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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!

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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!

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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

Greetings Everyone - I'm On The Way Back!

Hello, hello, hello!  Thank you ALL for your patience and your good wishes via email, comments, and Facebook while I was gone!

I have an incredible amount of stuff to share with you all – it has been a crazy, jam packed few months – wow.

I am still working through the weekend on a couple of video projects for a client.  It’s a fabulous project that brings local County members together to talk about local community issues in a way that actively affects local decision-making.  Very cool.  However, I am working loooong hours this weekend, so it will be a few more days before I can focus on telling y’all about my adventures!

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a picture of me and my new nephew.  I just got back from visiting my sister and her family in St. Louis.  Here’s Connor and “Auntie M” (as I’ve now been nicknamed!):

Connor & Auntie MConnor & Auntie M

I hope you all are well and enjoying the last few bits of summer (those of us in the Northern Hemisphere).  See you soon!

With Much Love,

Melinda

Temporarily Engaged With Business Planning, Strategy, and Culture Design

Hi everyone.  I’ve dropped off the face the One Green Generation earth for a moment.  Many apologies!  Don’t take it to mean I don’t love this blog and our community here – for I do, and I am so glad I’m able to help support you all, as you support me!!

As many of you know I co-founded my own business officially a year ago, but we’ve been working on it for a year and a half.  At the moment we’re going through some hefty growing pains – as is the nature of any startup as it moves into profitability.  So any free time I’ve had of late has been spent talking with our current staff, mulling over ideas with my business partners, and doing a WHOLE lot of reading.

Anyone want to know about innovative organizational, operational, and strategic development?  I feel like an encyclopedia of information!  My brain is swimming with org charts, strategic consulting services maps, organizational culture building, and competitive analysis.

It’s highly likely my brain will be devoted to this for the next week or two, possible up until September 25.  My apologies, as I know this is a regular daily visit for many of you.  I hope you’ll understand as I help a world-changing company become more efficient and effective in its world changing.

If you don’t want to keep coming back to see when I’ve posted, please feel free to SUBSCRIBE – you can choose to receive an email when I next post, or you can see it in your reader if you use one.

If you can’t wait to read more, I encourage you to peruse the Archives in the right-hand column – can you believe there are 422 posts there??!  Wow – My guess is there is something you will find that you haven’t read before!  You can also start with Post #1, and work your way forward – I have heard that’s a lot of fun, too.

Thanks for your patience, wish me luck and good strategic dreams.  See you soon!

~Melinda

ALL CHALLENGE CHECK IN!!

Kathy reminded me that it has been an awful long time since we’ve talked about all the challenges!  So… spill it everyone – how are you coming??

The Growing Challenges

The Growing Challenge New! The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition – From Seed To Seed! The Growing Challenge: Evangelist Edition

I planted seeds in my new p-patch 2 weeks ago.  I’m experimenting with peppers and tomato seeds directly in the ground.  Who knows if they’ll come up!

My mom and I spent Saturday morning at the Seattle Tilth and Master Gardener plant sales, stocking up on seedlings for her garden and our balcony garden.  Neither of us had the ability to do seedlings indoors this year – due to travels or too much work.  But I’ll grow lots straight in the ground, and supplement those with organic seedlings!

Evangelizing wise, I’m here and pumping away on the blog, hoping to reel in a few more gardeners here.  I also spoke at Sustainable Capitol Hill a few weeks ago about urban gardening, I’m regularly writing for the city’s Community Garden Post (comes out quarterly), and every time I garden at my p-patch plot I talk to about  10 different people passing by!

Accomplish Your Dreams and Walk 10,000 Steps

Accomplish Your Dreams Challenge

I walk to and from work every day, and I now walk to my garden patch, too!  I very rarely drive now – it’s getting easier and easier to walk everywhere.  I’ve also lost several pounds, and shrunk from a size 12 to a size 6!  :)

As far as accomplishing my dreams, I’m pushing my new business forward and really really really trying to make that work for me financially, socially, and environmentally.  It’s growing, we’ve hired 6 employees with a couple more on the way soon, plus a few sub-contractors!  Each job we take on is more exciting than the one before.  On the path!

Green Your Insides and Buy Sustainably

The Buy Sustainably Challenge! I\'m Green Inside

Buying sustainably took a turn for the worse when I started working so many hours and Matt started graduate school.  I continue to find more and more locally-sourced products – there are very few things we buy regularly that don’t come from Washington or Oregon.  But… I’m eating a fair amount of packaged, organic food for lunches and even – gasp – dinners!  I can’t wait until the local farmer’s market opens up again – I think it will help considerably because I can eat a lot of raw fresh foods again.

As for greening my insides, I think I’m pretty much green inside and out.  That’s the one I’ve done pretty well for a while now, due to my asthma.  Soap, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo, dish soap,… all our body products are low-impact on our bodies and our world.  Yay!

So How About You?????

Winner: $25 Abe's Gift Certificate

Abe's Gift Certificate

For those of you who missed learning about Abe’s, I wrote a bit about it here.  If you can’t get all the things you need locally, Abe’s is a good alternative market.

$25 Gift Certificate Winner

Our lucky someone who gets to try out Abe’s Market is….

And the Winner is....

Maureen!

Congratulations, Maureen! I think Random.org heard you jumping up and down in the back there.  ;)  Please email me and I’ll put you in touch with Ilana at Abe’s!  (And please note that you have a week to email me, otherwise I’ll draw a new name.)

Thanks for joining in the fun, everyone!  It seems like y’all are enjoying these giveaways – so more to come!

Say Hello To 5 Strangers Today

I believe that community building is one of the most important elements of sustainable living.  There are a number of reasons for it: when we live locally and strengthen our communities, we become stronger and better able to adapt to changes in the economy, climate, and energy availability.

When we become a part of our communities, we have a better capacity for creating change within it:  making people aware of important issues and ideas, sharing resources, learning from one another, change local policies, working together to solve problems, and feeling useful, helpful, and a part of a greater good.

Each community is unique and has its own needs, whether it is public transportation, sustainable food resources, strengthening local businesses, reducing carbon emissions, increasing recycling and reducing waste, building community gardens and parks… the list is varied and lengthy.  We can only learn and become part of the solutions if we become an active member of our communities.

So this weekend, I want to challenge each and every one of us to do this:  all you have to do is say hello to five strangers.  That’s it!


Why?

Because in the last several decades we have grown cold and disparate as a culture.  We don’t say hello to strangers anymore, we don’t participate in local events as much anymore, our children don’t play out in the streets together anymore, we hesitate to help one another because we don’t have time anymore.

But have you walked down the street lately, and had a stranger say hello?  It feels good and brings you two people together for a moment.

Generally that feeling lasts a few seconds, maybe a few minutes, occasionally a few hours or if it’s really special, the whole day.  The next thing you know, you  are spreading that feeling of closeness to others – maybe you say hello to someone too!  And that person may then stop into a local store and find themselves chatting with a local shop owner.  And the shop owner, feeling close to his customers, may find a way to give back to the community in some way.  And those who are touched by the shop owner’s giving back are more likely to give time, help, or conversations to someone else.

Your simple “hello” has changed the dynamic of the neighborhood, creating a positive cycle where more and more people become closer to one another.

It takes time, but it also starts somewhere.  So let’s start somewhere simple.  This weekend, let’s each of us come out of our shells and Say Hello To Five Strangers.

Will You Do It??!

I’m going to do it too, and we’ll all check in on Monday Tuesday* and see how we’ve done.  Shall we?  Let me know in the comments!  Come on, you can do it – I know it!

(*Y’all get an extra day to say your hellos!)

How To Amend The Soil In Your Whole Garden For $20 Or Less

There are five very cheap ways to amend your garden soil.

1.  Create Your Own Compost Bin

If you have the space in your garden, for very little money you can compost your own kitchen waste, grass and garden clippings, and leaves.  In a 4′x4′x4′ container, include half “brown” materials – straw, leaves, newspaper and other dry things – and half “green” materials -  grass, food waste and other new materials.

Compost Bin

Add lots of water, turn occasionally (every 3 days to 3 weeks, depending on how fast you want it to decompose), and wait (2 weeks to 4 months, depending on the weather, how often you turn it, and what you’ve included in the pile).

2.  Create Your Own Worm Bin

A friend of mine is going to show me how to do this soon, so I’ll post about this soon.  But in the meantime, if you looking for a smaller-scale way to recycle your kitchen scraps into luscious soil-amending goodness, check out Patti’s video:

3.  Lasagna or In Situ Composting

In Situ Composting. This is the lazy gardener’s compost method.  Here’s what I do:  I line my garden paths with straw.  As I’m weeding and cleaning up the garden, I throw everything into the path, on top of the straw.  You can also add food scraps, but be aware that animals might come find them so choose cautiously.  The paths will begin to decompose, rain and excess water from watering will keep it moist.

By next year, the paths will decompose and you can turn in the soil a bit and move your path to a new spot.  Keep in mind that you can only use weeds that haven’t gone to seed, because this method doesn’t get compost hot enough to kill the seeds.

Lasagna/Sheet Mulch Gardening. Another lazy gardener’s compost method, essentially you create a 2′ tall compost pile all over your garden, alternating green and brown in each lasagna layer.  If you do this in the fall, by spring you should be able to plant in rich soil!  I looked for a good video to show you, but the above is the best I could find – it helps, anyway!

4.  Plant Cover Crops

Fall or spring, you can plant cover crops – there are a plethora of options.  Crimson clover (above) is one of my favorites, because it’s beautiful and brings a lot of nitrogen and organic matter into your soil.  Peaceful Valley has some of the best resources – their Fall catalog has an amazing grid listing all their compost crops with each one’s benefits.  However, if you find cover crops locally, you’re likely to happen upon ones that work best in your area.

5.  Let Your City Do It For You

Big Truck, Little Truck

A good portion of local municipalities now have compost programs that work with your regular garbage pick-ups.  Every Spring, we go get a truckload full for $10-20, depending on how big a load we want.

It is a lot of exercise to bring in a whole truck load of compost at a time – but with two people, a shovel and a wheelbarrow, you can unload it and mix it into your soil in 2-3 hours.  And you feel really strong and well-exercised the next day!

Which Method Do You Use?

How have you amended your soil in the past?  Will you try something new this year?

Is Green a Hokey Western Invention?

GrandmaMy Grandmother

I received a thought-provoking email recently that I’d thought I’d put to you all to answer.

Hi Melinda!

I am soooooo not a blog-commenter, you cannot imagine! Pretty safe to say this is my first.

Your site is so real and honest. I was browsing purely for research yet the character ringing through these pages was so… crystal, I think?… I couldn’t help but engage.

I live in the Philippines, a developing country in Asia. While my family is in that slim ratio of the more materially fortunate, our country is beset with poverty, corruption and moral decay. As such, the ideals on this site sound removed from reality, as esoteric as a new religion. Even as IN PRACTICE it all comes down to things our pre-colonial ancestors took for granted! Conditioning shampoo made from tree-bark, leaves/roots/flowers in everything, water kept cool in clay jars, giant palm fronds pulled manually to cool the room, wood-burning stoves… my own grandmother was a poster girl for green!

It’s when we think of it as modern or alternative or even Western that it feels hokey. Being poor and still agricultural, maybe we don’t need to call it “green”. It’s just what our mothers did.

And then I wonder: isn’t that true even for you guys???

Best of luck with this undertaking!
If there’s anything I can do…

Adele

What I Believe

Thank you for your thought-provoking question, Adele!

First off, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about their lifestyle, because whether or not it’s a Western invention, I think it’s necessary given how far our Western culture has gone astray.

Secondly, I also believe that back to the basics or living as our mothers did is a bit artificial, because our lives ARE different than our mother’s and grandmother’s, and I don’t believe it’s realistic nor healthy to be always looking back.  There are many things I learned from my grandmother and mother that I do want to return to my normal life.  But there are a lot of aspects in the contemporary world that are essential to understand and be a part of in order to change society.

For example, I can’t blog if I go back to the simplicity of life during my grandmother’s time.  Yet I feel I’m creating great change in my life as well as thousands of others’ lives by blogging.  I also can’t run a business that creates wide-spread change without utilizing modern tools and reaching people where they are, which often means reaching people with technology.

And finally, my mother and grandmother didn’t always have it easy, and didn’t have time to do some of the things I do today.  I did try to live a lifestyle that was self-sufficient and idolized an old way of doing things. But I found that I didn’t have time to reach out to others, I didn’t have enough money to survive as a family, nor did I totally enjoy a lifestyle that so fully centered around my own daily life.

So I see living a sustainable lifestyle as utilizing the tools we need to use in order to generate change, while reincorporating some of the timeless values of our ancestors.  In other words, taking the best of both worlds, both generations.

What Do You Believe?

Are we just creating another artificial, hokey alternative?