Posts Tagged 'change'

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:

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. ūüôā

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 …


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


A diet or a lifestyle change?

Interesting letter in today’s Washington Post. I didn’t read the original article, but this caught my eye:

Time for a lifestyle, not a diet

Oct. 26, 2009

The Oct. 19 front-page article “Frugality falling out of fashion?” achieved little outside of furthering the already distorted mentality of an extravagant and naive America. This mentality is that we are experiencing just a short economic downturn, just a little “extra around the middle,” and all we need is to go on a diet to get rid of it.

Diets don’t work, and neither do “spending diets.” Lifestyle changes and shifts in how we think and behave — that works. And that is what needs to happen to get out of a mess that has been slowly building up for much longer than any of us have been alive.

To the music agent who wants to reward himself for working all the time: try putting in just a few less hours (and, yes, forfeit some financial gain) and use that time to spend with your family and friends, some of the free things in life.

Our happiness needs to begin coming from within our communities and ourselves, instead of from the brand labels of material objects and the false sense of accomplishment that companies have manipulated us into feeling when we buy into their schemes.

Kelly Barrett, Washington


Let’s look outside of the bubble now

So far I’ve used this blog to talk about the way the U.S. is changing: What are we thinking, doing and creating differently in a post-Bush world? How has the economic crisis affected us?

For a moment I’d like to take a giant sidestep out of this bubble and ask, How has the economic crisis affected the rest of the world? We’re not the only ones changing, and it’s important to recognize that changes here translate into changes abroad, that decisions made by our government — and decisions made by us — affect workers and families abroad. (Again, watch this video for more inspiration — we’re all connected!).

I turned to my El Salvador correspondent, Alia Malik, for some insight.¬† Alia made a reputation for herself at The Baltimore Sun, where she wrote stellar stories about neighborhood tree disputes. She now lives in what she calls “the pineapple capital of El Salvador.” She’s 23 and in the Peace Corps. (Read her blog)

Have salvadore√Īos changed their views of the U.S. in the past year? I’m particularly interested to know if you’ve noted a difference since Obama’s election or since the crisis hit.

Salvadorans in general have a positive view of the states, considering literally a third of their citizens are there now.¬† Actually a positive view might be an understatement; a lot of them tend to think of it as El Dorado and are surprised to hear there are poor, unhappy gringos too.¬† A lot of the Salvadorans I talked to were very happy that Obama was elected, just because of his race, even though they don’t know much about his opinions.

The economic crisis in the States has affected El Salvador hugely. People’s remittances from their family in the States have plummeted, and a lot of Salvadorans who risked their lives to immigrate illegally have voluntarily returned because they can’t find work in the States after all.¬† So they move back home and start farming again and it’s kind of sad.¬† If there has been any change in the general impression of America here, I would say it’s that Salvadorans have realized that the U.S. is not El Dorado or the answer to all their prayers.

How has your life been affected by the economic crisis? What have you rethought?

My life has been completely changed by the economic crisis. I am re-thinking my goal to be a journalist, which previously never faltered in the face of great odds, because almost none my friends who graduated from j-school with me have managed to keep a job in journalism, even though they were stars in school.¬† I always joke that I’m better off economically in a Third World country right now, but it’s true.¬† I am toying with the idea of going to grad school for multimedia journalism when I finish up in the Peace Corps, but no even sure how I’ll afford that.¬† So in other words, I’m kind of panicking.¬† The upside is that I am here until November 2010, so maybe things will have turned around at least a little by then.¬† I know too little about the economy to make any kind of intelligent prediction, but that at least is my hope.

I’d like to make a note about the point of this blog. As much as I throw out the term economics, this blog is not about money or finances — it’s about people and ideas. How is a changing economic reality transforming the way we view ourselves? How is it changing our expectations, our immigration patterns, our families, our lifestyles, our ideals?

So, for those of you living outside the U.S. how has the economic crisis affected your country? And on a somewhat related tangent, have views of the U.S. changed since Obama’s election?


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

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.

What is this blog?

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


/ňąst√¶t…™k/ ‚Äďadjective 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