read this. Ok, so they really really want a dog but they're not allowed to have one in their apartment. So they're very casually looking for a new apartment. I'm making a certificate that states that I'll pay the adoption fee for any rescue dog that they choose. I'll screen him for health and tempermant (I'm a dog care professional). To help them adjust, I'll come over every work day for 2 weeks to encourage potty training and provide exercise. And they get one free weekend of house sitting, though I hope to always be able to take care of their pooch.
NOTE: One should never ever give an actual dog, cat, pony as a gift unless the giver is prepared to lovingly care for said animal until he or she dies. Seriously. This gift is just an illustration of thinking about the gift's recipient, not wanting to give some piece of crap. It's not a suggestion that giving people animals is Compact friendly or a good idea.

I also think services make awesome gifts. Give your friends a free night of babysitting or an evening walk for their dog so they can go out. Haircuts and massages also rock, god knows I love them. Oh, and I'd love for someone to get me an online subscription to MidEast News if someone insists on spending, oh, $150 bucks on me for the year. Landfill free, baby!

Dec 17, 2006

I bought a new coffee cup

Yup, I bought a new coffee cup today, but I don’t feel awful about it. I had the same coffee cup for 5 years until a couple of days after Thanksgiving. It was a warming red Yosemite souvenir that rode on the upright cup holder on my bike. For the past two years it’s been a cracked but functional symbol of my commitment to both the environment and caffeine. It flew off my bike about 50 times in the past few years and I dodged traffic to collect it, inspecting the damage, and choosing to refill it.

But a few weeks ago it took a fatal fall, not just cracking but indeed the plastic shell broke, leaving the aluminum innards exposed through its sharp edges. Ugh, I finally threw it out. Baristas knew this cup, I tell you. They started to inquire as to its whereabouts as I ordered coffee in paper cups (w/ plastic lids and cardboard sleeves!!!) as I waited patiently for a used cup (w/ no handle, and the right shape for a bicycle water bottle holder) to come into my life.

Through the Compact I’ve become patient about receiving goods. And yeah, I did what I could to mitigate the coffee buying. Having just returned from the Middle East I’ve been making that rocket fuel known as Arabic coffee at home quite a bit anyway. But I’ll be damned if I don’t need a cup of coffee while I’m out and about at least three times a week. So that’s about 20 paper cups since my cup broke. Today I sucked it up, broke my commitment to the Compact and bought a cup at a coffee shop.

Yeah, I could have found one used if I had tried harder or asked some friends. But that wasn’t happening so I took one for the environment today by breaking the Compact. People keep asking if I’ll be compacting in 2007. Barring sudden fame, fortune, or personality disorder, I think my low consumption lifestyle is at the very least a semi-permanent aspect of my existence. Perhaps the change would be that in 2007, I’m less likely to wait 4 weeks to decide to replace a coffee cup, given that I can’t seem to give up coffee.