Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: Let My People Go Surfing

Let My People Go Surfing
Author: Yvon Chouinard

The Overview:
Just put me in the sunlight and call me a cat and I will purr all day about this book. I have no idea how to even summaries the awesomeness that was described on these pages. If only you could see the amount of yellow highlighter stained in this book...

Yvon Chouinard: rock climbing/surfing/outdoor junkie turned rockin' activist/business entrepreneur. Sometimes passions make us more responsible. Sometimes they make us crazy. In the case of Mr. Chouinard, his crazy is making me a little bit more responsible.
The Good:
Everything...but, perhaps a few key ideas might be nice inserted here.

I read this book because I happen to be obsessed with Corporate Social Responsibility. To me, the irresponsible use of power by big business has caused a lot of the social issues we see today and I dare say almost all of the environmental ones. Wealth is a hunger that can not be satisfied and Power is its dessert. But the eyes of Yvon Chouinard still see the trees, the mist, the sandy beach as something powerful and profitable. Profitable in the sense that his children, his grandchildren and those that come after that will still be able to live healthy, productive and satisfying lives...still be able to surf in clear waters, breath clean air, and use products that are conscience friendly. Chouinard birthed Patagonia, the company, out of necessity. He wanted to climb, but his climbing was destroying the rocks he so dearly loved. His passion turned into a need which turned into an awareness which turned into a responsibility which in turn is now a very profitable company. Today, the more responsible Patagonia tries to be, the more profitable they are too. It is a beautiful word, the prettier cousin to the word wealth...sustainability.

Get this...Patagonia has something they call "Let My People Go Surfing flextime policy"...if the waves are high they can go surfing. If the river is rushing they can put on their skirt and swipe their paddle. If they want to be home to see their kids jump off the bus they can do that do. They believe that happy and healthy employees are valuable, productive and committed employees. Hence the cafeteria that serves healthy, organic, mostly vegetarian food and the ability to use company time to participate in Patagonia's environmental program or start one of their long as their regular job gets done of course.

The 5 elements of Patagonia's Environmental Philosophy:
  1. Lead an examined life.
  2. Clean up our own act.
  3. Do our penance.
  4. Support civil democracy.
  5. Influence other companies.
The Bad:
He speaks harshly of Christians...but then again, so do I sometimes. Just because we believe in a second coming where everything will be made new again doesn't mean that us using up the world as fast as we possible can, will make Jesus come any sooner. I am quite certain that wasteful, disrespectful and irresponsible will not words used on the resume of a good and faithful steward. Christians are not known for being big time environmentalists, which makes me sad. Why not? Have you ever read an Anthony blog? Every other one is about nature's grandeur, its purity, and its soft whispers of peace. Grandeur, purity, peace...that sounds like a place to see God to me. Why would Christians not care about that?

The Memorable:
This book first explains the history of Patagonia and then dives into the individual policies that drive the company onward in their fight against a dying world and a profit hungry economy. Does that sound boring, perhaps, but it wasn't. The section on their financial philosophy was a highlighter killer for sure (No, I did not graduate as an accountant). Here is a quote:
We get approached by prospective buyers almost weekly, and their intent is always the same. They see an undervalued company that they can rapidly grow and take public. Being a publicly help corporation or even a partnership would put shackles on how we operate, restrict what we do with our profits, and put us on a growth/suicide track. Our intent is to remain a closely held private company, so we can continue to focus on our bottom line, doing good.
More good quotes (from other sections):
"At Patagonia the protection and preservation of the natural environment aren't just something we do after hours or when we finish our regular work; they're the reason we are in business. We'd have the same environmental philosophy if we were a cabinet shop, a winery, or a building contractor. I believe, as do most of our employees, that the health of our home planet is the bottom line, and it's a responsibility we all must share."
"Unfortunately, most of the environmental damage being done by business is the result of large corporations that aren't operating under the philosophy of sustainability, for either themselves or the environment. They're applying their own short-term business principles to a natural system that can operate only in the long term."
"No animal is so stupid and greedy as to foul its own nest–except humans."
"It takes twenty-five bottles to make a jacket, and from 1993 through 2003 we diverted eighty-six million soda bottles from landfills."
"...each time we tried to do the right thing for the environment, regardless of the cost to us, we ended up saving money."
The Recommendation: 
I loved it. I hope that you would too, but I won't be that bold to assume such a thing.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Martin Luther King Jr. day came a little late for me this year...

I'm reading the book The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns (President, World Vision U.S.) and will write a full book review as soon as I am finish but, as I was reading, these words of Dr. King's really made me stop and think.

The word "extremist" has always been one of those words that is said in a slight whisper as if it was code for the boogie man to suddenly appear or shouted at someone to condemn those who don't think exactly like they do. Dr. King addressed this label of "extremist" from his jail cell in Birmingham.

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Although I'm not likely to start using the label "extremist" in my everyday conversations for obvious social reasons, I would still like this principle to resonate deep in my soul. I would also really like this principle of extremism to affect the church which I so dearly love and all too quickly criticize. Dr. King had a few words on that as well...

So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

 an irrelevant social club...oh snap!

We are disappointed....that is true. All we see is back biting and power tripping adults who sometimes should be in cradle roll singing about Jesus' love instead of teaching the Sabbath School Lesson. They are busy, exhausted and trying their best, but where is the church community surrounded by the glow of mutual respect and support? Where is the helping hand to the orphans and widows? Where is the...Love (wouldn't that be something if we sang Black-Eyed Peas on Sabbath morning..haha!) And in the words of Dr. King...where are the extremists for Love?

Hold on...just a minute...I have to get the log out of my right eye.

I am next up to bat. You are too. Mere seconds away from church boards, treasurers, and community outreach committees. What am I doing besides talking a lot more than I am acting. That isn't helpful now is it...nope, sure isn't. Lead by example they say, well perhaps that will be difficult to be examples to those who were examples to us. They raised us to be leaders though and are waiting for that day when they can pass the mantle. Perhaps they won't be super stoked with all of our ideas, but they can't be leaders for ever. Eventually they will have to trust us because they have no other choice. Doctrine and Social Justice can be friends. I believe it. The church can be a positive and supportive community. I believe it. The principle of extreme love that Jesus lived is possible. I believe it.

Dr. King warned the churches leader to not become "more cautious than courageous" and to stop "remaining silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows."

I am suddenly very overwhelmed with all of these ideas. It seems like a lot of work. Churches these days aren't so much known for their love, but for their seems like a long road ahead to change that social stigma. Sometimes I want to give seems too hard, too time consuming and frankly not worth it. But I love the church and finding truth is important. Being authentic and real and approachable is also important. Being the healthy and vibrant body of Christ is what we are going for. do we go about doing that? I'm guessing Dr. King would answer with a question...

Will we be extremists for hate or for love?

I hope we don't disappoint you Dr. King. I hope I don't disappoint me either, because somehow I have to find the motivation to get off my butt...and my high horse too...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Switching Sabbaths

I went to church on Sunday instead of Sabbath this weekend...not on purpose...

I woke up, ate a grapefruit, got ready for church, entered church and sat down...all at a very normal pace, at a normal time, and in a normal frame of mind. Normal would end about 5 minutes later. Sometimes being a woman is just too much pain for a system to handle. I was promptly wisked home where I immediately [Nick stop reading and skip to the next sentence!!!] threw up, which made the pain go away for a few precious seconds because I couldn't concentrate on anything but aiming. Too much info? perhaps...I then settled back on the floor wishing death would rescue me or at least the very strong, tiny white pills that were on their way to me at that very moment. Thank goodness for mothers with motherly instincts and fathers with a Dr. title!

Church skipper...that's me.

I like to experience people's habitats...the ins and outs of their daily life. Others perhaps find these details boring and easily ignored, but I find them fascinating and worth some time exploring. I was visiting the g-rents in Minneapolis this weekend, an added dear friend Jenn lives their too. (Not with my grandparents of course...just in case anyone was trying to be confused)

Jenn always has fun active ideas for us to do while we hang out and catch up...

hike to a waterfall
rockclimb indoors
walk around a lake

this time we went ice! But, what was even more fun was that I finally got to see her habitat. We met at her apartment so I could finally put names with roommate faces and see the little nook she calls home. Then, Sunday morning I got up and went to church with her. Beautiful old-world church in the middle of downtown, dwarfed by the now collapsed Metrodome right across the street, but grand on the inside for sure. Stained-glass windows and a pipe organ long since replaced with electric bangles and media screens as the focus. But yet, the character of the building still remained. And the community still being fed. Jenn is working with a nonprofit ministry on the verge of making it big. Pulse is the ministry and that church is their home base. So after the service she showed me her office upstairs and the rooms they had painted and the file cabinets they had snatched from craig's list. Jenn is just about the cutest person ever. She also has awesome relational skills. Combine those two qualities, mix in her passion and work-aholicness and you have a force to be reckoned with.

A Sunday keeper...this week that was me!

And in other news...our car is stuck out in the middle of the road. We didn't quite make it home in just one vehicle tonight. I hope cars don't have feelings...

Monday, January 17, 2011

keep breathing

I want to change the world
Instead I sleep


instead I watch tv
instead I turn away
instead I shop online
instead I chose worry
instead I ignore reality
instead I make excuses
instead I look elsewhere
instead I keep complaining

instead I blink...permanently.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Review: Between Two Worlds, My Life and Captivity in Iran

Between Two Worlds, My Life and Captivity in Iran
Author: Roxana Saberi

The Overview: 
Evin Prison. Labeled Iran's most notorious. A black hole for those who think outside the prescribed national box. Political activists, students, those of the previous regime, journalists, those who preach a different gospel and even bloggers can get checked in for a awhile. This is the hell that Roxana Saberi woke up to one morning. She was taken to Evin Prison...accused of espionage. 
Before being falsely accused and imprisoned, Roxana, an Iranian-American journalist had two main goals for her time spent in Iran...the first was to live in a culture that claimed half of her origin, the second was to write a non-biased book about Iran for Americans to read and fall in love with a place that she herself was quickly falling for. That second goal earned her months of interrogations, months of wading through lies and months of wondering about her future or if she even had one. She did end up writing a book, but not the one she had expected.
The Good:
Eye witness experience...what could be more powerful than that? I wanted to keep reading and read quickly! I felt like the longer I took the longer she remained in prison! Even though I knew the end was happy, reading her story was still very interesting and page turning.
The Bad:
I found myself wanting to punch people in the face. Mostly the characters in this book who were manipulating and lying to accomplish their own will.
I spent a year in Egypt experiencing a different culture, a different religion, and a different way of living life in general. I loved it there. I loved the people, the new ideas, the eye-opening experiences and I came back with a new life goal...I want to always think positively of other cultures, religions and people who are different than me in general. Give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't agree with their thoughts all the time, but I don't want to fall into the rut of thinking the way I live and do things is the way everyone else should be thinking and doing things. This book made that goal difficult. I found myself angry...annoyed...dumbfounded. The justice system seemed so unfair. Roxana was mistreated, unfairly accused, manipulated, and emotionally tortured. And for something that seemed so innately human to me. It didn't make an logical sense. But...I have been bred for is a delicious consequence of being born to my parents in this country. I will not expect to understand. But I don't like it...Amnesty International agrees with me. 
The Memorable:
The women she described in this book, her fellow inmates were incredible. Strong and spirited...the ultimate beauty in my opinion. They knew that they fought the system alone...and yet they still fought. There was no United States, no pleas from the president, little or no media coverage to hang their hope on. They put their foot down...on their beliefs, their God, their unwavering resolve and were prepared to stand there in Evin, until they and their conscious could be called free.
The Recommendation: 
Read it! Roxana grew up in Fargo, ND...good things come from there.

Friday, January 7, 2011

and in other news...

Visiting Krista in Argentina is probably the headline event that I should be blogging about, but in the mean are a few of the non-breaking news-news stories in my life.

I saw a squirrel rock climbing a plastered wall the other day...

I even snapped a picture with my phone real quick just to prove it to the world.


I found this show of part athleticism, part crazy magic completely inspiring. Immediately after this photo was taken I climbed the wall after him and we became instant friends. We have nicknames and secret handshakes of course and we set up an appointment to climb together again.

Terrifying viewed from the comfort of your own home

The following is a view from my car as I was coming home last night.

Just kidding. But mostly not.

I was coming home late after spending the evening at my friend Cari's house. She is awesome and only in town for a few days before she heads back to grad school. It became obvious as my journey home continued that as I had been enjoying the company of my dear friend, the roads had been kidnapped. Tragedy! 
I could accept that the crystallized roads were pretty. The endless sparkly treachery stretched out as far as my headlights could reach. No tracks to follow, no lines to be found, no telling if one was on the road or off. I had never experienced this mixture of beauty and stress before. The world was literally shimmering and shining and throwing diamonds straight at my face. Before, there had always been a clue or two to follow, but this blanket of crystals had completely smothered my clarity about what was road and what was inches upon inches of sparkle communities that had set up camp along the side of the road. 

I made it...don't worry. I wouldn't be writing this if I hadn't.

I saw something nasty in the wood shed... 

Actually I didn't, but Ada Doom did. I just saw the movie Cold Comfort Farm last night.

Not awesome, but definitely good in my opinion. Witty, a tish creepy, and a good bit of poking fun at the likes of Jane Austen. What more could you want in a "spoof on British costume dramas."

Cari's house is where all the good, but random movies are kept. Here are a few from the past...just in case you find your self with time to spare.

Twelfth Night
Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte