New American dream: local leaders sought

"The best way to create the future is to invent it" - Alan Kay

by Carolyn Chase


know that you are on the lookout for ways to make a difference. Please consider the following special opportunity.

I'm looking for a team leader and some volunteers to establish discussion groups and a project to help create "the new American dream" here in San Diego County.

We will do this in cooperation with the Northwest Earth Institute, whose purpose is "motivating individuals to examine and transform values and habit and to accept responsibility for the earth." If a successful volunteer core can be formed, it could lead to other funded opportunities for programs in our area.

NWEI has become a nationally recognized leader in taking effective earth-centered programs to busy people where they spend their time: workplace, church and home. Cooperation with other groups and networks will also evolve.

NWEI programs include discussion-group courses:

Voluntary Simplicity (values and habits that distract us from our daily lives)

Topics covered in the course provide insight into the growing practice of voluntary simplicity: (1) the meaning of simplicity, (2) living more with less, (3) your money or your life, (4) do you have the time, (5) how much is enough, (6) swimming against the tide, and (7) the practice of simplicity. Discussion groups will meet once a week for seven sessions.

Deep Ecology

A nine session course on core values and how they affect the earth; for workplace, church or home.

Bioregional Perspective

"Discovering your Natural Community" knowing and protecting your surrounding ecosystem. This is an eight-session course for the workplace, church or home.

The Voluntary Simplicity course is available now. The Deep Ecology course will be available later this year. Each course requires a group of 8-12 people who agree to meet and do the course. The course books cost $12.50 + postage/handling.

Please let me know if you would be interested in:

  • Taking a course as an individual
  • Hosting a course (i.e., organizing a group at your office, church or home)
  • Being a member of a committee working to establish all the programs here
  • Chairing a committee working to establish programs here

You can contact me directly by any of the following means: phone (619) 272-0347; fax (619) 272-2933; email:; mail: PO Box 99179, San Diego, CA 92169.


Voluntary Simplicity background


Polls show that Americans are less happy today than they were in 1970. These findings state that striving for material wealth and consumption may be decreasing our well-being. Are they decreasing yours? Would you like more order, clarity and purpose in your life? Are you tired of being defined by what you do for a living? Aren't you much more than that?

Voluntary Simplicity can help us change our relationship with money, work and community; foster a greater sense of satisfaction with who we are and what we have and help us take steps to change our lifestyles to need and want less.

Our society consumes an inordinate amount of materials and energy. As 5 percent of the planet's human population, Americans consume 30 percent of the materials, 35 percent of the energy and produce 35 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution, pushing our planet to the brink of catastrophic global warming and mass extinction. Yet, Madison Avenue continues to push consumption on the public to increase corporate profits without a thought as to the impacts on the Earth or the future. Haven't we all had enough?

Our time (and this conference) calls for simplification of consumption, work patterns, entertainment and our relationships. Voluntary Simplicity has been identified as one of the fastest-growing trends in the country as more and more Americans downshift to less hectic and more rewarding lives. "Downshifters" are spending more time doing the things they find meaningful and less time keeping up with the "Joneses."

Carolyn Chase is editor of SDET, Chairperson of the Sierra Club, San Diego Chapter, Chair of the City of San Diego Waste Management Advisory Board, and founder of the Earth Day Network.