Good News Wednesday, December 11

As I just finished reading America the Possible by James Gustave Speth a statement early on in the book has occupied my thoughts.  “To set in motion the conditions of a better America and a better world for our children and grandchildren, we must first carry out a reconnaissance, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, of ‘where we are, and whither we are tending’  ….If we don’t view the complete picture, we are unlikely to do the right things”

We all know the things that are wrong in the world today, but do we stop to realize all the good things that are taking place and setting the path for the right direction?  That is what I want to share today, my list of all the things I know are in place that we can learn from and use as a model to build from.

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The problems in the world today are all-encompassing; from economic to environmental, from health issues to personal security.  Today I want to focus on just two of the problems we face.

Economically not only is the US in dire straits but so is the majority of the world.  Jobs are scarce, part-time jobs have replaced full-time.  Large corporations leave cities for nicer pastures at the drop of a hat it seems. 

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Positive signs of changing economy

it’s 3:23 in the morning

and I’m awake

because my great-great grandchildren

won’t let me sleep

my great-great-granchildren

ask me in my dreams

what did you do while the planet was plundered?

what did you do when the earth was unraveling? 

            Drew Dellinger, poet

 

  1. In Cleveland, Ohio with unemployment at an all-time high, forward thinkers looked to the businesses that weren’t going to leave to create a worker cooperative.  The Cleveland Clinic wasn’t going to leave any time soon and they needed services to operate a hospital.  Out of this came the Evergreen Cooperatives, owned by the workers. So far the cooperatives includes a full-scale laundry which took over the laundry needs of the hospital, a large-scale commercial greenhouse to provide produce to the hospital and a solar installation company.  These are jobs that fill a need in the community.
  2. We are seeing the growth of B-corporations where B stands for social benefit.  The best figures I could find came from the book in that there were 422 new companies formed as B-corporations by 2011.
  3. We are seeing a rise in local currencies such as the Baltimore Note (BN)  which supports local businesses by leveling the playing field.

On the environmental side of things we are starting to see a new awareness as well.

Work and spend less, create and connect more ~~ Juliet Schor

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  1. Increase in the tiny house movement, with many young people choosing to build a tiny house rather than rent or buy a larger home and insurance companies now agreeing to insure tiny homes and limited financing to purchase a tiny home.
  2. More people are starting gardens, and some are taking barren land and turning it into an edible forest in an urban setting  and sharing what they know on both their blog and their book.
  3. Farmer’s markets and CSAs are spreading faster each year.
  4. Alternatives to living in McMansions isn’t confined to the tiny house movement, growth in co-housing has come about to fill a need for community and reduced resources, along with transition towns which are being built to be as self-sustainable as possible.
  5. The books Plastic-free and Zero Waste Home being on the best sellers lists and highly sought show people are looking for solutions to the ills affecting us, it’s not just you and me.
  6. The numbers of people who have given up their cars or have never bought a car are the highest in generations, even in the US where cars have been seen as a way of life, people are walking away from ownership.  When a vehicle is needed those in larger metropolitan areas are opting in for car-shares as a solution and bike rentals and sales are also growing.

Reduced consumption trends

  1. Consignment and thrift shops are seeing more traffic and wearing used clothing is seen as acceptable.
  2. People are cutting the cable and opting to borrow movies from the library or even watch them on online, on-demand services such as Netflix and Hulu
  3. Speaking of Netflix, sales of DVDs are down as people are opting not to buy movies they can watch on demand, this saves precious resources.
  4. We are seeing the brick and mortar book stores close, while sales at used book stores increases and lines are getting longer at libraries.
  5. Craigslist and FreeCycle are making it possible to keep items in circulation, and reducing the amount of new items being purchased.
  6. The popularity of DIY websites and Pinterest show people are embracing the idea of learning to do for themselves.

Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us.  If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply  in need of anew way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.  ~~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

This is my good news, we may be in a world of trouble but there are positive signs of a new direction. People who show us a new way of life is possible.  What is your good news this week?

27 thoughts on “Good News Wednesday, December 11

  1. Hi Lois…I know this post has been out a while but I am slowly making my way through all my weekly blog digests and had to speak up on this one. I think it is so important for us all to focus on the good news out there because it’s so easy to get fearful and discouraged if all we do is look at the things that are going wrong. That doesn’t mean we deny that horrendous things are happening–we just don’t allow our minds to dwell there. That’s why I subscribe to a great website call Daily Good.com that comes up with some of the most heartwarming and inspiring stories possible from around the web. As they say, hearing about good and doing good is contagious and that site is guaranteed to lift anyone up if you need some help. ~Kathy

    • Thanks, Kathy. I will definitely check it out. I can get so discouraged by the bad news I have to stop myself and find the good things that are happening. I used to subscribe to Yes magazine for just that reason, but in wanting to cut out subscriptions I now read their articles online.

  2. There are many more co-operatives now being set up, which are working as people pull together in a common interest,, Sharing out profits etc .. Also as you touched upon more people are starting to see their need to simplify their lives and become more self sufficient, No longer can we keep on plundering resources and failing not to put back in what we get out..
    Our Grandchildren will be that generation who will be picking up the pieces of our errors and the mess we are going to leave if more do not get aboard these ideas is unthinkable..

    I am heartened though Lois in how many of the younger generation is clued in and are actively speaking up about things, Like Earth Baby blog, and others who see what we are doing to our environment..

    Thank you for pointing out the many Good aspects we are doing Lois, sometimes we forget about the many schemes and things going on as we can at times get pulled into the negative things happening around the world..

    Wishing you a wonderful creative Day Hugs Sue xox

    • Sue, I am glad you had time to check out Tegan’s blog. She is such an inspiration to me as she is so informed and motivated to change the world to what could be possible.

      I see more and more good things happening when I stop to look, like the cooperatives and the huge increase in farmer’s markets, it is so easy to look around and see only the bad, like our shared concerns about the safety of the food supply such as fish which we talked about.

      Stay tuned I am going to add a short post in a bit about something I was excited to learn last night and can’t wait until Wednesday to share with everyone.

      • This sounds exciting Lois, and yes Tegan is a great inspiration… Its good to see some communities coming together though. I watched a TV documentary the other evening on how a street were fed up of litter and one neighbour started by giving her neighbours pot plants to put outside their doors.. This then escalated until everyone started to do more, and take pride in their front gardens which over spilled each side… It looked fabulous in the summer when it was filmed.. and the people who passed stopped dropping litter to stop and speak to the people in their gardens, neighbours got talking and sharing plants and ideas.. And when a new young working Mum moved into a house, the house had its front gravelled over.. The neighbours asked if they could help as she hadnt much time.. So each donated something and planted within the gravel.. She was over the moon..
        The programme spoke about how many were tarmacking over their front gardens to park their cars off the street.. and how when it rained the rain had no where to drain off too, so it was causing more flooding on the streets concerned…. Just shows how when we pull together we can make a change and a difference :-)

        • I would enjoy a program like that, I am currently reading Paradise Lot where these two guys turned a mess into an edible forest in an urban area. One thing they did was look at who their neighbors were and where they came from then planted similar plants in the front yard to remind them of home. I am still reading so not sure if it resulted in the neighbors doing similar things but will write about it when I am done reading.

          I see similar things here. When I began clearing the field neighbors came out to offer plants and help. The field was full of trash and people kept tossing more, until I cleared it, now no more trash is tossed out. People are taking pride in that area. I even had a college student who was friends with one of my neighbors who asked if she could bring plants over to add. She not only brought them over, she planted them herself glad to add to what we had.

          Even the owner of the property is thrilled with how the field looks which is nice because his managers gave me permission without talking to him. They took a chance on me and gave me complete freedom. it could have cost them their jobs.

          • That is really nice, trusting each other like that.. shows us that when we pull together we help each other and its instances such as in the wild wind we had the other week in UK which caused huge tidal surges which brought in floods in coastal towns… How they all pulled together to sandbag their neighbourhoods, and one persons house was ready for toppling into the ocean off a cliff.. literally minutes to spare the whole village came out and made a chain gang to get their belongings out , they didnt save everything.. as they watched helplessly as their home disappeared into the ocean… Community spirit isn’t dead

          • Sue, I missed hearing about the destruction in the UK, how horrible, my heart goes out to those who lost their homes, but yes, we do see the good in people in times of crisis. We are so busy on most days to take the time to even have a nice word for our neighbors. But this gives me hope that when things get worse we will all pull together.

          • Sue, I believe strongly it will get worse before it gets better. So many are in denial that to get everyone working together everyone will need to be affected, hence things being worse everywhere. We will pull together and will work as one! I know people are at their core good.

    • That’s a good item to include. I don’t see too much of the minimalist leanings in my area, big houses, extravagant spending for the holidays. But there are some. Living in apartments I think we meet more people who don’t want to be burdened with stuff. For some they are waiting to buy that dream house which is when they will start accumulating, but if you are seeing more people around you strive to live minimally then maybe they won’t move on to become huge consumers. We can hope.

  3. Wonderful news Lois and thank you so much for sharing!!

    I’m happy to be a bicycle rider and public transport consumer. And as you know, I shop only used and have no problem rescuing something from the garbage if it can be used or repurposed.

    I don’t have cable and the DVD’ that I do watch are either borrowed from the library, gifts, or lent by friends.

    It’s not much when I look at the big picture, but every litle bit helps the future…I hope!

    Take care Lois and thank you for being such a wonderful steward. My best to you and yours.

    Lyle

    • Lyle, we live very similarly. I don’t own a TV so use my computer for everything. I do own a few movies for the grandchildren as during the winter months when they spend the night they like to wind down with a movie. I don’t rent movies and at our library they charge a rental fee for all but children’s movies.

      Every little bit does help, and when others see us living lightly they will question their own habits. Already my son and his wife who live near me bring their recyclables to my building since they don’t have recyclable pickup, my son’s and their wives look for things they can use from the trash after seeing what kinds of things I have found and I’ve taught the daughters-in-law how to restore.

      I had to laugh when I visited my youngest son. He had two large filing cabinets in his garage. I knew he needed a filing cabinet for his home office but these were too big for his needs. He informed me he saw these on the side of the road and had to stop to get them so they wouldn’t end up in the landfill. He was taking them to the office for the business to use.

      We will rub off on others as we continue to show by example.

      Thanks Lyle.

  4. Indeed, these are all positive trends, Lois!

    I am only afraid that they will find new ways to exploit the populace when people become more frugal and self-sufficient. For example, they may start charging for internet usage, email services, and, who knows, even social media website usage. The prices for seeds, gardening supplies, DIY materials, Netflix, and other rentals may go up.

    I have noticed that the prices for used clothes and books have already increased tremendously. It’s turning into a huge for-profit industry. We are already paying for used clothes and books now what we used to pay for new ones in the past.

    There are always opportunists who take advantage of any and all positive trends. It seems like what we can least go wrong with is reusing things and making something new out of something old. And if we have to buy something new, it is best to buy the very best quality so that the item will last for a long time and won’t have to be replaced anytime soon.

    • Andelieya, I see this happening in many areas. There is talk of charging people for the miles they drive to raise money for the government. So now that people are buying hybrid cars and electric is starting to take hold in some states which saves on gas they would have to pay for each mile they drive decreasing their savings.

      As for thrift shops, most are keeping their prices low but we have one Salvation Army store that was built in the mall district next to a Lowes and Kohls. They say they need to pay for the cost of the location when I complained that winter coats were more expensive than buying them brand new. If I were to go a few more miles into the city where incomes are lower the Salvation Army there still has low prices. They price according to the incomes of the surrounding neighborhoods, so you best bet is to go to a store in a depressed location for the best deals.

      As for seeds, I’m not too worried about the prices rising for me at least as I save seeds from my garden to start the next year. In time I should be able to live off just the seeds I collect. I still think seeds will be a good deal when you compare the cost to the savings of buying the produce at the store.

      When I do shop at Half Priced Books I shop in the discounted section where you can get books for $1-$2 each. That section is crowded where the rest of the store isn’t. Other than using the library, I like to find books at yard sales where you can still get them for $.25

      You are right, making our needs smaller and reusing and repurposing are our best bets.

    • Yes, it is doing well and people from the most depressed areas now have jobs that pay a living wage. I’d like to see this idea spread to more areas. Most cities have at least one hospital that they could service with a laundry and greenhouse business.

    • It has been a great motivator meeting so many other people like yourself to keep me motivated by knowing I’m not alone. I see a lot of positive trends starting, I wish they would spread faster, but at least the seeds are being laid out for everyone to copy.

      • Each and every effort affects change, perhaps in small ways most of the time, but we’re making positive changes. I hope simply because I must. It matters to me, as a human living on and “off of” this planet, I care and I hope. And I appreciate.

        • I too am deeply concerned. I worry about what the following generations will have to deal with, as you know my grandchildren are in my thoughts daily. I like how you say you appreciate. If more people stopped to appreciate what they have, the wonders of life around us, we would see a much different situation.

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