Create The Good Life - Simple and Slow Living by Design

Be Resourceful

Recently we came across the following:

Be Resourceful tote bag from Portland, OR

I've shifted my priorities by
elevating experiences over stuff.
Now I enjoy better memories, a healthier lifestyle and
stronger relationships.

Where did we find this beautifully high–minded statement?

At the Better Living Show on a tote bag handed out by...the City of Portland, Oregon!

That's right, the city that rocks (in the rain) just came out with this campaign: "Be Resourceful—Get More of the Good Stuff!" They define the good stuff in terms of borrowing and sharing, fixing and maintaining, reusing and buying second–hand, and, most incredibly, giving and experiencing. They offer an extensive list of local resources that facilitate these types of activities, as well as invite Portlanders to post their own suggestions and experiences.

This program is sponsored by the city's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. This agency is old news for folks in Portland, but a surprising step for local government to take for those of us living just about anywhere else in the U.S.

What we love is how Portland is putting forth a wonderfully positive and inspiring message for these times. Talk about leadership! They are also encouraging people to think differently by highlighting the city's businesses, organizations, and civic resources in terms of borrowing, fixing, sharing, and experiencing. What happens when we begin to think in these categories? What new possibilities do we realize regarding both the stuff we have as well as the world around us?

Back cottage in Petaluma

We've been experiencing this first hand since moving back to Sonoma County in California. Over the past year we have transitioned from having a home with a garage, basement, and yard to considerably smaller living quarters. Our first task was to sort out what was really important to have with us and would fit into two Corolla car-loads (our new metric for stuff). We then learned to adapt what we did have to our changing circumstances as we moved from a bedroom in a friend's house to the relative spaciousness of a 450 s.f. studio. Between second-hand stores, Craigslist, friends and family we were easily able to outfit an entire, albeit small, home in a week. In fact, several people welcomed the opportunity to lend or even give us a spare set of dishes, tables, and idle appliances that were clogging their own storage spaces.

What we've found is that with about 20% of our previous physical belongings we have been able to live very well by borrowing, fixing, sharing, giving, and experiencing. It has been a totally wonderful and liberating experience that has rekindled our creativity and our connection to people and place in life–enhancing ways.

Cover of The Sharing Solution

We are not alone in this endeavor as economics and a desire to live more efficiently and connectedly have inspired the emergence of a new resourcefulness. Sharing is the new green, and there are several books on the topic including What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption and The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing. Still our favorite book for practical information on the subject is The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Build Community, which we described in our essay by the same name.

One of the people spreading the gospel here in Sonoma County is Kelley Rajala who recently opened the Share Exchange in Santa Rosa. The Share Exchange offers many ways to be to come together resourcefully including a 100% Made Local store, a health care collective, an hour–for–hour time and talent exchange called the Sonoma Time Bank, and the most unique feature, the Work With Lounge. By becoming a member you can benefit from all sorts of resources including the Lounge which is like a modern day Cheers with wifi, and tea and coffee instead of beer. (Okay, the Portland version of the Share Exchange is probably going to have to include beer, but you get the idea.)

Three young friends

Be Resourceful is indeed a motto for these times. Some of the positive stories about the devastating Japanese tsunami have been about the resourcefulness of many of the survivors. Through sharing they have sought to optimize the quality of life for everyone and in the process regained a sense of neighborly connection they had lost. This isn't so unusual, but it is a shame if we only draw on this type of resourcefulness when disaster strikes.

What would you do to Be Resourceful starting today while the sun is shining (or the rain is warmer, if you're in Portland)? How would you Be?


What could you share? What could you fix? What could you reuse? What could you give? What could you experience (that is, do instead of buy)?


Where's your edge in Being Resourceful? What have you been meaning to try, but just haven't gotten around to? What small experiment could you create to try it out? Still not sure? Try giving one thing away. Either give it to a friend, donate it, or put it on freecycle or Craigslist for free. Or you can put it on the sidewalk with a Free sign. Better yet, put Gift on it.

Resourcefully Yours,

Beth and Eric

This monthly slow essay is from Beth Meredith & Eric Storm of Create The Good Life.

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