Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If it's yellow let it mellow...

This will probably turn out to be an odd post...
This is what our toilet often looks like at the House Famous (minus the toilet paper as this is not actually a picture of our toilet but a google image, our toilets have more provocative colours such as violet or cream). That's right, our toilets often have pee in them! This may seem odd to our guests but, I assure you we have our reasons.

The average North American uses 142 liters of quality drinking water each day.Of this amount 50 per cent is flushed down the toilet. I can't think of a more arrogant manner to flout our affluence than by peeing in half our drinking water.

This is a crazy stat as drinking water is fast becoming the key issue of the 21st century. The United States of America is getting thirstier and beginning to eye the delicious waters of Canada. http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080424/water_wars_080424/20080424?hub=SciTech

Unsafe drinking water is also the number one killer of children in the world.
Those are just 2 of many compelling reasons we've stopped flushing yellow (don't worry, if it's brown, we flush it down) So for thi reason, if you decide to come and visit the house famous, or are thinking of joining our community, you should consider carefully whether you can stomach yellow toilet water. We don't pretend to be solving the world's problems with this policy, in fact, many people have far more effective methods of conserving water by toilet. We know we're actually pretty moderate in this respect. http://www.thesimpleway.org/practical/water.html

That said, we figure if we can cut our flushes by 50-75% we can save about 35L of water per day, per person in our household. It's a humble attempt but one we've stuck to in our short life as a community. It may seem a little gross to the average guest, but hey...

Everybody pees!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

speaking of prayer...

I've been thinking a lot about prayer lately. Below is a prayer by Rabbi Jack Riemer that has been on the lips of quite a few people in our churches and larger community...I think it's quite excellent.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war; for we know that You have made the world so that all of us must find our own path to peace within ourselves and with our neighbors.

We cannot merely pray to you, O God, to end starvation; for You have already given us the resources with which to feed the entire world, if we would only use them wisely.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to root our prejudice; for You have already given us eyes with which to see the good in all people, if we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair; for You have already given us the power to clear away slums and to give hope, if only we would use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease; for You have already given us great minds with which to search out cures and healing, if we would only use them constructively.

Therefore, we pray to You instead, O God, for strength, determination, and willpower – to do as well as to pray, to become as well as to wish.

For Your sake and for ours, speedily and soon, that our land may be safe, and our lives may be blessed.

Praised are You, O God; You bless Your people Israel, and all humankind, with peace.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I watched President-elect Obama's inauguration today and, I must say, it was a beautiful thing to watch. There were many parts of this inauguration that I found moving, but one part in particular stuck with me. The part I refer to was the closing benediction that was written and delivered by the Reverend Joseph Lowery. Lowery is a Methodist minister who was integral in leading the civil rights movement with Dr.King in the 60's, and this is some of what he said...

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand -- true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

For we know that, Lord, you're able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

No Clothes for a Year

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2009. Chelsea here. I think that New Year's as a celebration is very interesting; it seems to bring out in people a desire to reflect on the past and plan for the future. It seems to inspire us to want to do better at living life to the fullest. It seems to act as a reminder that time is marching along, and we'd better make the most of the year(s) ahead of us.

The whole idea of resolutions has always interested me as well, and while I have never been particularly good at keeping resolutions like exercising daily or becoming vegan (it's just so hard to get around to those ones), during the past year of 2008 I was able to keep one resolution: I did not buy any clothing for one year.

Many good and noble reasons jumped to mind when I started out on this 'fast' from clothes-shopping: I've long been interested in promoting "recylcled" second-hand clothes, the use of sweatshops in the developing world is a terrible problem perpetuated by Western greed, by not buying clothes I would have more money for helping our community, etc, etc, etc. Lots of answers that would make me look socially conscious or whatever. But the real reasons that I abstained from buying clothes for a year were 1) I was becoming obsessed with my exterior appearance, including my clothes, rather than focusing on my internal condition, and 2) I wanted to see if and how God would provide for my needs, as He has promised.

So, with no scientific measures or formal parameters, I did not purchase any clothing for myself for 365 days. No shirts, no underwear, no pants, no shoes, no dresses, no coats. And it was way easier and more fun than I imagined it would be.

By the end of the first two months, I had stopped thinking about how to justify spending on whatever cute shirt was in the window of the shops that week: since it was out of the question, I eventually stopped fussing and obsessing and worrying about it.

At the end of April, we moved into the new side of the house: at this point, since I had to pack all my clothes up anyway, I gave away a full garbage bag of clothes that I wasn't using any more.

Our house held a community yard sale in the summer, where lots of people donated stuff; after the sale was over, there was tons of clothing left over, so I was able to glean a few items before we sent them along to the thrift store.

There was also a Clothing Exchange at the local artist's co-op called Made-For-You; I took in a bunch of clothes, and swapped them for other people's stuff.

A few friends of mine gave me their old clothes when they were finished with them. They also let me borrow clothes for special occasions.

I became much better at sewing and fixing rips and tears and buttons, rather than letting them go.

In the end, this experiment was very worthwhile; I saw God provide absolutely more than all I needed, and I feel as though I've learned alot about identifying with people who simply don't have the option of buying new clothes whenever they feel like it... Like the people who make most of the clothes we find in stores today...

I encourage everyone to try this experiment: give it a shot for a year, don't buy any clothes. Or try only buying second-hand clothes. Or cut your clothing purchases in half. Try something. After all, clothing is just coloured fabric to cover our dangly bits and keep us warm in the winter. It's not nearly as important as the colour and fabric of your soul and mind.