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The GoodLetter    Thursday, December 5, 2002
GoodThings, Inc. :: Stories, actions, ideas, and greeting cards that connect us.


In this week's issue:
:: Favorite GoodThings GoodThings
From Monica of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
:: Card of the Week GoodThings
Special Holiday Card Offer: Be good and be mine
:: This Week's Feature GoodThings
Gifts from the Soul -- by Ginger Goble
:: Good Grabs GoodThings
Our favorite constructive headlines of the week
:: Good Gravy GoodThings
Good Gravy's Season of Giving
:: Housekeeping GoodThings

A few favorite goodthings from Monica of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

"A hug after a long absence. Seeing the moon. Realizing other people care about the world. Nature -- bugs, rain, leaves, hiking, caving, sun, clouds. The smell of river after canoeing. The taste of sweat in your mouth after a long run. Falling asleep next to the one you love."

What are YOUR favorite goodthings? Read more

Greeting Card of the Week

Holiday Card Offer: Be good and be mine

Thanks to all of you who have taken advantage of our special holiday card offer. You may know that through the end of the year, if you order a pack of GoodThings holiday cards from the top row of cards (see below), you'll get the GoodThings Valentine's Day card below it as a free bonus. Simplify your life and your card buying -- send a few GoodThings holiday cards this year and get a unique Valentine's Day card well in advance. Please remember -- we cannot guarantee shipment in time for Christmas for orders placed after December 13. And don't forget -- every card you send helps us continue to foster awareness of progressive actions and ideas around the world. (We print all our cards on recycled paper using soy ink.)

Please visit our online store today by clicking here or on any card

If you think customized GoodThings Greeting Cards would be perfect for your non-profit organization to use for various correspondence, send an e-mail to and ask us about our card customization program and volume discounts.


This Week's Feature

Gifts from the Soul

by Ginger Goble

The holiday season is a time of anticipation. But what is it we're waiting for? One woman shares her own ritual for changing holiday expectations: her gifts give something back.

Fellow GoodLetter readers,

Like most people, I spent time last week thinking of the things I'm thankful for. There are so very many. But one of the best was that, on the biggest shopping weekend of the year, I'd be relaxing at home with the people I love instead of fighting the traffic and the crowds, emptying my bank account, and contributing to the waste that threatens our precious environment. A few years ago, my partner and I found that we were, of all things, dreading Christmas. Gift-giving had come to have little meaning for us and I'm sure, consequently, for the recipients of our gifts.

We were going into debt each year, buying "stuff" that would sooner or later end up in a landfill, for people who really didn't need anything, or could certainly buy what ever they needed themselves. Sure, we'd try to do things in addition to our regular holiday shopping such as contribute to the food bank or the homeless shelter, in order to inject some meaning into the "Season of Giving." But it just didn't feel like it was enough.

Truthfully though, the financial impact of holiday shopping would not have bothered us so much if it felt like the money spent was at least making the holiday meaningful for us, our loved ones, or making some small difference in the world.

We decided we had to figure out a way to (1) show our loved ones how much they mean to us and make it personal, (2) use the "Season of Giving" as a time to try to give to those really in need, and (3) not contribute to the consumerism and waste that seems to have taken over the December holidays.

After some considerable thought, we decided to look at our Christmas list and really consider what we love about each of the friends and family for whom we usually buy gifts. From that, we were able to choose a charity we thought would touch that person's heart.

To really make it personal, we wrote a letter on a nice card or stationery in which we told each person something specific that we love about them, and then told them that we had chosen to give to a charity that we thought honored that part of them. We attached to the letters information about each organization we chose, i.e. brochures, annual reports, stats, Web site addresses, downloaded materials, what ever we could find.

For example, my father has a very soft spot for the elderly. We love this about him and told him so in the letter (how often do we really get specific with our loved ones about what we think makes them so special?), and then told him that we had chosen to make a contribution to Elder Friends (a group that visits elderly shut-ins and people in nursing homes) in his honor.

We even included the children in our plan. My nephew, for example, loves animals, so in his honor, we made a contribution to World Wildlife Fund (we also threw in some books about animals so he'd have something to open!).

The whole idea went over amazingly well. Several of the recipients were in tears (my uncle even told my mom what a good job she did raising me -- now that's a really "goodthing"!).

We felt that these gifts were more meaningful than anything we could have bought in the store and, further, provided help for people (or animals or the environment) who really are in need. We also felt good about minimizing our impact on the environment.

I share this story because I hope that others might consider alternative forms of giving. I don't think we are the only ones who experience some frustration with what Christmas has become. But it doesn't have to be that way. The holidays are again very meaningful for us, and we really do look forward to the season with a different attitude.

Ginger Goble
Seattle, Washington

Ginger grew up on a farm in eastern Washington and holds degrees in social work from Eastern Washington University. The former executive director of the Spokane AIDS Network, she now does marketing and fundraising for a "terrific little elementary school" in Seattle's University District.

Her favorite goodthings? "My grandma's back yard. Running on muddy trails. The New York subway. The New Yorker magazine. Goosebumps on my legs the first time I take the bike out in the spring. The finish line of a triathlon. New cotton socks. My cats. Miles Davis' Round About Midnight. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Modern art. My partner's attitude. Drawings by kids. Snow. A power outage. The way my feet feel when I take off my ski boots."

Thoughts on Ginger's GoodLetter? Inspired by what you've read? E-mail us at -- don't forget to tell us your name, where you're from, and if we can use your words in a future GoodLetter or on our Web site.)

Check out some of the organization that will benefit from Ginger Goble's "Season of Giving":
:: Elder Friends
:: World Wildlife Fund

:: Re-read GoodLetter #68, Ten Ways To Have A Happy Holiday Season (Really!) by Kerry LaBounty

Explore one of our favorite resources to find the organizations you want to support in tribute to your own friends and family through your own "Season of Giving":
:: Network for Good
:: Worth Magazine
:: And, of course, GoodThings!


Good Grabs :
Headlines that teach and inspire

For the past couple of years, we've found our favorite positive or constructive pieces of world news and featured them in our "Good Grabs" section on the home page. We've heard from many readers who've told us they'd love to see Good Grabs in The GoodLetter. So watch this space, and we'll tell you about a few GoodThings-esque news stories we've found during our Web wanderings. And as always, if you have a positive headline to suggest, please let us know. It could end up here!


Seeing the world through a different lens
Landsat: Earth As Art
(US Geological Survey)

Beauty as sustenance
Ardent About Art: For devoted collectors, it's not for show but for life
(Seattle Times' Pacific Northwest magazine)

Refreshing optimism
Afghan Leader Karzai: We're on the Right Track
(Deutsche Welle -- Germany)

Fighting poverty
Argentines march against hunger
(BBC News)

The transformative quality of art
Twenty Movies That Changed Us
(National Public Radio)

Responsible advertising
European Union again bans tobacco ads in print, on Web
( -- Maryland)

Practical environmentalism
Automaker Rankings: The Environmental Performance of Car Companies
(Union of Concerned Scientists)

The power of peace
Iraq Peace Team
(Voices in the Wilderness -- Chicago)

Comic relief
Life Is Tough
(The New Yorker)


We love to hear from you about anything: ideas or situations that are inspiring you or challenging you to think, as well as organizations, programs, and people that contribute to your community and the world everyday. Please drop us a line.

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Good Gravy's Season of Giving
Need a few ideas for how to make Ginger Goble's Season of Giving work for you this year? Consider trying a few of these simple but extraordinary approaches to the holidays:

(1) Make your favorite environmentalist a Chimpanzee Guardian through the Jane Goodall Institute
This wonderful non-profit offers its wildlife-loving guardians a poster and a moving story of their adopted chimps.

Wrapped companion gift: Try Jane Goodall's latest book with Marc Bekoff, The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love

(2) Make a donation in the name of a parent or child advocate you know to the Children's Defense Fund
CDF is one of the most inspiring groups around, offering a passionate and articulate voice for the most vulnerable among us -- the children.

Wrapped companion gift: Check out CDF founder Marian Wright Edelman's newest book, I'm Your Child: Prayers for Our Children

(3) Dedicate a Breast Cancer Fund prayer flag to the cancer survivors in your life
This small non-profit organizes mountain climbs for those facing breast cancer to help turn their attention on the beauty in being alive.

Wrapped companion gift: Include a copy of Going Driftless: An Artists' Tribute to Greg Brown. Women singer-songwriters perform Brown's songs; proceeds support the Breast Cancer Fund

(4) For the friend or family member with a passion for the arts, make a donation in their name to the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
MCG believes in the power of the arts to improve lives. Guild programs give urban youth the tools to give something back to their communities.

Wrapped companion gift: Give them an amazing jazz CD from MCG's store

(5) Education makes all the difference in the world. Give a gift in a loved one's name to Teach for America
TFA gives college grads an extraordinary opportunity to connect with the next generation -- they become teachers for two years in public schools throughout the country.

Wrapped companion gift: Check out TFA founder Wendy Kopp's inspiring book, One Day, All Children

Talk to us: What's your Good Gravy?



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