Stories of Our Selves

Hi all! Tonight we shared time around a fire pit in the Colton Community Garden, complete and resplendent with s’mores and stories galore. Each of us had spent the week previous thinking about and writing our stories of self — grand attempts to put all of who we are, how we got here, why we do what we do, into 3 pages of text. I’d been looking forward to this evening for a few days now, preparing my essay and the poem I would read to our group.

Because I wanted to give every sharer my full attention, and because a moment of vulnerability is just that — ephemeral, a sparkle in time — I didn’t take many pictures of tonight. So imagine the buzzing of small insects, the sun’s penetrating stare, white flakes of ash floating swiftly on clouds of smoke, two playful pups and twenty-seven present, youthful, astute people all easing into this thing called a Community. Co-mmun-i-ty. Community. I like it.

Tonight I learned that, if our group could compile all of our life lessons into one single tome, and a person could study and learn and master that tome in a lifetime (we could call it the LifeTome), said person would be well on their way to what Buddhists call Enlightenment. Or, at least, they would have the inner strength, security, and problem-solving skills to handle any hardship that the Universe dealt.

That’s MY take on tonight — a sort of fisheye view, all bending curiously around a central theme: community wisdom. This shared bank of life skills is a sort of subliminal benefit to urban placemaking, but it may prove just as valuable as the more tangible resources shared in a community (e.g. seasonal produce). Between that and the ooey-gooey s’mores, who WOULDN’T want a lil’ urban homesteading in their life?

– Shyla Cox

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Farmers Market 9/17

Authors: Ashley Kritzstein, Daniel Herger

Sunday, September 17 at 8:15 a.m. we met and walked over to the Flagstaff Farmers Market. It was a sunny 60 degrees and we volunteered with another student in our class, Eshed.

Once there we were instructed on selling procedures and how to handle the money.  We sold kale, squash, green beans, flowers and peppers from the Colton Community Garden alongside two other backyard growers. One was a little boy who sold flowers and various vegetables. The other was a woman who sold tomatoes and basil.

Here are pictures of some of the products us and the other growers were selling at our booth.

Throughout the two hour period we were only able to sell three products, all of which were bags of green beans. The profit for the two hours was $4.50 for the museum garden, however the other growers were making sales within that time period.

More pictures of the booth and an example of some of the beautiful vegetables that were for sale.

We learned that you have to put yourself out there to create a welcoming stand that draws customers in. We tried standing on the outside of the stand, greeting people, and wishing them good morning but we still were not as successful as some of the more well known vendors.

After our shift it was interesting to see all the local produce at other stands and get to experience the Flagstaff community coming together. For example, there was fresh breads, jams, and home made foods. We bough tamales and horchata to support the local economy.

Here are pictures of us enjoying the friendly Flagstaff community.

In conclusion, we both had an amazing experience at the Flagstaff Farmers Market and will definitely be back soon to either volunteer or possibly just shop around and get more immersed in the community.

 

 

Which Renewable Energy Source Should I Choose?

In a society that is growing ever more aware of its impact upon the environment, this is one of the many ever present questions people have.

Flagstaff is currently in an odd spot for renewable energy. Although it does receive sunlight, it is not consistent like in Phoenix. Also, no major rivers run close to Flagstaff. The terrain is also rough and uneven. However, this should not dissuade you from investing in renewable energy here in Flagstaff.

Solar power is the one of the three, and quite possibly the most well known, older faces of renewable energy. While Flagstaff, as previously mentioned, receives less sunlight than most of Arizona, it is still viable to invest in solar power. The upfront costs to installing a typical 5 kW system is made up in saved energy within 12 years. 18 years after that, a profit in $23,000 is made in saved energy. Even if the upfront costs to a solar system is too prohibitive, it is still entirely possible to buy small solar generators or solar lights.

Hydroelectric power is, unfortunately, not a very viable venture within Flagstaff. However, it is still possible to build microhydropower system and use that to generate electricity off of small streams.

One of the oldest sources of energy, wind power should be considered in Flagstaff. The city currently sits within a wind density zone that makes building large turbines a decent expenditure. If a Sky Stream 3.7 kWh wind turbine were to be build in Flagstaff, it would take only 7 to 11 years to recuperate the costs as opposed to the 12 years of solar energy. While smaller, home-based wind turbines are not quite as efficient in terms of energy production, they still should be considered. After all, the costs of building and installing one is not as prohibitive with systems costing as low as $3000. Even Northern Arizona University has a small wind turbine set up to power its renewable energy instruction laboratory.

So while Flagstaff may not seem to be an ideal location for renewable energy, it has the potential to be able to produce vast amounts of energy from renewable resources. So please, for the welfare of not just the Earth but for the welfare of the human race in general, take into consideration the possibility of power generation from renewable resources.

How To Reduce Your Ecological Footprint

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“Every action has an equal opposite reaction,” this may seem like an obvious idea but few people take this into consideration when living their everyday lives. The people of this world are not taking into consideration the amount of energy and natural resources that are being used by the most minute tasks. Every person leaves behind an ecological footprint when they pass away and recently the size of shoe that is leaving its imprint is taking up a large chunk of the world with just one step. An ecological footprint is the “measurement of the ecological assets that a given person/population requires to produce the natural resources it consumes and to absorb its waste” (Ecological Footprint). In simpler terms an ecological footprint is the impact a person has on Earth expressed by the amount of natural resources they exploit. In this how to paper, I will be giving simple ways each person can reduce their own ecological footprints and make sure that this world is here to stay for future generations.

When reducing our ecological footprint starting with the small things is probably the easiest way to begin. It will be an adjustment at first but similar to all other habits, once you do the small things for a while they will become almost second nature. To begin, one of the easiest things we can all do to reduce our ecological footprint is recycling (Reduce Your Ecological Footprint). Whether this is recycling objects within our household or taking our recyclables to local recycling center. We can recycle almost everything including paper, glass, aluminum, plastic, and even electronics. By recycling more frequently you are allowing for natural resources to have more time to replenish before it is needed again, plus most things were made for more than a one-time use. An extremely easy task that would help tremendously in reducing your footprint is giving up plastic water bottles (Reduce Your Ecological Footprint). Plastic water bottles are one of the leading materials in the oceans and landfills. By having the same water bottle that you use every day, you can reduce the amount of plastic being made by water bottle companies and help stop the plastic islands in the oceans from getting any bigger. Another step you can take to reduce your ecological footprint is by unplugging everything before you leave the house. Large electronics still suck up energy even when they are turned off so by unplugging the electronics you are saving electricity and saving money because your power bill will be lowered (Reducing Your Ecological Footprint). An easy way to unplug all your electronics is by using a power strip. If you use a power strip you just have to un plug and plug back in one thing which easy to do compared to unplugging each item one at a time. If you do not want to use a power strip you can also unplug each appliance after you are done using it. The past three things I have mentioned are steps you can take to reducing your ecological footprint inside your home.  They are simple and if you stick to doing them every day you will reduce the size of your footprint and even save some money.

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These next steps I am going to talk about deal with your carbon emissions. These are a little bit harder to stick with but will have a dramatic change in your ecological footprint. Driving less or carpooling are two major things you can do when it comes to reducing your carbon emissions(Conger). I know this does not sound like the most ideal situation but even if it is just once a week or double checking you have everything when you are at the grocery store so you do not have to go back for a second trip, you are still reducing your carbon emissions and saving money on gas. If you are planning on going on a trip, try getting there some other way besides by airplane. Airplanes are a huge factor in carbon emissions(Conger). I know it might not seem ideal but if you care about his earth and are trying to reduce the impact you leave, skipping out on a plane ride will help you reach that goal. Reducing your carbon emissions will be harder to do then the three steps I listed in the previous paragraph but will have a larger impact in reducing your overall ecological footprint.

Reducing your ecological footprint will take some work, but by doing just the small things you can help save the earth and help out future generations by leaving them at least a tiny bit of resources for them to work with. Plus, you will be saving money which is always a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

Conger, Nick. “Our Footprint in Seven Facts.” WWF. World Wildlife Fund, 09 May 2013. Web.    25 Apr. 2017.

“Ecological Footprint.” Ecological Footprint. Global Footprint Network, Dec. 2016. Web. 24         Apr. 2017.

“Reduce Your Ecological Footprint.” Reduce Your Ecological Footprint. RESET, Mar. 2016.         Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

How To Live A Good Life

I wanted to make a how to for a good life because for everyone a good life is different and can be reached in different ways. This how to is not meant to force you to live your life in this way, but if you are feeling lost or not sure where to go next with your life this how to can be a great guide line for you. I know you are probably second guessing your choice to read this how to paper but that is how I felt when I joined my “Living the Good Life” class. I learned and grew so much in those 18 weeks and I hope I can share just a little bit of that with you in the essay.

For everyone, living a good life can mean many different things. But one thing we can all do to make our lives better and to feel more enlightened with our selves is making sure we give back to our community. By this, I mean volunteering at your local homeless shelter or events that are happening within your community. Volunteering is the best way to get out there and make a difference in your life and the lives of others (Casano). I know for me I never volunteered until for my Living the Good Life Class we were required to. Now I have volunteered for three events within my community just this semester and every time I do go out to a community event I feel a sense of belonging. Volunteering not only makes you feel like a better person but helps others more than we could ever imagine.volunteers

Another thing that improves your life’s quality is just being thankful for what we have. I know it’s hard to get lost in our day to day lives and to always be looking for more than what we have, but if we take a step back and appreciate the love and compassion we have surrounding us our overall outlook of life will be much more positive (10 Ways to Be a More Thankful Person). It’s one thing to say what we are thankful once a year on Thanksgiving but try saying three things you’re a thankful for every day either when you wake up or before you go to bed. By doing this you will realize all the things you have in your life to be thankful for. Continuing to do this every day you will have a brighter attitude towards yourself and others. Many people are not as lucky as us Americans when it comes to what we have to be grateful for but by recognizing that and taking into consideration the others around us we can live a happier life and above all live a good life.

One thing that is extremely difficult for me to do and probably for most people in my generation is putting away our electronics (11 Ways to Live a Happier Life). My phone is always an arm’s length away or in sight. I know this does not sound healthy and I know that it isn’t healthy but if you and I were to turn off our electronics and get outside our lives would get a lot better. We are constantly surrounded by bad news and negative images while we are online and scrolling through social media. By unplugging and getting outside we are seeing natures beauty and all she has to offer. Standing and taking in the energy of the sun brightens our moods and even leaves us feeling rejuvenated.  When we acknowledge the beauty around us and don’t let others control our mood we tend to be happier with our lives. A happy life, to me, is a good life and that is all our main goal. We want to be proud of the life we lived and all that we accomplished.

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Following these three easy steps will help you in the long–run say you lived not only a good life but a great life. It may be hard to stop walking in the footsteps of society’s norms but just taking a few minutes out of your day and reciting out loud what you are thankful for and getting outside to enjoy the sun and natures’ beauty your outlook on life will turn positive. A positive life equals a happy life which equals a good life.

 

 

Work Cited

Casano, Tom. “15 Simple Ways to Live a Happy Life.” The Huffington Post.           TheHuffingtonPost.com, 08 July 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

“10 Ways to Be a More Thankful Person.” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing.     University of Minnesota, 2016. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

“11 Ways to Live a Happier Life, according to a Psychologist (Hint: These have nothing to do        with money!).” A Happier Life. The Mind Unleashed, 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Project 333

Our society is known for being materialistic and consuming more than we need. Much of the time, we are being bombarded by advertisements in stores, commercials, social media, and on billboards. We are constantly being told that we need something that is better than we currently have. We are persuaded by the fancy clothes and how beautiful the models look wearing them. When we get home with our full shopping bags, we are excited to try out our new outfits and show the world what we bought. However, when weeks or months have passed, the familiar statement of “I have nothing to wear” lingers in our minds. We feel the need to go out and buy more and continue the cycle again, adding to our already stuffed wardrobe. Taking a moment to think about how much you are spending on clothes or materialistic items per year could put things into perspective.

“The U.S. apparel industry today is a $12 billion business and the average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually” (Forbes.com, 2015). Our closets are growing, but yet, so is our amount of debt. “Our researchers found the median debt per American household to be $2,300, while the average debt stands at $5,700” (Valuepenguin.com, 2017). Another view to examine is the discontent among people that could possibly lead to their amount of consumption. When taking a survey of 1,000 women of how they feel about their wardrobe, 21% to be “unwearable,” 33% too tight and 24% too loose, and 47 per cent admit they struggle to pick out an outfit before heading out to work (Her.IE, 2017). As mentioned before, there are many solutions able to be approached when wanted to downsize and simplify our lives.

Project 333 has been a popular choice for many. It is centered around minimizing the number of clothes someone has in their closet. They have to narrow it down to 33 clothing items, which includes accessories and shoes. For 3 months, they can only wear the 33 items they have selected. During the project, the other clothes are stored away and the hope at the end is to help people realize that they don’t need a whole closet full of clothes and continue to even add to it.

During an interview with Shannon Cosner, who has been living by Project 333 principles for five years and ten years with being very intentional with money. The statement that hit home with her was that on average, we wear 20% of clothes 80% of time. Since starting Project 333, she has minimized tremendously and now has fewer items of higher quality. She has changed her consumerism way and no longer shops to feel better, rewards herself or goes when bored. She believes in striving for simplicity, keeping things that add value and let the things go that don’t. Most importantly, Shannon strongly stated, “Being an example is the best way to influence people.” Usually when people have less materialistic items and focus more on life fulfilling activities, they are happier.

Being aware of how much we are spending and putting effort into things that are not adding to our lives is crucial. Intentionality really is key and will lead us to spend time where we find the most joy. Downsizing wardrobes, consuming less, and finding the root of our discontent is just the beginning to a more fulfilling life.
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Sources:
https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt
https://www.forbes.com/sites/emmajohnson/2015/01/15/the-real-cost-of
your-shopping-habits/#75fa5f951452
https://www.her.ie/life/the-average-amount-of-clothes-a-woman-has-in-her-closet-290514

Unplugging from Technology

If we look at the world around us nowadays, it seems that everyone has their head buried in their phones or other electronics. Even when conversations are happening, there is disengagement and interrupted focus every few seconds. We seem to be controlled by the buzzing and beeps of our devices. They can make us anxious, forget current tasks or keep us from sleep. Of course, technology has connected our world in ways that people only use to dream about. We use it as a way to escape and hide from the physical realm. This includes being on social media websites, posting, texting or playing games. The realization of this imprisonment of our devices is when we begin to become aware of our habits. Instead of worrying about when we can plug in next to our technology, we can make the switch to start unplugging and refocusing. This can take time, patience, and a little bit of extra fun in our lives.

On average, people check their phones 46 times per day (Times.com, 2015). This number is increased with the younger generation and decreased with the older generation. People seem to be checking their phones constantly and even use it as a way to look busy. Surveys show that 1 in 8 people fake using their cell phone to avoid talking to others (Healthland.time.com, 2011). Due to the impact technology has on society, has also lead people to rely on it to engage in behaviors they would not usually or rely on it for a confidence booster.

Self-esteem is something that is a very prevalent in the majority of peoples’ lives, especially from pre-teens to early twenties. Coincidentally, those are the ages that spend the most time on technology. All the way back to Myspace years ago to Facebook to Instagram and other social media sites, there has been a want for many friends and now, many likes. Likes have become a competition between friends and even strangers. With all of these comparisons being made daily, there are also many lies coming through the cracks as well. “75% admitted to lying about themselves on social profiles” (Nakedsecurity.sophos.com, 2016). We need to ask a few questions. Are people lying because they feel their lives are not good enough? Are they trying to make themselves feel better by creating a façade? These can be extremely hard questions for some and hit home for many.

Thankfully, there are ways to decrease the addictions of social media, simply being on our phones, and falling into the stereotypes of our society of lacking communication skills. When starting to unplug from technology, examine the amount of technology usage in your life. You can take it a step further by writing down the amount of time you spend on each device/social media per day. Seeing those numbers written down can make it more realistic of how much time is actually being spent. Then, look at what takes up most of the time and if it is adding value to your life. Depending on how extensive you want to make the challenge, you can choose a few options: limit use of apps/technology, delete apps that are taking up time/not adding value, eliminate all of the technology that is bringing in negative feelings or find alternative activities that are more fulfilling to replace the technology use. All of these are suggestions can be altered depending on your situation. The goal is to lessen stress, comparisons, distractions, and add more intention, purposeful relationships, fulfilling interactions, and activities that bring you true joy.
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Sources:

Survey: 1 in 8 Fake Using Their Cell Phone to Avoid Talking to Others

Over 75% of people lie on social media

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2011/08/13percent-of-cell-phone-owners-fake-usethem-to-avoid-social-interactions/