Let’s get fired up! A board meeting is about to commence. Oh goody. I’m blogging a day early (have you noticed the departure from the somewhat regular Wednesday/Saturday schedule?) because for three days I’ll be part of a New Road Map Foundation board meeting. So, while I may joke about bored meetings and such, I know that it will be an interesting weekend, doing a lot of work, with interesting people. That’s the kind of board to be on. One of the topics is succession planning. Nothing lasts forever. What comes next? Anyone want to take my place?
New Road Map Foundation is an advocate for financial integrity (hence the web site), financial literacy, and financial independence. That’s certainly topical. It is a group of frugal folk, people that respect their resources, primarily time and money. The Foundation hosts a wiki and the Simple Living Forums. Lots of people were inspired by Joe Dominguez’s 9-Step program and the subsequent book, Your Money or Your Life, written by Vicki Robin and Joe. Others participate because they know they want something different. Simple lifestyles are coming into fashion, but there are people within this community that have led the way for decades. A different American Dream is evolving, and there are plenty of examples.
Imagine my anxiety. A group of people, who embody well-thought out innovative lifestyles, are coming to my house for a day or so. We’re frugal. We don’t rent spaces when we can all fit in a living room. Some people fear guests and visitors because things may not be clean enough, or fancy enough. A bit of me wonders about how people I admire will see my lifestyle choices. That may be mutual.
I am comfortable having people in my house. Despite little bouts of anxiety, I know that friends don’t judge, and this is a friendly board. My parties usually have about two dozen guests, so the board actually will take up less space.
This is the time for economic change. The Occupy Movement demonstrated that. I don’t see much evidence that the politicians have heard the message, but the demonstrations were visible proof a desire for change. The less visible evidence is in people pulling back from excesses. Average home sizes are decreasing. People are more likely to pay off credit card debt. We have more options now for going off-the-grid, using less gas, and cities are allowing a return to urban farming, or at least chickens in the backyard.
But there are a couple of problems. As the economy improves, some people are returning to wasteful lives because they are familiar. Amongst the people that are changing, many are doing so quietly and independently. Perception is reality, and good work done in secret can’t inspire others.
There are so many examples of simply living better that simply listing them would fill a post, and I have to go make something for tonight’s potluck. Fortunately, working with a group like New Road Map is one way to hear what’s going on, but also to foster and champion ideas. One bit of research being funded is about staying out of debt. There are lots of studies about how to get out of debt, but there has been very little follow-through to see who stayed out of debt and how they did it.
As part of my contribution, I try to pass along the message with this blog. Occasionally I pick a topic and write a thousand words or so. I have a long list to work from. (Watch for something about small houses, community encouragers, and disruptive efficiencies.) Despite my recent portfolio performance, I continue to believe in the personal empowerment message within my book, Dream. Invest. Live. I have also tried to do my part by working as the Board Secretary for the New Road Map Foundation, despite feeling somewhat chastened because I don’t have enough and because my liquid net worth was severely reduced last August. It is hard to be open about failings, even temporary ones, in public forums like this blog and in the Foundation’s work. But being open and involved has taught me that no one is perfect.
It isn’t necessary to be an Olympic sprinter to know how to walk to the store. Most people I know that have “enough” have also had times when money got too tight. Life is uncertain and random. An unexpected repair or a costly yet valuable opportunity can upset theoretically proper plans. Wisdom and critical judgment are far more valuable than achieving a goal. The simple living community, the frugal folk, the people who don’t even know what questions to ask, can all benefit from imperfect people willing to be open and involved.
There is plenty of work to do, and I look forward to doing it. It is also time for fresh ideas, insights, and energy. I like the idea of working myself out of my job, of finding someone so enthusiastic about helping people live better, healthier, more sustainable lives, that they want my job, or at least want to join the effort. If you want to change your lifestyle, consider visiting the web sites for New Road Map and the Simple Living Forums. If you’ve already started and have stories to tell, come on in and lend a hand. And if you want to be board Secretary, give me a call. You never know who you’ll meet, where you’ll go, and who you’ll help.
No pardon me as I fire myself up to get the cooking and cleaning done in time for the meeting. Roasted veggies and cornbread anyone?