Monday, September 15, 2008

The APLS Blog Carnival - Affluence

Welcome to the second edition of the APLS monthly carnival. APLS stands for Affluent Persons Living Simply and the topic for this month was the ever-controversial A for Affluent. What did every one think? Is it a controversial term? One people feel uncomfortable with? One people view locally or globally? One they embrace for the power it brings? I noticed these and several other recurring themes in the thoughtful posts that flooded the APLS gmail account this month.

Read on and see what fellow APLS think of affluence:

In her typically eloquent fashion, Abbie, The Farmer's Daughter, comes to terms with her affluence. She looks at wealth globally, rather than locally. But she also looks at the real wealth in her life - the stuff "that cannot be expressed in dollars and cents."

Over at Chocolate Crayons & More, Donna admits that she still doesn't like the word "affluence" but acknowledges that, globally, it fits our country. She urges us to think of the big impact a relatively small amount can have outside our borders and quotes the apostle Paul who believed there should equality in wealth.

At Green Arizona, Alana views affluence globally and her possessions in terms of needs versus wants. When we break it down that way, she notes, we can see where our priorities truly are and then maybe we can make decisions differently.

Melissa, a Golden State APLS blogging at Better Living, thoughtfully argues that we need to view affluence globally to "heal the problems faced by our world today." She examines the definition of affluence argues that our reluctance to own up to our own affluence, in a manner, diminishes the hard truth of poverty.

At Simple.Green.Organic.Happy, Robin is concerned that the term might make others thing you have to be wealthy to be green and then beautifully details all the richness in her life despite a shrinking paycheck.

Bobbi, also a Lower Midwest APLS, at The Greene Onion also delves into the multiple meanings of "affluent." She realizes that, while affluent typically connotes material wealth, the term relates another kind of wealth - one far more meaningful. And Bobbi sees that alternate wealth spreading across this country.

Over at The Good Life, Mel, another Great Lakes APLS, enumerates all the ways in which she is affluent - in terms of material wealth and "real" wealth (health, happiness). There's a reason her blog is called The Good Life. Mel makes us all thankful for all that we have.

All this Affluence is the topic over at BobbleHead Owl Suburban Homestead where Mist muses on her own affluence - despite the fact that many of the frugal acts she makes are a necessity. Still, she argues, she has the choice of staying home with her children or going to work and that is as affluent as it comes.

At Car(bon)free in California, Charles views affluence using powerful metaphors of cars and televisions - material objects so prevalent in our society that they are "practically a birthright." Through the "eyes" of televisions and cars, we realize how relative wealth is.

As proof that there can be some agreement in this deeply divided nation, The Moral Collapse of America documents 15 Things That Are Wrong with America. Number 10 hits on America's global greed and Number 14 considers America's destruction of the environment.

In Affluence vs. Effluence, Will from The Green Couple, admits that he dislikes the term affluence. Really, Will? ;-) He correctly points out that living sustainably has nothing to do with material wealth.

Lori, our Lower Midwest APLS regional coordinator, from Life in Webster Groves becomes more comfortable with the term at hand by defining affluence. In examining the different meanings of "affluent", she finds one that fits. One that acknowledges that "we’re flowing toward a common goal."

Sunflowerchilde, a Golden State APLS blogging at The Natural Life, examines the difference between needs and wants and eloquently argues for a new definition of wealth or affluence - one based not on things but on qualities.
Non-blogging APLS Blog reader, Tom Gilfoye submits these insightful thoughts on affluence: "I see affluence as the balance between what you have and what you want. There are two ways to become affluent: making more than you spend, or spending less than you make. These are very different ways of living. The first has a goal of consumption; the second has a goal of frugality."
Beth, a Golden State APLS at Fake Plastic Fish, also investigates the etymology of the word and discovers that, in Latin, "affluent" means "to flow toward." She beautifully argues that we need to sustain the flow in terms of material affluence, time affluence and "simply being".

Our Great Lakes APLS coordinator leaps aboard her eco-flying saucer over at Eco Burban. She acknowledges that it is truly alien to consider oneself affluent in our culture - especially when one chooses to live beneath their means.
photo: ****b/c**** on Flickr

Affluence allows us to make choices, argues Julie Artz, one of the two Colorado APLS organizers. Her post at Chez Artz highlights the difference between those of us with choices and those without persuasively brings home just what an impact such choices could make.
Mama sees things a bit differently at Mama Goes Green. With our affluence comes a duty to make choices that have a positive impact on the world around us, think about our impact on others before taking action and to speak out for those with less power than we.

New to the carnival this month, The Wounded Chef wonders about affluence. She realizes that affluence means living within one's means. It also means that when one is ultimately able, one uses that money in environmentally and socially responsible ways.

Going Green Mama, a Great Lakes APLS, gets the carnival going by asking How Are You Paving Our Path? Are you being proactive? Taking responsibility for your actions and working for a better future? Her thoughtful queries brought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart.

A is for Affluence over at crstn85 and that signifies that we are privileged and able to make wise choices. Those choices can include not spending money at all which, Tina notes, is the true dichotomy that is living sustainably in an affluent society.

At Surely You Nest, MamaBird acknowledges her affluence . . . and is thankful for it. She notes that it is this wealth that allows her to make choices in line with her beliefs.

Another Great Lakes APLS, Greeen Sheeep wonders why our society is so "sheepish" about wealth - and owning up to the word "affluent" - when we spend our collective time and effort trying to amass possessions to show off that wealth. She offers her cure for that sheepishness and it is a generous one.

From a window above the train tracks in India, Arduous ponders affluence in global terms. Having been raised in an affluent society, she has been privy to countless opportunities and been given the ability to dream. It is time we extend the same beyond our borders, to the children of the world.

Bobbi, the Golden State APLS organizer, has an affluent epiphany at To Live Local. She is truly grateful for what she has and what she can do with it. Bobbi ends this post with a zinger.

At Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings, Jenn, a Lower Midwest APLS, concludes that her affluence, as an American, has come at a cost to the rest of the planet. Because of the sacrifices made by others, she feels particularly responsible for using that affluence in a mindful manner.

Over at VWXYNot?, Cath readily acknowledges our affluence and argues that it is a tool for change. She argues that we must use the gift of wealth to make smarter choices and to raise our voices to ask for more such choices.

We all are affluent, "dude", protests Burbanmom, at Going Green. Instead of wasting that affluence on stuff we don't need, we should use it instead to influence environmental change - through smarter purchasing decisions, activism and charity.

Here at Green Bean Dreams, I argue that we must accept our affluence - and the responsibilities that come with it. We, as the rich of the Earth, have the moral duty to bring awareness, fight injustice, make environmentally aware purchases and shift the paradigm of this planet. And that duty begins by acceptance.

Finally, a blogger whom I respect tremendously, Melinda at One Green Generation (formerly Elements in Time), discusses her issues with affluence. She believes that, as a society we have been defining ourselves in terms of wealth for far too long and that use of the term "affluent" is divisive and exclusive. Melinda "wishes with all her heart" that the group would change its acronym from Affluent Persons Living Sustainably to All People Living Sustainably and has kindly created two gorgeous new logos for the group - one for each acronym. Please check out this post and the exchange of ideas in the comments as well as the comments to this post.

What do you think? After a month of dwelling on "affluence", is it a term that you think the group should keep? Does it define us as a society? Do we need to accept how much we truly have before we can make real change in this world? Or does it alienate others and prevent the group from growing?

Hungry for more APLS? We've added some new regional groups this past month and now have APLS connecting in the Great Lakes, the Lower Midwest, Golden State (California) and Colorado. If you would like to organize a APLS group in your region, shoot us an email at aplscarnival(at)gmail(dot)com. There are also Facebook groups - where the discussion continues - for the APLS group overall and the Colordado APLS.


Fake Plastic Fish said...

This is the comment that I left on Melinda's blog, but I wanted to also leave it here (since you postded the poll) and because I feel pretty strongly about the name of the group (although I didn't realize it until writing this carnival post and reading these entries.)

Anyone who has the time to blog, who has a roof over their heads and is not worried about being homeless, who has food on the table, and a table to put it on, is affluent. Plain and simple.

Please read Ardous’s powerful and eloquent post on the topic from her window in India:

Affluence is not only monetary wealth. I think the analysis of the term on Fake Plastic Fish might also help you reconsider the meaning of the word:

Instead of getting rid of the term and denying the fact that we actually ARE affluent and that affluence brings with it certain responsibilities, why not reclaim it?

Perhaps the only way to get people to stop the incessant struggle for more and more wealth is to persuade them that they are, in fact, already quite wealthy if they’d just take a minute to appreciate what they actually have!

Bobbi said...

I really like the term All People Living Sustainably.

Great post - you did a fabulous job of summaries a multitude of posts!

Green Bean said...

Beth: On a personal level, I definitely agree with you. Even after reducing my environmental impact, I never thought much about my wealth - relative to the rest of the world, the power that it brings, AND the responsibility I bear for having lived in an affluent society, received all its benefits, being able to sit in front of a computer right now. It was having to defend Affluent to the blog community that really got me thinking about it and has honestly changed my viewpoint, my desire to create change and my belief in my ability to do it. If the poll comes out strongly against affluent, I hope that people still think about it. I don't think that we can really change the way Americans view themselves until we acknoweldge how lucky we are.

Bobbi: Thank you! I appreciate that everyone has different opinions on this - hence the poll. As much as I may feel one way, this is everyone's group and it will be interesting to see how things shake out. Stay tuned. :)

MamaBird said...

Love the carnival! Thanks for giving me so much reading material... I don't feel strongly one way or the other. Like Beth, I think that anyone who's blogging is affluent, but I love the inclusivity of All PLS. Really, I just like the community you created and the discussion of topics that matter to me. Thanks!

Bobbi said...

I can't wait to read all the posts. I voted and then checked out the map. It will be interesting to see if at the final tally, the vote shows something about the divisions within our country.

I like adding the globe. The tone of the graphic is a little to space-age for me but then, that's my personal taste and I'm ok with it if that's what the group wants.

As for keeping 'affluent' in the title, I vote yes. It's hard to accept it, that even when I think I'm struggling, what is it like for someone who goes to bed hungry, which I never do.

Each of us has other groups we can also be a part of that are simply addressing sustainability. This group is special. Part of the group ethic, it seems to me, is that we act from our responsibility to act. We accept our power and use it for the good.

I can afford to 'play' at saving the soil by composting the extra bagels that we bought just because it was less expensive in the baker's dozen. But we didn't need those extra bagels.

Let me get really specific...if you're a woman who can decide whether to use tampons or a diva cup, you are educated and affluent and you have control over your life.

We can add a subheadline that further explains 'affluence' if we want.

Having this thorn in our side or rubberband on our wrist that reminds us to move to action is important.

No guilt. Take action.

Melissa said...

thanks for putting this together - I can't wait to get started reading! and I'm very interested to see the poll results!

Abbie said...

Me, eloquent? Aw shucks. GB, that's a true compliment coming from you!

Now if only I had time to read all these posts, I'm sure they're all super! Good thing we have a whole month til the next one!

Belinda said...

Hi Green Bean,

I think that we should all keep discussing affluence and acknowledge the possibility for change and the responsibilities it brings. It is a topic that needs to continue to be considered... we need to challenge people with this reality as its something that most of us never consider in our day to day life.

That being said it seems the word is a lot more emotionally loaded than I would ever have imagined.

From the point of view of an inclusive group the more people that feel they can identify with it the better... we can't have it both ways creating structures that trigger mental barriers to change then complaining when the change doesn't happen. The first steps need to be easy.. the challenges can come later.

In this case I think having people involved and contributing is more important to me overall.

Kind Regards

CindyW said...

Thanks for putting together the carnival. So happy to see so many greenies around :)

Sorry for being lame and not submitting mine :)

Donna said...

Thanks for all your hard work to put together the carnival -- you did a great job!

I like changing "affluent" to "all." I agree that we seem to have a collective problem acknowledging that we're rich in the eyes of the world, but "affluent" has some negative connotations that don't show up in the dictionary definition and a newcomer is not necessarily going to read through all these great posts. :) Besides that, for me, "all persons" is a reminder that a lot of the world is already living sustainably. What other choice do they have? It is the responsibility of those of us who actually have a choice to join them. I think the more you have, the harder it is. If the "One Laptop Per Child" project ever really takes off, maybe there will be kids from the developing world who will find us.

ruchi aka arduous said...

I personally feel very strongly about keeping the "affluent" in APLS. Right now I'm in the villages of India. This is one of the poorest areas in the world, in fact. As I watch young boys herd their cows, as I see young school girls walk home in their uniforms, as I pass through the village at night time, where not one house has electricity, I can't help but feel that the world has forgotten these people. By denying our affluence, we diminish ourselves and we diminish these poor villagers. By declaring we are not affluent, we let ourselves off the hook. Why do we need to help a poor person in India if we ourselves are poor?

But the point is, we're not poor. Far from it. To these people, the fact that we have freaking electricity, makes us rich.

I understand that some people feel that the word "affluent" is a disinclusive term. But the point is we affluent people ARE different. We need to use less electricity, whereas these poor villagers need more. You can't just enclose all these people in one big tent and say, hey those villagers are living sustainably, and so are we. It completely diminishes the inequality gap that exists in the world.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

What Ruchi said.

Green Bean said...

MamaBird: So glad. It is a wonderful community. :)

Bobbi: I completely agree with you. I think that acknowledging our affluence is what sets this group apart from every other sustainability group out there. Like you, and like Joyce, I need a reminder of my affluence to prompt me to work for others. Oh, I'll continue to work toward my personal sustainability and green the burbs around me but I need that reminder to look beyond my horizon and see how others live and how big of an impact I can have. But wow! How interesting is that map???

Melissa: My pleasure. Lots to read.

Abbie: Totally eloquent, my girl.

Belinda: Thank you for your thoughts. It certainly is a loaded word - much more so than I would have ever thought.

Cindy: No worries. Next time. Thank you for your thoughts on the wolf post. That one breaks my heart and motivates me like you have no idea.

Donna: Thanks. I do agree that All People is more inclusive but I think that makes this group just like all others. What's the difference? And how do we remind folks of our responsibility to act? Of course, the poll is clearly for All People so it will be interesting to see how this group develops.

Ruchi: I completely agree with you and appreiate your comment as it comes from the midst of the glaring inequality gap.

Beth: Yup.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

"I do agree that All People is more inclusive but I think that makes this group just like all others. What's the difference?"

Another good point. Many of us belong to multiple groups. This seems to be the only one with this particular focus. If we change the name to "All people" then we lose our unique voice in the conversation, I fear.

I'm just wondering now (since this seems to be creating such divisiveness) if there is another less loaded word that means the same thing?

Melinda said...

Just wanted to invite you all to the discussion Beth and I are having over in the comments here.

Melinda said...

Or maybe we should bring the conversation here, I don't know... didn't mean to take away from the discussion here!

I think what distinguishes a group is what it can offer people that they can't get anywhere else. It is more than the name. It is more than the discussions, even. With a goal of all people living sustainably, a lot can be done.

I am interested to see what the regional groups will be doing?

I also want to say that I didn't mean to take away something that you all feel strongly about. From emails and comments I've read, I'm not alone in feeling excluded, but its ok if this is how more people will come to live sustainably.

Bobbi said...

I will read all these great comments later, like when I don't have to deal with clients (hah, working from home means you can sneak a peek at other stuff without the boss catching you) a publicist, let me suggest that we define a niche and stay with it. Let's not try to be all things to all people.

Certainly I don't want anyone to feel left out, like they can't be in our club. I know what that feels like living in the exburbs surrounded by my own Sarah Palins. I'd ask a client, what makes you unique, what do you do that your competition doesn't. What is the APLS elevator speech?

To be continued...until I need another break :)

Abbie said...

Today in APES (AP Env. Sci.) I was lecturing about industrialized vs. developing countries. I was talking about money, and I thought, HEY! let's go to the Global Rich List!!! (Hoping that our server did not block it...)

Well, I had my students figure out how much they each earn a year at their part time jobs, then entered that. For example, one boy earns $4000 each year. This put him in the top 14% of people. This was a huge eye opener for my students, realizing that what they think of as peanuts is in fact a LOT of money! It was just a great lesson!

Green Bean said...

Abbie: How awesome is that? What a teaching tool. :)

As to the discussion over dropping Affluent, I hesitate, in a way, to jump in. I'm not entirely sure how I feel and I obviously cannot speak for Ruchi, who's in India.

I've already written that I feel Affluent, in a manner, defines our group and sets it apart. It reminds me of my duties to reach out and work to make a difference instead of just focusing inward. However, from viewing the poll, I am clearly in the minority (all of whom seem to be located in the southern western portion of the US, interestingly enough). The poll is pretty small numbers-wise though - fewer than those in the bushel basket and I think fewer or about the same of those who participated in the carnival.

Melinda, you asked in the comments of your blog, whether those of us who started APLS would still want to continue with growing and changing. I'm not sure whether the question was posed regarding the growing the group or growing myself. Of course, with respect to the latter. I can think of very little that would stop me in my quest to make this world a greener place.

Would I still be as excited about the group? The honest answer is maybe. I think taking away Affluent turns this group into one of any number of groups moving toward sustainability. I would still work hard and be excited about the regional groups that we are trying to set up with this and about using those as a means to grown the green social movement, which I believe is necessary to gain political and corporate power. There are so many avenues for change that dropping Affluent wouldn't foreclose that . . . but I do think it is essential - if we are to shift our paradigm - to own up to our relative affluence.

I don't know where to go from here. I'd like to get some more votes, some more input, talk to the other APLS cohorts. I am completely open as to where this group goes and my place in it.

And Beth, perhaps someone has alternatives to offer.

(I'll post this over at One Green Generation too - as the debate is taking place in both places).

Melinda said...

(Not sure where people are looking either, Green Bean, so I'm cross posting here. This is partly in response to a comment Arduous left here.)

Considering that you and I have some similar experiences, Arduous, I think we’re just going to have to chalk this up to a difference of opinion in our reactions. Which is fine, and good, and what makes the world go around.

I have met subsistence farmers from around the world who have surfed the internet, who have limited access to computers, who have come to my site because they knew me, because I’d posted pictures of our meeting, or because they are looking for something I have written (the site is translated into many languages - though I know that it is limited, and there are no tribal languages there). And while I know I am affluent, and they know I am affluent, we have worked hard together and that affluence is something we’ve got past and moved on. I would never tell them I am affluent to their face, which is what I would feel like if I had an APLS logo on my site. The low-income Americans for whom I work on grant projects, I would not tell them that either. It’s just not who I am or what I’m about. It sounds like I’m proud and I’m not. It sounds like I’m distancing myself from them and I don’t want to. And even if none of the people I’ve worked with in impoverished areas ever sees my site, I will know, and I will be uncomfortable with it.

But it is not my group. I don’t have to be a part of it. I will tell you that my heart sank when you guys created this group, because I felt you were distancing yourselves from others of us who were until then working with you. Though I know that we can still work together here, it will just be something that you do that I don’t do.

But the real question both you and Green Bean have asked is what makes this group different? I will ask you what made it different with the word Affluent in the title?

The Riot for Austerity has a very specific goal of reducing CO2 output by 90%, to show our government and the world that it can be done and we can be motivated to do it. What is the APLS goal?

The Riot does not reach out to other people in other areas of the world. The Riot does not work on building community. The Riot does not do a lot of things that we all have been talking about in regard to sustainability.

So it can be different. But it depends on what you want it to be. What are those regional groups going to be doing, for example? Aside from the blog carnivals, will APLS be doing more? There is a lot of potential for this group to be something that has never existed before. But it goes beyond the title.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Another vote for What Ruchi Said.

And thank you for including me at the last minute after I misread the deadline! You made me sound much more eloquent and meaningful in your brief synopsis than I managed in my actual post...

Green Me said...

First I have to admit that I didn't read the other comments first, so I apologize if this is a re-peat.

Personally I think that the word "affluent" is VERY important to me in the understanding of being APLS. I think that our society's perception of money, wealth, affluence is integral to how we see ourselves in this world. Americans NEED to realize that we are very affluent today, especially compared to our ancestors and folks around the world. I do not think that the term is exclusive -- I think that it is "attention getting." I think that if you live in a developed country, and you have indoor plumbing, a permanent (versus dirt) floor, and windows with glass -- you qualify as affluent.

We proclaim to want to live sustainably and then in the next breath we complain about how much things cost (check out this recent post/discussion over at Apartment Therapy).

To really live sustainably we need to change our habits, spend less on the little things and invest more in the big things. Living in the modern world may allow us to wake up this morning and decide to buy a car, a new table or a TV, but just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

Affluence comes with responsibility, and it comes with a need to be aware -- mindful of what we do and how we live.

If you had just started a group called All People Living Sustainably I wouldn't have given it a second thought --it was the AFFLUENCE part that caught my attention. The goal of this group is to catch peoples' attention...and get them to think...and maybe realize that they are affluent after all...right?

Going Green Mama said...

What is our 10-second pitch?

APLS is a blogging community dedicated to opening eyes about issues impacting our environment and society.

The beauty of this group is that we are students, workers, mommies, rich and not as rich, but together we come together with a strong voice. All of our experiences bring value to telling the story of living sustainably.

(OK more than 10 seconds, but then I'm in marketing, not the PR side!)

Green Bean said...

Melinda: Thanks for the email and the link back to Ruchi's comment. I don't know where APLS will go. It just sort of evolved and had a life of its own. It was coined in response to YAWNs and then I started using it in talking about community building (APLS to APLS) and then the affluent thing became an issue - an important one. I'd love to see lots of strong regional groups for it. It is interesting that All is winning in the poll but the Affluent people are the ones commenting. We'll have to think about where to go on this one.

Cath: Glad that I got you in in time. It was a great post!

Green Me: "If you had just started a group called All People Living Sustainably I wouldn't have given it a second thought" Great point.

Going Green Mama: Nice to have some PR folks to help us figure this out. I don't know. Is that the only pitch? Are we also about community building? That was one of my main intentions when I started the bushel basket (which was the precursor to the APLS blog) but affluent seems to have taken center stage. And maybe there is a good reason for that. As Green Me and others have said, maybe acknowledging affluence really is the first thing we need to do in living sustainably.

Please keep the conversation going and keep voting (though the poll seems to be down right now).

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Green Bean, I just want to thank you for coming up with the topic for the current blog carnival. Wow. What a discussion this has begun!

I have read some heartbreaking stories on Melinda's blog from folks who are just getting by. And I don't want to exclude anyone. At the same time, I think it's so important that we look at what we DO have and the choices we are able to make because of it.

And affluence is not just about what you have right now. There was a time when I was seriously struggling too. When I didn't know where the rent money was going to come from and I was living on plain spaghetti night after night after night. That was many years ago, and I certainly wouldn't have called myself affluent.

But you know what? I was! Because I was born with privileges and opportunities that many others in the world don't have. Because I happened to have a family that valued education and were able to send me to school.

Growing up, my sisters and I thought we were poor because we didn't get to have designer jeans and, while I got a few new school clothes every year, my sisters both had to wear my hand-me-downs.

Then, one night, my dad made us all sit and watch one of those Save The Children programs on TV. And we, as a family, decided we'd contribute a certain amount each week to sponsor a child, the money coming not just from my parents but also from the little bit that we kids earned for doing jobs around the house.

That is the kind of thing that affluent people can do. My dad drove a rusted out used car. And worked 2 jobs while going to school. We wore hand-me-down clothes and ate the government cheese that my grandmother brought us. If I never drink powdered milk again it will be too soon. The debt in our household was crazy, my parents juggling credit cards and my mom never remembering which one was safe to use. And still, we found a way to help a child who was way, way worse off than we were.

Compared to other Americans, we were not affluent in terms of money. Compared to the rest of the world, we had it made!

This is why I still vote to keep the word Affluent in the name. But I won't leave the group if the name changes. I will feel a bit sad, though. But I'll get over it!

Julie Artz said...

I've waited more than a week to weigh in on this. First because I was out of town, but even as the debate raged on, I was surprisingly (as it is not my nature) unable to articulate my position, a position that surprised me.

At first, I was all for Affluence. If you read my carnival submission, I defended the term, reminded my readers that we are all affluent in this country just by virtue of the fact that we have a functioning national power grid and running water.

Then it came time to vote in Green Bean Dreams' poll. And I voted against Affluent. It was a gut reaction, not premeditated in any way, and I found myself thinking about it for two days after my vote. What had compelled me to change my mind?

I've finally come to the conclusion that I am so darned tired of all the energy focused on dividing people in this country. There are so many organizations, corporations, and politicians who not only seem to get off on dividing us, but also profit from it (how far have certain political factions gotten on the myth of the "liberal" media???).

And when I am honest with myself, regardless of how many online calculators tell us that even our teenage sons who make $4,000 a year are affluent, the reality of our country is that folks do not feel affluent when jobs are scarce, healthcare is steep, and Wall Street is tanking.

Intellectually, I absolutely know I'm affluent, that I have choices, and that I have a responsibility to act based on the power that I have not because of any particular merit, but just because I was born in the USA and had the benefit of access to education and other resources.

But my gut tells me (and I've learned to trust it when it speaks) that right now, it's more important to let everyone in America feel invested in the economy, in politics, in change, to unify us on the common ground of leaving the world a better place for our children, than it is to make this point that we're affluent.

All of this is said with so much respect for each of you and for your opinions and feelings on this matter. I feel honored to be a part of this group and I also know that I am the new kid on the block and that I was not privy to all the thought and discussions that obviously went into APLS' creation.

Either way, I will remain a part of the bushel basket. But I did need to speak my mind on this.

Thanks for listening!

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Just found out about a site that could be a good resource for the APLS group and whose title has the same meaning but doesn't include the word Affluent:

Carbon Conscious Consumer now has a blog called "Green Below Your Means."

So it's all about finding ways to live with less than you have. Could be a good link for the group sidebar but also just thought I'd toss it into the discussion since they seem to be saying the same thing without stirring up controversy.


Green Bean said...

Julie: I'm so glad to have you weigh in. No one should discount their voice in this discussion BUT we need to speak to be heard. I hear you - loud and clear. We've got something in the works that, I think, will alleviate the debate and unite us all. I agree that division is NOT the way to go. Thank you for pointing that out. :)

Beth: Great site. You are right. We can make our point in a way that does not frighten people off. I'll hang on to that link.

Amy R said...

I found your website through a circuituitous route (researching the ingredients of dryer sheets, of all things) and even though I am usually not one to comment on discussions to which I have not been invited, I am having such a strong reaction to your debate that I thought it important to stick my nose where it potentially doesn't belong.

First off, though reading the comments I see that everyone is trying to be very respectful and thoughtful about differing opinions and I appreciate the intention that goes along with that kind of patience and open minded approach.

I am astounded to read that seemingly all of you make the assumption that just because we live in America, all Americans are "affluent". Just because we have a national power grid we are automatically wealthy in comparison to 98% of the rest of the world? Have none of you traveled to New Orleans since hurricane Katrina hit in 2005? Have none of you seen the plywood and tar paper shacks that line the Mississippi River on the outskirts of Memphis? I am betting none of you have ever noticed the 15 year old prostitute at any and all interstate truck stops (who willingly does the unimaginable because she is already raising not only two of her own children, but also her sister's kids while she does a stint in a penal facility). I am betting you have never stepped inside an western North Carolina county hospital to watch a 40 year old woman drown in her own lungs of advanced tuberculosis because not only did she not have access to health care, but she didn't even know the possibility existed. Should she feel blessed and lucky to be an American? I can guarantee you that the thought never even crossed her mind.

While I appreciate that you all are trying to better the environment and the world at large, I beg you guys to take a broader look a little closer to home. The debate as to whether or not to call yourselves "affluent" is just semantics. All white, monied guilt aside, how about you just put your boots on the ground and act?!? Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Volunteer your time and energy for Habitat for Humanity. Donate some of that affluence to a charity you admire that works towards eradicating hunger. I can tell you, there is enough pull your empty guts out through your nose poverty right here in the good old United States to make your heart break. It's great to be aware of how, individually speaking, you are in a better situation that 99% of the world surrounding you. How great to be reminded every day of how lucky you! But for goodness sake, do not forget that there is an entire homegrown tragedy right in your own backyard. The untold numbers of citizens who go hungry every night, live in abandoned train tunnels, sleep in decrepit cars, and trade their bodies for the kind of change we loose at the bottom of our purses most certainly do not feel at the top of the economic food chain.


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