Social+ Holiday Shopping Resources

Perhaps the most Social+ thing we can do this holiday season is to remember that this time of year is not all about consumerism. Yet, we will likely purchase some gifts for family, colleagues and friends. This holiday season, you can be Social+ by carefully selecting merchants from whom to purchase these holiday gifts. As part of your preparation for black Friday and cyber Monday shopping, you can evaluate the environmental and labor practices of a company to determine if they are aligned with your values.

Several organizations have directories that are useful in selecting Social+ merchants for holiday gifts:

I have been using The National Green Pages from Green America since the mid-1990s (when they were known as Co-op America). It is now online and very easy to search!

The Fair Trade Federation has an online tool that you can use to search for members.

You can search for certified B Corps that have made a commitment to being socially and environmentally responsible.

Shop to Stop Slavery has developed an Ethical Holiday Shopping Guide.

Ethical Shopping maintains a list of companies that they have deemed to be unethical:

At the UL&STD and Labor411 websites, you can search for union made products.

This article on Mashable has some additional resources.

Please share additional resources in the comments below!

Fiscally Efficient and Effective

I see a tension between efficiency and effectiveness directly related to economic control. Centrally controlled resources are (potentially) efficiently distributed through economies of scale and coordination of planning. Locally controlled resources are (potentially) effectively distributed through relevant targeting and proximity. In the United States, our public and private systems tend to combine both centralized and decentralized economic control; however, I am not sure it is done in a way that maximizes both efficiency and effectiveness. Driven by both selective political agendas and individualism, our system of resource allocation simultaneously leads to waste and accumulation as well as human and environmental degradation. How can we better provoke and manage the flow of resources so that there is efficiency, effectiveness, and justice?

Obamacare Omits

When I left my full time job to focus on The Fruition Coalition full time, I was shocked to be denied health insurance by several providers. I was denied due to three pre-existing conditions: a mental health diagnosis, a high BMI, and a vascular malformation in my brain.

I think this situation is an unintended consequence of the recent federal health care reform law. A few years ago, I shopped my health insurance plan (as an individual) and was not denied coverage at that time. I believe this is a reaction to the new regulations facing health insurance companies.

I was eligible to purchase a Guaranteed Issue plan, but that would have cost me over $700 per month. My other option was to remain uninsured for six months and then apply for PA Fair Care, which costs just under $300 per month. I chose the latter out of financial necessity.

I am now uninsured and will be through the end of this calendar year. Every time I get a cut, bump into something, get behind the wheel of my car, or walk across the street I hold my breath and hope that I am not injured to the extent that medical attention is required.

Unlike those who criticize this new law, I think it is a step in the right direction. I don’t think additional regulations are the answer to our insurance and healthcare crisis; we need total and complete reform. A single payer system would improve the quality of our healthcare system and equalize access to it, saving costs – and lives – over time. Healthcare policy should also be aligned with other federal policy. We should subsidize sustainable agriculture instead of factory farming, and renewable energy instead of fracking and oil. In fact, if companies are not prevented from destroying our planet – and the health of people thereof — through policy, they should be taxed for doing so as both a reparation and as a disincentive.

In the meantime, I pray for our good health.

The Leaves

How easily individual leaves are taken for granted

carelessly picked pressed too tightly between the

fingers and thrown away.

We sometimes don’t see the forest for the trees but also the

leaves for the trees.

Each leaf is the promise of life

and is filled with great beauty and

is central to our ecosystem.

Leaves need the trees, the trees need

the soil, the soil needs

the sun, the sun needs

the air, the air needs

the trees, the trees need

the leaves.

The Illogical Model

Yesterday I posted a logic model for the progressive macromovement. I truly do see value in using logic models to think through our intentions and goals. Yet, we live in an illogical world where there is constant change and uncertainty. An illogical world calls for an illogical model to complement the standard logic model.

The illogical model suggests that we focus on those areas where we do have control, given that we live in a dynamic and uncertain environment: our values, intentions, and actions. These three areas are interconnected as they influence and/or reinforce each other both intermittently and over time. Our values are the core of who we are and what we believe. These shape our intentions, or our purpose for acting. Our actions are the place where we connect our inner selves with the outer environment, interacting with its intellectual, material, and emotional conditions. Because this environment is fluid and open to interpretation, our interaction with it can lead to both intended and unintended outcomes.

The illogical model forces us to focus our work on the present moment. It does not project what will happen in three, five, or 20 years. It demonstrates that we have the power to change the world by integrating our values, intentions, and actions — right now. By detaching from the outcomes and releasing illusive prediction and control of the environment, we might just realize lovely unimaginable surprises.