Make your own free website on


Houston Simplicity Network

Bayou City Barter Fair: March 28 and November 27, 2009 (1-4 pm)

Why Simplify?

Simplicity Folks Around Houston


How You Can Help

                            Join our email forum


Houston Simplicity Network folks validate and support one another’s efforts to simplify.  We learn how to make more time for family, friends, and what matters most. We connect people from the Houston region who want more fun, less stuff.   Simplifying is good for us, and also good for the planet. 

We announce simplicity events and connect people to local simplicity circles.  These are groups of five to ten people meeting regularly to support their personal process of simplifying.  Some circles use the Northwest Earth Institute’s Voluntary Simplicity discussion guide, others select a book on simplicity to read and discuss, and some choose  Your Money or Your Life.  Join a simplicity circle or start one with support from our experienced facilitators.  


Bayou City Barter Fair

March 28, 2009

November 27, 2009


WHEN?      1:00 pm to 4:00 pm        


v     Saturday, March 28


v     Friday after Thanksgiving, November 27 -- “Buy Nothing Day”  


WHERE?   Live Oak Friends Meetinghouse                                                                                      

                   1318 West 26th Street, Houston 77018


WHY?        To practice simplicity and provide an alternative to media-driven consumerism.


WHAT?      The Barter Fair provides an opportunity to trade objects and services without using common currency.

                   This gives us a chance to think in a new way about the way we place value on objects and services within                   

                   our community.


HOW can you get involved?


                   Simply come by and join in the fun!


                   Bring a table, shelf, rug or blanket to display your goods or a sign that describes the service(s) which

                   you would like to barter.


                   Bring some food to share, if you wish.


In past years, many who participated enjoyed the experience and expressed an interest in creating events like this more often in Houston--so we have scheduled 2 barter fairs for 2009.  As the event grows, we hope to increase the frequency so that this can become a regular opportunity for us to network and exchange goods and ideas.


In addition to each individuals’/family’s table where their items are displayed, we will have a designated area for "free" items that you are willing to give to whomever wants them. Visitors may then use such items to barter and trade with if they wish. (Three way trades are possible, too.)   See below for more information on how to barter.

No money will be exchanged for services or goods. *



Children are often the best models of how this can work. They have the ability to add value to an item by describing potential uses.  Some creative kids have baked cookies or homemade doggie treats to use as their barter currency.  The sky is the limit on possibilities.



Directions to the Meeting House -- 1318 West 26th Street, Houston, TX 77008

·        Take Ella exit off North 610 Loop

·        Go one block south on Ella

·        Turn left on 26th Street

·        Live Oak Friends Meeting House will be the right side a couple blocks down 26th  Street



For more information about the event, or to offer your services as a volunteer, contact: 


                Lidney Molnari




*Monetary donations may be made to Live Oak Friends Meeting House for the use of their space.


Our November Barter Fair is held on the day after Thanksgiving, which is International Buy Nothing Day  --  now in its 17th year. 


How to Barter

Comments from Barter Fair participants from Washington State:

At the fair, people will have tables where they display their goods: apples from their fruit tree, some sports (baseballs, etc.), a chess game, oil paintings, comic books, and other things. They can bring photos or descriptions of things that are too big to display: a desk, or a bunk-bed.

We will have a list of things which we want so we can set up deals more easily. If people have the paperback books which we want, they can look at our list and see whether we have anything which they want. Or we can offer them something which is not on the list. Maybe they will make a deal with you.

We have many things which we can trade. We can swap the old stuff which we don't want any more. Some of those things might be the T-shirts and pants which we have outgrown. Our toys and sports equipment can be bartered, if we don't want them. We might trade our bicycle, and our old computer monitor, and the ping-pong table which is in your dusty attic.

When we barter away our old things, we will get something wonderful. We might get a better bicycle, or some computer programs, or an oil-painting set. Maybe we will get a baseball or a music CD, or a pair of black ice skates. We might find someone to give us some lessons in skiing, or website design, or nearly anything else.


Ideas for SKILLS we can trade.

1. Be confident and creative. We do have many skills which are useful to other people. Even "un-skills" are barterable; there is demand for leaf-rakers, lawn-cutters, and other odd-jobbers.

2. Barter your primary skill -- the one which we use use at our job. For example, a carpenter can moonlight with some additional carpentry jobs.  

3. Barter what you like to do. If we are imaginative, we might find a way to barter the activity which we enjoy the most. For example, if we enjoy being with animals, we can groom dogs or walk dogs or wash dogs -- or care for other beasts. Do you like to talk? Then offer some telephone time to a social club (in exchange for your free membership).

4. Consider your off-beat skills. At one barter club, some people registered themselves in these unusual categories: teller of tall tales, pool hustler, clown, parrot trainer.

5. Use the skills which you have developed in your pastimes. For example, a bookworm can read to a blind person or to someone else who simply values the companionship and entertainment. If our reading has given us an expertise, maybe we can tutor in the subject which we have read about.

6. Even our mere presence is worth something. "Just being there" is worth something if we are a babysitter, house-sitter, plant-sitter, or pet-sitter. Imagine how much more we are worth when we are actually doing something. 


Ideas for THINGS we can trade.

If we have lists, we'll be quicker to make a deal. When people approach us for a trade, we can give them the list, and then let them compare their "haves" with our "wants" . Our lists can include these items:

1. Our used items. This category includes books, magazines, furniture, gardening equipment, etc. People have swapped more glamorous items, too; a weekend at a beach house for a piano.

2. Our unwanted items. For example, we can swap away never-used gifts.

3. Our outgrown items. We have outgrown some of our clothing. Our children have outgrown many items -- their clothing, toys, books, furniture, etc.

4. Our handmade items. We can trade the products of our hobbies: our baked goods, paintings, beadwork, frames, etc.

5. Our surplus items. We will have more things to trade if we use some strategies. For instance, we can plant extra vegetables in our garden so that we will have a surplus to barter. We can offer to clean out a friend's garage and trade away the "throw away" items.

6. Our "junk." Even an old trashy item might be valuable to a collector who needs that particular piece to complete a collection.

7. Try a "triple trade."  George has an electric drill to trade and needs tools for his new garden.   We might meet a woman with garden tools but no desire for George's drill. However, she does want our bookshelf -- so she gives the tools to George, we give the bookshelf to her, and he gives us the drill.

  Back to top 



Affluenza - An American Epidemic

Do you have time for what's really important to you, like talk to friends?   In the last 25 years, the time Americans spend having friends over has fallen 45% according to bestseller Bowling Alone . The average married couple spends only 12 minutes a day talking to each other.  Americans spend more time shopping than with their kids. 

A PBS program named this disease Affluenza, an epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of  the American Dream.  It's bad for us and bad for the planet.  It is unsustainable. 

Do you suffer from Affluenza?  Test yourself.

The cure - Simplifying Simplicity is slowing down, relaxing, and taking time to smell the roses.  We weed out the clutter filling our homes, schedules and minds.   We think for ourselves and follow our hearts instead of conforming. 

What is a simplicity circle? Simplicity circles are support, study, and reflection groups of half a dozen or so people.   We help each other live deliberately by reading and discussing a study course.   We help each other determine what is most important to us and what steps we must take to make time for it in our lives.  It's called a circle because there's no boss. 

The environment, sustainability, and simplicity The American way of life is overgrazing our pastures.  It is ecologically unsustainable.  Our children and great grandchildren will pay the price.   Simplifying is both good for us and for the planet. 

Houston suffers especially from Affluenza.  "Happiness is highest in socially connected cities" concluded civic leaders in a survey of the social connectedness of 40 communities inspired by Bowling Alone.   (survey report )    Houston scored very low,  lower overall than Los Angeles.  ( survey data

Simplicity - part of a great movement of change. A quarter of Americans have realized American Culture has problems and are creating a new culture according to demographer, Paul Ray, and psychologist, Sherry Anderson, in Cultural Creatives .   We just becoming aware of ourselves as a group.  We are optimistic and altruistic.  We might be the key to a culture of integrity.  Are you a Cultural Creative?  Test yourself.

  Back to top 

Connecting to a Simplicity People around Houston

Houston: Victoria Albright 713-699-8424

Clear Lake  Bay Area Unitarian Church. Contact Nancy Henninger 281-488-0676

Woodlands/Spring - Northwoods Unitarian Church  Contact Joy George, 281-376-3062

Circles in other Texas cities and the globe.  International data base of circles

Sugarland: Mary Lockwood 281-495-7548 h

Pearland/Alvin Cathy Albrecht  281-585-0856 

Wharton - Gerry Schmidt 979-282-9173

  Back to top 



Houston links

  Brigid's Place  - spiritual growth and empowerment of women

  Citizen's Environmental Coalition connects Houston's many environmental groups

  Decade of Non-violence Houston  - building a culture of non-violence

  Houston Storytellers Guild

 Houston Peace and Justice Center 

  Indigo Sun - Your Source to Self-Discovery

  KPFT Radio Station 

  Ten Thousand Villages - fairly traded handicrafts from around the world


National links

   A simple introduction to simplicity by Cecile Andrews and Carol Benson Holst

   Seeds of Simplicity, Cecile's nonprofit network for simplicity students.  Join their network to get a great quarterly newsletter and to help them promote simplicity in the US

   The Simple Living Network - Tools for Sustainable Living  - Buy books online, chat room,  email newsletter, and discussion boards 

   Alternatives for Simple Living equips people of faith to challenge consumerism and live justly. 

   Northwest Earth Institute has four study courses: Voluntary Simplicity, Deep Ecology, Sense of Place, and Choices for Sustainability. 

   Study Circle Resource Center helps civic institutions and governments set up community issues circles to resolve conflict and build our skill at democracy. 

  Back to top 

How you can help

 The Houston Simplicity Network is all volunteer.  We need your help to tell the good news that less is more.

Would you like to be a convener for a circle? 

Would your group enjoy viewing Affluenza? 

Would you like to join Seeds of Simplicity, the national simplicity organization?   Seeds promotes simplicity nationally to grassroots and the press. 

  Back to top