Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 2-6-08

We’ve recently put another holiday season to rest, but achieving social equity means more than just gift giving to those close to home.  Instead, I’d like to discuss your community giving during 2008. What issues do you support and how do you support them? Does your job or other commitments prevent you from donating the kind of time you’d like to devote to this or that cause?  Without sufficient volunteer time available, how else can you promote the organizations whose missions resonate with your own?

On a daily basis you and I get hammered by appeals to support countless organizations and issues; free credit card offers and other free hooks targeted to attract us to our aggressive, material culture.   I’m numb to the appeals; there are so many and they’re so pervasive, they piss me off.  Almost like we’re fish swimming amidst a barrage of consumer bait. Bite me, please!

My shields are so strong that almost nothing gets through; even the good causes are invisible to me because I abhor all of the bait. So, with shields drawn and bait held at arms length, how do I decide what to do?  Have my shields become a barrier to my goals of social equity…. sharing my wealth? How do I make corporate and personal giving decisions?

How do you do this?

Simply put, I don’t have a logical plan, and this is the year I’m going to change that.  Until now my giving has been haphazard.  I don’t have an annual giving budget of what I’ll support next year.  I know the organizations I like and I tend to make decisions almost on a whim….’oh, that sound like a good cause, I’ll support that!’

What I don’t know is how much I give overall per year, nor if it’s very broad based.  Am I supporting the array of causes I adore or am I too strong in one arena.  I know my passion is the environment and sustainability, but what about peace and justice, political action, women’s rights…… what’s my plan, damn it?

I have none.

What appeals to me is the concept of tithing.  A tithe (from Old English teogoþa “tenth”) is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a (usually) voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash, checks, or stocks, whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products.

My wife Cindi and I hope to create a plan for ’08.  We’ll first select a percentage of our combined income; say, for arguments sake we arrive at this 10% figure – our one-tenth part of something.  What portion of this are we already giving in kind through our involvement with RE Sources, Futurewise Whatcom, Sustainable Connections, Sustainable Bellingham, and the Pachamama Alliance?  Should I consider the time I devote to my Weekly column as an in kind donation to my passionate cause of sustainability?  Clearly, we’ll have to make these judgment calls.

Once these in kind donations are subtracted from the 10% of our combined income, we’ll donate the balance to the mix of causes and organizations we agree to support.  We’ll create a list of these causes and organizations and then decide what proportion of our ‘cash’ donations will go to which ones.

Our local community is rich in organizations worthy of your support.  Find them.  Support them.  With time and/or money.  Yes, it takes a village to raise a child.  And it takes you and I to raise a village.

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