Transformation: Thinking big, living small

Posted on September 26, 2015 by Liesl Ulrich-Verderber
75 Minutes
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Introduction

Transforming the way we think about what is possible, how we live, how we consume, and how we build is critical to our future. In this circle we explore everything from living small to thinking big about what the future will look like.

The Tiny Home is a BIG Idea!

Posted on May 26, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

Have you ever had the good fortune to live for a while unburdened by your “stuff”? If you have, you may remember it felt very freeing.

You might have started over in a new place with only a handful of things to call your own, or perhaps lived in a dorm room with only the things you could fit in a few suitcases. Or you might have headed out into the world with only a backpack and a sense of adventure.

Image: Castle Truck house insideToday in our Ever Widening Circles article we will transport us all to a place where people are making interesting, innovative choices about how to live more mobile, with very little stuff. Their perspective can transform us all a little!

 

Here’s where I come from on this: Right now I have a home with a lot of “stuff” to worry about. It seems every Saturday morning, the whole family takes a few hours to take care of our “stuff.” Sound familiar?

But I’ve been on the other side of that coin too! I know how it feels to be able to fit all your worldly possessions on your bicycle and ride off into the sunset.

It was magical.

Image: Campsite set up in Italy

My EWC co-founder, Dr. Chuck, and I once lived for two months with only our camping gear and the two bicycles. We slept in train stations, stayed in campgrounds with troops of gypsy circus-performers, and sometimes pitched the tent in farmer’s fields. We could set-up or pack-up our tiny nest and fully functional “household” in about a half hour.

It felt almost luxurious to have so little to worry about.

But we did miss some of the creature comforts after a time: a hot bath, meals at a real table and chairs, the privacy of walls more than a millimeter thick.

So when I saw today’s video share from our Boston friend, Liesl, I knew I had to share it with the EWC community.

Here’s an inspiring Tiny Home concept made real:

It made me remember how little we actually need, and how clever you can be when you want to be free and keep things simple. This couple has found that sweet spot between creature comforts and permanently camping. Take a look!

 

Did that one bring you to a stretch of day dreaming?

I just spent an entire three-day weekend cleaning, organizing and making small repairs to a big house. The simple life looks pretty good from where I’m sitting tonight.

I’ve just finished cleaning the garage, and gotta go get some Advil. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Stay open, curious and hopeful!

~Dr. Lynda

Want to see a few more interesting articles?

Scroll to the bottom of this page, or try our “surprise me” button!

SURPRISE ME!

 

 

 


 

What if trash pick-up was annual?

Posted on April 24, 2016 by Andrew Verderber

“Away” is a strange adverb to use in association with the garbage we are relentlessly creating, as in “I’m just going to throw this away.” But today on EWC we’ll have some fun with the subject of reducing garbage!

Image: a family laying in their weeks worth of garbage
Source: GREGG SEGAL

We are going to introduce you to an amazing – and growing – community of people who are changing what we think is possible when it comes to living well, while living sustainably. And we are going to let a new “guest writer” for EWC, Andrew Verderber, share an exciting perspective that astonished our entire team here at Ever Widening Circles.

First let’s expand on this issue with the adverb “away” and marvel at how it was ever logical to connect it to the garbage we humans create.

Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of the word away:

  1. from this or that place <go away>

  2. in a secure place or manner <locked away>

  3. from one’s possession <gave away a fortune>

  4. uninterruptedly onward <clocks ticking away 1

Interesting, huh? 
One of the most poignant definitions I found was at dictionary.com:
out of existence or notice <to fade away>  2
That certainly seems to sum up the mindset we’ve had about the garbage we create, as long as humans have walked the earth.

But there’s good news!

There’s a new movement afoot that looks like it might transform us all eventually.

Let’s enjoy the insights of EWC Thought Leader, Andrew Verderber, bringing us to a new understanding of possibility!

Here’s Andrew’s article (remember – you too can write for us!) :


Image: Friday Woods
Source: STANLEY DONWOOD : Far Away Is Close at Hand In Images of Elsewhere

“Away” is a curious word to use in context with throwing our garbage away.

Consider the sentiments that are stirred if your significant other says to you, “Go away with me next weekend,” versus those evoked by telling someone to “Just throw that away for me.”  The thought of “going away” infers adventure and may even prompt a wonderful sense of discovery.

But for all of human history, throwing things away infers an out-of-sight/out-of-mind mentality.

Image: Wait here
Source: STANLEY DONWOOD : Far Away Is Close at Hand In Images of Elsewhere

Fortunately, many people are coming to terms with the fact that away, in the context of trash, no longer means “gone” or “not my problem”.

That said, we still don’t seem to have reached a tipping point for meaningful change. Any connection people have with their trash is carried away with the rest of the neighborhood’s weekly pick up.

Consider an alternative reality: 

What if our household or business waste was collected on an annual basis?

Would people be more motivated to reduce their garbage after coping with the accumulated volume day after day for a year? I imagine this unsettling burden would inspire people to be more choosy about what they bring into their homes.

Enter, a woman named Bae Johnson from California who has saved her family’s 2014 waste stream. You may be asking yourself if she owns a large shed or rented a storage unit to contain the refuse. And there is the wonder in this story: floor to ceiling piles of unpleasant smelling matter turned out to be far from what she faced.

Her family’s entire annual waste stream, in the end, could be contained in a 32 oz. glass jar.

Image: 16 oz. jar
Source: TRASH IS FOR TOSSERS

Before addressing any looming doubt we all have about this “too good to be true” claim, I want to ask if you consider the contents of Bae’s jar to be trash or art?

If your annual waste were stored in your living room would you be labeled as hoarder or a kind of performance artist? There could be some fun here!

And here’s the cool part:

The Johnson family lives with their waste contribution to the environment, receiving a daily reminder to continue reducing their consumption of resources for the preservation of the natural world they deeply respect. The contents of the jar never go away, they simply become someone else’s or another generation’s problem.

Asking ourselves what we can do to reduce our impact begins with changing our concept of away.

Take a look at this short video and then we’ll explore this interesting concept in much more detail….

Reducing garbage with Zero Waste Lifestyle?

  • Minimize clothing and other completely elective purchases
  • Bring containers to the grocery store and market for meats, fish, cheese, butter, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Practice the system of the 5 R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot.
  • Compost all food waste

But what about all those nitty-gritty aspects of life?

How do you find time to make your own cleaning supplies? And what about non-recyclables like paper towels, tampons, plastic produce bags, plastic loops for price tags and stickers?

Let’s take a look another video with a lot more detail by another zero waste champion…

Via: MSNBC  4

I realize this will require a paradigm shift, but more and more people are proving it can be done. What would a world look like if all of us just reduced our trash by half?

After seeing these people speak, I think I could do that!

Or what if most of us made purchasing choices based on reduced packaging? I suspect manufacturers would very quickly change their practices. Imagine the impact in waste and landfills.

This is a definitely doable change, with an amazing long-term impact! And perhaps on the horizon, we can all move away from a future of beaches, rivers, streets and countryside strewn with trash.

Make it a great day! Re-think: Reduce, Re-use, Refuse excess packaging.

~ AndrewVerderber

Image: February holloway
Source: STANLEY DONWOOD : Far Away Is Close at Hand In Images of Elsewhere

Dr. Lynda here…

I love this concept! Since we first looked at this piece of writing, it changed my thought process on every single thing I buy… in a great way!

Saving money?

Since Andrew Verderber sent us that article, I can’t seem to shop without considering every item and my options.

Even if a nice cold bottle of water seems tempting, I have been passing on it because that single-use container seems to haunt me a little.

I know I’ve also saved money by just passing on a lot of impulse purchases.

I’m also much more careful about what goes in the actual trash at home: separating the garbage from the paper, composting and recycling with new energy. It takes seconds more to do the right thing.

Andrew may be turning us all on to something very doable on some level, for any of us.

If you’d like one more boost of details on this, I found Lauren Singer’s TED Talk on the subject. It will fill in a few of the remaining blanks.

In addition, I’ll refer you to the ZeroWasteHome.com website which has so much more in details.

Lauren Singer has a fabulous website at TrashIsForTossers.com with useful tips and quite a few videos of her own. Her cleaning products can be found at The Simply Co.  All great stuff!

Unconvinced or still curious? Take a look at Lauren’s TED Talk…

Via: TEDx Talks  5

Today Ever Widening Circles  brought you a unique article, featuring the work of two new, seemingly unrelated,  “thought leaders”. First, our new guest writer, Andrew Verderber, currently working towards his master’s degree in the field of business sustainability at Illinois State University.

BONUS: In a strange coincidence, while I was looking for some great images for this article – and trying to avoid the standard images of our garbage burdened globe – I stumbled upon the work of artist Stanley Donwood. His exhibit was so aptly named for today’s article – “Far Away is Close at Hand in Images of Elsewhere” – that I couldn’t pass it by!

He does beautiful work and we encourage you to look at more by clicking here.

Wrapping up

When it comes to trash, away and elsewhere seem to be getting closer and closer. This article inspired me to start doing something about my own impact here and there. Thanks, Andrew!

Make it a great day! Stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda

Want to see a few more inspiring articles?

Scroll down to the very bottom of this page.

Are you new to EWC?

This website is growing in 190 countries. We are a global community changing the dialogue about our world. Despite what the 24-hour news cycle tells us, this is still an amazing place. If you are interested in that world, check us out here from time to time! We publish one smart, hopeful article every day.

Collages physics teacher

WANT TO SEE MORE POSITIVE NEWS, FUN, OR INSIGHTS?

Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

Andrew Verderber is an M.B.A candidate at Illinois State University working to find a balance between people, the planet, and profitability. In his spare time he enjoys fishing, pick up basketball, and checkers.

Notes:

  1. “Away.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/away>.
  2. “The Definition of Away.” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <http://www.dictionary.com/browse/away>.
  3. ZeroWastHome. “ZeroWasteHome Overview.” YouTube. ZeroWastHome, 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 19 June 2015.
  4. MSNBC. “How To Fit Two Years Of Trash In A Mason Jar | Shift | Msnbc.”YouTube. MSNBC, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 June 2015.
  5. Singer, Lauren. “Why I Live a Zero Waste Life | Lauren Singer | TEDxTeen.”YouTube. TEDx Talks, 27 May 2015. Web. 19 June 2015.

 


 

It’s a Small World: As Big or As Small As You Make It

Posted on March 17, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

In North Philadelphia some kids are doing something totally refreshing using their ease with technology: they are reducing the whole world to the size of a street corner. Now that’s a small world!

Their candor, acceptance, and humanity in this piece is so beautiful and real that it brought a few tears to the EWC staff.

Sure, we can condemn technology for its effect on the pace of life, detachment and its frustrations, but technology is also allowing human beings to interact in some profoundly new ways where fears are forgotten and curiosity trumps stereotyping, and it’s okay to take a little creative risk.

Take a look at what happened when some north Philly kids (ages 12 to 15) use their phones and tablets to forge friendships with their peers across the world in places like Tanzania, Paris, and Kazakhstan.

Lovely, huh?

The innocence of the way they challenged and exchanged thoughts on love, racism, and national identity was so brilliant. For the children on both ends of the connection, many who have often never left their hometown, these remarkable dialogues open up new paths of potential that even well-traveled people in positions of power often miss.

This poignant film was directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, but the story idea was created by Sannii Crespina-Flores who runs the media and social advocacy program, the Do Remember Me Project, based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Image: Four boys chatting on-line with peers in KasakstanIn the Do Remember Me Project‘s mission statement it says:

“The workshops utilize technology to connect youth via Skype to invoke positive dialogue between the youth, to dispel myths of hopelessness, media stereo types and cultural differences, to delve deeper and find common ground, experiences and work toward actively supporting one another, encouraging activism and advocacy for issues such as peer violence, absence of leaders and heroes, and many other pressing issues.” 2

Sounds good to me! We could probably use a little of that kind of thinking in a lot of places! It is a small world from so many perspectives.

Image: Dr. Lynda of everwideningcircles.com in Nepal with a group of school children
These are some natural ambassadors I met in Nepal on a walk in the countryside one day. They swept me up and took me on the most amazing tour of their village, school and special places.

We like to think of ourselves as worldly, but after today’s video I’m going to have to rethink that a bit. I’ve had to change my whole mindset about what it means to say, “it sure is a small world.” I suspect we could all make it a lot smaller world if we were as open, curious and accepting as these kids.

I know when I use that saying, “gee, it sure is a small world,” I’m usually marveling at some kind of chance meeting involving a mere acquaintance. Maybe the world is much smaller than a chance meeting might reveal.

Maybe in the future the world’s circumference now will be determined only by our willingness to repeatedly reach out to others a world away, to find our common humanity.

Liesl with kids
Here’s Dr. Lynda’s daughter, LiesL, Now EWC’s COO at age 19, with some children in Cambodia.
Image: Dr. Chuck with Ecuador kids
Our co-founder, Dr. Chuck, plays with some kids in an orphanage in Ecuador. Dr. Chuck is 2 meters tall, so they had never seen such a gentle giant.

If you are a regular visitor here at Ever Widening Circles, you know we are weaving a pattern of connection between all corners of the globe. After nearly 800 articles, we’ve earned viewers from every country, and you can pretty much dive in anywhere on our website, follow one link to another, and come up for air an hour later… anywhere in the world.

More evidence for a small world?

Today’s video clearly demonstrates the ease of connection we might find, if we just take off the cool sunglasses, stay curious and be real.

 

That’s the vision around Ever Widening Circles!

 

The World's As Big as You Make it Collage

We like to make certain that every EWC article demonstrates that the world is still an amazing place and perhaps today’s article also suggests humanity is ready for its next chance to reach for the stars.

If you want to hear astronauts describing for themselves what it is like to see Earth from space, check out the article we wrote on the subject. How about one of our top articles about nature? Check out our article about the remarkable Jellyfish Lake!

Or.. just scroll down to the bottom of this page where you’ll find a few of my favorite articles that continue some of the trains of thought here!

WANT TO SEE MORE POSITIVE NEWS, FUN, OR INSIGHTS?

Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

Meanwhile, stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda


 

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world.

Notes:

  1. “”The World Is As Big Or As Small As You Make It” | Sundance Institute.” Vimeo. Sundance Institute, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <https://vimeo.com/116915456>.
  2. “Do Remember Me Mission.” Facebook. Do Remember Me, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <https://m.facebook.com/DoRememberMe?v=info&expand=1&nearby>.

 


 

What Makes Us Happy?

Posted on September 13, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

“What Makes Us Happy?” explores true inner happiness and gives you some real tools to find it within, completely irrespective of your external circumstances.

Today, we want to take another look at a topic we’ve discussed a couple times before, however, this time, we are going to dig deeper and ask better questions.I’ve got an amazing TED Talk to point you to and a book by the same speaker. This subject couldn’t be more EWC-centric.

Image: collage of EWC article photos

You may know that I founded this website – everwideningcircles.com – in March of 2014 to be the polar opposite of the negative 24-hour news cycle. We feature positive news about every subject under the sun, and now have 45,000 visitors a month from 190 countries, and get more than 500 new facebook fans per day from around the globe! Turns out people from most cultures were sick of the fear, shame and negativity in the media.

As of Sept. 15, 2015, we are finishing our Beta-Testing phase and in the next week, our fully-fledged project and the new website will be up on the web. That said, let’s get to today’s great web-share!…

As we slide into the topic of happiness, we have a few questions for you to ponder – consider them the stretching before a little mental workout:

  • Image: A person behind a sheetSo why does it seem we gravitate towards suffering and disappointment? We focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do. We focus on the shortcomings of others rather than their gifts. We constantly attach our happiness to expecting specific outcomes.
  • Is there a difference between pleasure and happiness that we must understand to be truly happy?
  • Should we proceed in our quest for real happiness by striving for the perfect external life conditions?

A great philosophical leader once said, “If you are going to strive for the external trappings of pleasure – a life in a penthouse apartment for instance – but you are not truly happy within… all you will eventually do is look for a window to jump out.”1  Wise advice. Let’s see if we can bring things around to a place where happiness is something you choose ahead of time, fundamentally, aside from external circumstances…

Image: 'Happiness,' by Matthieu Ricard - click here to order your copy on Amazon.com nowFirst, I am recommending this amazing book, “Happiness,” on the subject of finding true happiness. (You can find it via the link under the image below.) And you may remember that I don’t recommend books to anyone unless they are extraordinary and this one is simply transformational if you need a boost when it comes to this subject.

The book “Happiness” holds a permanent place by my bedside or is within arms reach in my briefcase at all times,.. even in my dental office! I have a lot of books, but this book feels almost like a friend who’s right there when you need to bounce something off a wise, receptive ear. If I’m feeling any kind of inner struggle, or can’t seem to come up with a better questions to solve a problem, I often crack it open randomly and read what my eyes fall upon for answers. Nine times out of ten, I come away smiling and shaking my head at the insight I found there. My copy (shown below) of author Matthieu Ricard’s masterpiece has more underlining and chicken-scratchings than any other book I own.

Image: 'Happiness,' by Matthieu Ricard - click here to order your copy on Amazon.com now
Page after page I have made notes to myself, where I want to revisit key points (which I do several times a week!) I’m always going to recommend that you ask your local book-seller to order this for you (support local!) but if that’s not possible, you can find “Happiness” on Amazon.com HERE.

The beautiful thing about my book recommendation today is that the author, Matthieu Ricard, happens to have a transformational TED Talk that will give you a tiny taste of the concepts in his book. Like all things video versus written,.. the book is far better than the talk because in the book Matthieu has time to take you on many little “thought journeys” that make his points indelible. Keep that in mind if Matthieu’s introduction here leaves you only curious.

Also, FYI: the beginning of the happiness book is a bit slow if you don’t enjoy learning how this extraordinary man became who he is today. The first 20 pages or so are his biography but hang in there. The pearls are scattered throughout and eventually he takes insight to a place where you will have to pause and think a bit on almost every page.

So without further adieu, here’s the Mr. Ricard giving you a small taste of the insights he’s earned through years of mindfulness practice… In a life that ranged from being a biochemist to a monk. Relax with this one folks,.. it takes him about 4 minutes to get rolling,.. be patient with Matthieu,.. and yourself! And you will be rewarded. (And remember this is just the tip of the iceberg that you’ll find in the book.) Enjoy!

Video Source: TED 1

A little too mind-bending for you? I had to watch it several times because my mind kept getting stuck on some of his assertions and then I’d miss huge segments. There’s a lot to ponder there.

Image: Bernie Boston's 1967 photo
Flower Power is a historic photograph taken in 1967 by photographer Bernie Boston.

That’s the way the book is too. I don’t think I’ve ever read more than a few pages at a time because he has a way of laying things down like bread crumbs to insights about our own moments in life.

Have some fun with this, even if you didn’t “get” it the first time through. Then try using some of the insights in your family or work environments.

You may know I’ve managed a team of 15 professionals for twenty years. Oh, how I wish I’d had these insights a decade ago! I’ve seen situations on my own office team where people seem we gravitate towards suffering and disappointment; focusing on what they don’t have in a co-worker, rather than what they do. Why do we focus on the shortcomings of others rather than their gifts? It’s easy to do that with our children and other loved ones too.

I’m going to try to be more mindful of the commentary swirling inside my head today and see how much goodness I’m choosing to miss.

Still curious about happiness? Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find 6 more articles I can recommend. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on staying open, curious and hopeful.

~ Dr. Lynda

 


 

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV