Clean Water for Elirose

Four years ago, when we were expecting our daughter, I knew I was about to begin a major shift in my priorities. It would still be a high priority to live out my faith and values, but above all else, the top priority is now to lovingly raise my children and instill those values that are so central to my life in theirs as well. In addition to simply loving my kids, I wanted to help them to see the world the way I had grown to see it. A large community where we are all intertwined and where our decisions impact others.

My kids are 4 and 3 now and, as concrete thinkers, reading books with them is one of the most tangible ways to expand their world, next to actually experiencing things in real life. My journey to find children’s picture books that discussed topics like poverty and homelessness, clean drinking water and lack of education, was fruitful, but sparse. It was a genre with books few and far between. And so, I set out to write my own.

Read the book Online
Read the book Online

Clean Water for Elirose is a children’s picture book about what kids drink and how four young kids make a difference in fifth child’s life, Elirose. My goal with writing the book is two-fold.

  1. To provide parents with a meaningful way to discuss a global social issue with their young children.
  2. To use the book as a tool itself for fundraising for clean drinking water.

My hope is that it reaches those goals, if even on a small scale. If your interested in ordering a copy you can do that here. Anyone is free to buy a “teachers copy” for $5, which is the same book, but doesn’t cover the total costs ($3.65 per copy of the book, ~$2.10 for shipping plus envelope). Or, you can order a $15 copy and about $10 if your purchase will go directly to supporting a clean water well project (currently with Charity:Water).

I’d love your help getting the word out if your willing. Review the book on your blog, ask your local parenting mag or paper to write a review, purchase a copy for your library, tell your friends or use it as a fundraiser for your next missions trip. Oh, and let me know what you think with a comment below.

The Problem with ‘Pet’ Causes

Occasionally, when I share with someone about something I’m passionate about, like Fair-Trade chocolate, I’m met with a response that can be bluntly summarized as “That’s nice that you care about that issue, I care about this issue,” as if these were hobbies like crocheting or racquetball. Unfortunately, I feel like that’s probably closer to the truth, that they are merely self-gratifying hobbies, for many and not necessarily an attempt or commitment to pursue lasting change. Disclaimer: I do not mean this as a judgment on anyone, you be the judge of your own motivations. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else.

We live in a very individualistic society where it is almost taboo to actually make an authoritative statement to another person about an issue (“You shouldn’t eat Hershey’s chocolate”). We might talk about our personal decisions, but we rarely demand the same of others. Thus, even those who want to be more evangelistic about their cause (whether it’s fair-trade chocolate or organic produce) find it difficult to do. It’s also difficult because any diversion from the status quo is often met with blind defensiveness and resistance. Rejection is tough.

The result we end up with are ‘pet’ causes. I care about the chocolate I eat, my neighbor only eats organic, a friend tries to reduce their carbon footprint and my cousin advocates against sex trafficking. And, while we each do our small part, this approach is largely ineffective for any of these issues. My personal chocolate choice might make me feel less guilty, but it certainly won’t shift the chocolate industry from using child slaves. My friends reducing their carbon footprint to zero with solar panels and a hybrid car won’t stop the ice caps from melting. or even stop our nations dependence of oil. And unfortunately, we seem to be rather okay with that, addressing our personal guilt on the subject, but not truly affecting massive change for any one cause.

We need to work together. That doesn’t mean you have to ditch your personal cause for mine. Rather, it means we should become passionate and committed to systemic change, not just change that makes us feel less guilt or like personal do-gooders. What does this look like in practice? I’m not totally sure yet. Maybe it means you become more evangelistic for the cause, maybe we become more strategic in how we demand change. What it does mean is that we stop being content with just our own ‘pet’ causes and we get serious about seeing real and systemic change in our neighborhoods, our society and our world.

Steps Toward Change: Meals (Less Bad, More Good)

Last time I wrote here I asked about help doing a food audit. Thank you so much to the folks who were willing to take some time and give me some input on my current food choices. I was surprised by the lack of response, especially considering I know a lot of people that seem passionate about this issue, but that’s a topic for another post.

As I said initially when I started this discussion, I’m very open to making changes in the way my family eats. I’m also much more interested in getting some straight forward tips and suggestions from those who have extensive knowledge and wisdom in this topic, rather then trying to sift through all the information myself (seems we are hesitant to speak with authority, we’d rather direct others to the book we read, a topic for another time again).

My goal is over the next several months, maybe year, to make changes in my families eating and purchasing habits toward a more ethical end. But, I need your help. The first step I’d like to take is to consider the meals that we make with some frequency and sort them into “bad” and “good” categories in consideration of ethics. I know this will be a little hard to do, but I think it’s worth a shot.

Here is how I’d like to try and do this. You’ll need to come to the blog if your reading in email or rss. In the comments section I’ll list meals that our family eats with some frequency (I’ll list just the basic title, not complete recipe). I’ll list one meal per comment and then you can reply to specific comments/meals with your comments about that meal. I’m looking for feedback about how good or bad meals are on a spectrum, so give it a 1-5 star rating if you’d like. Keep in mind I’m much more interested in how my food choices impact the lives of people, not so much the health benefits to my immediate family.

Additionally, if you’d like to add meal suggestions, recipes, etc in separate comments that would be super helpful. I’m looking for your most ethical meal ideas that are also low budget (and not overly complicated to prepare ideally). My initial goal is to start having more of the Good meals we make and less of the Bad meals. Slowly, I’ll add other people’s recipe suggestions as well. That’s my plan anyways.

I know this might all seem rather lazy on my part to not simply read the books and watch the movies myself, but sometimes this is the way that I best process things, relying on the wisdom of the community around me, and I think there are others who do similarly. Looking forward to your responses.