Common Change Stories: Meet Abi Ornellis

The way Common Change works is that you sign up and join a group and commit to giving a regular amount [or percentage of salary] to a common group fund. At any point if anyone in the group knows someone [one degree of separation] with a need, you can present the need to the group and together hopefully come up with the best way of meeting that need. Our group has the mantra that ‘It’s not IF we will meet a need, but HOW we will meet that need’ and Abi was the first person with a need that I shared with my group in the hope that we could help her achieve this trip she was going to be making into Tanzania to work with an orphanage. Here, Abi shares some of her story: ‘I applied with a volunteer-based organization, Love Volunteers, who connects individuals with various NGOs and projects across the world, based on their experience, passion and skills. They then referred me to an NGO in Arusha, Tanzania which focused on serving their community through working with abandoned and neglected children, as well as women and families in need, in terms of education, healthcare and business opportunity and growth. I was incredibly excited. However, with flight tickets and living expenses, it was beyond my financial reach....

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Image credit: http://www.caroselloblog.com

The Not So Simple Life

We would love to hear your stories and ideas at the end of this on how we can live simpler in a world that is demanding that we consume and do so much more? Mother and freelance copywriter, Julie Williams gives us an honest glimpse into how she is grappling with this in her own life. A funny thing happened as I settled down to write this piece. I was going to fill it with inspiring thoughts on the art of living simply. But then I got blind-sided. By the giant log in my own eye. You see, my story of living simply is not as simple as I’d like to admit. Let me let you in on some of my struggles, in the hope that we’ll find real simplicity on the other side of complexity… A few months ago, our beloved domestic help, child minder, kitchen whisperer and general wonder woman of grace, Fez, was diagnosed with cancer. Amidst all the thoughts I have grappled with in response, the one that I have felt most frequently and acutely is this: “Life sucks for me right now.” Yes. I did just write that. And I’ve thought it a hundred times. Life sucks. For me. Right now. As a mother with 3 small kids, and a freelancing career that I...

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Wall Street Photo

Jubilee Party on Wall Street by Shane Claiborne

Ten years ago, we threw a party on Wall Street.  It was one year after 9/11 and nine years before Occupy.  We were inspired by the ancient vision of Jubilee found in the Bible – where God invites the Hebrew people to dismantle economic inequality by forgiving debts, setting slaves free, and redistributing property.  It was God’s emancipation proclamation, the Almighty’s creative way of systemically interrupting the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Sure, biblical scholars are quick to point out that the Hebrew people never really practiced the Jubilee very well.  But one of my favorite scholars goes on to say, “That’s no excuse… Christians have never really practiced the Sermon on the Mount very well either.”  It was still God’s dream, God’s intention — and it is our job to keep God’s dream alive. So we threw a Jubilee party on Wall Street, ready to confront the raging bull head-on, ready to flip the tables on the front steps of capitalism’s temple. We invited the homeless folks in New York to come to the front entrance of the New York Stock Exchange where we planned to give away ten thousand dollars in cash.  They came…lots of them.  Just as the opening bell rang inside the Stock Exchange, Jubilee started rumbling \outside.  Small bills were dropped...

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Is There Such a Thing as a Good CEO?

Check out this story about Haruka Nishimatsu, President and CEO of Japan Airlines, one of the biggest airlines in the world: He takes public transportation, shares an office with co-workers, stands in line to eat at the cafeteria. When things got tough in the recession, Haruka cut all his corporate perks, and cut his own salary — making less than his pilots. He felt he needed to share their own pain, and struggle to figure out things like how to fix a water heater that breaks. In his own words, “Relating to what his employees experience” is key to his own survival. When asked about CEOs that make 400 times their workers, he laughed contagiously, and said, “I can’t imagine… Businesses that pursue money first fail.” He went on to say this is a very basic ethic that much of the corporate world has forgotten – people come before profits. In 1965 the average U.S. worker made $7.52 per hour while the average CEO made $330.38 per hour. A few years ago that study was done again, and the average worker wage slumped to $7.39 – the average CEO wage skyrocketed to $1,566.68 per hour. Some CEO’s are making as much as $16,000 per hour… more than their workers make in an entire year....

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The Economist: Render unto Caesar

THERE was a time when Devon Chang had difficulty reconciling his two chosen faiths: Christianity, which he embraced in 2005 at the age of 19, and the Communist Party of China, which had embraced him a year earlier. Did his submission to an almighty God not mean he must renounce the godless club of Marx and Mao? Not necessarily. A fellow convert’s university lecturer suggested that if all Communist Party members found Jesus, then Christianity could rule China. “So it’s a good thing for me to become a Christian,” Mr Chang reasoned. The party does not quite see it that way. Although people join the party more for career reasons these days than for ideological ones, it still officially forbids religious belief among its members. In practice, this has for some years been a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But signs are now growing that the party is about to become tougher on believers within its ranks. And behind it might be Mr Chang’s notion of Christianity as a Trojan horse. If you can’t beat ’em… Experts say that, of China’s 1.3 billion people, 200m to 300m now practise religion (though the government admits to only 100m), and far more engage in the veneration of ancestors. The vast majority of the religious are Buddhists or Daoists. Estimates for the...

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Leadership in God’s Economy

When I was a student at Eastern College, David Black took it upon himself to teach me the way of Jesus. He was president of Eastern, and it wasn’t in his job description to disciple an undergraduate student. But every few weeks he’d meet me for breakfast. He reminded me almost every time we met that Jesus was a “man of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7). Make this your constant prayer, he would say: “What does it mean to be a man of no reputation?” What does it mean to be a man of no reputation in our reputation-obsessed world? I ask myself this question as I consider how actually to live the alternative reality of God’s kingdom that we preachers are wont to wax eloquent about. We like vision. Unfortunately, our record is spotty when it comes to implementation. And one example of this is the challenge of living God’s economy in the midst of an economic crisis. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples how God’s economy slips into the world. His tactic has a lot to teach us about leadership, especially in uncertain economic times. “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them,” Mark recounts, “but the disciples rebuked them” (Mark 10:13). On the face of it, this seems strange. Why would the...

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