Simply Living has complex mission
Although it seems as if the word "green" is on the lips of, or getting lip service from, practically everyone these days, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day almost 20 years ago saw an outpouring of local support for what would eventually come to be called sustainability.
Marilyn Welker, one of the organizers of Earth Day 1990's observance in Columbus, estimated that "easily 25,000 people" converged on Whetstone Park that day.
"It was a huge traffic jam of people," Welker recalled. "It's really unbelievable to think about it."
Welker doubts that even with all the recent renewed interest in global warming and other environmental issue, anywhere near that many people would turn out for an Earth Day celebration in Columbus today.
But Welker does believe in the value of Simply Living of Central Ohio, a Clintonville-based nonprofit organization that was formed in 1992, based largely on the impetus provided by the massive turnout for Earth Day two years earlier.
Explaining what Simply Living is all about gets kind of complicated.
For one thing, since its inception Simply Living's purpose has been greatly expanded, and maybe, director Welker admitted, gotten tougher to describe.
"The founding members believed that social change and environmental responsibility depend upon us and our lifestyles," according to Simply Living's Web site. "Recognizing creation's sacredness and participation in its life-sustaining renewal, we reach out to all who are searching for their individual way to become the change we seek for the world. We are dedicated to learning how to live responsibly and to sharing our journey. With more than 700 members, Simply Living's purpose is to educate ourselves and others to live responsibly and sustainably in joyful relation with the earth and with each other, rooted in principles of environmental, social and economic justice.
"Together we are building a more sustainable culture.
According to the Web, the nonprofit organization's mission is:
"Simply Living of Central Ohio supports individuals, families and organizations in creating a more compassionate and sustainable world by offering learning opportunities which promote personal and civic responsibility, informed action and wholeness."
The organization operates on three themes: simplifying our lives, greening the earth and healing toward wholeness.
To Missy Hintz, office coordinator for Simply Living's headquarters at 2929 N. High St., all that boils down to providing information and learning opportunities on sustainability and social justice issues.
Jayme Richards, Simply Liv-ing's assistant director, puts it even more simply.
"Community," she said. "We encompass so much. We're an organization trying to make life better together."
Simply Living provides an "incubation of ideas," Hintz said. It serves less to get other people involved in the organization's projects but rather help them start their own, according to Richards.
"It truly is building the community because we're doing the projects the community wants," she said.
"In general, we see our work as healing the earth, healing ourselves," Welker said. "That's forever work. It really doesn't go away."
The newest initiative for Simply Living is called "Transition Central Ohio," part of a growing worldwide effort that originated in Great Britain, Welker said.
The premise is that, in dealing with global warming, a dependence on fossil fuels and an unsustainable global economic system, waiting for politicians would take too long and individuals would be able to accomplish too little, but coming together as communities might be the solution, she said.
"What is so appealing about this kind of project?" Simply Living's Web site asks. "People work together at the community level, asking important questions and actively pursuing solutions. Transition weaves the bigger picture, a social experiment on a massive scale, with the necessary human scaled efforts at the local level ... , adding the capabilities of the Internet to facilitate learning."
Simply Living also operates a community radio station, WCRS, 102.1 and 98.3 FM, offering programming on local concerns as well as local music and art, according to Richards.
"It's a dream more than a reality right now, but we're dreaming," Welker said.
Still, Richards said that people as far away as Brazil, Germany, Russia and Australia have picked up the station's stream on the Web.
"We're a learning organization," Welker said. "We don't teach people. We engage people in what matters to them, matters to all of us. We learn from one another.
"There's no one path. We're not about saying how you should live."
More information is available at the organization's Web site, http://www.simplyliving.org/sl, as well as during the next monthly open house at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 2929 N. High St. Hintz asked those planning to attend to RSVP by calling the office at 447-0296.