A Money Coach in Canada

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Hal Wilson was one of those teachers they base movies on. He let us stray from the topic at hand into the Stuff of Life that Matters, often.

He was the first person I knew who used the word Integrity and talked about it. A lot. He said his integrity was the single most important thing in his life. Without it, he felt he lost a lot of what it meant to be a man.

As an adult, I reflect back and know better how brave it was for him to say such things. It’s easier not to talk about it, because most of us don’t live into values like integrity very well.  Plus, living into it is often costly, and we’d rather not do it, truth be told. So we’d prefer not to admit to anyone, maybe not even ourselves, that it’s something we aim for.

And yet, do any you readers of this post regret a single instance in which you chose to act with integrity, even if it cost you?

The times you chose the hard path because it was the right thing to do, and you knew it?

The times you didn’t go with the crowd?

The times you stood up for a deeply held principle?

Odds are, even if you paid a price, you have a sense of dignity and a good energy in that memory.

Contrast that with the times we messed up – when we didn’t play quite fair, when we took credit at someone else’s expense, when we won the battle but in our heart of hearts know we compromised the war, even as we ourself, momentarily, looked good. Isn’t there a part of us that, even if we don’t fully regret it, acknowledges that we won, but at our own expense?

I don’t know that babies have integrity. But the more we can live into it, the more we sleep like babies. I’m not sayin’ how well I sleep yet… but I hope it gets deeper with age.

Photo credit: Qole


Every quarter, my Bank (and employer) cuts a cheque to Amnesty International, thanks to members who use an Amnesty Visa Card. Every time they use it, the bank sets aside 10¢ which pools into a three or four grand every quarter (inexact estimates). That’s one of the reasons I’m passionate about Citizens Bank of Canada.

My path is crossing Amnesty again today: It’s a day many bloggers have set aside, in partnership with Amnesty, to draw attention to human rights.

Readers will know that I am increasingly politicized. From time to time I write and rant boldly about topics like: City Hall taking a thoughtful approach to my inner-city neighbourhood, or my disillusionment about the Olympics in Vancouver or my reminder of basic human rights that Canada signed off on, but falls sadly short in keeping.

Having spent a number of years working directly with people and their money, either in my money coach capacity or at the bank I can’t help but notice how oblivious we can be (me too, trust me) about broader, and imho much more weighty issues around the world. We stress out and lose sleep over money but we don’t lose sleep over things like honour killings of young women, or China’s arrest of journalist Hu Jia who was simply calling attention to human rights.

I don’t blame us: our own context of life presses in on us and sometimes our worries about money are very real. But if we care about the fact that some of us can blog freely without fear, and if we take some comfort in the fact that while our money may cause us the occasional troubled sleep, we’re none of us wondering if the police are going to pound on the door and take us away in the middle of the night … maybe its time we do a few bare minimums:

1. Increase our alertness to global issues. If there’s an opportunity to read about or listen to or discuss global concerns, take it. One inspiring place is Ted.com – see both the issues and also creative, intelligent responses.

2. Take 10 minutes to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

3. Make a promise to yourself that next time you see an Amnesty volunteer on the streets, you’ll give them 5 minutes of your time and listen, really listen.

…and if you want a visa card that gives all the points as you’ll get anywhere else AND the bank will donate 10¢ to your choice of Amnesty or Oxfam every time you swipe it, you know where to go 🙂

Readers:  do you agree?  we are disproportionately concerned about our financial well being compared to the acute violations of human rights  around the world?  Why is that?

512407054_796e2d1021_m.jpgI stopped buying from china a while ago. Between the pet food scandal, the child-toys horror stories, and stories of people in factories with unacceptable working conditions…. I’ve opted out. It’s not easy (just try opting out!) but there are fewer and fewer items with the Made In China label in my house.

Saturday I went to a warehouse sale for clothing items that are eco-friendly. Made with natural products and using soy/hemp instead of cotton (which apparently requires a lot of chemicals to be dumped on the soil) the brand was all about people feeling good because they were participating in changing the world plus giving their skin a better experience.

I found a great black turtleneck sweater (a staple in my wardrobe).

It was made in China.

I bought it anyways, but the feel-good factor plummetted.

Readers, here’s my question: Can we be truly eco-friendly, without being people-friendly? Why is it that we are increasingly oriented to Green, yet don’t make equal efforts to bring change in human rights and alleviating poverty?

2081507418_4f7aaeb7eb_t.jpgI’m increasingly convinced that the defining question by which future generations will judge us – if we make it – is: how profoundly did we humanoids change our ways as we learned about the impact we are having on our biosphere?

Like you, my life is frenetic hectic, I don’t have a lot of time for intensive research, and often I can’t figure out which products/initiatives are in fact better for the earth, and which are just marketing hype, or, which seem like better choices on the surface, but actually aren’t, when you get all the facts.

Here are 5 simple shopping choices I make that are heading in the right direction.

  1. I buy fair-trade, shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee. I had no idea until about a year ago (I’m woefully uninformed sometimes!) that swaths of rainforest are being stripped for coffee plants. That means more pesticides, more ferilizer plus of course loss of bird habitat. So shade-grown, fair trade for me – yes, I pay extra, but after all, caffeine is pure luxury.
  2. I buy organic. I make it easy on myself by using SPUD delivery. They have the additional benefit of letting my know how far my food travelled, and I get points (redeemable for cash) for choosing items that are grown locally. (does your city have the SPUD equivalent? Could you leave a comment with its name?) To me, organic is no longer optional – it’s to prevent toxics from going into my body, and also to reduce the amount of leeching in the soil.
  3. I use method cleaning products. Actually, I discovered them by accident – grabbed it off the store shelf in a rush because it looked, well, clean, and later discovered their commitment to using non-toxic means of creating shiny, happy surfaces.
  4. I re-use, and re-use and re-use bags & baggies. I can barely stand throwing them out anymore (I feel like a total loser, leaving that plastic for future generations to deal with). When I shop, I try to remember to bring my cloth bag.
  5. I use aveda hair product.
  6. Bonus tip: I bank at a virtual bank – no carbon footprint! (or hardly any). (full disclosure: I work there, part-time)

These are attempts at doing better for my habitat, but not nearly enough. I’m getting further inspiration from “BadHuman” in Colorado or Saving4Later who avoids the whole issue by pretty much not buying, period, and also, going to shows like the upcoming EPIC.

What products do you buy, that you’re quite sure is the genuine article, not just fake-green?

ps: if you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy this one.

Article 22.

“Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”

Vancouver, Canada:


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