You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2012.

This Fall, NWEI’s Curriculum Director Lacy Cagle facilitated the Danforth Associates Northwest Conference as their resource person. Lacy brought NWEI’s Reconnecting with Earth course as key content for the weekend. Lacy says, “It’s a tradition at the Danforth Associates Northwest conference that the attendees write limericks about their experiences for the weekend. I was delighted by these and wanted to share them with you all — I hope you enjoy.”

The below limericks are credited to Danforth Associates Northwest. The limericks were all written during the September 30-October 2nd, 2012 annual conference.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Northwest Earth Institute! Enjoy.

From the universe to deep ecology

(We) took them on without apology.

Earth Institute led the way

Our members joined the fray

With bursts of ecopsychology.

-Ernie Karlstrom


I am striving to live with nature’s flow.

To respect the heavens and

the earth below.

To reverence this mortal probation,

This moment which is our duration.

But darn it, I’ll miss my Pontiac GTO.

-Gary Huxford


In school I be learnin’ some countin’

Which I practice at the water fountain.

But then I came here

Talking ‘bout flowers and deer

Now I be thinkin’ like a mountain.

-Bob Soule



Some of you may remember Sarah Menzies, a former Outreach Team member here at NWEI. She has moved on to pursue her love of videography and continues to dedicate time and energy to environmental issues. Check out her recent video covering Bill McKibben’s Do The Math Tour in Portland.

Do the Math – Portland from Sarah Menzies on Vimeo.

photo by Amanda Dempsey, Edible Cleveland

photo by Amanda Dempsey, Edible Cleveland

We just got word that the Edible Cleveland magazine covered one of NWEI’s Menu for the Future courses in Cleveland, Ohio. Thanks to Noelle Celeste for this piece!

Every Monday night for six weeks Felicia Tiller and her boyfriend, Travis, talked about food with a dozen familiar strangers from the neighborhood. They were there to participate in a pilot program for Menu for the Future, an experiment that grew out of Sustainable Cleveland 2019. The idea is to inspire community dialogue around food issues by using the Northwest Earth Institute’s “Menu for the Future” course on a broad scale through faith communities, organizations, businesses or, in this case, neighbors gathered by Felicia’s friend from work.

“It was like a mini book club except we discussed how we eat and who we eat with—not just local food, but the role of food in our lives,” said Felicia. “Overall the experience made us feel more connected to the people in our community and it reminded us that every little thing you do is valid and important—even the simple habit of sitting down with your family to eat.”

Felicia was most surprised to learn that it wasn’t until the end of World War II that families shifted their eating habits and stopped growing their own food. Until then the bulk of an American’s food came from their communities and their gardens . This fact inspired her. “If they could grow it, why couldn’t I?”

So what’s changed in Felicia’s world as a result of those six Monday nights? She and her boyfriend committed to starting a balcony garden. “Originally, we were going to spend the time we would have been in the meeting each week on garden work, but instead it’s become a daily ritual: watering before bed so we don’t water our neighbors on their way to work in the morning and checking on sprouts every morning. We love watching our garden grow.”

In the Cleveland area and want to start or join a conversation near you? Call 216.264.0181 or email


attending-mommyconEarlier this Fall we featured Arizona mom, writer and environmentalist Risa De Groff’s EcoChallenge efforts. Now Risa is organizing MommyCon, a convention dedicated to bringing modern moms and moms-to-be together with a focus on natural parenting. With 150-200 people expected to attend, every participant will receive Northwest Earth Institute’s Healthy Children-Healthy Planet discussion course book when they attend the Greener Living seminar.

MommyCon will be held on January 4, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring over a dozen seminars and presentations. For more information visit  or

Thanks Risa for sharing Northwest Earth Institute’s discussion course on parenting with convention attendees!

indexBen Rumbaugh is a Senior International Studies major at Xavier University, where he recently participated in one of NWEI’s Voluntary Simplicity discussion courses, hosted by Greg Carpinello, the Director of the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice. Below is an excerpt from Ben’s recent blog entry from the Dorothy Day Center Blog:

Affluenza: 1. A painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. 2. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 3. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by the pursuit of the American Dream. 4. An unstable addiction to economic growth. (from

As the Advent season approaches, more people are suffering from affluenza than influenza from the cold weather. The act of giving during Christmas is often undermined by this illness. Many would suggest that this condition is caused by American consumerism and the expectation of numerous material gifts on Christmas day. How can we avoid this? What is the prescribed vaccine for affluenza? It’s simple.

Originally, I found this definition in a curriculum about Voluntary Simplicity that I experienced with a small group this summer. It was no surprise to me that a correlation was made between living simply and consumption. However, after my group finished the curriculum, I found that limiting my amount of consumption did not easily equate to a simple life. Instead, committing to living simply has created a lifestyle that requires concentration and effort – far from simple. Voluntary simplicity isn’t merely spending less; rather it is a concerted effort in exploring why we consume in the first place.

Approaching voluntary simplicity in this way has been a beautiful and challenging examination of my values. Especially during a time when I’m unsure of my values, reflecting upon the purchases I make throughout the day has started to unwrap the values that society holds and how I fit within that structure. However, having a conscience (or lack of one on some days) while at the store does not encompass the entirety of consumption. By starting with small purchases at a convenience store, I have slowly begun to view all of my actions as if they were transactions in a store. I ask myself, “What is this action costing others? What is it costing me? How does this action reflect the culture surrounding me?” Although attempting to quantify everything is not always a healthy practice, viewing my everyday tasks in this light has led me to further solidify my values…

For the full post, click here.

voluntary-simplicityThis week we are highlighting a blog excerpt from a Voluntary Simplicity course participant in upstate New York. Erika writes about her experience with he Voluntary Simplicity discussion course on her blog: Eat. Make. Do: Our DIY Life. Enjoy!

Almost 4 years ago we moved from one coast to the other and our lives changed in a lot of ways. One was a huge cut to our overall income. This put us on a different path, and I honestly feel like we are much better for it.

It is easy from time to time to get off the path. Sometimes less important things or people creep in and cause a lot of distraction and I forget the end goals.

Recently I joined a discussion group on Voluntary Simplicity organized by Jillian…Week Three’s topic was work. Just in our small group I realized that I am in a minority (I think) when it comes to how I view satisfying work. To me work is very physical. If I’m not manipulating things it doesn’t seem very gratifying.

Most of my “work” now belongs to the things I do at home. It isn’t necessarily the most fun, and I’m certainly not getting evaluated on it or anything, but it’s important and I take pride in it.

I enjoy baking bread and making our Christmas gifts and sewing Halloween costumes. In a minute I’ll start working on chicken pot pie for dinner, but I already made the crust this morning with Jack. There will be something more special about dinner, because I made it myself. I put time and energy and thought into it, and to me that’s valuable work…

Voluntary Simplicity, to me, is living with technology and modern life in a way that is fulfilling, not all encompassing. To be thankful and grateful for all that the modern world can do for us but to still be able to put up your own food, whether you choose to or not…

For the full post, click here.

imagesThis holiday season, NWEI invites you to consider Voluntary Simplicity as you navigate the choices and events of the season. If you haven’t yet, consider forming a Voluntary Simplicity discussion group and gather with friends, family or co-workers to consider alternatives to the busy, consumer-focused pressures often accompanying this time of year.

Also, consider giving the gift of learning by sharing NWEI course books with family and friends. NWEI is happy to send the book or books of your choice to the recipient(s) on your gift list. If NWEI has impacted you, we invite you to share the gift of these resources with others.
You might also consider giving the gift of a Gift Membership package, which includes the course book of your choice along with an annual membership to NWEI. This option is available online at (*Please scroll down to the last option in the cart).
However you choose to spend your December, we wish you peace this season!

“To live more simply is to live more purposefully and with a minimum of needless distraction.” – Duane Elgin

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