I recently was hired by Americorp Vista, essentially Peace Corps, but domestic. Americorp’s website describes it as “the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 40 years.” (Americorp Website) I work at a non-profit here in North Carolina where I am in charge of large scale volunteer facilitation.
Technically my employer is the Corporation of National and Community Service A.K.A. the Government. My paychecks are not infact paychecks, but a “subsistence allowance” where I am paid well below minimum wage and am not allowed to hold another job. Technically I am on call 24/7/365. This is a year commitment which I recently decided to undertake to take something that has always been a part of my life, volunteering, and bring it to the next level. I’m not going to lie, a part of it was also because I need a job, but it was a minor reason.
Everyday I work to fight poverty here in Charlotte North Carolina and it has been immensely rewarding! Not to mention a welcomed change from my previous corporate jobs. If you are interested in checking it out click here
So today I had a unique experience, one which was very new for me. I applied for food stamps. Overall it was pretty quick and painless, which I was glad. If only the DMV could learn from them, I have waited longer to give the DMV money than I did for Department of Social Services to GIVE me money. I don’t know about you, but I try not to keep people waiting who are trying to give me money 🙂 What’s great about things now is that there are no “stamps” you get this card that looks and acts like a debt card, but of course has restrictions on what you can and cannot buy. Things like paper products, alcohol, tobacco, diet supplements etc. Anyway, I am waiting to hear for the decision on my application, but I am hopeful because of the type of job I recently landed.
Its pretty much impossible to have not notice things going on today are not as good as they have been. I found this great infographic about how more and more Americans are seeking aid in the form of food stamps and other resources.
Divorce is a really nasty thing to go through, there is no doubt, the emotional wreckage that it leaves is tremendous. I have talked some about the financial toll it leaves as well. With an average of $15,000 in legal fees alone, you then also lose half your assets or more. There is the kids, the house you worked hard to build, the relationships you built with your spouse and their families and friends. It’s a nightmare. But here is another toll of divorce.
Divorced households annually consume 73 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water more than they would if both partners were still living under one roof, costing an additional $10.5 billion each year.
Age at marriage for those who divorce in America
Age Women Men
Under 20 years old 27.6% 11.7%
20 to 24 years old 36.6% 38.8%
25 to 29 years old 16.4% 22.3%
30 to 34 years old 8.5% 11.6%
35 to 39 years old 5.1% 6.5%
We’re all plenty familiar with the advertising trend where marketers seek to portray products and services from a ‘green’ angle, regardless of their actual environmental impact. Well, perhaps such greenwashing campaigns have proved so successful (some 98% of ‘eco-labeled’ products were greenwashed last year) that marketers are following its lead to exploit another growing environmental trend–this time, it’s “localwashing.” Here are some pictures of the worst ads by big companies pretending to be local in order to cash in on conscious consumers.
Grist put together an informative/appalling/hilarious slideshow that demonstrates how big corporations–from the Venezuelan oil company Citgo to Starbucks to Lay’s–have launched marketing campaigns attempting to portray their businesses as ‘local’ to cash in on the positive trend of buying and eating local.
Here is a graphical representation on how US tax dollars will be spent in 2010. Notably is that money to green energy has been increased 92% while nuclear has decreased by 10%. The largest portion of the budget (62% or 901 Billion), not surprisingly, is going to Defense, this is pretty standard for US spending trends. National Parks revived a boost of 5%. Interestingly The Department of State, has also a brand new line item called “Clean Technology Fund” at a half a billion.
Take some time and check it out. What would you change? What are your reactions?
The other day I was sitting at home talking with a friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in a while. A tweet came up on my phone from Michael Jazen, our friend at Tiny House Design, which showed a Tiny House and sparked a conversation. She looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to live in a Tiny House, which I normally get that reaction, but what was interesting was what followed. She said “that’s so weird, why can’t you be normal?”
I had a little chuckle and said this:
Well what IS normal? Normal is to get married, have a few kids, drive a nice car, have a successful career, live comfortably and live in a nice houses don’t you agree?
She agreed and I went on.
Well let’s take a bit closer look at this; What are the implications of being normal?
Getting married is great but it ends in divorce 60% of the time (average cost of $15,000).
Having kids means your life isn’t about you anymore and kids are expensive, Half a Million expensive!
The average cost of a car is around $30,000
The average cost of a house today is around $260,000, but you will pay $800,000 through the loan
For living comfortably 1 in 20 Americans have $8,000+ in credit card debt
A successful career means you spend most of your time not with loved ones or doing what you love
So if I am NORMAL it means that in the end I will be done with my divorce, “own” a house and a car that I really don’t own, but will pay 4 times the original price tag for at the end of the loan. Then to top it off I will have two kids, who I love very much, but will only get to see them for two hours, which debt collectors will be calling during, until I get them to bed and collapse myself. All in all, I don’t get to spend time with those who I love. I own nothing and I owe an average of 1.85 million dollars over my lifetime.
If Normal is being away from people I love and forever in debt, then I sure as hell don’t wanna be normal do you?
She looked at me as if she had suddenly seen color for the first time in her life, as if she had be seeing in black and white up to this point.