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Saying goodbye to the truck

July 25, 2010

Relying less on cars for transportation

As I mentioned in my original post on the subject, we used to use cars for everything.  Driving to work, to the store, to friends houses, restaurants, everything.  Most of the time when we could have used other forms of transportation, we didn’t.  Amie and I used to own two cars and we used to use cars as our transportation 95-100% of the time. 
 
Noticed how I said used to.  Key differentiator folks.  Oh how our habits have been changing!
 
On June 11th, 2010  , we officially became a one car family.  We finally took the plunge, sold the truck and haven’t looked back since!  Despite the time it took to actually do it, and the insecurities we had about it, the feeling of following through with one of our goals is amazing.  To us this was a big shift in our lives as a whole.  After all, getting rid of an entire vehicle has impacts on multiple aspects of our lives. 
 
Improved Financial Situation
 
Now that we only have one car, we only have to worry about paying for one car.  This means only one car to repair, one car to insure, and one monthly payment.  Even though we recently paid off the truck, we still were paying up to $400 per month to own it.  Especially considering the yearly maintenance & repair costs.  All in all, I estimate we are saving between $300 and $400 per month as a result of the sale.  Additionally, because we owned the truck outright, we were able to take almost $8,000 dollars and pay off a big chunk of debt that was holding us back.  Wooohoooo!!! 
 
Effects on Work
 
The only reason we really needed two cars was because of work.  Both Amie and myself worked for service based organizations here in Denver, each with clients spread throughout the city.  As a result, we were both driving all over the place every day.  In order to make the single car lifestyle work, one of us was going to have to change our working situation.  Being the amazing woman that she is, Amie volunteered to make this sacrafice.  Besides making a little less money than I do, she had the courage to take the leap and start her own hyper-local gardening business (more on that later) that doesn’t require a car!   Because all of her clients are located in or around our neighborhood, Amie can walk or bike to work every day.  Not only is she happier with her day to day work, she gets to set her own schedule and she is making more money. Interesting how things work out when you take a leap eh? 
 
Of course I now use the car almost full time.  Because Amie’s business is so local, I now hog the car for my own work purposes.  This helps with work, but will also need to change if we are going to fully commit to reducing our use of cars.   In the winter time I will need to take public transportation to work more often since Amie will need the car to get around on cold days.  We’ll have to plan further in advance so I know the days I have off site appointments and the days I will have to commit to staying at the office. 
 
More Bike Please
 
In addition to getting rid of the truck, we have made a more sustained effort on using our bikes.  Denver is such an awesome city for bikers too!  With hundreds of miles of bike trails & routes, there really is no reason not to get out more.  We have been using our bikes to go out to eat, explore downtown, and to get to the store and back.  It feels like the more we bike, the more we want to continue biking.  We even participated in the Moonlight Classic bike ride a few weeks ago!
 
It has only been one and a half months since we became a one car family, but already it feels great.  Of course Amie is the primary person without a car, and it is summer.  I’m sure as the seasons get colder the dynamic of how we make this work will change.  But that is also something to look forward to.  Creative transportation isn’t a bad thing.  It is just something you have to plan for an make work in your life, just like anything else.  The major difference is where your priorities and values lie and spending and acting in accordance with those priorities and values.
 
How about you?  What is your situation like now?  Have you thought about ditching a car, or going without cars at all?  Have you already done it?  I’d love to hear some tips and tricks!   

Eating & Buying Local

May 5, 2010
Buying Local
 
Eating local to us means purchasing foods that are grown within 100-250 miles or less of where we live.   This goes for everything.  We’re talking all fruits & veggies, all meat & Dairy products, all bread and pasta, locally made canned goods, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  Whenever possible, we’ll buy from the source directly.  The local farms and cooperatives that grow and raise the food themselves.  In Denver there are many farmers markets throughout the summer for this.   There are also places like Denver Urban Homesteading that have a year round indoor farmers market.  In the Highlands Neighborhood (5 minutes from our house), there is  In Season’s Market , a locally owned grocery store that only purchases meat and  produce that is raised or grown within 250 miles or less of the store.   There are so many more oganizations and businesses like this in the Denver area and Front Range of Colorado we can’t wait to stumble upon! 
 
Growing Our Own
 
Of course growing our own food is about as local as you can get!  Plus you can’t beat the price.  We have been working with our neighbors to create a community garden (more on that later) just a few houses down from ours.  We have never really grown many vegetables ourselves, but we have always known we would some day.  This year is the innagural year for what we hope will be a life long food growing passion. 
 
One More Option
 
As a last option, we still have a few better choices than Big Box Stores & national grocery chains.  Natural Grocers & Whole Foods are both pretty close to where we live.  While these are still chain stores, each of them have a focus on selling local and organic foods whenever possible, and they also support many local programs.   We think we may need to use stores like this more in the winter time than the summer since farmers markets usually dry up during the winter months. 
 
Planning Ahead
 
To really live these values, we have to break some old habits, and learn to plan ahead.  Amie and I already like to eat and buy locally.  The problem is, we also fall in to the convenience trap.  Instead of planning ahead and buying our groceries at the farmers market every Saturday, we wait to plan our meals until after hunger has set in.  This leads to many nights of eating out, or choosing less local and less healthy meal options.   The good news is, we know that planning ahead really helps us.  By having all of the ingredients we need for the week ready to go, we tend to cook every night and enjoy our meals even more.  We also save a lot of money.   Our goal will be to plan ahead each week so we can  make sure we have fresh local ingredients, and lower the amount we have to go out to eat and risk eating less local ingredients. 
 
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All in all we are very excited.  Doing this is both good for us and good for the planet.  It seems like a simple idea, yet so many people have no idea what it is like to truly eat local all the time.  We won’t get it perfect right away, but we will do our best to improve and hold ourselves responsible!  This is just one piece of the puzzle to our overall Evolving Life Manifesto, that we are excited to share with everyone. 

We Begin by Planting the Seed

May 1, 2010

Amie & I are embarking on a new stage in our lives.  For so long we have been interested in things like living locally, relying less on cars, breaking away from the 9-5 lifestyle, and all around “simplifying” our lives.  We have taken small steps over the last five years but never fully commited to following through. 

No More. 

For some reason we’ve decided its time for lasting change.  Its time to start living by our values and stop just talking about them.  Its time to really start making some tough decisions about the way we live.  Its time to make a difference. 

This website is our vehicle for helping to make that change.  We’re putting ourselves out there to the world in the hope that the world will hold us accountable.  We are going to share what it is we are trying to accomplish to anyone willing to read.  here is where we’ll document our success, our failure, and the lessons we learn long the way.  Here is where we test what it is we stand for, and what we are really willing to live with – or without. 

In general, here are some of the things we are focusing on (all of equal importance):

  • A) Living as locally as possible & being part of our local community
  • B)  Relying less on cars for transportation
  • C)  Simplifying
  • D)  Giving Back & Giving in General
  • E)  Breaking away from the 9-5 Lifestyle
  • F)  Spending more time with all of our families

Living as locally as possible & being part of our local community

We live in a world where so many problems are caused by transportation costs.  not only is it expensive to move food & other goods thousands of miles, it also pollutes our enviornments and deteriorates our local communities.  Lets get this straight, we want to be part of a vibrant and successful community – not move away to be subsistence farmers in some rural area.  Living locally to us means supporting locally owned businesses (no large chains of any sort), buying locally produced food (no more than 250 miles away), and putting our time & effort in to support programs and organizations that support these values. 

Relying less on cars for transportation

As of this date, we use cars for everything.  We drive to work, to the store, to friends houses, restaurants, everything.  Most of the time when we could use other forms of transportation, we don’t.  Amie and I currently own two cars and we use cars as our transportation 95-100% of the time.  Its time to change that.

Simplifying

This is a pretty broad  category.  It pretty much applies to all areas of our life.  This is our “unifying goal” that interconnects all of our other goals.  By simplifying all aspects of our life, we start to rely less on physical “things” to make us happy.  Instead we focus on meaningful actions and contributions to the things that really matter in life. 

Giving Back & Giving in General

The golden rule.  We all know it.  The more you give, the more abundance you create in your own life.  Plus it just feels good.  Problem is, few of us truly practice it.  We are just as guilty as anyone else but that’s going to change.  Luckily gifts come in many shapes, sizes & forms. 

Breaking away from the 9-5 Lifestyle

This doesn’t mean we are going to stop working.  It doesn’t mean we won’t continue to have “normal jobs”.  It does mean re-thinking the way we work and integrate work with our values and day to day lives.  We live in a world that is so connected and “always on”.  Driving to the office every day just to work in a dark room isn’t the best way to get things done any more.  There are huge benefits to re-thinking the way businesses are run.  We intend to fully push the status quo and question everything about work in this digital world. 

Spending more time with all of our families

We have family everywhere.  Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Utah, Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Arizona and more.  We are sick of not being able to spend time with all of them.  We want to be part of all of their lives and not just via email, facebook and the occasional birthday card.  When we have kids, we want them to know all of their grandparents (They will have 6 grandparents, not including great grandparents) and all of their cousins, aunts, uncles and so forth.  We love all of our families so much and we just aren’t willing to have any of them not part of our lives in a direct and tangible way.  How we plan on pulling that off…  well, that is another post or two at least!

All in all, this is an experiment in creating our own destinies.  Instead of drifting by and reacting to things as they come, we’re planning on being pro-active about our lives and writing our own rule book – or lack thereof.  To accomplish the things we want in life may or may not be difficult.  It does however require our deliberate attention and commitment and actions to make it happen. 

So here’s to new beginnings.  We can’t wait to share the experience. 

     –   Bryan & Amie Wilson