Tennesseetransitions


Frugal Friday-April 1st

There’s been a lot of self-talk today with me trying to decide whether to write a real post or use this space as an opportunity to play a great April Fool’s joke on my readers. I decided on the former, even though I had great fun imagining all the creative and funny things I could write. With that, let’s get down to the subject of frugality. I consider thrift as liberation rather than deprivation. It also connects me more meaningfully to the earth because I know that non-consumption is one of the keys to helping turn the temperatures down on our heated planet.

Every day is Earth Day in my mind, but I will use this opportunity to remind you that April 22nd is THE date this year for celebrating. I enjoy knowing that the choices I make in my life are interconnected choices. When I choose to eat healthy vegetarian meals it benefits the environment in countless ways. When I choose to recycle, repurpose and reuse everything I possibly can, or to walk rather than drive somewhere, I know those choices are also protecting the earth’s resources as well as my bank account. Buying as little as possible every single day leads to a simple lifestyle that feels right for me and my Earth. To that end, nothing is too small to make a difference…

Monday:  I used an uncancelled stamp that had come on a piece of mail to send a sick friend a card…

20150802_151302[1]

I not only saved 49c cents on the stamp, I will reuse the manila envelope too the next time I need to mail something large. PLUS I’ve still got that extra stamp for my next card!

Tuesday: I mixed up a fresh batch of laundry detergent, using borax, washing soda and grated laundry soap. The whole process takes maybe 10 minutes, I store the gel in a freely-given repurposed bakery bucket, I save LOTS of money over store bought detergents, and there’s no container to recycle when it’s gone. This choice is a lot healthier for the Earth, in my opinion.  I’ve only bought ONE container of store bought stuff in over 15 years, and that was this past winter when I was too sick to make my own.

20160401_141452[1].jpg

Wednesday: My daughter was here visiting from Ohio for a few days so we enjoyed our time together going to the nearby thrift store where she snagged three tags-still-on Calvin Klein dresses for $22 (I thought he only made underwear!) and we managed to snag five packages of free bread…

free bread

Evidently a  local bread store had just donated a whole pallet of bread to the thrift store just a few minutes earlier, but the recipients don’t have to pay for the bread since it’s a corporate tax write off for the bread company. I don’t get it, the bread wasn’t even out of date. Some days the magic just happens.

Later downtown we were drawn in by this sign…

20160330_142449[1]

…where we enjoyed lunch at a local eatery and then drove over to a newly-opened Carousel. This beauty has hand-carved, hand-painted animals and is only $1 per rider! The ride was my treat. Never let it be said I’m a cheapo 😉

sam on carousel

Thursday: I planted some Iris bulbs given to me by a friend who had thinned her bed. I tucked them among some fading daffodils that were given to me by another friend…

20160323_175520[2]

Yeah, I had to weed all that out, but will now mulch it thickly with the free shredded leaves the city provides me each fall…

20160401_171709[1]

Friday: The best for last…my neighbor called at almost dusk last night telling me her hive of honeybees had swarmed, but were under a nearby landscape timber. She wanted to know if I had an extra ‘hive body’ to put them in. I had a swarm trap that I had readied with drawn comb and bee pheremone just the day before, so I took that over to her. As soon as the sun got up good this morning, the  swarm walked right into the trap and as soon as she gets them transferred to their new permanent ‘hive body’ I’ll set the trap again for perhaps a swarm to go in the community garden. Saving the bees? Priceless!

Bee Swarm

Now it’s Friday evening and we plan to walk downtown to attend the annual free Corazon Latino Festival where there will be ‘the running of the bulls’ (aka Little City Roller Girls), along with food trucks selling authentic tamales, tacos and beers. There will be free salsa lessons, live music on the outdoor stage, vendors, and my favorite…Pasaporte A Las Americas- where visitors can travel across Latin America without leaving home; cultural ambassadors answer questions and share traditions from their countries of origin. Cultural understanding? Priceless!

Have a frugal weekend friends!

 



More on ‘Bringing It Home’

I have finally finished my major chemo treatments (although I may need some ‘follow ups’ using only one chemical, rather than a full Malotov cocktail) later this spring. My energy levels are somewhat better now and I’m looking forward to a trip to California next month and continuing my 10th year as the coordinator for my local community garden during this growing season. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I know my posts have been pretty spotty for the last 6 months but I hope that now I can begin to do more regular writing and living  again. So don’t give up on me yet…

It’s sometimes hard to come up with a topic that fits into the context of “Tennessee Transitions” that will make a full blown post, but this one will be proof that a variety of things are sometimes needed to share ideas with you that only need a photo or a tag line to get the message across.

Regular readers know that I’m absolutely convinced that the best way we can begin to transition to a way of life that is based on lower consumption of energy, goods, and money begins right at home and spreads out to our neighbors and community. Eating local and regional foods, supporting local businesses, and using localized energy supplies can go a very long way towards making our lives more self resilient. I believe our country is still in a very precarious position in this world and the more we can learn to do to ‘bring it home’ to our communities and neighborhoods the better off we’ll be.

Let me share some more examples I’ve noticed in my own community since my last post on the subject…

local company

The small print on the front window of our newest downtown store says “An Appalachian Artisan Emporium: Locally & Responsibly Produced Art, Crafts, & Goods”. Sounds good huh? Michael and I walked down to check it out for the first time recently and it’s a beautiful, classy place with very reasonable prices. We saw everything from hot sauces to jewelry to guitars all made right.here. No need to go anywhere else in town for a gift item or even for my one little luxury of a bar of home made soap! There was music being played on the store system that had been recorded by local musicians’ while we shopped, making for a very nice atmosphere, with the owner being personable and knowledgeable about every product on hand! These are exactly the kinds of businesses that our city is crying out for. Keepin’ our money local helps us all. There was another couple shopping there, filling a hand-made basket with small locally made gifts to present to expected out of town company. They were very pleased with their choices, as I’m sure the recipient was too.

It’s also spring gardening season around here-my greens and peas are up but the potatoes haven’t shown their furry heads yet. A friend had ordered 1500 ladybugs to release on her house plants that were covered with aphids. She found out she only needed about 30 or so to get the job done so I exchanged a handful of live ladybugs for my greenhouse starts (which always seem to get aphids too) for a supper of homemade soup and a thick slice of sourdough bread. We’re both happy and most of the ladybugs are still hanging around a few days later…some have died but we think they were D.O.A. anyway.

20160323_164208[1]

Sharing our extras (even BUGS or soup) is another great way to support your community!

Michael’s birthday was Saturday so we decided to celebrate at a-you guessed it-locally owned restaurant, rather than at one  of the many chains that line the city. The Thai food was excellent, as was the service. There were 21 of us that took up most of their pushed-together tables, but we had such a good time…

Michaels_bday[1]

The owners of this place let us bring in our own birthday cake after the meal -unfortunately ordered from Krogers. The cake was just okay, but was a last minute thought on my part or I would’ve certainly purchased it from a local bakery. Next time…

seigan

Later, friends enjoyed locally crafted beer while listening to a local Celtic band at a locally-owned coffee house. No Starbucks for this crowd!

With just this one birthday event, a lot of local dollars were spent and kept in our community. I love the diversity that our local restaurants, bakeries, coffee houses and shoppes provide.

Today’s newspaper carried the following article on another new locally based company. THIS is just a fabulous idea and one I hope will gain a lot of support. I’ve provided a link here to the newspaper article about this innovative approach to what I hope will become the future of municipal-wide composting instead of landfilling…

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Environment/2016/03/22/Johnson-City-teacher-opens-area-s-first-fully-permitted-solar-powered-composting-facility.html?ci=content&lp=&p=1

All this is to say, it simply takes a small but conscious effort on YOUR part to shop locally. Rather than pointing  you to yet another link, I’ll quote directly from my ‘About’ page  on this blog: “If we collectively plan and act early enough, we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. Now is the time to take stock and to start re-creating our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community and personal well-being.”



Bringing It Home

Since beginning this blog in 2012, I’ve been writing about how creating a strong sense of localism is THE key to transitioning to a lifestyle that is more connected, vibrant and fulfilling. Localism, which champions a more equitable economic system of building healthier, more sustainable communities, is truly the way forward.

I see progress in my community towards this end with an  ongoing revitalization of our downtown area, creation of several new community gardens and a brand new 1.5 million dollar Farmer’s Market opening next month! A wonderful biking and hiking trail is being utilized from dawn to dusk each day, as are public parks that are filled with ever-changing art sculptures chosen by a public art committee. Public health initiatives have been implemented, and an increased awareness and concern for homelessness, domestic violence, drug abuse and crime reduction is helping those in need learn how to fish. An emphasis on shopping locally is helping many new small, mom-and-pop style businesses stay competitive. Walkability scores are being used by realtors these days too. How walkable a neighborhood or community is is so important to creating the kind of localism that’s needed to bring a community together. On my morning walk today I saw this bit of harmless fun, right in the middle of town:

20160314_104238[1]

The building below, called the ‘Betty Gay’ Building, sits on our Main Street in a busy block. It has sat empty for years, with the front literally falling off. Our city inspectors finally decided to get tough on the owner, who then sold it to a man known for restoring old properties back to their former glory and beyond. Years in the process, but it’s finally happening!

20160314_104437[1]

And by the way, this is being rehabbed using local contractors and local materials as much as possible-even some repurposed building materials! That’s ‘bringing it home’.

Localism doesn’t mean we need to wait on our city governments or someone else to make change happen. You know what Gandhi said: “BE the change you want to see”…I’m a member of a quiet, dedicated group that has been working for the last 16 months to determine if a member owned food coop (like some credit unions and banks for example) could offer shoppers in our city an affordable, more local option when buying their food. By partnering with an established coop in nearby Knoxville, we have together raised $16,000 in order to perform a professional market study to determine if this idea might be a viable option for our area! The folks that have financially supported this effort (with no guarantee that it will ever materialize) are able to take advantage of immediate savings and introduce them further to the concept, since their investment in the Johnson City Food Coop automatically entitles them to membership and benefits in Knoxville too. Our membership cards arrived in the mail today-

20160314_120451[1]

I’ll be offering more information on the coop idea in the near future, but the point is, we’re working together to make this dream a reality. When opened, this food cooperative will also support different projects to benefit our members, workers, families as well as our local community. That’s “bringing it home”!

Image of The Co-operative Food

More localism: a friend of mine has worked long and loud to make our city not only more bee friendly but is making sure that bees have plenty of food; through her localizing efforts, as well as others, our public library is currently installing a pollinator garden on the front lawn, replacing uninteresting foundation bushes and lawn mowing with a roof top water cachement and underground filtration system that will water the planned ‘meadow’ of native plants that will offer nectar and pollen to the bees. To top that off,  just last week our zoning commission voted unanimously to allow beekeeping within city limits! Progress is often slow, but perseverance can pay off handsomely.

With the fall of the once-almighty indoor mall, revitalizing downtowns that were deserted when they came on the scene is an important piece of re-localizing. Towns and cities all need a square or a commons area for people to feel like ‘they’ve arrived’, and that they belong to something bigger than themselves. Shaping a new economy, building stronger communities while focusing on the tools and strategies that will allow us to prosper together has been proven effective over and over.

Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community. In a world of increasing insecurity (and insanity?) strengthening our home place makes sense.Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. As I was gathering information for this post, look what came in the mail today!

20160314_121501[1]

This little family-owned pharmacy is a 5  minute walk from my house and they are so incredibly helpful that I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else for my prescriptions. They have everything we need in terms of healthcare and I have price-shopped them to death, discovering that their cough drops, bandaids and eyedrops are cheaper than Walmart. Take that big box stores! And now, with a $5 coupon, they’re ‘bringing it home’ even more!

 

 

 




%d bloggers like this: