New Band I Love

Last week a friend invited me to International Justice Mission’s fundraising dinner. This Christian international organization is awe-inspiring with their mission to set enslaved and entrapped people free. They go under cover with the support of local authorities, gather enough evidence on human trafficking, child prostituion, and slave labor and, most dramatically, bust people out of wretched situations. They make sure the perpertrators get prosecuted and justice is served, all in the name of Christ.

Lamont Hiebert of the band Ten Shekel Shirt was at the dinner playing a few songs from the band’s new album, Jubilee.  They were great! The album was inspired by Lamont’s experience with IJM and his own non-profit, Love-146, which provides after-care for children set free through the work of IJM. Take a listen and see for yourself how beautiful and inspiring songs about injustice and ensuing freedom can be.

Taking It Outside

IMG_6205Why does linedrying our clothes seem so quaint, so old-fashioned, somehow backward?  Some communities even ban line-drying saying it’s an eyesore or some other benign hazard.  My unofficial survey of friends across the globe tells me that 98% of the world line-drys their clothes, at least in good weather.  Basically the whole world except North America. When I lived in Japan, everyone dried their clothes outside no matter the weather. When I lived in Australia ditto. And two summers spent in Europe tell me they do the same there as well.  And during my family’s trip to Turkey last month we found ourselves, you guesed it, hanging up our clothes to dry.

And why wouldn’t we? Dryers use up vast amounts of energy, even the Energy Star ones. According to a 2001 Department of Energy Report, dryers account for 6% of US household electricity. Why would I put my clothes in a machine to dry when today it’s 75 and sunny on my back deck? After returning from Turkey I was inspired to unwrap the drying rack I had bought last summer at Ikea that has been since hiding out in the garage. I put it out on the back porch and hung a full load of clothes to dry in the yummy spring sunshine. Within a matter of hours they were dry and smelled so fresh. They were even soft thanks to some ancient liquid fabric softener I’d found shoved in the back of my laundry room cupboard.ikea_dryingrack

My husband thinks line-dried clothes feel too crispy, even with fabric softener, so we don’t line-dry his clothes.  The rack from Ikea only holds one load and we usually do 3-4 loads at a time in our house. I can’t have mountains of wet laundry sitting around so, so far, I’m drying about 1/4 of our laundry outside and the rest in the dryer. I guess it’s all about baby steps but maybe the next baby step I need to take is to invest in another $6.99 drying rack from Ikea.

Do you linedry your clothes? Year round or just in the summer? Have you noticed a cost savings?

Some Good News For A Change

I am a self-confessed newspaper junkie and read it cover to cover every morning along with breakfast, coffee and my Bible Study. Hey, I have a two-year old so I’m up early and the mornings are loooong.

Lately the paper has been all doom and gloom but today it suddenly seemed like Pollyanna had joined The Oregonian’s staff.  Hooray, the unemployment rate has stayed steady at 12% rather than rising!  Our state budget is tight but hallelujah, we’re not cutting school days nor food stamps!

And the one I really liked? Kaiser Permanente is providing free health insurance for uninsured kids until they reach 18. It almost seems like a practical joke, too good to be true. Oregon used to cover most kids without insurance through our SCHIP program but that program has been scaled way back with the downturn in the economy. Now over 100,000 kids in Oregon lack health insurance. I want to praise, no hug, no kiss the people at Kaiser Permanente who decided to step up and do something about this travesty.

As great as this gift from Kaiser is to communities in Multnomah County, Beaverton and Salem (the areas where the coverage is being offered), it’s not enough nor, in my opinion, is it the private sector’s responsibility to make sure everyone is covered. Our government should make available affordable health insurance to every single child AND adult throughout the United States. We are the only Western nation not to do that and there’s no excuse for it.  We deprive ourselves and our neighbors of the promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” when we allow something as basic as healthcare determine a family’s financial stability.  I’m willing to pay for it and, as we get closer to the reality of universal coverage, I hope our nation steps up and others show their willingness to do so as well.

40% Off Indonesia Bags But When They’re Gone, They’re Gone

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If you’ve always coveted these gorgeous bags from Indonesia but didn’t want to pay the steep price, now’s your chance. I’ve discontinued the line, beautiful as they are, to make room in Bambootique’s inventory for all the other great new bags I’ve started carrying. The styles that remain were just marked down to 40% off. There’s only one or two left in each color/ style and when they’re gone, they’re gone. Now get shopping!

I Want To Move Here

Twelve years ago my college roommate Lisa and I spent a summer in the gorgeous Black Forest town of Freiburg. Here we shared a tiny dorm room while we studied German at a local language school. We got around the town and the entire Black Forest mainly by our own two feet, as well as by local tram, bus and train.  I lost a lot of weight that summer and felt great. I took my husband Steve back there a few years ago for a vacation and together we hiked Black Forest trails, took local busses and trains and generally loved the car-free existence.

Now there’s a suburb of Freiburg that really is 100% car-free. Vauban was built in 2006 and cars are not allowed to even enter the community. If a resident wants to own a car, he or she certainly can at the cost of $40,000 for a parking space at the edge of the development. 70% of residents don’t own a car at all. Everyone gets around instead by foot, bike and the local city tram that passes right through the suburb. It makes for a quiet, peaceful simpler life. By way of definition cars are practically required for most of the world’s city suburbs. Vauban and communities like it are showing that cars are not required if good planning is done. Vauban, do you have room for one more? Read more in the New York Times.

Bambootique Celebrates World Fair Trade Day

wftd09_imgThis Saturday May 9th is World Fair Trade Day, an international celebration of fair trade with events taking place in over 80 countries. Did you know that retail sales of fair trade products in the US surpassed $1 billion last year? The movement is growing every year and YOU can be part of it.

If you’re new to fair trade, start with the things you consume the most – coffee, chocolate, sugar, gifts. If you’ve been buying fair trade for a while, why not switch to one of the newer products now available fair trade, such as rice, vanilla,  or wine?

My gift to blog readers and Bambootique customers is 20% off your entire order of $25 or more from Bambootique‘s selection of fair trade items. Between today and midnight PST on Saturday May 9th, just enter coupon code WFTD2009 at checkout and your discount of 20% will be automatically applied to your entire order!

What are you doing to celebrate fair trade this World Fair Trade Day?

May Is Fair Trade Month At Onda Gallery

Be sure to stop by one of Onda Gallery’s two Portland locations during the month of May. They’re celebrating World Fair Trade Day (Saturday May 9th) for a full month by exhibiting sustainable art and serving free fair trade coffee all month, May 8-30th.

Onda Gallery is the only gallery in the Portland area dedicated to fair trade. All their gift items come from the hands of artisans protected by the principles of fair labor laws, safe working conditions, preservation of their cultural identity and self empowerment.  Onda’s art comes from Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua and Peru.

Also, watch for a posting in a few days about how you can save big by celebrating World Fair Trade Day with Bambootique.