Monday, September 19, 2016

Sharing can Save Us

Sharing homes & community JHC early years in NC
Sharing stuff is a great way to protect our environment.  For example: when our Community was at its largest number... 20+ people (only 3 were children)..., we had one lawn mower, 4-5 cars depending on what was running, 3 houses, 3 washing machines and 2 dyers, 3 refrigerators,  2 freezers, and no dishwashers.  One of the houses was where the night-time staff for the shelters lived, which means it was a working home.

The three shelters had 2 washing machines, 2 dryers, 1 dishwasher, 1 commercial stove and 1 regular stove, 4-5 refrigerators and 3 freezers, and the mower and the community used also was used in the work of the shelters.   We pooled all groceries together so we all ate cheaply. The shelters grew until they housed more than 20 people per night.

When I go to see my mother in SC, her home is on a cul-de-sac, there are 6 houses on that cul-de-sac.  Two homes are families with 2 children; the rest have 2 people in each home.  Except for Mama's home, each house has - at least - two cars, some three.  Each house has a mower and edger ( Mama, my brother, nephew, and in-laws share a monster of a mower and weed wacker).  Each house has a washer and dryer because clothes lines are not allowed.  I suspect each has a dishwasher.

Besides not needing as much if you share, there is a camaraderie in sharing.  If all the people in Mama's cul-de-sac shared mowers, then they would have to work together and get to know each other.  Mama tried several times just to get her neighbors and those on her street to come to the house as a group.  As a whole, they were not interested.

Working together means that you start helping each other.

I admit that here in Nicaragua we do not know our neighbors across the street very well.  When we moved here, we were geographically isolated.  By the time neighbors came to us as Ciudad Sandino expanded, we were swamped with work and delegations and volunteers and getting to know more people was just too much.  But we still share within our Community and our work.  

The CDCA has three fuel efficient cars for 9 people, 1 car for Paul, Becca and the girls to get up to their village and three working 4 by 4 vehicles for volunteers, delegations, construction work, etc. and one 4 x 4 that only goes to and from the is on its last legs.
JHC food sharing today

We have two washing machines for our community and no dryer or dishwashers.  One of our staff has a mower and weed wacker and we pay him every once in awhile to cut the growth. We pool most of our groceries together so we feed people fairly cheaply.

Pooling resources is good for the environment and good for the soul.  Helping each other out means that when you need help it is not so hard to ask for it  or to give it.  So much of the culture in the U.S. is individualism and getting what I and my family...and only what I and my family...needs or wants.  

In poorer countries that is not the case.  Why?  Because without each other death is close at hand.  

For the earth, sharing makes sense.  Becoming more of a community with our neighbors, our larger surrounding area, with the world is the way we survive as a species, because death is close at hand. - Kathleen

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Redistribution or I'm Gonna Pop Some Tags

Karaoke is a big thing with all our kids, even Tiff loves to watch.  One song I LOVED to hear Coury, Daniel and Joseph do is the rap song “Thrift Shop.”

“I’m going pop some tags.  Only got twenty dollars in my pocket…”

“Thrift Shop” was always a crowd pleaser at their favorite karaoke place in Managua.  Besides loving to hear them sing…and I LOVE thrift shops!

When we ran shelters, it was always fun to look in the “Free Box”…donations that came to the shelters.  We were paid (and still are) $5,000/year and the free boxes helped us, as well as our guests, have clothes or shoes.  When Tiff and Jessica were little they would get all excited to see what treasures might await them.

In the blog on reusing and reducing, I failed to mention redistributing.

I am loathe to throw away stuff.  I can give away easier, but I keep thinking “but what if I need it later?”  We don’t make the kind of salary to be able to go re-buy stuff.

Our friend Jim Trowel enjoys decorating, and when he visited us many years ago I asked him what we could do with this house of ours. He said, “Well the first thing you need to do is get rid of 50% of your stuff.”*

Redistributing means that less has to get made and transported.  It is great for the environment!  Going to thrift shops means reusing.  Giving to shelters, food pantries, thrift shops means less for the land fills.  Most items can be used for long periods of time after someone else is tired of it. 

It is so much fun to just see what is there in the thrift shops.  

It is freeing to get rid of your stuff if you have stuff in abundance, because there are people…many people…who would love to have some stuff, because they have little.

Redistribution of clothes, shoes, household goods, toys, games, puzzles, and let’s not forget wealth…never forget freedom.  It’s fun.  It’s right.
 *To be honest he didn’t say “stuff”!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

One Easy-Peazy Way to Conserve!

Going back to the States is less of a culture shock than it used to be, but I still find parts baffling and sometimes overwhelming.

I have a very clear memory of going to the grocery store about 12 years ago to pick up some Honey Nut Cheerios as a treat for the boys.  Looking for the cereal aisle I happened upon shelves and shelves of water.  Water!  I just stood there and stared.

I could not believe that people who lived in a country with wonderful tap water would buy that much water in plastic bottles!

Since then I have learned how damaging all those water bottles are: not to mention, how expensive they are!

The United States, a nation of good, clean tap water*  buys more bottled water per capita than any other place in the world:  167 bottles per year....50 billion plastic water bottles!  And only about 23% of those bottles are recycled, which means about 38 billion plastic water bottles were wasted.  

200 million tons of plastic water bottles are in the land fills waiting the 1,000 years to bio-degrade. If incinerated, their fumes are toxic.

As damaging as that is, it doesn't stop there by a long shot:

This is an easy one.  If you drink bottled water, quit.  Buy a bottle of your own and fill it up at home and refill it at work, in the gym, at rest areas,...well, you get the picture.  If you don't like the taste of your water, buy a filter.  So much of conserving, recycling, reusing has effort.  THIS actually takes less effort.  No shopping and hauling bottles of water.   Easy-Peazy!  And encourage others to do the same.
*eliminating Flint, Michigan, and wells damaged by fracking