Social Action

10 Simple Ways to Change the World in 2011

You don’t have to be the President of the United States, Bill Gates, or Bono to change the world. Here are 10 simple things you can do to help make the planet a better place to live in 2011 and beyond.

  1. Become a mentor or tutor to an at-risk youth. Every community has students who need help. For just a couple hours per week you can make a huge difference.
  2. Shop local. Skip the big box retail stores/restaurants for local establishments. While you might not get the best prices or the widest selection, you are investing in the future of your community.
  3. Start a garden. Even if it is just a square foot garden on your apartments balcony. Everything you grow and eat makes a big difference.
  4. Loan some cash to a small business owner using Kiva. Starting at just $25, supporting small business owners in developing countries is literally giving freedom from oppression.
  5. Buy a share in a Community Supporter Agriculture farm. (CSA) Redirect some of your grocery bill directly to the farmer by buying a share. You’ll get farm fresh fruits and vegetables and you’ll help ensure that local farmers stay in business. Shocker: Our grocery bill actually went DOWN in 2010. CSA’s are in every state, find one here.
  6. Get to know your neighbors. This is the single most important thing you can do to ensure your neighborhood is a safe, friendly place to live and raise your family. Start with the basics– name, how long have the lived here, where did they grow up, what do they do for a living. Then sit back and be amazed.
  7. Pick a local board and attend their monthly meeting. Most people only go to city council, zoning board, or school board meetings when they are mad. Choose a board of locally elected officials and go to their monthly meeting, just to learn the issues facing your community. It’s amazing the voice you will gain just by showing up.
  8. Convert one week of vacation to a week of service. Naysayers call this a twisted form of tourism. That’s all they are– naysayers. If your heart is to serve, you can give a week of service in nearly any place around the world. I’ve learned from experience that this is the most rewarding/relaxing type of vacation available.
  9. Step down to allow someone else to step up. If you hold a position of leadership, maybe this is a good year to intentionally raise a new leader while you still stay involved. I think you’ll find that this is what it really means to be a leader.
  10. Support local middle school and high school sports. You don’t have to give money! Just show up and cheer for your local team.
family San Diego Living Social Action

The Future of Food

Tonight I watched the film above, The Future of Food. You can watch the whole thing, for free, on Hulu. (Or here on my blog if you so chose) You can learn more about how corporations are trying to run [ruin] the food supply at The Future of Food website.

Another great movie covering more of the food supply is Food, Inc.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. But in my lifetime I’ve witnessed major food related issues among so many people I know. Too many. For years I’ve heard about this stuff and thought– what a bunch of whacko’s. But the more you learn, the more those whacko’s make sense.

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, Kristen and I are making a serious commitment to change both the food we eat and the way we get it. Our hope is to reduce our food waste by 25% by composting, buy most of our vegetables and fruit locally buy belonging to a CSA and shopping at a farmers market, and planting our own organic garden. (see the pictures of our garden)

So far, we’ve kept those commitments. And it hasn’t been hard at all. We’ve enjoyed tons of our own fruit from the yard and last week we started an abundant harvest of fresh lettuce. Today, Paul and I went out and bought a few more veggies, so we have tomatoes, herbs, and jalepenos coming in the next couple months. (And our compost worms are hard at work 24 hours a day eating our food waste!)

Our next steps involve increasing the percentage of food we buy from local producers, working out a local free range source of meats and fish, and finding a local bakery who is committed to non-GMO grains.

Maybe this all sounds a bit nuts? The truth is, it’s a lot of fun! We love starting a garden. We love the discipline of spending less at the monster mega-supermarket. And we love seeing what sorts of crazy things appear in our CSA box each week. Even more crazy is that I don’t think its costing us any more money per month.

There’s something so enjoyable about developing a more intimate connection between what we eat and the people who produce it.

Oh faithful reader: What are steps you are taking to be more socially responsible about the food you eat?

Social Action

5 Socially Conscious Christmas Gift Ideas

The retail world is made or broken based on what happens the 6 weeks surrounding Christmas. The entire world may not bow at the throne of Jesus, but a made-up celebration of his birthday is the biggest fiscal holiday on the planet. Jesus declares his glory even through the mundane giving and receiving of presents at Christmas. You simply cannot deny it.

But what if the world’s people started giving and receiving gifts that reflected the heart of the Gospel? Just like The Passion of the Christ radically transformed the movie industry… what if God’s people radically transformed the Christmas retail space by how they spent money?

Here are five gift ideas that would change things if masses of people did them.

  1. Kiva gift certificates
  2. Purchase a Community Supported Agriculture membership
  3. Sponsor a child with Compassion International
  4. Donate to a socially progressive organization
  5. Hire a socially progressive speaker, author, or organization to come to your town

You want to change the world? Let’s start with at least recognizing the connection between what we spend/support and where that money actually goes. Be good stewards. Be responsible. And the world will change to meet the needs of the worlds people.

That is the heart of capitalism, right?