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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!

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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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Great Reading

We're Moving This Weekend!

Surprise!  I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were thinking we might move, and we decided to take the leap. So on Tuesday morning, we’ll awaken in a new home!

It’s not far – you can can see it from our current apartment (click to enlarge):

5 Reasons We’re Moving

  1. To decrease our footprint. Our current apartment is pretty big, which is great in some ways but also takes up more footprint than we need.  We can do jumping jacks in our bathroom and barely touch both sides of our hall walls at the same time.  Little things make a difference on the sustainability path.
  2. To eat healthier. Sounds strange, but right now we live across the street from a natural foods store and 6 blocks from our garden.  Guess which one we visit more frequently!  So we’re switching: we’ll be across the street from our garden and 6 blocks from the store. I’m looking forward to seeing my garden from our bedroom window. 
  3. To save costs. We’ll be saving $6,000/year living in our new home.  That’s a lot of money to contribute toward paying off our student loans.
  4. To live in the heart of the neighborhood. We’ll be across the street from the community center, community park, local church, restaurants, cafes and bars.  As a result we’re much more likely to be a part of community events and decision-making processes.  We’re looking forward to it!
  5. To live in a more diverse area. Our current rent has gone up substantially, and the residents are changing – it’s becoming a higher-income building.  Where we’re moving, we’ll be in a low- to mid-income community, with some transitional housing, a food bank (to donate extra veggies), and in general more diversity.

We also lost our beautiful view – we used to be able to see the bulk of Lake Union and even Mt. Baker on a clear day.  Our new apartment will have a modest view of the sunset and Space Needle.

5 Reasons We’re Staying In the Neighborhood

  1. Our neighborhood is LEED certified. The entire neighborhood is certified as a sustainable neighborhood, and we’re proud to be a part of it.  We have bioswales in an urban center, 35% of the neighborhood buildings are LEED certified, urban planning has focused on multi-use areas that are walkable, parks, native plants, … it’s really awesome.
  2. We have great public transportation and walkability. We have a walk score of 97.  I walk to work, and Matt walks 2 blocks to the bus.
  3. We’re in the heart of the city. I love walking through downtown every day, feeling a part of the city on a daily basis.  I feel I intimately understand what’s changing, how the economy is doing, where industry is thriving, etc.  We’re in a central spot to our friends and family – pretty much within 15 minutes of anyone we know in the city, right off the freeway, and an easy meeting point.
  4. We love our garden community. We have an awesome plot, with great garden neighbors, and good friends of ours just moved gardens to garden near us.
  5. We have a growing local economy. The neighborhood is transitioning from an old dilapidated manufacturing (and prostitution) center, to a thriving mixed economy.  It’s pretty amazing to watch, and it gives me hope for the rest of the country.

Can’t wait to tell you all about our new place!  In the meantime,

Tell Me About Your Home

What’s perfect about it?  How did you end up there?

How To Find Your Way

For a week, I have been at a remote retreat on Cortes Island, British Columbia.  I was able to gather with a group of media makers who are all looking to create social change with their work.  I can’t tell you how rejuvenating and refocusing those moments were.

It was incredible to be among others on parallel journeys, each helping to catapult me to the next stage in my work.

I know some of you are in a similar life stage to me:  seeking a way to utilize your skills and passion together to create change – personally, locally or globally.  For those of you who are, I thought I’d share with you a few of my thoughts after this experience.

These are words that poured out of me over about 10 minutes as I rode the ferry home.  After those 10 minutes, I fell into a blissful nap in the sunshine.

How To Find Your Way

On Perfection

Don’t try so hard to find perfection.  It comes as it comes, when it comes, and how it comes.

Let perfection find you, and be open to new ways perfection reveals itself.

On Finding The Answer

What you think is the answer may just be the light that leads you to the answer.

If you are true to yourself and seek out what you want most, the answer will often appear on its own. Be true to yourself and your direction.

On Passion

If your passion is for the Earth, and you follow your passion, the Earth just might help you along your path.

On Being Humbled

Stand tall, even as a dwarf among giants.  Both dwarfs and giants are equally important to the ecosystem – and you need each other (as an ancient pine needs the ferns below).

On Endurance

Moments of nurturing the soul – and the intellect – are keys to continuing to follow your passion, and inciting change.

On Frustration

When you breathe in your surroundings, and root yourself there, suddenly it becomes clear that small frustrations just don’t matter.

If you live with small frustrations – rather than fight against them – you may find they lead to greater things.

On Discomfort

It’s not that everything happens for a reason necessarily, but if you let things happen – and open the space for new things to happen – you may find that there lies a perfect catalyzing thought or action.

Walking into discomfort often contributes the most to great growth and reward.

On Truth

If you speak the truth – and aren’t afraid of it – you will open yourself to a whole new universe of opportunity.

It’s ok to talk at length if you have an important or useful or emotionally-driven story.  People will listen.  And they will appreciate it greatly that you spent the time to communicate it to them.

On Finding The Answer, Part 2

Nuggets of knowledge can come from the least expected places.

Trying too hard to find the answer is often the worst method of searching.  It comes from a combination of place, openness, relationships, work, and going within yourself.

The answer lies deep within your self.

On Change

(Self) love sometimes means doing things that are very difficult in the short term for greater, long-term betterment.

(History and) cultures are meant to change.

On Frustration, Part 2

When you’re frustrated or irritated, sit with it.  Let it be without fighting it.

Allow yourself room for happy surprises.

On Encouragement

Follow your passion.

Don’t worry if you’re doing good – or enough good.  Deep within, you know you are.

Our work is not in vain.  If you think the world is bad now, imagine how bad it would be if none of us did anything, sacrificed anything, or dreamed anything.  The world needs us to be doing what we’re doing.

 

Back In Time: 3 Personal Product Changes

There are big changes and small changes along the path toward sustainability, and from my perspective, they all matter.  As I spend a week in the San Juan Islands, I thought some of you all might enjoy some of the most popular articles here at One Green Generation.

How To Make Your Own Deodorant (A Very Simple Recipe)

Simple recipe, quite effective.  The #1 most popular post on this site.  How To Make Your Own Deodorant (A Very Simple Recipe)

Hair Without Shampoo

A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo

Think you need shampoo every day or every week?  Think again.  You might just find you don’t need it at all… A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo.  Also check out No ‘Poo: New & Improved!

Be Prepared!

Replace Your Cleaning Products

Ok this isn’t one post, it’s three.  But I think you’ll like them.

Know Another Great Resource?

Please comment!

 

Back In Time: 3 Spring Gardening Posts

As I take a step away to rejuvenate at a retreat called “Media That Matters”, I thought I would revisit some old posts that some of you may have missed.

Since there are some brand new gardeners to The Growing Challenge, I thought I’d start with basic gardening.

Tomato Seedlings On WindowsillScarlet Runner Beans

My Top 12 Easy Vegetables To Grow From Seed

Learn what “in situ” vs. “ex situ” are, and why one might be easier to grow than the other!  Plus beautiful photos of my top 12 favorites to grow.  AND see a beet as big as my mother’s head – can’t beat that!   My Top 12 Easy Vegetables To Grow From Seed

Baby Lettuce

Gardening 101: Seed Starting For Beginners

I go over a few different ways you can start seeds, and try to make it as easy as possible for new gardeners.  Let me know if you have any questions via email or comment!  Seed Starting For Beginners

    The First 5 Steps To Growing a Vegetable Garden

    How I make choices about what to plant where, and when.  Planning Your Garden Your Own Way

      Please Share Gardening Resources for Those Of Us Just Beginning!

      Where did you first turn for gardening information?  What was most helpful for you?

       

      Are You Ready To Grow Yet???!!

      Hi everyone – I hope you’re enjoying your spring!  The weather is just warm enough to start planting tomatoes here – I’m finally getting excited.

      I wanted to cast another net out there to see if there might be a few of you lurking in the shadows… maybe you’re a little bit afraid to comment on a blog, let alone take a challenge.  Maybe you’re shy, maybe you’re new to this green thing, or maybe it’s old news and you don’t think you need a challenge?

      Why Not?

      You have nothing to lose except a few gloriously aching muscles and a little garden knowledge!  Come on, don’t be shy – I dare you to try.  Just try!

      I promise to write about gardening, remind you to garden, get you excited about gardening, and help answer your gardening questions.  I also promise to help you get over any fears you have of growing from seed.  It’s surprisingly easy!

      Put Your Name Down In the Comments… It’s Simple! Pretty Please?

      The more people who sign up, the more fun this becomes.  A couple years ago we had over 200 people signed up!

      And I know there are friends of mine out there who are aching to try these things but haven’t got up the nerve.  Now’s your excuse – I’m putting a big cherry on top with a big warm smile and saying “pretty please.”  :)

      The Easy Guidelines

      1. For each of the four seasons of 2011, grow at least one type of fruit or vegetable that you’ve never grown before, and grow it from seed. (So at least 4 crops from seed this year – one for each season.)  If you’ve never grown anything, grow one thing! If you’ve never grown beans or carrots or lettuce or strawberries, try one of those…. And if you don’t have a garden, you can grow in a pot or on a window sill!
      2. Check in here on occasion, and maybe tell someone else about gardening. Checking in here allows us all to learn from one another – I won’t post all the time, but will try to do it once a month at least.  Ask questions, share stories, whatever you’re thinking about regarding your garden.  And tell others about gardening if and when you can – because it’s a great thing for the world to have more people eating from the land.  (Psst, this is one of the fun parts of gardening:  becoming a part of a gardening community.)
      3. Sign up in the comments below. Include your Name, your location, and your gardening zone (U.S., Australia, CanadaEurope, South America, China) – plus any other details if you like.  For example:
        • Melinda, Seattle, WA, zone 8. In addition to growing a four season garden, I’m going to try saving seeds from at least one crop in the fall.

      Who’s In?

      1. Barely beautiful girl, Ohio, US – zone 6
      2. Judy, Eastern Iowa, US – zone 5a
      3. Deb G, Bellingham, WA, US – zone 7
      4. Green Bean, Bay Area, US – zone 9/10
      5. Ken Toney, West Virginia, US – zone 6
      6. Angie Harding, Southern Highlands, Australia – zone 3 Aust, zone 9 US
      7. Rue, Perth, Australia – zone 4 Aust, zone 10 US
      8. Lyndsay, London, UK – zone 8
      9. Michael J. Church, US – zone 5b
      10. Andrea, Cape Cod, MA, US – zone 7
      11. Andi, US – zone 4
      12. Rob, WA, US – zone 7
      13. Mark Ruhl, US – zone 6
      14. Kim, Long Island, NY, US – zone 6b
      15. Lynda, Sacramento Valley, CA, US – zone 9
      16. Jennifer
      17. Peggy, Denver, CO, US – zone 5/6
      18. Helen, Catonsville, MD, US – zone 7
      19. Marianna, Greece – zone 9
      20. Kory – zone 5
      21. Eryn – zone 5b
      22. Melissa (Bee Girl), Santa Fe, NM – zone 6-7
      23. Elizabeth, Australia – zone 8-10 US
      24. Christie Mandeville, Washington, DC – zone 7
      25. Grace, Atlanta, GA and Greenwood, SC – zone 8
      26. Heather Adkins, Louisville, KY – zone 6
      27. Catherine, Texas – zone 8
      28. Barb, Pennsylvania – zone 6-7
      29. Jeanine, Lost Coast, CA – zone 9-10
      30. C Robb – zone 7-8
      31. Melinda, Seattle, WA – zone 8
      32. Jody, Eastern Iowa – zone 4-5
      33. Shell, Eagle, PA – zone 5-6
      34. Dorothy, Southern California – zone 9-10
      35. Katherine, SE of Atlanta, GA – zone 7b-8
      36. Carrie, Newark, NJ – zone 7
      37. Brandi & Terri, Mankato MN – zone 4-5
      38. Guru and Giri, Bay Area- zone 8b
      39. Stacy, Indiana – zone 5
      40. Frances, Bermuda – zone 10-11
      41. Jonathan, Yakima, WA – zone 6a

       

      Sign Up – You Know You’re Intrigued!

      And if you’ve already signed up, or you’re already gardening, or you just want to check in and say hello – I invite you to comment about your garden – how’s it looking?

      Winners: THREE Great Gardening Books!

      Thanks so much for your lovely comments and for entering to win the gardening books, everyone!

      As promised, we have two winners…

      Winner #1 is… Kiona!

      Winner #2 is… deb g!

      Congratulations, lovely ladies.  Please email me with your address!

      Thank You

      I am deeply mired in finishing up a Report for a deadline this afternoon, but I wanted to pop in to say thank you to each of you.

      I’ve really enjoyed reading all your comments over the last few days.  Thank you all for contributing so much to this community.  And thank you so much for the lovely things many of you have said about me and this website.

      It’s your comments and emails – and the amazing sunsets I see from my office (above) – that keep me going on long days!

      Please always feel free to discuss, comment, ask questions, follow the Facebook and Twitter conversations, or just listen if that’s where you are right now.  I’m glad you’re reading.

      It’s sunny and beautiful in Seattle this morning.  I hope you’re having a lovely day!

      What are You Up to This Weekend, btw?

      I’m excited to do some good garden work – and to get outside and away from the computer!  I’ll be planting lots of seeds and seedlings – carrots, greens, peppers, beans, peas… can’t wait to sink my teeth into their fresh goodness in a couple months!

      What about you?  Are you trying anything new?  Participating in any community activities?