Savvy Lifestyle

Habitat for Humanity
October 29, 2008, 8:33 pm
Filed under: social issues | Tags:

Recently my husband and I jumped at the chance to be part of our local Family Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity.  This committee is in charge of interviewing and helping pick the next family to receive a habitat house.  

This week has been filled with information nights and our first chance to meet the interested families.  Although, turn out is not what we expected.  It was lower than the numbers last year.  With all of the depressing news out there I thought there would be record crowds.  

Habitat looks for three criteria, 1. Need 2. Willingness to Partner 3. Ability to Pay and each applicant must meet each of those.  Need means they live in unacceptable housing or have too many people sharing a space.  Willingness to partner ensures that the future homeowner is willing to spend 350 “sweat equity” hours during the duration of their home build.  A portion of the hours are actually spent building their house and the remaining are education classes.  Ability to pay requires that they be able to afford their home and make in between a range of total income.  Of course each person that came had a need and each had a heartbreaking story, but some of them made too much or too little money.  It was really sad having to turn someone away because they didn’t make enough money.  

I am so excited to start this journey with a family.  I want everyone I interviewed to get a house, but of course that can’t happen.  I met a single mother of 5 whose home was shot at by drive by and a bullet came right about her daughter’s bed.  Another house is infiltrated with roaches and without any weather proofing or insulation.  As the process continues we will narrow the families more and even conduct home visits to better determine who most qualifies for a new home.  I like to think we are going to be a part of a family’s life changing experience.  During these crazy times right now, it’s great knowing that volunteering our time is much more valuable than any donation.  

-Alison KC,MO


Discarded to Divine
April 1, 2008, 1:12 pm
Filed under: fashion, social issues | Tags: , ,


Kelsey brought up the idea of recycling your clothes a couple of weeks ago and if you’re looking for some inspiration for your next project and you want to help out the community at the same time, I highly recommend checking out Discarded to Divine.  Major fashion designers like Jessica Mclintok, Colleen Quen, Sara Shepherd, and the Nice Collective have come together with SF fashion students to create this show.  They’re turning donated clothing into one-of-a-kind couture designs.  The pieces will be showcased at a fashion show & then auctioned off on April 26th to benefit the poor & homeless.  All the proceeds are going to St. Vincent de Paul Society of SF.  You can catch a sneak peek this Friday, April 4th at the De Young museum and vote for your favorite design.  Keep in mind that you can submit your own designs next year!

St. Vincent de Paul set up this charity in 2005.  Gensler is a sponsor and I’ve been lucky enough to sit next to a few of the major organizers at work.  They’ve helped with everything, including the graphics, the photography, the overall planning, etc.  I went last year and had a great time.  I hope to see you there!

 Rebecca, SF


v. (re-plate): To place unwanted leftovers, typically in a doggie bag, on top of the nearest trash can so they don’t go to waste.


 Since moving to San Francisco, I’ve become much more aware of the homeless population in our cities across the nation.  It’s disturbing how many people are sleeping on the street and digging through the trash for food.  I read there’s something like 7,000 homeless people in SF alone.  There are things we can do to help.  Some are more controversial than others.  One simple, very uncontroversial thing, is volunteering at your local shelter.  You can help prepare or serve meals or donate time to fixing up the facilities.  A great site that lists all the opportunities in the Bay area is  I’m sure there’s something similar for wherever you live as well. 

 I’ve also heard of a new term called “replating”.  Anytime you go out to eat and have leftovers, you get them to go and place the doggie bag on top of the nearest trash can.  It’s good quality, easily accessible food, that people can access without being forced to dig for it.  It also helps reduce the amount of waste that restaurants are producing.  Check out for more info.  This obviously applies to bigger cities and places where the homeless population is much larger.  I can guarantee that here in SF the food won’t have a chance to get cold before someone snatches it up.  I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.  Maybe I just don’t like to admit that some people dig through the trash for their dinner.  It seems degrading to encourage the activity, but the fact is: they’re hungry, they need food, I have food; and that’s the easiest, most sanitary way for me & you to get it to them quickly & efficiently.  I’m not sure what other people’s thoughts are on the matter, but I think I’m all for it.  I’ve started to make it a habit of mine.

I went to a lecture a few months back by an Australian architect named Sean Godsell (  He has a similar approach to addressing the problem of homelessness.  He believes that urban infrastructure should be built to provide for the homeless as opposed to running them off.  The design for most bus stops & park benches in big cities includes being as uncomfortable as possible to discourage the homeless from sleeping or staying there. Mr. Godsell takes a completely different approach.  His stance is that any humane city would provide for these individuals in any way they can, even if its with the most rudimentary shelter.  Take his park bench house for example.  It’s an average park bench by day, but the top can flip up at night to provide shelter from the elements.  A small light is flipped on by the action of opening it to provide some sense of protection for the individual sleeping there and also to alert others that the bench is in use.  He has similar ideas for bus shelters and new types of trash cans that seperate the food from the trash.  It’s an interesting take on the issue.   I’m curious what others think about it and what other things we can all do to help end homelessness.


-Rebecca, SF