So I realized I haven't really blogged about the Northwest Earth Institute in the past and yet I owe a lot of my families changes in philosophy to the discussion groups I have participated in.
NWEI is a non-profit organization, based here in PDX but you can start a course ANYWHERE, that develops and promotes programs that "empower individuals and organizations to transform culture toward a sustainable and enriching future" (as they state on their website). Check out this NWEI Intro video for more information.
A few years back a co-worker asked me if I would like to participate in the Healthy Children Healthy Planet course. Each of the courses come with a nice booklet or articles and discussion questions and the group (which you put together) gathers around and discussions the weekly reading. They have lots of guidance and prepared questions for easy facilitation, and being in a group of 10-12 people allows for some terrific discussion. The topics around things like family rituals really made us focus even more on family meal time.
The second course I participated in was Menu for the Future. Though food was a small part of the above mentioned course, this was a full course on the topic of food sources and systems. It was very eye opening and in the mist of the course we stared a garden, found a local meat buyers club, etc. (Which we all toured later and I have also posted about here).
Though I though I was pretty eco-savy I learned so much from the courses. I carried a lot of it to my husband who listened to my crazy rants and often helps me implement my crazy ideas. Once we added a second child into the mix I think we felt like our family philosophy had dramatically changed for the better!
Finally, I lead four simultaneous groups at work trying out the brand new course Sustainable Systems at Work. This course focuses more on work action items for sustainability programs.
I HIGHLY recommend getting together some friends/co-workers and either either meeting over lunch or many a rotating family potluck discussion group. Talking about how other families and households were dealing with everyday "stuff", food, and the pressures of life were invaluable. When the timing is right I will surely be getting involved in another course. If you have a sustainability program at work you might even recommend a series for work. Check it out for yourself and feel free to ask me questions. I'm certain once you will see what they offer you will see why I want to help them with through their eco-challenge!