Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap for Change (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Leap for Change

One of the suggestions made in today's column - this extra day of the year - is to tweak your ride with some Zen inspired driving tips.

For goodness sakes people of Ohio - use your blinkers! I've lived all over the country and have nowhere found such an innate fear of actually passing on kindness to other drivers by using your blinkers than I have in Ohio. Sheesh - not using your blinkers is a ticketable offense and will cost you points on your driver's license.

I know, I know - you are too cool to signal...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spare Squares (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Spare Squares

I love when my favorite TV Series is right - Scrubs predicted this posting when they performed what is quite possibly the BEST EVER TV song "Everything Comes Down to Poo."

The overuse of TP is one my poop peeves (did I say that?) Really though, how much paper does it take? Stephen's description of the cat playing with the roll pretty much describes how kids approach TP too. It takes a little training to get them over the novelty of wiping with a downy soft pillow... I digress.

Since everything else has gone green/eco can we just call this "eco wiping"? "Green pooping" just doesn't have the same appeal...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cash Out (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Cash Out

Micro-economy cash purchases are one of the best ways to ensure small businesses gain the most profit from each transaction: credit card fees for purchases of coffee, newspapers, snacks and other goodies add up for small vendors. As an added incentive you can add your change to the tip or donation jars at many establishments. A few cents per transaction adds up for someone making minimum wage.

On the other hand I'm a huge fan of the debit card and not having to carry around wads of cash for purchases like groceries and gas. As a matter of course larger vendors generally can include the cost of these fees in the cost of goods and/or negotiate really sweet processing fee deals that minimize the impact on their business.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Abunga (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Abunga of Fun

This falls into the "shameless commerce" category - I toured the Abunga site and it is OK and I'm glad they are providing a place for listing "family friendly" resources but...

It is nowhere as complete of a site as other online book sellers and retailers. Speaking of shameless commerce, if you click on THIS LINK to buy books, etc., Nexus Church gets an affiliate referral fee for sending you to the site.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Eating Disorder Awareness (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Eating Disorder Awareness

I don't have a lot of experience with those who have eating disorders but "I know it when I see it." Reading a few of the references to the above post it gives me some ideas of how to approach the topic, even with a complete stranger. Liking our bodies is one of the hardest things for us to do in light of the media images we see. The image of "perfection" is not only unrealistic for most people, it is unhealthy...

Friday, February 22, 2008

The History Behind the Hisotry (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: The History Behind the History

The history behind February as "Black History Month" is the topic of today's CoolPeopleCare post. I mentioned it before, but one of the best books that I've encountered recently on the issue of Civil Rights is "No Turning Back" by Gurdon Brewster. As a whiteh nortnern Episcopalian seminarian he spent the summer of 1961 with "Daddy King" - Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. at Ebeneezer Baptist Church. It is a fascinating story of transformation and learning from both Rev. Kings Sr. and Jr.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Garbage Game (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: The Garbage Game

Check out THIS LINK. It is really eye opening to look at what happens to the things we throw away...

I played The Gotham Gazette Garbage Game and sent 1,897,872 tons of refuse across 2,507,831 miles.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Work It (Twice) - (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Work It (Twice)

I reuse printer/copier goofs and proofs. The (most often) blank back side of these printed sheets are perfect for note taking, outlining and to-lists. Anything that you want to write down and don't need to keep forever. I reuse the paper these purposes and it still gets recycled when I'm done with it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Foil Me Once (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Foil Me Once

Reusing and recycling aluminum foil is something I have been doing for a long time. Our recycling program accepts it and if it isn't too goopy or torn I tend to fold it up and put it back in the drawer. I find that the heavyweight stuff - although it costs about 1/2 more than the thin foil - holds up to washing and folding much better.

If you think you can reuse foil it definitely is more economical to buy the heavier version so that it holds up longer.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I Love Mountains (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: I Love Mountains

I went to the site linked at the above message ( to find that at least some of the coal that fuels powerplants in SW Ohio comes from mountain top removal strip mines in West Virginia and Kentucky.

I've seen and read a lot about the dangers of surface mining - the amount of chemicals needed to process the coal is much higher than coal extracted from deep mines. That waste ends up somewhere - most often stored in communities where the poor and vulnerable are threatened by exposure to these chemicals.

A long term solution may be the end of mountain top surface mining but in the near term we can call for better regulations on the disposal of this sort of waste. The "I Love Mountains" site also refers to enforcement of clean water regulations. Everyone deserves clean water and a safe environment.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chemical Cleanout (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Chemical Cleanout

At the end of the last planting season I looked through the gardening cabinet and cleaned out most of our old chemicals. I've kept a few compounds like bloodmeal around but the rest went to the disposal site.

We've used a lawn service the past few years and I'm going to ask if they will be using environmentally friendly compounds - and if not we'll switch or start finding a way to fertilize and control weeds on our own.

It is one of those "duh" things - but doing the right thing is pretty difficult given that the most available (and affordable) options are not environmentally friendly.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Three Words (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Three Words

No three words have more power in the English language than "I love you." When said for the first time in the context of a new relationship it immediately changes things - adds an intensity and an intentionality to what may have been a less formal arrangement.

When withheld or misused, these three words can be the kiss of death for a waning relationship.

Knowing that someone else loves us is a basic human need. The gravity of these words is always a great reminder of how important our recognition of others is. Whether it is within our family, our church or in our network of friends - sharing the gift of love may provide hope and connections for those who need them most.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

End Homelessness (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: End Homelessness

The interview linked to the above article made a lot of great points concerning homelessness - mainly that community agencies need to work together to help provide solutions for the homeless. It isn't just a work issue, or just a cost-of-housing issue, or just a mental health issue. For some homeless it is all three of these issues. For others these leading factors only contribute to other situations.

At Nexus Church we have worked with Interfaith Hospitality Network of Warren County since our inception. This organization has a program which helps homeless families (one or more adults with one or more children, no individuals) find the assistance and opportunities needed to get back on their feet.

I did a photo-essay on a "Day in the Life" of one group of families in March of 2007 that can be found HERE. That in turn spawned a follow up article that became the cover story for DisciplesWorld magazine in July/Aug of 2007.

Working with these families over the past few years has certainly changed my perspectives about homelessness and given me great hope in solutions being offered by (and volunteer opportunities at) great organizations like Interfaith Hospitality Network.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Food is Greener (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: The Food is Greener

The theme of this "5 minutes of caring" is 100% in line with the book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", by Barbara Kingsolver. I gave the book to my wife for Christmas and admit to only browsing it but her main thesis seems to be that growing/buying local produce is good for the economy and environment.

Many places (even big cities) have farmers' markets that set up their stands during the spring and summer. While we may not be able to get year-round produce in colder climates we can do a lot to save resources by buying local AND organic if it is available.

We'll be experimenting as the year goes on with this. Our "Burpee" seed starter pack came yesterday and we'll be planting vegetables we can transplant to our garden soon.

There are no "green certified" restaurants in Ohio but we'll do our best to consume green in our own cooking.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Where's Your Money? (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Where's Your Money?

The question being asked today is a great one. Where is your bank investing your savings and checking balance while you aren't using it?

We have made a conscious effort to make sure our retirement investing is done with green(er) and humanitarian companies that engage in fair(er) trade. I add the (er)s to green and fair because it is virtually impossible to qualify companies exclusively in these categories even when they advertise themselves as such. Yet, many companies are making efforts in these areas.

I have an email into the bank where we keep our checking account to find out where they are investing - this should be interesting... (I'll post an update when I hear back.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

No Turning Back (COOL Lent: 2008)

I've been sent a review copy of a new book - "No Turning Back: My Summer with Daddy King", by Gurdon Brewster.

It is the story of an Episcopal seminarian from the north who spends the summer of 1961 as an intern at Ebeneezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Sr. was pastor and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was co-pastor as well as director of the SCLC civil rights group.

The review isn't finished yet but I'll heartily give it a two thumbs up for the insights it offers into the civil rights movement and a conscientious (white) person's immersion into the segregated south.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Story of Stuff (COOL Lent: 2008)

I'm catching up - the CoolPeopleCare "5 minutes of caring" emails don't go out on weekends so I'll have to find cool ways to care on my own...

A friend sent me this link about the cycle of consumption. We all realize this is happening, but the question is what will be do about it?

I was at W*lM*rt with my family earlier today - picking up a few odds and ends. We go there only rarely and probably never again if I can help it!

My mother-in-law picked up an item that was marked at $5.00 and commented, "how can they make this for just five dollars?" The answer is, THEY CAN'T. They are exacting a price all along the supply chain in underpaid labor, squeezed suppliers and unsupported store workers so you can buy a $5 pair of sweat pants.

I could go on and on regarding W*lM*rt's unfair labor practices - bringing in the most desperate workers for the lowest wages without benefits and trapping them in a cycle of debt and dependence. All of that so they can proclaim: "Save more, live better" to their customers.

The Story of Stuff recommends "A Better Way: 10 Little and Big Things You Can Do". Check it out these great ideas for being smarter about your consumption.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Start Last (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Start Last

I have to admit, I'm really bad at this. I usually get in the car, start it up and then get everything set. I'm often found heading down the driveway while trying to buckle my seatbelt and make a call on the cell phone...

Not only is that unsafe but it is wasting gas and time.

But old habits die hard! Out of four trips in my car today - I only remembered to do the "start last" thing once. I guess that is what the small/incremental changes are about - sometimes it takes time to break a bad habit.

Happy and safe eco-driving to you all!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ride Bus, Make Friends (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Ride Bus, Make Friends

How do you ride the bus when there is no bus service in your area? This is a question that I've struggled with as a "suburb" dweller. We live far enough away from metro centers that the city bus lines don't run to us (yet.) Still, these growing suburban and exurban areas are where most people are moving - thus increasing our dependence on cars and fossil fuels.

I used to live in a suburb of Minneapolis. Suburbs in Minneapolis set themselves up in a "ring" around the city. I had access to several express buses on which to ride as I made my way to work downtown. It was great - riding the bus was even faster than driving due to traffic and parking.

Enter suburban Ohio - where cities, townships and counties are still coming up to speed that it is in their best interest to cooperate to offer public transit. Within the counties there are various services for the elderly and physically/mentally disabled - but they aren't very interested in crossing county lines to transport their clients. For the majority of people in this area having their own car is the only viable option.

In my work with homeless families one of key factors in the cycle of poverty is transportation - or more appropriately the lack of affordable transportation. By limiting the reach and scope of mobility for poor people they have very little ability to break out of their locality to seek education, training or job opportunities.

While local municipalities and the counties in the area are working on transportation options it still seems that they are focused on a very small scope - their towns, their counties, etc. There may be, even if I'm not aware of it, a regional transportation plan that would connect the various communities and provide access to the hub cities of Dayton and Cincinnati.

I'm encouraged to look into this, especially as I'm part of a chamber of commerce leadership group for young professionals. This group is very aware of their changing community and are interested in working on solutions that reach far into the future for their well being and that of their children and beyond.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Something Old, Something New (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Something Old, Something New

Today's caring challenge is to investigate what types of things your community will recycle. Here in Springboro, Ohio the city's website says:
  • You can recycle glass jars, food and drink cans, egg cartons and milk jugs. Newspapers need to be placed in a grocery bag and placed in the yellow bin. Cardboard boxes need to be flattened and tied up into bundles.
  • Waste Management will pick up yard waste. However, leaves and grass clippings must be placed in special environmentally friendly composting bags, that are available at any local hardware store. there can be no more than 10 bags per pick up.
We are pretty good about recycling all the items listed, maybe not egg cartons so that is one I can add to the list.

Also, we haven't been using the city's approved composting bags - I'll run by the hardware store and pick up a bunch rather than continuing to use plastic bags.

Finally, I called the city and ordered a few more recycling bins. One to keep inside and an extra because we often need two or three at the curb.

Happy Lent! Happy Caring!