Category Archives: 2014

December 2014

4 Short Years of Eco Conscious Changes in Seattle

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I recently made a stunning realization when asked by a Rabbit, “So do you plan to come home next year?” Originally I had of course, but after reading this month’s blog post I am sure any eco conscious human may be able to deduce why the decision is now a very confusing one for me to make. Since I moved away from Seattle in 2010 my eco ideal lifestyle seemed like a fantasy, perhaps 20-50 years in the future. Now, just 4 short years after living in this city and coming back to my hometown for an extended period of time, I can see that my eco ideals from home in Rabbit Land have percolated into the mainstream like the best infection ever. The mainstream is catching up to our eco ideals at lightening speed and includes technology and resources we don’t have at home. Seattle is now considered one of the most eco friendly cities in the nation.

I was inspired to share this blog post today after stumbling upon a LEED Gold certified Starbucks this morning and then another LEED Gold University building this afternoon. Apparently it is a fashionable social norm to be eco conscious in Seattle nowadays. In Rabbit Land we are giving it our best effort to build a LEED certified Common House. It’s a fabulous and favorable idea, but with a 1 Million dollar price tag, it has often been a source of tension in the village and an emotional roller coaster in meetings in a village where the consciousness surrounding $$$ tends to be of much lower proportion than common consumer America. Sometimes I wish that I could just teleport all 70 Rabbits to Seattle to hang out for the weekend. It would definitely be an eye opening excursion! This afternoon after my new Elf job, I took a stroll up the hill to my old university to find a warm place to eat lunch. The general resource building for students, called the HUB (Husky Union Building) looks the same on the outside as it ever did 5 years ago, but walking inside was a surreal experience as the whole interior now looks very modern! After my Starbucks experience this morning I wasn’t surprised to find a LEED 2013 plaque on the wall down the hall and eco water saving commercial toilets as I had also seen in the grocery store complete with a nearby water fountain that digitally keeps track of how many plastic water bottles have been saved.

This is a lengthy post this month but it describes many eco conscious changes that have happened in Seattle from 2010-2014. The first part is the way things were about 4 years ago Then ……. And after the dots is how they are Now:

Most city busses used to be gas guzzling machines, buses were good for getting around but no mass transit system comparable to a subway ……. Now city buses are hybrid electric-natural gas and there is a light rail system. “Gas isn’t expensive if you don’t buy any,” read an advertisement I recently saw for the metro transit system. In many cities only “poor people” take the bus, but in Seattle even upper middle class people like my friends who work at Microsoft don’t have a car and take public transit to work.

If you couldn’t take the bus for some reason and you didn’t have a car, a taxi was your next best option and there weren’t magical public transit cell phone apps ……. Now “One Bus Away” can give you the time of your next bus down to the minute due to a GPS each bus carries so you know if your bus will be late or on time. Don’t wanna take the bus, call an Uber Car to your destination using another cell phone app. Regular people can work for Uber using their own car, it’s similar to calling a taxi but the cars are unmarked of course and all transactions, monetary or otherwise, are done through the app, including letting you know what make of car you are looking out for, the driver’s name, and how many minutes away it is. There is also privacy protection between the customer and the Uber driver. You can call an Uber car to your destination within minutes anytime. I’m not sure that I understand quite how it works but it seems like some kind of technologically advanced carpooling. My carless friend frequently uses Uber when he’s in more of a hurry than the bus provides and I rode in one with him the other day.

I certainly don’t remember seeing bike rental stations and car charging places laying around all over ……. Now electric cars and smart cars are much more common and you can rent a bike, like renting a movie in the old days, from special bike racks around the city complete with an automated pay station and helmet cabinet. I still don’t fully understand how it works, another marvel that a stranger asked me, “Why haven’t you seen those before?” when I was staring in awe (like I’d never seen one because I hadn’t).

Studio apartments were about 200-300 square feet at the least and Internet was never included along in utilities ……. Now you can rent “micro-studios” or “a-pod-ments” as small as 150 sq feet with a shared kitchen down the hall, and internet is included in the rent along with the other utilities. Makes a Rabbit feel right at home, maybe friendly people might want to form a dinner co-op so they don’t have to cook for themselves all the time. I was touring studios for when I get a job.

Plastic bags were a common free item given with your groceries at the store and most stores would give you a bag even if you only bought one thing. I used to have to request no bag please ……. Now, due to a city ordinance, no plastic bags are given out in stores within Seattle city limits, paper only and if you want one it’s a 5-10 cent extra charge per bag. People using reusable shopping bags when buying groceries or stores not giving you a bag at all if you only have a few goods is more of a social norm now.

When buying produce you used to put it into a clear plastic bag and styrofoam to-go food containers and plastic cutlery were common ……. Now these produce bags are green and recyclable or compostable made of some kind of corn starch material or “recycled resin” but still as durable as the old plastic ones. Many take away food containers are brown and compostable along with cutlery that is as durable as the old plastic ones but reads “commercially compostable.” Even wax lined Chinese take out boxes or used pizza boxes can be put in the compost.

You used to have to sort the recycling into bins- glass, paper, metal, and there were not as many different types of plastic you could put in there ……. Now recycling is collected from your home all in one big can that looks like the trash but it is green and there are much less things that go into the trash now. The city has a nice pamphlet about what can go into compost and recycling vs the trash. Things like ice cream cartons and all plastics, even bags, can go into the recycling, except for styrofoam, plastic wrap, and things like plastic cutlery.

There used to be a large can labeled “yard waste” that you could have the option to be collected from your home but only yard waste like leaves and branches or lawn clippings went into it. Only hippies like my mom composted in their own back yard ……. Now any organic food scraps including meat bones and things like paper towels can go into the compost and be collected from your home and most apartment complexes just like the trash. Having a little green bucket or other container on the kitchen counter for compost is almost as common as having a trash can in your kitchen.

I’m not sure what the laws were 4 years ago but ……. It is now legal to keep 8 chickens and 2 goats in your backyard.

Stores like Whole Foods and the local branch, PCC, were just health food grocery stores that hippies shopped at who wanted to eat organic ……. Now these are mainstream stores even being put into new ritzy apartment complexes. They cater to eco conscious, health conscious people and to many different dietary needs and preferences of course. There is a big bulk food section in each of these stores where you can buy things the common Rabbit would order from UNFI, self dispensed from containers. Now both chains have a hot food bar and salad bar inside at the area near the deli, bakery, butcher etc. It’s similar to a cross between a food court and a cafeteria where the customer either takes a plate or a compostable heavy duty paper box, serves themselves good yummy food in wide variety cooked by a chef with vegan, omnivore, and vegetarian options, and pays by the weight using a machine that prints a sticker. You can even pay After you eat it! I was so confused until someone walked me through how it worked. Little SunGee could eat dinner there for $5 every night if she wanted to, eat an organic fruit veggie smoothie for breakfast, and a sensible easily self-made lunch like a Queen high on the hog for a grocery bill of $250/month at most. Believe me I have been doing a lot of store browsing with a calculator because I have no idea how much it costs to live here anymore. A gallon of organic milk is $6 btw so any Rabbit should treasure their raw cow juice from the local dairy at $2.50 a gallon.

Almost no one had solar panels on their roof ……. One year ago when I was visiting, for the first time I saw an apartment complex with a roof full of solar panels. This year I have seen quite a few residential houses on my bus trips that have solar panels all over their roof and subdivisions in this area full of houses that use solar are not unheard of. Even the Seattle Aquarium has a bank of solar panels on its roof, and many other residential and commercial solar photos can be viewed at NorthwestSolar dot com. It was like waking up to a fantasy.

The houses similar to features we use in Rabbit Land seemed like a pipe dream ……. Now there is a house just two blocks away from where I am staying with my family that was built just about a year ago and uses solar power, rain catchment and a cistern, passive solar, and has walls that are about two feet thick. My mother says she went on a tour of this house because they are giving them about once per year and they have a sign outside their house about it. I hear there is a whole subdivision of townhouses houses like this in a Seattle suburb that also use geothermal heating.

I don’t use it and might have cared less, but pot was illegal ……. Now it is a legal medicinal and recreational herb in the whole state of Washington. I stumbled upon a cannabis store the other night on my way to an evening ecstatic dance, it was closed but had much paraphernalia in the window. My friend uses pot to make salves and lotion (she says the salve is great for curing headaches and muscle joint pain, really helped her when she broke a wrist so she started making salve and selling it too), and when I was over at another friend’s house he had a bar of cannabis soap, it smelled really good. Wtf happened to this place!

Gay marriage was illegal ……. It may not necessarily be eco conscious, but diversity and acceptance is highly valued in Rabbit Land. Gay marriage is now a legal act in Seattle, and many job postings advertise that they provide benefits for same sex couples.

I guess the Emerald City is living up to its name. Next on its agenda is a public food forest park full of food bearing trees that would be free for the public, and there is already a website that tells of all the private residential fruit bearing trees that residents have listed as ok for the public to come and pick. My mother’s friend said she heard on the news the other day that the goal is to make Seattle one of the most eco friendly cities in the Nation. Well, it’s definitely doing a great job, when a little Rabbit can live here with more than she bargained for in mainstream eco ideals.

Oh, and this may not necessarily have to do with being eco, but money consciousness is also something I care about. When I lived in Seattle many years ago I worked at an ice cream shop for $7.35/hour, minimum wage……. Apparently a new ordinance will raise the minimum wage to $15/hour over the next few years. All the tech jobs have driven the economy sky high in this area. A cheap studio apartment is around $800 per month and you need to prove to your landlord that you make 3x your rent in salary. $15/hr minimum wage makes a lot of sense after looking for full time jobs and being asked what my salary expectations are. Personally I am really good at being frugal but for this reason, because I want my own place to live, I asked to be making around $15/hr starting off at a preschool where some usually start as low as $11/hr. Seattle is an interesting city economically with a large culture of high salary tech gurus; my modern hippy friends who like to dance, eat organic, and make kombucha; and a homeless population of around 8,000 complete with Tent City. It really makes you grateful for the little things in life.

If you’re still reading, I hope that was as entertaining for you as it has been for me to walk around my hometown wide eyed and jaw dropped for the past two months.

November 2014

We’re Not In Missouri Anymore Toto ….

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I hope you enjoy my lovely piece of slide show and blog this month. We’re most certainly not in Missouri anymore Toto! This past weekend was the first time I’d seen a movie in the theatre in almost a year. We don’t have a TV but being exposed to commercials and advertisements is so common in the city, many of them have gotten so humorous and creative, most likely due to all the internet competition. I’ve seen so many abandoned shopping carts and no store for blocks, an advertisement with people skiing down a hill in a hot tub, a long line of people blocking the crosswalk, and many other curious things that most people would pass by without a thought.

I’ve lost almost 15 pounds since I arrived in Seattle, most likely due to the stress of the whole transition. Nothing has changed much in terms of my eating habits and my family generally eats healthy and similar to how I might eat in Rabbit Land. This is the longest I’ve spent in Seattle in 4 years, and although I don’t feel psychologically under stress, my body is in freak out mode. I’m sure it’s due to my unpredictable financial condition and living in an area where the cost of living is 3 to 5 times higher than I’m used to.  Many women might think that it’s great to lose about 15 pounds, but when you’re only 4’10” that’s not so great. My size 3 jeans are falling off my a**, time for a belt. This has only happened once before in my life when I was under a lot of stress including an unpredictable financial situation, before that, the last time I was about 90 pounds was when I was in middle school.

I didn’t get the full time job in a medical office that I spoke of last month. They told me they hired someone who had more medical experience they were looking for and my step aunt says that someone from medical school applied for the position too. Oh well, at least I am still going to be a Santa’s Helper. I did get the “elf job” though. If only there was a job all year round that, when I told people I was doing it, they would laugh endearingly and say, “That’s a perfect job for you!” We’ll see how it goes. It might not sound like the greatest of jobs, but it’s one I’ve actually been wanting to do for quite a few years just because it’s so “perfect” for me to be a Santa’s Helper. I don’t even know the pay rate, the lady that interviewed me wasn’t sure. It’ll be a job that will start sometime this month and go until Christmas. I’ll have to figure out what I’m doing after Christmas, but I’m sure the future takes care of itself, believe me, I can’t afford to worry. What a great affirmation, “I can’t afford to worry.” I think that even if I had 1 million dollars, my psyche would still be a bit uneasy unless I had a stable, predictable, incoming financial situation. I thought, given this info I know about myself, what job would I want to do in Seattle if someone gave me 1 million dollars tomorrow. Besides coaching, I’d want to work in a preschool. Maybe that’s what I’ll do after Christmas.

Generally my days have been good though. I’ve been taking school online, doing business, cleaning my parent’s house, and doing a lot of cooking.

One reason that Americans probably use a lot of water is because their houses are so big they use water cleaning them, I certainly used quite a bit just to scrub the kitchen floor today. I was over at a party the other day and one lady has a huge house, it’s actually an averaged size house for an American and she does have a family, but she said she couldn’t possibly clean the whole thing so once per year she hires cleaning people to do it for her. I was over at another friend’s house who lives in a condo tower downtown in a suburb of Seattle. He’s the only one who lives in his huge condo and he even has a housekeeper. He politely asked me if I could please stop cleaning when I was doing the dishes after cooking because he said his housekeeper would do it tomorrow. Oh, it almost pained me not to clean up after myself, you just can’t do that when you live with 7o people! We were talking about making hash browns and he said he should find a recipe for that. I told him hash browns were pretty simple so he might not need a recipe, you just grate the potato, squeeze the juice out, and fry in oil. He responded with, “Not all of us graduated from the Dancing Rabbit Culinary Institute.” It’s true though, I did learn the secret to making good hash browns in Rabbit Land. Thanks to Nathan who told me to squeeze the juice out of the potatoes before frying.

I really enjoy cooking. My mother calls it “Recreational Cooking,” when you just get in the kitchen and start making stuff. We’ve made all kinds of things- sushi, cranberry bread, we’ve made soup several times, we’ve made stuffed crepes. It’s also nice and convenient for my step dad who works during the day to have yummy food around, but my mom says he could just eat boxed soup and bread for the rest of his life and be happy. I’ll have to admit, part of me just wants to be a really well paid personal assistant {or housewife} and cook and clean all day. Sounds weird and stereotypically womanly, but cleaning here has made me feel really good and living in Rabbit Land has made me stellar at both. I’d be a great professional homemaker!

Living in Rabbit Land has really helped me appreciate the lifestyle of the city. Sure, much of America can be wasteful and “consumers,” but this is a Land where everyone lives like a King and a Queen. I don’t think they notice. It’s so easy to take an average, socially normal, lifestyle for granted. I had a class on chocolate with school the other day and my professor was talking about how cacao was really honored as sacred by ancient people like the Mayans, and it also has a lot of health benefits if you eat raw cacao. Nowadays we can go to the store and buy this once sacred coveted food, and anything else from just about anywhere we want. “Forbidden Rice” used to be eaten only by the emperors in China. Now I can go to Whole Foods and buy it anytime I want. Fresh clean hot water comes from our walls at will. We have soda machines that dispense 100 different flavors of soda. Magic juice makes our vehicles run. We can live in towers and drive cars that practically feel like space ships inside. My step dad was attempting to put in a bigger hard drive into my 2007 Macbook and he was telling me a little about how they work, sounded like he was talking about some mystical land full of spinning metal discs and electromagnetic fields that read data. The drive wouldn’t work because it is too fast for my 7 year old computer.

We live like royalty, and the world is changing at lightening speed, better not stay in Rabbit Land too long or you’ll miss it. I always say it’s good to get out of there once in a while so you can appreciate home, but even being Eco is becoming a mainstream part of what seemed like just a fantasy only 4 years ago when I learned of the mecca of my ideal lifestyle, Dancing Rabbit. During one bus trip in Seattle I saw 3 houses that had solar panels all over their roof. My mother tells me of a house just two blocks away that utilizes rain water catchment and a cistern, has solar power, walls that are about 2 feet thick, and uses passive solar gain. I think she said it was just built about a year ago and the reason she knows so much about it is because they had an open house and were giving tours. Apparently they give a tour once per year and belong to some kind of solar power organization. I was looking at studio apartments last month in case I got that job, and for less than 1/3 of your income you can rent a 150 sq foot “micro-studio” with utilities and internet included. Here I can recycle most types of plastics, ice cream and milk cartons, plastic bags, so many things that I can’t recycle in Rabbit Land where we can only recycle plastics 1 and 2. No plastic bags are given out in the stores in Seattle anymore, apparently it is a city ordinance. Most people bring a reusable bag when they shop. Most people compost also, if I go over to someone’s house, having a little green bucket on the counter is almost as common as having a trash can and most disposable cutlery and food containers are “commercially compostable.” Even public places like PCC and the Whole Foods has three different bins for recycling, compost, and landfill. I also read an article the other day that Seattle is planning to make the nation’s first food forest park full of food bearing trees that would be free for anyone to pick.

I also love ecstatic dances and there are at least 200-300 people just in the dance, polyamorous friendly, touch positive culture and community of people I have here where there is probably an event almost every day of the week. Too bad I’ll be missing the 4C event on Saturday to go play board games and make sushi with friends, but there will be another “Community, Cuddle, Connection, Communication” workshop next month too. If I wanted to dance and cuddle with my friends almost every day in Rabbit Land, I’d probably be all alone dancing and cuddling myself most of the time. The 4C workshop facilitator calls it Vitamin T (for touch), did you know that babies who aren’t touched after they’re born will die? The modern hippies in Seattle also frequently talk about oxytocin, like we’re discovering the drugs that are good for us. Touch, cuddle, and hug people often because you get oxytocin instead of “free love, man.”
I don’t partake, but I bet the hippies of the 70s never thought that pot would someday be a legal medicinal and recreational herb either, found in a cannabis store down the street and used in salves and soap.

Welcome to Seattle 2014, little Rabbit SunGee!

October 2014


Back in the city again. This will be the longest I’ve spent in Seattle for about 4 years. I plan to stay here over the winter, giving workshops, connecting with new clients, and making money. I arrived only with two luggage bags and a backpack of possessions. One luggage bag had mostly clothes. The other had general things like toiletries, quartz crystals, and electronics. In the backpack was food for the two day trip as well as my Kombucha scoby, maple syrup, several bags of dried shiitakes, and my pet mint plant from DR.

The first few days seemed like I had landed in some sort of alien world. Even though I grew up here, it took a little adjusting again and getting used to. There are strangers all around, I flush my poo into perfectly good drinking water, there are advertisements everywhere, cooking on flat electric stove tops, riding the bus everywhere, people using a microwave, spending over $100 just in the first week doing normal things like going out with friends. These are things city people take for granted and don’t even think about, but it is a glaring contrast to the lifestyle I am used to. I’m learning a lot about things people do or have in the city like Uber Cars, fish tanks, budgeting for city life, full time jobs, singing quartets, and what seems to me like a lavish party in a multi story mansion but it’s really a fundraiser party in a nice American house with good food.

I’ve been assessing my own life a lot. I’ve never had a full time job or my own apartment. I’ve never owned a car, which is just fine by me, especially when you can get everywhere on the bus {or in an Uber}. It is so strange to have my feet in so many different worlds. On the one had, I’m going to business school to learn how to be a successful entrepreneur and someday make a 6 or 7 figure salary doing what I love and helping the world with great things. On the other hand I could live in my ecovillage bubble with my seasonal 4 figure jobs and be happy and comfortable. On one hand I could have a job, friends, and a life in the city, I could have lots of clients. On the other hand sometimes I just want to crawl back into my old life where people don’t text me so much, I don’t have to keep up with so much email, or this whole Facebook thingy, let alone “social media marketing.” Happy end of Saturn Returns for me, going on about assessing my life, trying to figure out what it means to get real and grow up. Geez, when I was in college, I thought I’d have stuff figured out by now, have a comfortable career, maybe a nice husband and a family, at least a stable living situation. I’ve heard it has been said that “Wherever you go, there you are.” Well, I think I’d like to change that to “Wherever you go, there’s always somewhere else to be.”… and you’re never really at where you thought you’d be in the first place because when you get there, stuff’s always different.

My step aunt told me about a temporary full time job with benefits in a medical office where she works. I was considering a job working in a preschool, but checking in medical patients would be, as she described, “a pleasant job,” and I wouldn’t have to renew my CPR, get a food handlers permit, and spend my days cleaning up and cleaning off, well I could call them slobbery nose pickers, but I guess that wouldn’t be so nice. I do like working with children for my job. I do wonder if I’d be happy in an office, making money for 8 hours a day and going home to my own apartment. It might be better than working 8-12 hours a day and sharing a room with a co-worker. I’m learning so much about “having clients” with school. It seems so silly to learn about “making 6 figures” being an entrepreneur and thinking heck, why wouldn’t I want to go to work and have a regular job. They’re just like a client who pays me $2,000 to $3,000 per month, which is more than I’ve ever made in any one month working at a job anyway. Maybe that’s just the next step, and if I don’t end up liking it, the office job is only for 4-6ish months and I can go home again. At least I can say I did the full time job thing if I get this job, and then I’ll really know if I love it or hate it.

Apparently people in my stage of life also contemplate mortality, and that has shown up for me lately also. My mother is about to celebrate her 70th birthday in a few months. I used to think people who were 70 were old! But she doesn’t look much older than 50 anyway and she’s in good shape, good health, and has all her wits. My step dad just celebrated his 64th birthday, yes we sang him the song. His parents were at his birthday outing, but it made me think, hey when I’m 64, my parents might not be at my birthday outing, unless they live to be about 100!

Sometimes it’s good to get away from home because it reminds you how much you really do appreciate it, or don’t, sometimes I’m not sure which one it is. It might be nice to hide in my apartment with a cushy office job working for a university medical center with benefits, “retirement,” and a regular paycheck in a city where I can recycle any type of plastic and not have to check my 200 emails per month or go to meetings where people are always working on heavy stuff. Although, I do love home, having nature to take a walk in whenever I step outside my door, a pond to swim in, and friends all around all the time to play games and hang out with who don’t have to text me or take the bus just to meet up with me.