Mar 14 2011

the new sharing economy [day 291]

Do you share your stuff?  If you need a drill, do you go out and buy one or do you try to borrow one?  I mean, you just need a hole, right?  I own a drill.  My dad gave me a new DeWalt drill about 10 years ago, but that one got lost on a mission trip.  I never found it, although another older drill with a chuck key showed up unclaimed.  I took it, so that’s why I have a drill now.  I don’t really need one though.

So why don’t I need one?  Doesn’t everyone have a drill in their garage?  Let’s look at the logic.  I need a few holes, so I use the drill for approximately 4-8 minutes in a years time.  Maybe a little bit more if I have some home projects.  I could borrow one from a friend.  I could rent one when I’m doing projects.  I could share a drill.  Yes, I said share.  I could co-own a drill with some friends or I could use a sharing service.  This is really a great and upward trending process.

First, there’s itizen.com.  You can print QR codes for all of your things in order to tell stories about them, to share them and to track the life of them.  Here’s a blurb from itizen’s site:

Why we do what we do.
We want to celebrate the cool things around us — period. We are inspired by the artists, makers, and retailers who provide us with these wonderful things, and we are fascinated by how storytelling can give these things meaning and purpose. Most important, we are passionate about supporting a culture of giving and sharing that allows others to benefit from these things and share in the joy.

If you don’t have a QR code reader, there’s lots of free apps out there that can be downloaded.  You can scan it and it will bring up the info right away.  The code to the left is a legitimate code for something I’m getting rid of.  Take a look and see if you want the item.  😉

I’m really liking this concept of sharing and swapping.  I’m still researching this whole thing, but I see so many benefits.

Cost savings: Not only does it save you money buying things, but also saves money on the maintenance and storage of these things.

Environmentally friendly: Reducing consumption means less production and fewer resources used.

Manufacturer behavior change: Manufacturers will start to make products based on consumer demand.  If we want to share quality products, but we’re buying less of them, manufacturers will start making more quality items and with the needed features we desire.

Less clutter: Less stuff is less stress and less to clean.  It’s also easier to find the things you do have.

Builds community: Sharing with friends, and even people you don’t know yet if you choose to do that, is a great way to build community, especially among neighbors.  In this day and age, at least where I live, knowing your neighbors is not the norm.  My neighbors let me borrow stuff all the time, and if they need something, they ask.

Helps eliminate poverty: This process can help eliminate poverty by lowering the cost of living.  If I don’t need to buy as much and I can share with others, I can live on less.

Job shifts: Jobs become more service oriented.  This is due to a shift from consuming stuff to being consumers of services.

We are on the front end of a wonderful trend that will change the way the world functions, utilizing technology to change our distribution systems, creating a community of sharing that will better our lives.  I’m still doing a lot of homework on this, but I will be posting more on it soon.  Sharing is an old concept, but it’s finding a new life through social media.

I just bought a used iPad from a friend of mine who’s upgrading.  I’ve decided to share my iPad.  I will be using a service such as snapgoods.com or I might do a co-ownership of it.  If this intrigues you in any way, let me know your thoughts.

Would you share something you paid a lot of money for, but something that sits unused for large periods of time?


Mar 10 2011

poverty: the stress of a downward spiral [day 287]

My rent payment is $286.  My utilities are $190 this month.  I don’t own a phone, I don’t have a job and I have a baby to take care of.  My name is Iris Isaacson… but only in this temporary make-believe world.  This world I’m speaking of is a poverty simulation, a game to teach people what it’s like to live in poverty.

I participated in this event last night.  At first, I thought it seemed like a lot of work and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be there.  In the middle of it, I was thinking, “…what a chaotic game…”, but also realizing much of it was like real life.  At the end of it, I was worn out.  I couldn’t pay my bills, the ones I did pay were late, I had to pawn my jewelry, sold my camera, and after all the hardships and paying everything late, I got evicted anyway.  Here’s a description of the simulation.

The Poverty Simulation is a simulation experience developed by the Missouri Association for Community Action. During the simulation, participants pretend to be members of a low-income community attempting to survive four 15-minute weeks of poverty. The simulation relies on role playing techniques and extensive props to help participants understand the day to day challenges faced by families living in poverty.  Continue reading


Feb 27 2011

give some, get none [day 277]

Yesterday, I spent the early part of the day running errands before work.  Most of them were driving the Infiniti sleigh, full of donations, to all of the required destinations for drop-off.  I started at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, dropping off my old back door, extra slate tiles and a bag of hardware.  I went inside to look for a new front door.  The style I want, the size and that fact it needs to be used is making it difficult to find one.  Yesterday I found 3, and 2 of which I liked, but I decided not to purchase one.  I don’t need it and I’ve spent a lot of money on my house lately.

Next stop was the purple thrift store in McKinney, benefiting the Samaritan Inn.  I dropped off a few bags of my stuff, a box of stuff from work and two bags from my friends.  Of course I had to go inside, but I did it with my new minimalist trajectory.  Here’s what I didn’t buy.  2 blue ceramic bowls.  I thought about buying them because we don’t use paper plates or plastic utensils, even when entertaining, so I tend to keep more of these in the house.  I have all solid colored mis-matched dishes.  I chose not to buy them, as I really don’t entertain that much and I didn’t need them.  Just saved $2.  The other thing I didn’t buy was a metal orange tray for $3.  My kids like to occasionally use a tray to eat upstairs, which I allow about 2 times a year.  We have a plastic red tray, and I didn’t need the orange tray.  No need for 2 of anything like that.  I probably don’t even need to keep the red tray.  I didn’t need anything in there, so I left without buying anything.  Time for my next stop.

I decided to go to Half Price Books since I had a pile of books I didn’t need.  I’ve sold books to them in the past and I swore I would never do it again.  For the number of books, the value of them as used books and the condition, I always felt financially raped when I left there after selling books.  I thought this time I’ll go in, sell my stuff and be prepared for any amount of money I might get.  I gave them 8 classic novels, 4 current magazines, 1 current novel, 3 cookbooks and other miscellaneous books.  23 pieces in all.

All of these are used, my best estimate is $40.00 out of pocket.  Since it was a weekend, Half Price was busy so I had to wait a little while for them to process my stuff.  That was no problem, as I wanted to look around a little bit.  I was hoping to find some books on hoarding or materialism, but to no avail.  I looked on the ‘housekeeping / organization’ shelf first.  Continue reading


Dec 16 2010

santa claus [flashback]

December 11, 2009… I was listening to talk radio on my way to work yesterday.  It was so incredibly cold I didn’t want to let go of my warm coffee mug to steer the car, much less turn on the radio.  The news guy was reporting on the experiences of the fake mall Santas this year, disclosing the newest Christmas lists they’re receiving.  Many of the kids sitting on Santa’s lap are not asking for the typical toys and electronics, they’re asking for basic necessities.  “Mommy really needs a job” or “Could we just have our house back?”  Some others are asking for food and clothing.  You know the economy is bad when kids are happy to get socks and underwear for Christmas.

Santa Claus.  The historical Saint and the modern day icon of commercialized Christmas.  Who is Santa?  Santa has many roots in history spanning the globe, roots also ranging from Christianity to paganism.  The early Christian Santa was Saint Nicholas.  He was a Saint that gave generous gifts to the poor, especially to daughters of poor parents so they did not have to become prostitutes.  I could go on for days here about the history of Santa, but he did have his start as a good guy that helped people.

Honestly, I’ve always struggled with the whole Santa thing.  I did not want my kids believing that some overweight guy in a furry red suit is going to give them anything they want for Christmas.  Their dad said that was wrong and I was awful for even thinking it.  Choose your battles, right?  I chose not to fight this one.

My earliest recollection of Santa is asking my parents if Santa was real.  I was in kindergarten, five or six years old, and already wondering how one guy could go around the planet in one night, bringing lots of stuff to kids.  And don’t get me started on the flying reindeer and sleigh.  I suppose my over-analyzing of everything started at an early age.  My parents told me the truth and quickly proceeded to tell me that my knowledge was a secret.  I wasn’t very good at keeping secrets back then.  Even with my secret knowledge, Santa continued to bring me lots of toys and stuff, and much more than he brought anyone else.  Continue reading


Jun 14 2010

the challenge: day 18 [geography, kids & prayer]

After reading the book Radical (of which I have a love/hate relationship with), I wrote a review for Amazon.com.   Although I struggled with the author’s communication style, it is a book worth reading.  I love his ideas and thought processes, but I don’t care for his style of throwing it in your face and trying to inflict a guilt trip if you don’t do what he says.  He backs up much of his book with biblical teachings, and like anyone that reads the Bible or anything else, he has his own interpretations of it.  As soon as it’s approved, I will post the review here on my blog, or you can look on Amazon, if you would like to read it.

His book did give me several good ideas to process and thoughts to ponder.  One of the ideas I had, based on his challenges to the readers at the end of his book, I implemented last night.  The first of his five challenges was to pray for the entire world in a year’s time.  I thought about this and it’s not something I’m doing, although I do pray for impoverished people a lot.  This is such an easy, yet powerful thing to do, I decided right away that I should start this.  I also thought my kids need to be involved in doing it as well.

I thought back to the first time I had ever seen or heard about poor people.  It was back in the early 70’s (yes, I know, I’m dating myself and I’m old) when a commercial came on for helping starving kids, hosted by Sally Struthers, sponsoring African kids through ChildFund international.  My parents never told me about this world where kids don’t have enough to eat, although I did hear a lot about the world where kids that don’t behave go to live at orphanages.  I not only had my basic needs of food and shelter met, but I had everything I wanted.  We weren’t rich, but we were a middle class family that learned to spend every dime that we had for ourselves to make our lives easier, more comfortable and entertaining.  I could not comprehend the world I was seeing on TV, and if we just sent some money every month, we could help eliminate this awfulness.  I honestly can’t remember if I ever asked my parents if we could help, but we never did.  I was one of those kids who challenged everything I heard, not falling into the advertising trap very easily.  Could this be for real or are they just trying to get money by using these horrific images?  I did not know, and being a young kid, I had no money so I didn’t think much about it.  In the back of my mind I figured they must have really been bad to end up in a place like that.  What an incredibly sad childhood memory.

Wow, that was a long rabbit trail!  Back to the idea.  I shopped.  Yes, I went to Half Price books and spent $10 on a used world atlas.  My geography skills, for lack of a better word, suck.  I could sugar coat that, but what would be the point?  I’m visual and for me to see where all of these places are and learn more about them is important so we are able to do God’s work in whatever way he wants us to.  Not only will we be praying for the world, we will know where these places are and understand some of their struggles and needs.

Every night when we choose a place to pray for people in need, we are writing our name and date next to the location in the atlas.  In addition, we are trying to do some research on these places so we know their needs.  Again, the shopping for the atlas was still shopping.  It did fall under my ‘only buy used stuff’ rule and I thought it was for a good cause.  What do you think?


Jun 14 2010

[book review] trolls & truth by jimmy dorrell

This is an amazon.com book review I did on June 5th, 2010.

I’m not sure where I first heard about church under the bridge, but I needed to go check it out for myself. I drove down there with a friend to go to church a few months ago. I can honestly say I never thought I would drive 4 hours to go to church. If you haven’t been, it’s amazing and worth an even longer drive than that one.

When I met Jimmy, I had no idea he was the one that started church under the bridge. He was so welcoming and not one of those “untouchable people” that you can’t find or talk to.

I immediately bought his book as soon as I got back from my visit. He talks a lot in here about bringing church to the people. I’ve seen so many models of this lately, and it works! Talk about some radical Kingdom work.

Jimmy communicates some much needed change in the church world as a whole, but does it in a thought provoking way. I don’t see how anyone could read this and not make some positive changes for God’s Kingdom. And if you go to his church, you’re going to just fall in love with Dedrick.


Jun 5 2010

the challenge: day 9 [grilling, propane, outdoor movies, teaching man to fish]

I decided to grill out tonight and was wondering if I was going to need a new propane tank. Since that is energy to cook with, and they sell the tank refills at the grocery store, I have decided this will be okay. I did ponder the fact that it’s not a necessity, as I could cook inside. I also thought that cooking outside versus inside saves on utilities since all of the hot cooking would make the air conditioning run more. Anyway, I’m up for your thoughts on this.

We also went to the outdoor movie in downtown Frisco last night and it was some nice family time. They put up the big inflatable screen and hundreds went to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I kept thinking I need to bring a small version of this to some apartment complexes in Frisco where the kids can’t go downtown, as their parents are working or they don’t have the transportation.

I also want to post my response to a comment left on the future of shopping post. This is from Ozz…

Well lets see….The US is a CONSUMER based economy it is no surprise that companies attempt to make shopping an easier afair. I think it’s kinda cool but I hate dressing rooms. Just think of the jobs from wiring the stores for this, the dock workers taking the shipments of plasma screens, the software support (ok probably really good for India but ya never know)….etc.

Why some of these impoverished people might get a job due to this, then they can buy the clothes. What a concept instead of handing out…train. It is better to show a man how to fish than to just give him fish.

~Ozz~

My response. (Feel free to start a discussion here)

Although I agree with your statement of teaching man how to fish, I don’t feel that this shopping direction is a positive one. This seems to me like another step in making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Our consumer based economy teaches us and our kids that more is better, success is defined by money and happiness will be yours if you buy things that make life easier and more comfortable.

I have become uncomfortable with my comfort. I don’t expect everyone to follow me in that (okay, so I hope some do), but I hope as a society that we can make some positive changes. Like bridging ‘the gap’ between rich people and poor people. ‘Target’ing new ways to build community and thinking outside ourselves, while not building more ‘wal’s to protect ourselves from people we don’t know or understand.

One last thing. There are many types of homelessness and poverty. When I go visit friends (I don’t see these as mission trips anymore), and I see a cute little kid helping me work on painting an apartment so they have a place to meet with others, or maybe a child in Mexico that doesn’t have enough to eat, they just want to feel loved and have their basic needs met. Yes, there are many people who have chosen homelessness as a way of life and I’m sure there are many lazy people our there that don’t want to work and instead ‘work’ the system. But there are many out there that don’t have a choice and they need justice, people who care and are willing to get off their butts and do something about it.

Too lazy to try on clothing or too lazy to work? I’m not the one to judge that, although I have many opinions… (I know, we’re all surprised by that!) My point with this whole shopping thing is that I’m not going to be lazy with this. If it takes a little extra effort to buy necessities that are not excessive, not made in sweatshops and better for the environment, then that’s what I’m going to do. Small change can equal big change.

Ozz, I love a devil’s advocate perspective and you know I greatly appreciate your views! Keep them coming.


May 27 2010

the challenge

I have been reading many books lately about poverty and homelessness.  Among those are Under the Overpass, Trolls and Truth and Irresistible Revolution.  I have a long list of other books that I have on my reading list, but one at a time.  😉

The one thing I love about all of the books is these are all about ‘ordinary radicals’, people that have chosen to sacrifice their life to follow Jesus’ examples of living.

I bought the domain name trashsociety.com a while back, with many different intentions of what I could do with it.  We have so much waste in our American culture.  We are raised to do anything and everything that will make our lives easier and more comfortable.  Well I am finally uncomfortable with comfort and irritated with ease.  There is so much suffering in the world and we can all make a difference by intentionally choosing to make some simple changes in the way we live.

A few months ago, I was channel flipping on my TV (my nice big flat screen TV that I just really needed to buy with the monthly satellite TV package that everyone needs in order to live because we must be entertained if we’re awake, right?) and came across a show called Hoarders.  If you haven’t seen this show, check it out http://www.aetv.com/hoarders/index.jsp.  It’s a little bit like watching a wreck.  It’s awful, quite disturbing and yet you want to look at it.  I’ve watched many episodes of it and came to one conclusion.  The only difference between these hoarders that are being showcased for reality show entertainment and the rest of us watching is that the rest of us don’t have a problem getting rid of our stuff.  We buy stuff, lots of stuff and when we are tired of it, we give it away or worse yet, throw it away.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty of this many times in my life.  And being a person who loves to buy used things, shop at thrift stores and is all about getting a great deal, I appreciate that someone bought these things new.  If people didn’t buy new cars and sell them, there would be no used cars for people like me to buy, which by the way, I drive a 14 year old car that I bought used.  I wouldn’t trade it in even if I had unlimited money.

So now that I’ve yapped a long time, let me step down from my soap box.  What’s the challenge?  The challenge is no new stuff for one year. This means no shopping in retail stores, with the exception of groceries and toiletries.  (I don’t want CPS taking my kids away for my radicalness)  Groceries and toiletries are the only new things we will buy and will, in the process, learn better ways to make those purchases.  The only places we will shop is thrift stores or resale shops.  No major purchases either.  Now the one small issue here is that sometimes I have to buy things at work for stage sets or marketing.  I will still have to make those purchases because I need my job.  (Or do I?  Okay, a subject for another time)

I will be blogging this challenge.  It started yesterday, May 27, 2010.  Stay tuned…