How has the crisis affected you? A wrap up.

I spent Halloween weekend crowded around a fire with friends. The major topic(s) of discussion — besides the best way to eat burned marshmallows — Who are we? Where are we going? Why is Julie so damn introspective?

As we counseled each other and attempted to finish off Josh’s case of Coors (choice drink for a group of semi-employed post-grads), I decided it’s time to wrap up my “How has the crisis affected you?” series. A bunch of you have written to me (thank you!) and I haven’t responded to all your responses (I’m sorry!). I’m going to post a summary later of my “findings,” but it’s been really interesting to read your contributions.

Here are some additional contributions, a few have been edited for space.

I asked the following questions:

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

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

Abby Metty, 23, graduated in May from UNC-Chapel Hill. When she wrote me, she was interning at the Oregonion in Portland. Besides traipsing through Thailand with me, she’s worked on a documentary in Haiti (where, if I am not mistaken, her parents met). Check her out here: www.abbymetty.com.

I heard a fellow journalist at the Oregonian say recently that the crisis is a cleansing, pruning circumstance. It helps us cut back, cut out what’s not useful, important, or necessary. There’s also a billboard on my commute home in Portland that looks like a sheet of notebook paper that says: “Recession 101: It’s a test, not a final.” Every time I ride past it, I’m encouraged. I know that however bad it is now, it’s not permanent and that my life and finances are being adjusted in a healthy way, creating healthier philosophies and habits to live by. That being said, I would really like to have a job soon to start paying off my student loans. 🙂

I think this period in our history is curtailing the massive materialism that has grown in American culture over the past decades, especially since the 80s. Technology has wooed us into believing that we can have whatever we want, whenever we want. And now the financial crisis has told us otherwise, has made us think twice and reconsider our purchases. Maybe keeping up with the Joneses isn’t as important as it used to be. Already you can see changes in advertising… all kinds of commercials advertise saving money, getting more for your money, staying closer to home instead of going far away on vacation, etc etc. Seems moderation is returning to American lives and homes. We’ll see if it lasts.

“Mike,” 24, is a self-described “middle class white dude trying not to spend an arm and a leg to live in the Chapel Hill area.” He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2007 and works for the university, so he asked that I not identify him. Save to say, he has a cool beard and good taste in indy music.

I don’t think there’s going to be much of a change in American culture/culture in the U.S. Rather, I think the culture is going to continue the ways it’s been changing in recent years. For several years, we’ve seen people scaling back on spending on some of the fattier parts of their budgets and subsequent industries have suffered. The internet’s given us a lot of “free stuff.” Oeople expect that and with less money and jobs to be had, all that “free stuff” is necessity now. Generally, I think that’s caused us to be a bit  more conscious of what we pay for or what we’re willing to pay for.

Jonathan Ross quit his job in New York in the midst of the crisis, looking for a bit of life experience. At the time he wrote me this e-mail (last month) was working at a winery in Tupungato, Argentina. He’s a beer aficionado and a damn good listener.

Most people were against my idea of NOT going back to my job where it was “Secure” and I was making good money. But I figured this would probably be the best time to take advantage. I guess there isn’t much a I would have done differently. I mean yes it was a concern and I did wonder if I made a mistake, but at the same time I figured, if I failed, if it all went to crap, that I could and would find something to do (perhaps go back to school).

I think that somewhere people need to make a clear choice in what they want…because we can’t have it all (and based on the increased savings rate in the country, it would suggest that the majority of Americans understand this now…finally).  This basically may mean re-thinking how the Federal and State governments act. What services they provide, etc…  I am for health-care reform….big time. For me it should be a right, not a luxury. There are things that are rights…and there are things that are needs….and then there are nice to haves. Somewhere in there the US needs to fight our paranoia about war vs. creating better environments for education, health, and energy. I guess that is how I feel.

Ben Raznick, 24, is a piano player, lifeguard, occasional street singer, former magazine employee, screenwriter and all-around fantastic individual who hails from Colorado but now lives in Buenos Aires.

The Latino Newspaper I worked for in Madison, Wisconsin lost a lot of accounts in sales and advertisements, and I later had bouncing paychecks and the company no longer had enough money to keep me working there. But back in Boulder, the crisis has seemed minimal.

I think families will start reuniting and households will start having multiple generations, something more common in other countries. I don’t know if i came up with that or read it because it seems logical economically. I don’t think the crisis will stop people from eating out or fastfood etc., because those things seem ingrained into our culture. However, after seeing the movie Food Inc., I feel that in spite of our economic crisis, I personally specifically pay more attention to the food I buy and spend MORE money on food if it’s organic/locally produced. I do think that inspite of knowing we are in an economic crisis, many people choose to spend money still on things that benefit their health such as food/gyms/excercise.

I do do think the country will begin a gradual switch to green cars, but I feel as the economy gets better, the green efforts will lose momentum, unless obama continues some other campaign like the clunkers one.

Thank you all for your contributions. My musings to come …

Julie.

P.S. Bit of shameless self-promotion: Check out Tracy Boyer’s list of “100 Notable Multimedia Professionals.” Obviously I am paying her off …

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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.

stat⋅ic

/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
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