An Incredible Invitation

Speaking at Luther CollegeI was invited to my undergraduate alma mater, Luther College, for a one-week residency as a Vocation Visitor. I was on campus April 10-16, 2011. While on campus I gave this talk, spoke in 12 classes, and met with several student clubs, individual students, faculty and staff.

The Luxury of Limited Means: The Freedom to Choose Your Own Route

It’s easy to get sucked into a life to eventually discover yourself on a path you may not want to be on – with responsibilities that make it seem impossible to change directions.

I feel lucky. When I graduated from Luther I headed off to Africa for a job and adventures I couldn’t predict. In a sense, that gave me a couple years to punt on growing up until I was grown-up enough to realize that I wanted to choose my future, not fall into it. I was also unsure enough about what I wanted that I hedged my bets. 18 years later, my life is one of responsibility, meaningful work, and rootedness. I also have the same feeling of freedom and opportunity as when headed for what was then Zaire.

I share stories of:

  • how living overseas and my time at Luther shaped my view of the world,
  • the atypical ways I approach daily logistics like paying the bills,
  • how an intentional choice to limit my means has resulted in freedom (financial and otherwise), and
  • of the ways I have been able to align my values, life, living situation, and work.

I also share some ideas people can use to get started if they want to choose – to design – their own route through life. Even if it already seems impossible to change directions.  (Audio after the break.)
The Luxury of Limited Means: The Freedom to Choose Your Own Route

Inaudible Questions After the Talk
The questions in the talk were not mic’ed, so I’ve transcribed the approximate questions here. (Starting at minute 40:30.)

  • I like the attitude about seizing opportunities. People don’t always realize they’re out there. Can you tell us about some of the things you’re doing in your house that could have an impact, could make a more sustainable home.
  • I’m wondering if you have an opinion on gardening on city boulevards. (This is a hotly debated political issue in Decorah these days.)
  • What do you do about health insurance? It seems like that’s one of the main things that drives people choices, and how do you handle handle that and what do you suggest that people can to do manage that?
  • Can you tell us about a green consulting project you’ve been involved with?
  • Living green in Minneapolis, is it fairly easy to be sustainable? I come to Decorah and it’s easy to ride a bike, go to the coop, and then I think the Cities is possibly up next and I’ll need to buy a car.
  • You also talked about building communities. In addition to living green, are there networks or communities of these kinds of living arrangements, life styles in other communities that have linked themselves, made networks? You might expect to find them in Seattle, or Salt Lake City, or elsewhere?
  • I was just going to say that maybe you could say a little more about car sharing?
  • You were saying that there are different issues in sustainability, and I was wondering what was the most important issue to you?