Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

March 29, 2008

Typical American?

Filed under: Uncategorized — theburts @ 7:49 am
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When other countries think about typical United States of America citizens, what do they picture? Rich business men? Hollywood stars? Tomato farmers? Well I hope it’s not the lady I saw yesterday, who is becoming increasingly common in these luxury-filled, lazy, consumerist days.

I watched as a lady returned to her Ford Excursion (the biggest SUV they make, I believe…it was basically an unarmored, gas guzzling, civilian tank) from Staples. She’d walked about 40 feet to get to her SUV. As she drove off, I noticed a cute little Jesus fish with a cross inside. She proceeded to drive approximately 30 feet, left her spot and crossed only one row of parking spots to the next isle, and parked again…this time walking another 40 feet into Petsmart.

Is it OK that this upsets me? Maybe I could just be angry at the society, or even at the religion, who’s produced lazy, wasteful consumers like this woman…rather than being frustrated with the woman itself, caught up in the middle of its genius marketing.

Then it’s also good for me to remember that I, also, lived less than perfectly yesterday. I was super busy at work, so to get a break away from work I drove to McDonald’s and ate some chicken nuggets for lunch. (I’m sorry, you guys!!!) Then, though I bought 100% recycled paper from Staples, I probably only bought it cause the package was torn and it was on sale. Ariah, how much purchasing power is that?  :)  I also forgot once again to bring my own plastic bags and let them bag me up. We’ll use them again, but we’ve got plenty already…I’m so bad about remember to take my own. So, self, instead of being mad at others for how they’re living, let’s take that plank out of our own eye first.

:)

March 25, 2008

The great chasm

I used this analogy while talking to my friend Josh about our attempt at bringing homeless people over to our house. The ideas was to go pick up 2 or 3 homeless men or women (or a family) and bring them over to enjoy a pot roast we’d bought for half off. Like before, I assumed I could at least find a couple guys in the Village area, but first tried 3 other places. In the end, I didn’t bring anyone home, so we had a nice dinner with friends and played a game for a bit. Nobody said no, it’s just that I didn’t every find anyone to ask. Here are the reasons.

1. Centennial Park. I drove around looking for someone who was obviously homeless, then I guess my plan was to just go let them know that my wife and I had prepared a meal and we wanted to invite someone who didn’t have plans for dinner over. The only people I saw were two black men, one in mid 40’s probably and the other likely over 60. Though they were dressed poorly and similar to other homeless men I’ve been around, I didn’t want to assume they were homeless, and walk up and offer something to them. Being white, I felt like it could be seen as racial profiling.

2. Campus for Human Development. In Nashville, if you’re homeless and you want a place to stay, you can go to the Campus and try to get a ticket (at least during the colder months of the year). If you get a ticket, you will go to one of the many churches around town who offer their space through a program called Room at the Inn. When I drove up to the Campus, my hope was that I could find 2 or 3 people who didn’t get a ticket for that night and invite them over at least for a hot meal and a shower / new clothes if they so desired. There were probably 100 people standing around as I pulled in. I asked a couple of guys what the process was, and they let me know how the giving of tickets would go down. Then I told a man who worked and lived there what I wanted to do, so he took me inside to the lady behind the counter. She was in charge, I guess. Before I finished telling her what I wanted to do, she was saying how that I should never ever invite a homeless person into my home, because it’s just not safe. When I suggested that I might try to find someone that I already knew, she continued by demanding she would never in good conscience recommend that, even if it was a homeless person I know. My spirits sunk, and I drove on. The tickets had not been given out yet, and I didn’t want to invite anyone who had the possibility of getting in at the Room at the Inn.

3. The Academy. This is an addiction recovery program where men live and learn new skills or trades. I’ve met about 7 of them so far through volunteer eye exams at my clinic. One of them is writing a book about his experience there, and asked for permission to write about me, so I’d already mentioned to him the possibility of coming over for dinner sometime. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the number to the Academy with me, and I drove around for probably 30 minutes unable to find it.

4. Hillsboro Village, where so far we’ve been 100% successful finding guys who wanted a free home cooked meal, was almost completely deserted. I drove home, alone, back to my wife and my friends…people just like me.

There exists this great chasm that seems to exist in order to keep people within their own class (and skin color, and nationality, and religion, and….).

It seems widest where it divides the very rich and the very poor.

It’s filled with fear, with thoughts of safety, with prejudice, with comfort, and with concerns for public image along with desires to impress peers.

Spanning it are just a few bridges like interracial marriages, church congregations of many different classes and colors, and occasional working situations that make truly equal black and white, native American and Asian, male and female, Christian and Muslim.

Its steep cliffs are frightening, enough to constantly deter one from reaching the distant banks…even for someone who truly desires to cross it.

My hope is that I can keep fighting it. To keep valid concerns such as safety in mind, but not let that keep me from doing what I feel is right.

Any thoughts?

March 21, 2008

Frugal entertainment

Filed under: Uncategorized — theburts @ 2:21 pm
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Have your significant other (or good friend) cut your hair. This is only entertaining when the significant other or friend has little experience in cutting hair, but it always saves money. I grew up getting my hair cut by my mom (even occasionally through college and optometry school) so it’s nothing new for me.

Amanda does a great job cutting my hair. Has been for probably almost a year now. Each time she swears is her last time, cause it stresses her out. Somehow, though, I’m able to convince her when the time rolls around again to try once more. Her stress is all self-derived. It really doesn’t bother me when she messes up, or if my hair doesn’t look right…but she seriously does an excellent job. I’m going to go watch her get a haircut so hopefully I can try out my barber skills on her someday.

I used to care more about my hair…I used hair spray as a teen, styling gel in college, and pomade until I ran out of it a couple of months ago. My pomade was the good American Crew kind that costs like 10-15 bucks for a little jar, and even though it lasted for a long time I decided I didn’t want to pay that anymore. So I ran out and stopped using any product, period. Without product, my hair has little pieces that stick up at the back. But somehow (maybe because I’m married to a gorgeous woman and my desire to look impressive has decreased) I don’t mind.

*Personal side note: To white guys who want to try and save on pomade, I do not recommend getting the Murray’s product, made specifically to work well with African-American hair, even though it’s only $1.87 per jar. As advertised, it did hold my hair in place…for approximately 3 weeks. 

Anyway, she cut my hair the other night and did a great job. During the actual haircut, though, there’s usually at least one or two mistakes. This time she stood back and just started looking at my head and laughing hysterically (which made me laugh, of course). Tears came to her eyes as she told me she had cut a hole in my head. My haircuts are so fun…I’ve never had as much fun getting my hair cut as I’m having now.

I thank God that somehow, not completely through efforts of my own, I have developed a self image that’s deeper than how my hair sticks up or how my clothes aren’t always stylish. I also thank God everyday for my awesome new hair stylist, who loves the wisdom of frugality more than the trendiness of a $20 haircut.

While we’re on the subject, though, anyone know of a homemade recipe for any kind of hair gel, pomade, cream, or anything I could dab on the back of my hair so it stays in control? It’s not enough to pay for, but I always enjoy a little chemistry experiment.  :)

March 16, 2008

“Signs of Success”

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 12:46 pm
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World Vision is a Christian organization that provides humanitarian support worldwide. Great ratings at Charity Navigator, 4 of 4 stars actually. So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I have to post a funny mistake in their latest publication, specifically in a short article called “Signs of Success”:

“World Vision works in nearly 100 countries, serving the world’s poorest children and families. From emergency relief after earthquakes to sustained development through child sponsorship, World Vision serves nearly 100 million people, including 1.6 people in the United States.”

:)

It’s so nice to see such a large organization giving back to almost two people in its own country! I’m just not sure what that means…does the second person only get 3/5 of a meal? heehee. Anyway, I won’t poke any more fun. Besides, I’ve got to run…I’m going downtown to give someone half of one of my homeless bags.

March 14, 2008

Electrical Woes

Filed under: Uncategorized — theburts @ 1:02 pm
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So imagine this scenario…you drive a big V8 Corvette to work every day. You can afford the gas, but you get tired of your monthly auto gas total of $450. You start biking to work 1 day a week, you try to cut out any unnecessary driving, and you avoid the manly urge to accelerate quickly. Your gas the next month? $432. “Dang girl, what happened?” you ask. So then you make the plunge…you sell your Corvette and invest in a Toyota Prius. Still biking some and driving as little as possible, the expectation is great when you calculate the gas totals at the end of the next month. And the number is….$437.  ???

Our electricity bill was $117 this past month. We unplugged our heat completely, we switched to energy efficient lighting, we turn everything off when we’re gone or when we’re in another room, our two space heaters only operate when we’re at home and then only some of the time, we don’t watch TV, and we still can’t get our bill down. Frustrating! We feel like something must be wrong, like we could turn off and unplug everything for an entire month and would still have a $100 bill. But so far NES has been very anti-helpful. They’re basically placing the blame on the space heaters…it’s nice to have a scape goat.

Any ideas? Specifically, we’re interested in having someone come out to do an electrical audit and find out what in the world is draining our energy! NES no longer offers that service. Anyone know of a place that does that in Nashville?

Electrically yours,

Amanda and Daniel

PS. Going back to the first story, yesterday Daniel biked to work for the first time since winter started. Excited to be back on the road with two wheels. Also feeling rather embarrassed (after visiting Chicago twice and seeing tons of bicyclers) about quitting during the cold months. Maybe we can work on that for next year.

March 11, 2008

Just like us

Filed under: Religion and Philosophy — theburts @ 4:44 pm
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Haiti is a beautiful land with beautiful people. We caught glimpses of both as we traveled and worked last week. It’s also a place of extreme poverty, where living conditions are so horrible that thousands die from lacking food, clean water, medical attention, shelter, protection from crime, and other needs. These photos, to me, are depictions of how desperate the people are for anything people of privilege might give them, whatever that might be.

reaching.jpg

littlegirl.jpg

We saw over 600 people in the eye clinic alone, and ran out of all our meds and sunglasses. But that’s a small gift when you consider the huge need. On a medical mission trip like this, we can do so very little. It reminds us every time we go to Haiti that we live in complete luxury here in Tennessee, USA. And it reminds us that every unnecessary luxury we can joyfully live without is medical care or food or a well for those who desperately need. Imagining the possibilities if thousands of us Christians awoke and walked away from extravagant living doesn’t do much good…it’s just a “what if” scenario, a pretty daydream. What actually matters is when one person or family at a time decides to live faithfully and embrace the teachings of Jesus, loving and caring for their local and global neighbors. It’s an impossible mission to fix the world. But if each of us could learn to be so intent on loving the person we’re serving, one at a time, local or global, we wouldn’t have the time or energy to despair about the massive poverty that plagues our world.

The other lens through which we see Haiti every year is that the people are just like us. One of our team voiced the same thing one night, that when he looked at people in Haiti he saw people just like him. The way they joke and laugh, take advantage of free offers, go out for fun at night, try their best to succeed, and experience heart ache and joy and sorrow and pleasure just like we do. They don’t think of themselves as third world or poor, it’s just the way they live. Our kids play computer games while theirs stand on the side of the road close to a streetlight so they can read a book. We may have been born into privilege and they into poverty, but we’re all the same in everything except how our privilege allows us to live day by day. Here are some photos of what I’m talking about…

Children in Haiti enjoy sports at recess (and they’re quite competitive!)…
football.jpg

Babies in Haiti laugh when tickled (by my wife)…

babylaugh.jpg

Kids in Haiti can be shy…

shysmile2.jpg

People in Haiti are curious…

lookingin.jpg

They have and enjoy beautiful sunsets and flowers…

sunset.jpg

flower.jpg

I think we need to look at our neighbors in Haiti and see ourselves. I do think we need to show compassion and love in using our resources to help when possible, but I also think we need to be careful about judging them as only a poverty stricken people that need assistance. They often lead full happy lives, have much to teach us about true happiness, hard work and contentment, and in so many ways are just like us…minus the gross overindulgence and luxury that makes America rich and proud. Let’s learn a lesson in humility before we feel an arrogant pity on these beautiful people, and let’s all be intentional about how we use our privilege to help them. (That’s more directed to self than anyone else)

I’m excited to learn more about medical missions (and I want to learn French/Creole!). Thanks to everyone who gave of their time, and especially gave of their hearts, to spend time in Haiti last week. We enjoyed  being with you immensely.

March 10, 2008

“Well, we’re back.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — theburts @ 12:10 pm
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Almost a direct quote of my favorite fictional character ever, Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings).

We’ll post more about our trip to Haiti later. For now, I just want to get something posted so everyone will know that we made it home.

It’s fascinating to us how many articles have been written about the show and about us! For those of you (ie. our moms) who want to read those, here’s a list. We were also interviewed on a live talk show last night called the Allen Hunt Show, based in Atlanta, GA. You can check it out too if you’re interested in how we come at freeganism from more of a faith angle.

Our Allen Hunt Show appearance

Sustainablog
AssociatedContent
RadiantMag
BlogHer

More Christian divers

All of the articles that I’ve seen are mostly positive. The comments are often quite negative, but if those people would simply come read our blog many of their arguments would be explained. People often point out that while they won’t dumpster dive themselves, they are inspired to find other ways to reduce consumerism, waste, and needless consumption. Awesome. We are so grateful and happy that so many people are being encouraged to change from our decision to “go public.”

We’ll post again soon. Don’t forget to send an email to nashvillefreegan@gmail.com if you are interested in meeting up somewhere in the Nashville area for more conversation.

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