...the change we want to see...

I think it was Ghandi who encouraged us to be the change we want to see in the world. I am struck by the fact that I am surrounded by folks who are doing just that. And Jonathan and I are trying to do our part as well. Lifestyle is so much about habit, and we are working hard to examine our habits and reflect on whether or not we can make them more consistent with our beliefs and priorities. We're not making any major commitments right now, just reflecting and "tweaking." More than anything, I'm realizing that all of these issues are interrelated and that we're moving in the right direction by addressing them together. Here's what's happening on a few fronts...

My friend Sarah is a great writer and, fortunately for the world, her hobby is cooking and her passion is local food. Sarah's blog, Recipes for a Postmodern Planet, is an approachable, practical journal of her efforts to cultivate local food culture in her kitchen. And the coolest thing of all is that she's my friend (real life, not just a virtual link or connection somewhere) and invites me over to try things like Haagen-Daz-be-damned ice cream. We pretended like it was for the kids...

Anyway, in addition to rekindling this old friendship (not that WE are old), I've been inspired by Sarah's work and her contributions to our community via her writing. And recently, Mo started sharing her efforts to go green, ethical, and counter-culture on her blog, Learning to Be Maladjusted. Now, this is the person who taught me what a recycling household really looks like. I personally have witnessed (on multiple occasions) her soaking and peeling the labels off bottles, jars, and cans-- so that the paper can go in the paper recycling and the containers in their place. This is the woman who introduced me to Freecycle-- a real lifesaver to us while in Edinburgh. So if she is initiating a new season of maladjustment, I am definitely along for the ride. I have a lot to learn from this sister-from-another-mother.

Recently Jonathan pointed me to an article that discussed the fact that switching to a vegetarian diet reduces my ecological imprint more than switching to a hybrid vehicle! That is impressive and more than a little intimidating. It's one thing to think about my 'footprint' while driving, but quite another to think about it when the fork meets my mouth. Perhaps venison from Papa can help us make a transition.

About ten years ago I really got into the Voluntary Simplicity movement. I did a lot of reading and we made some significant lifestyle changes. One of my favorite reads was Karen Logan's Clean House, Clean Planet. Inspired by her, I started making our cleaning supplies. I remember telling Jonathan that I didn't want to have cleaning supplies as a hobby-- I just wanted to sort it out and have it over and done with. Now-- ten years later, I can't even estimate how much money we've saved. I also feel really good about reducing the number of toxins in our home.

I made a good friend while in Scotland. Her name is Betsy Reed and she is working to help Scotland get certified as a Fair Trade Nation. I'd heard of Fair Trade before, but she helped me understand how vital it is for the lives it impacts. Jonathan and I now try to make sure our "luxury items" -- coffee and sugar in particular-- are Fair Trade. Related to this issue is the idea of organics and the local food movement. Sarah has really inspired me here, and I even made my own, admittedly modest, Eat Local Challenge. Jonathan and I have also tried to include as many organic products as possible in our diet, especially things high in fat or prone to high pesticide use, such as the "Dirty Dozen." We've been giving Julian organic products from the beginning. We still get organic milk for him, and we're making the switch to raw milk now that he's a little older.

Of course it's really interesting to go through this process while the economy is in a recession and we are living on a fluctuating income. That being said, some of these changes-- like eating less meat-- save us money. Others, like supporting Fair Trade and Organics, cost significantly more. I understand that "cost" is a broad concept, as illustrated thoughtfully in this 20 minute video (well worth the time!). But "cost" is also the in-my-face reality of dollars and cents in our checking account. Basically, it's a balancing act for us now-- our consumer ethics on one hand and our financial realities (opportunities!) on the other.

Eat Local Challenge

Sarah has inspired me to take this Eat Local Challenge. I've been meaning to post this for a while now, so everything is now past tense! Unlike others (read: Sarah) who sourced almost all of their food locally and made lists of exceptions, I took the reverse route. Rather than a list of exceptions, I made one, tiny effort: Once this month I will order from Athens Locally Grown, our local online farmer's market.

You'll be happy to hear that I did meet my own challenge! My order consisted of a pound of coffee from 1000 faces, amazing cinnamon raisin bread, and a gallon of raw milk from Milky Way Farm. It was a great and fun experience and I am definitely hooked. There is no reason to go elsewhere for milk or coffee. The "market" has tons of other products, but I'm starting slow...

A funny thing happened on the way to my PhD

The Statons have been back in the US for almost five months. When we came back from Scotland we were aware that Julian had lived longer in Scotland than he had in the States! He's almost evened out his time now, much to the joy of his grandparents.

For those of you who might not have noticed, I'm not going back to my PhD program this year. I've alluded to my reasons elsewhere, and it's too much to go into detail here, but I can safely say that we're home for a while. I am technically on a one year leave of absence and I can extend it for another year if necessary. Then I have the option of continuing the program on an external registration basis, meaning that I can live here and go to Edinburgh just a couple of times a year. For now I am just postponing that decision. I am taking a full year completely away from the PhD and we'll just see what happens.

Of course, me being me, I'm still trying to read and write. However, the commodity of quiet time is much more difficult to procure these days. ;) Who knows, my topic might just completely morph and cause a whole new direction anyway...

Concerts and the BIG 4-0

the warm fuzzies had our second show last night and it went really well and was well received. We had played last week but the venue wasn't the greatest and it felt more like a practice than an actual show, so I guess you could call it a warm up show. The venue last night was the Caledonia Lounge (the original 40 watt club in Athens GA) and was suited more towards the kind of music we are playing. We played with a couple of really good bands too - Leaving Araby, They Sang As They Slew, and Jon Black. Some good stuff. We had a really good time.

Also, today is my brothers 40th birthday! Happy Birthday Davey! Crazy, how'd you get so old? It feels like we're both still in our twenties. Ah well, that's life. Feel free to drop him a line on his blog or myspace page and tell him how old his is.

On a side note - we have found Michael and Julian is happy once again. Thanks for the tip Joel. ;)