Green, frugal, sustainable, simple, healthy, happy... No matter what we each call it, we come together here to support and learn from each other.

We are preserving our planet with our lifestyles. We are creating sustainable communities for our children. We are living the lives we want to live. Please join us!

--------------------

All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

Join Us Here, Too


Buy Sustainably

Join us in saving our family budgets and helping our local communities thrive.

10,000 Steps

With numerous environmental, physical and emotional benefits, what are you waiting for? Let's start walking!

Green Your Insides

For your family and our planet, start greening your own home.

Great Reading

We’ll Be Back To Normal Soon

Me

 

Hi everyone.  Apologies for taking a few days off here.  As you know, I have just started a business.  My life has been a bit out of balance as a result.  I’m working on getting back into a healthy balance, which includes writing here every day.  (This is one of the highlights of my day!)  


However, for the next week or so you may find some sporadic posting here.  If you would rather not come here every day to see if I’ve posted, I encourage you to subscribe to new posts via email or a feed reader (including a Google or Yahoo homepage).  That way you’ll know when a new article is up!


Welcome all you new visitors here – I’m pleased you’re joining us.  Please peruse the hundreds of past articles and popular posts here until I return to daily postings.  And for those tenured readers who I’ve come to know and enjoy your company very much, please bear with me during this personal transition time.  We’ll be back to normal soon!


I hope you have a lovely day.


With all my best,

Melinda

 

Redefining Wealth

Office Nomads, A Great Coworking Spot


Re-Defining Personal Wealth


The simple living movement has done an amazing job of redefining personal wealth.  No longer is wealth about money or material possessions, it is about living a nurturing, filling, and happy life.  Many people add more layers to the simple lifestyle, so that it is also about becoming debt-free, living an environmentally-sustainable lifestyle, and working toward social justice.


Wealth comes from a richness of relationships, flavors of fresh homemade and homegrown food, being within and a part of nature, contributing more good to the world, and deliberately paying attention to and fulfilling the needs of your self and those around you.  It’s a beautiful, selfless, and self-fulfilling life.


So how can we take this to our work place, to our businesses, to our world economy as a whole?


Re-Defining Business Wealth


In the small towns of Mexico, the stores close during mid-day, as shop owners take a few hours to have lunch with their families.  They return to work renewed, ready for the second portion of the day.  But in the United States, often we each lunch at our desks while working in isolation, and we may send someone out for a quick cup of takeout coffee to get us through the day.  In Australia, Turkey, several parts of Europe – many parts of the world – there is an afternoon break for tea.


What do those breaks accomplish?  A freeing of the mind and eyes, an informal community-building interaction between neighbors and coworkers, a renewal of strength and agility for the rest of the work day, and a sense that life itself matters.  Here we are valued for who we are, we are recognized as human beings with needs, and we work better when we are happier.


How can we re-define the way we do business, so that the people – who are both our customers and our employees – can feel that their happiness, health, and life matter?


Can our workplaces take on the principles of simple living?


And … Where Do We Start?  


That’s the real question, isn’t it?  Have you been able to take your simple lifestyle to your workplace?  How have you done that?  


I find there is a disconnect between my home lifestyle – where I’ve made a conscious effort to simplify and live sustainably – and any work environment.  Do you feel that way, too?  How do we take the first steps to change this?  As I begin a business focussed on sustainable solutions, I realize the incredible need to bring these elements into our operating structure.  


Wealth of a company relies on the emotional, physical, and economic health of its employees, its relationships, its surrounding communities – both online and offline.  As I’m working within a new company, I’m realizing what an incredibly difficult thing it becomes to implement these ideas, however – even with a group of people who do care!  With how much each of the 8 of us knows, there is still much unknown and even undiscovered.


(I would love any advice from those of you who may have tried this.  Or any books you may have read?)


Re-Defining Worldwide Economic Health


And once we find a solution to re-define wealth in the workplace, how can we take that further, and re-define our entire economy?  We know that there are some major problems with how we do business.  Is the problem an overall lack of sustainability – economically, socially, environmentally?  I think it is.  I think it is the same problem each of us is trying to change at home, as we move toward a simple and sustainable lifestyle.


I’m full of questions today!  Please, answer any questions you can here.  The main question is, I suppose:  How can we improve quality of life in work, as well as at home?


I Have Officially Launched A New Business!

Re-Vision Labs


Boy, it is never easy to start a new venture. I’ve been working hard these past few weeks, but finally we have officially launched Re-Vision Labs!


Here’s the scoop:  8 of us came together last fall, feeling the changing tides of both our economy and our environment. We didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do, but we knew we wanted to make a strong positive impact on the world. For months we toyed with different ways to do this, as we continued with our “day jobs.”  


And then, at last, we came upon the answer.  It was so simple – right before our eyes!  Each of us has come from entirely different backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common:  we have realized that community building is the key to regenerating our world.


So… introducing Re-Vision Labs, where “Our Business Is Community.” We plan to help create the economic and environmental changes that are so necessary in our current world.


The website is still in progress, but please check it out and let me know what you think!


Have A Wonderful, Relaxing Weekend

Hi everyone.  I am going to take the weekend off.  Much as I love the renewed strength and contemplation that writing here brings me, I’m running on too little sleep, with too little brain power to write well.  We’ll be launching our new company on Monday.  This weekend I’m finishing the website design, writing press releases, and refining our overall pitch.


Please return Monday, when you can see all the fruits of my efforts!  And in the meantime, peruse the Archives here, check out the great links in the sidebar (I’ve added a couple new ones), and have a fabulous weekend.


Ciao!

 

How To Grow Potatoes: From Chit To Chit – Part 1

Chitting On Top Of The World


How to Chit Potatoes


It sounds difficult, doesn’t it?  Like a big mystery.  Like so many other things related to gardening, eh?  Well, it’s not difficult at all.  The most difficult part is researching how to do it, because if you look at ten websites, you will find ten ways of doing it.  Here’s what I took from that:  it’s hard to go wrong, just pick a way and do it.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


1.  Find a cool place with indirect light.


2.  Place your potatoes in an egg carton, bed of straw, or anything that will hold them upright.  You want the end with the most eyes to be upward (the “rose” end).


3. Once the sprouts come out, rub off all but two to four of them with your fingers.  This way the tuber’s energy goes into making just a few sprouts, which makes them stronger.


4.  Some say the potatoes have chitted once they sprout, other say the sprouts should be up to 2 in (5 cm) long.  So essentially, just plant them when the growing conditions are right:  anywhere between March and May, depending on your climate (ie, after the last frost).


Chit Chat


Dividing The Eyes


You can also divide the eyes to form several plants from one potato.  The general belief is that the smaller the potato you plant, the smaller the potatoes you harvest.  Since I’m planting small fingerlings, I decided to cut many of them in half (but no smaller).  I made sure that there was at least one eye – and preferably several – on each half.  


When you place the cut potatoes in the carton, make sure you place them in a clean place, so that the potato can callous without becoming diseased. The cut ends of a potato excrete subarin, a natural fungicide (according to this site). But you can also dip the ends into dry wood ash or lime if you’re worried about it.


Chits And GigglesChit And Stay A While


Why Chit?


It gives your potatoes a head start once they’re in the ground.  By that same token, if you’ve planted cover crops, you can keep them in the soil a bit longer while the potatoes are chitting.  Plus many people swear that their yields are heavier with chitted potatoes.


Note:  potatoes are a great new crop to grow from seed to seed!  Stay tuned for How To Grow Potatoes Part 2.


Do You Chit?


Saving The World Vs. Saving Yourself… And Finding The Balance To Do Both

Ornamental Cabbage On My Walk To Work


You might not come here because you want to save the world, or make it a better place. I know some of us come here mostly because we want to save ourselves and our families. Is that right? If that is so, please know that I don’t want to disparage you ideals in any way by sharing these ideas.


The thing is, I do think a great many of us here want to do both: save the world and work toward our own personal growth and well-being. And when we endeavor to save the world and ourselves at the same time, it is sometimes a difficult balance.


To begin working toward change in our communities is not easy. But I found that once I opened one door, and found one volunteer opportunity… literally hundreds of other doors began to open. Sustainable Seattle, Sustainable Capitol Hill, P-Patches, Native Planting, … not to mention the large local, national, and multinational NGOs that can always use volunteers…!


And then once I settled on one or two (or three!) of those organizations, I have to figure out where I can help the most. And how much time I can spend with each organization. And overall, what I am willing to give. The following are some thoughts I find important to remember as I navigate this new territory.


Make Sure You Get Something Out Of The Experience


Find something you love to do, something you are good at or something you want to learn more about. For instance, if gardening makes you more at peace, you might find it incredibly rewarding to garden with and for others, and even teach other people how to garden.


This is important because you need to renew, you need to be happy doing what you’re doing. When you are, you will become more effective at creating change, and you will be much more likely to stick with it for the long term.


Make Sure You’re Using Your Time Wisely


In the past, I have begun working at an organization, only to find myself spending a lot of time fighting to get just a few things done. When we have a limited time we can give, we have to make it count. That means that sometimes we have to make hard decisions: if an organization just isn’t working for you, kindly move to something that does. If you feel you’re doing too much or too little or not doing the right thing, be open and honest about it. People like that – it’s refreshing. And usually the end result gets you closer to finding balance.


Work Toward Healthy Balance In Your Life


This is difficult for me. Saying “no” does not come easily, and my natural instinct is to overdo things so that I lose sleep, put aside my personal life, forget to fulfill my intentions, and in general neglect my own health and well-being. I want to save the world, now now now! But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s important to remember that you need to be healthy and happy in order to be truly effective.


I haven’t totally figured out how to maintain a healthy balance, but I’m getting better. One trick for me has been to figure out ways to nurture myself at the same time as I nurture the world. So again, I am making sure I’m personally getting something out of my work toward global and community change.


The second trick for me has been to set limits – whether that is to stop working at a certain time every night, or to make sure I have a To Do list that includes personal and large-scale change, or to set aside a day or two per week where I have family time only (or the reverse, to set aside a day or two to create change), … there are many ways to do this and each of us has our own. The important thing is to be consistent with yourself so that your own personal needs are met as you work within your community.


Conclusion


I know that I have been writing about these issues quite a bit lately, and I hope you’re not tiring of these ideas. I think this is the next step toward living sustainably, at least for me. First I began to make personal changes. Then I worked on worldwide changes with filmmaking. Then I made a lot more personal changes. Then I reached out to share my experiences and motivate others by writing. Then I worked within my local community to create change. And now, finally, I’m learning how to synthesize all of these things together. That requires finding a good, healthy balance.


How Are You Doing With Finding A Balance?


Where are you in the process of sustainability? Are you at the point where you are beginning to synthesize your many steps? Are you finding it easy or difficult to find balance between personal growth and world/community change? Do you have any tips for finding balance – how do you do it?


Fulfilling Intentions

Butterfly On Our Old Meyer Lemon Tree


Last week Pattie wrote a comment here that started me thinking.  She wrote that she calls the things on her “to do” list her “intentions” rather than her chores, and when she has finished them, she has fulfilled her intentions.  


It’s a brilliant idea – I like this much more than chores.   And I think that it can work for short term goals, and also longer term goals.  How many times have you intended to do something but just never got around to it?  Big things, small things – they both matter.  We only have one life, you know.


Are there things you’ve intended to do, but haven’t yet fulfilled?  Let’s hold ourselves accountable for them – right here, right now.  Let’s help each other fulfill them.


Here are five things I’ve had on my to do list for quite some time.  This week, I’m going to work on fulfilling these intentions:


1.  Walk more and eat fewer sweets, to lose those few pounds I gained over the winter.


2.  Work out a posting schedule for myself so that I don’t miss posting at One Green Generation.


3.  Manage my time better during the day, so that I can get more work done in less time.  This means stop getting sidetracked by blogs and websites, and stick to my daily goals.


4.  Finish that Community Urban Gardening Plan I’d started to create a few weeks ago.


5.  Start making one more meal per week from scratch.  It doesn’t have to be pretty!


There are other intentions I’d like to fulfill as well, like start saving money, film more of my grandfather’s stories and thoughts, compile my millions of words to create a book about sustainable living, read the backlog of books on my bookshelf, and much more.  But for now, I’ll stick to those five, and then maybe when I finish one, I’ll add another to the list.  We’ll see.


How About You?


Would you like to do this with me, work on fulfilling your intentions?  In the comments, write what they are for the week, or the month, or whatever time period you need for yourself.  And then spend the week, or the month, working to fulfill them.  I have the feeling once I begin to fulfill what’s on my list, I will feel more fulfilled overall.  Let’s see!