Archive for August, 2009

How has your life been affected by the crisis? Pt. II

Nicole Norfleet was the next cool hip friend to respond to my questions about how the crisis is affecting young people and the national psyche. Nicole worked with me at The Daily Tar Heel, and she once watched me run like a wild woman after a man towing my car at an Obama rally. She’s 22 and is known to do crazy things for journalism.

How has your life been affected by the economic crisis? What have you rethought, or what have you done differently because of it?

I decided to stay in school for an extra semester instead of overloading my last year in school to graduate on time because I knew the job market was going to be horrific this past spring. I’m hoping that this extra semester will give me a little bit more time to prepare. Hopefully, the job market will improve as well. I have been fretting about the economy and money. When you have prepared all of your life for this moment and you have institutions where you have wanted to work when you were a kid (Example: Vibe) folding or filing for bankruptcy (Philadelphia Inquirer) it can be disheartening. Besides preparing professionally, I am using this semester as a way to prepare of how to be fiscally responsible and budget my money better.

How do you think U.S. culture will change because of the economic crisis?

I think even when the economy improves people are going to be tighter with their money. It sort of reminds me of how gas prices used to be high, but now that they have gone down people are still trying to cut back on their driving and buying fuel efficient cars. My generation is the offspring of baby boomers. We were spoiled with private piano lessons, drama camps, summer soccer schools etc.. My kid better pick one activity and stick with hit because I ain’t paying for all of that shit. I’m not going to even have Social Security by the time I get older.

Check back for more answers.



News roundup

Two interesting pieces in today’s paper analyze national change:

“Invisible Immigrants, Old and Left with ‘Nobody to Talk To.'”

Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times

Older immigrants are a “gathering force” in the U.S. — seniors now make up the fastest-growing immigrant age group. But few people have written about their experiences, or about how this growing force stands to change the U.S. Why? I like how Judith Treas, a sociology professor, puts it, “They never win spelling bees. They do not join criminal gangs. And nobody worries about Americans losing jobs to Korean grandmothers.” Read Brown’s piece for some insight into the lives of invisible immigrants.

“Missing Richard Nixon.”

Paul Krugman, New York Times

Now there’s an unlikely headline for the Times’ opinion page. But I like the question Krugman poses in this op-ed: Will Obama’s administration really be as transformational as he promised? Krugman explains the way U.S. politics have changed in the past forty years, and why it’s so much harder to create change and reform today.


PS. If I wrote you an e-mail, write me back. How has your life been affected by the crisis? How has it changed your thinking about the world around you? E-mail me at

News roundup

There’s lots of talk about ch-ch-changes going on:

“Going Green At Home” Diane Rehm Show, National Public Radio

Steve Roberts sits in for Diane Rehm and talks about how individuals are changing their consumption habits, not just because they feel groovy and crunchy, but because it makes economic sense. As Seth Bauer of Cooler Inc. says “We’ve been living in the frat party years of human consumption.” That model, he says, is unsustainable.

To listen to the podcast, go here: Going Green At Home. Scroll down and you can download the segment.

“G.D.P. R.I.P.” Eric Zencey, The New York Times

The GDP is the most widely cited measure of economic well-being. But it’s also deeply flawed, writes Eric Zencey, who argues that we need a new way to assess national welfare.

If there is one upshot to the economic crisis, it’s this: We’ve entered an era of creative construction that could send us looking for alternate ways to measure prosperity. (Ever wonder why we use economic output, not social benefit, to calculate how we’re doing as a country? This op-ed will interest you.)

Essentially we’ve been praying to a measurement that rises when we spend money but doesn’t budge when we don’t. But spending money isn’t always the most efficient or beneficial way to get something done.  Case in point: “If you let the sun dry your clothes, the service is free and doesn’t show up in our domestic product; if you throw your laundry in the dryer, you burn fossil fuel, increase your carbon footprint, make the economy more unsustainable — and give G.D.P. a bit of a bump.”

Interested? Read here: G.D.P R.I.P.


P.S. William Safire says in today’s New York Times that “Clunkers” should be capitalized (see previous post). Thoughts? Read his piece here: On Language: Clunkers.

How has your life been affected by the crisis?

To kick off this blog, I decided to ask some of my hip young friends how their lives have been affected by the crisis, and if their thoughts on money, social norms and consumer culture have changed since October.
We all know that young people are being hit particularly hard by the crisis. The question is, how has that changed their thinking?
Josh, a fellow traveler who has once rode across Bolivia in the luggage compartment of an overnight bus, was the first to e-mail me back. After a brief stint making windchimes on a farm in Patagonia, he now works as the Washington Jewish Film Festival Coordinator in Washington, D.C. He’s 23.
How has my life been affected by the crisis? I think the crisis, in my life, acts as a catalyst for stinginess and simultaneous freedom. On the one hand, it makes me think harder about purchases, cutting back on frivolity. You rethink the essentials, and my hope is that is brings us back to a simpler way of life, redirected away from a consumer culture. Interestingly enough, the whole economic crisis has been perfectly timed to coincide with the green trend. It puts an interesting spotlight onto re-using, reducing waste, cutting back on energy spending, and an overall tightening of our carbon footprint along with the tightening of our wallet.
I also think it allows people a freedom they never had before. The term funenmployment is a perfect example. Because people are getting laid off and not making money they’ve perhaps taken time off and taken time to do what makes them happy, to enjoy life. They’ve used the crisis as an excuse to basically live their dream.
In my work, we have noticed surface level things such as extreme budget cuts, cuts in government funding, and lay-offs. But I have found in my dealings with work, that the crisis is worldwide, and people want to help each other out, people want to be flexible, need to be flexible in order to make their living. In dealings with costs of films, we’ve been able to reduce prices by as much as 700 dollars. So its an interesting phenomenon wherein other years I don’t think there would be this flexibility, everybody is hurting.
I’ll be asking more of those cool, hip friends for their input, so stay tuned.

A celebration of unstaticity*

Last September I moved to Argentina, packing my belongings into a big blue suitcase and preparing for a year-long post-college South American adventure. George W. Bush was president and the words ”economic crisis” had yet to take up residence on the front page of every newspaper. Jon and Kate were basking in marital bliss, Michael Jackson was alive and it was still cool to drive a clunker.**

A year later, I’m back in the U.S.

Obama is president; a financial crisis has rocked the nation; people are selling their SUVs like yardsale junk.  Americans shop differently, eat differently, drive differently, socialize differently and choose careers differently. More young people are living at home. Perhaps most interestingly, Americans are rethinking fundamentals of their society. What roles do capitalism and consumption play in American society now? What exactly is the U.S.’ role on the world scene, and how will it change in the near future? Is our style of living sustainable? And if it’s not, how will the U.S. change in the next 50 years?

Just like this country, I’ve been banged around, forced into introspection and, ultimately, changed in the past year. On my return, I’ve become obsessed with the way the U.S. has begun to change, and intrigued by the way it will adapt and transform in the near future. What’s wonderful about a society (and about individuals) is that they aren’t static.  Change — though painful on both a personal and societal level — can bring about amazing sparks of creativity and genius, eventually leading us to something bigger, better and more sustainable.

So this blog will track the changes around you and me; it will question new ideas; and it will celebrate the unstaticity of life. It will ask and answer — and then ask again — How is your world changing?


*Yes, I invented this word.

** I confess to not actually knowing who Jon and Kate are, I just know they split up and everyone is upset …

What is this blog?

The "Unstatic Blog" documents the changes going on around you and me. It will ask and answer — and then ask again — how is your world changing? Read and participate in the conversation.


/ˈstætɪk/ –adjective 1. pertaining to or characterized by a fixed or stationary condition. 2. showing little or no change: a static concept; a static relationship. 3. lacking movement, development, or vitality