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Story of Stuff

[NOTES ON] “The Story of Change”

I’m watching the entire Story of Stuff series.  Let’s watch it together, or check out my notes on all the videos, here.  Thanks – h!

Notes I took on this video:

  • Voting with your dollar Real change is demanding solutions that work.
  • They studied movements of the past that were successful in creating change.
  • 3 rules of changing the world:  sharing a big idea for change at the heart of the problem,  we will work together until the problem is solved, creative massive actions with all kinds of citizens.
  • Changemakers: investigators, communicators, builders, resisters, nurturers, networkers.  Take the quiz.
  • It doesn’t end at the vote; there are steps afterwards.
  • *** Watch this video if you just need a quick refresher or an upper as you’re about to take on another huge task!

After taking the quiz above, I found that I am an “investigator”…and it rings true:

Investigators like you play the crucial role of exposing both the problems we face and the solutions. Here’s how:

  • Reading, inquiring and learning constantly.
  • Researching facts questions, issues and stories thoroughly until the entire picture is clear.
  • Asking the hard questions and finding the sometimes-dark truths, even when it’s challenging and uncomfortable.

Notable Investigators who have done awesome things to find truth and change the world:

  • Sandra Steingraber

  • Rachel Carson

  • Seymour Hersh

  • James Hansen

  • Peter Gleick

Mental health

Why Mental Wellness Is a Thing – with Service Provider Links (NYC)

If you feel you need the additional support of therapy and want to spend time working on your mental health and emotional wellness, do not feel that you are completely without options. (To limit confusion: for the purpose of this entry, I am using mental health, emotional wellness,  support, and therapy somewhat interchangeably. )

After paying bills and covering basic needs, it’s really hard to set aside any sum of money to seek therapy, even when you want that sort of help. But did you know that there are so many resources available nationally/locally that you can use as affordable mental health resources? Many times, these providers alter their regular pricing to accommodate your situation, and charge via sliding scale (based on your income, or ability to pay), low-cost set fees, or NO-COST (free!) copays for their clients. 

Having a dedicated outlet for your emotions and experiences is very important, but we don’t always have the chance to do this. Basically, when you are always preoccupied with reacting to such stressful conditions, are consistently traumatized, are fatigued from working all your jobs,  and/or are exposed to abusive behaviors daily …. you spend more time worrying and less time doing the things you want to do.  Ignoring your mental health decreases your quality of life, and it becomes extremely challenging to complete basic, objective tasks (like saving money or paying your bills). When you’re always panicking, emotions entangle themselves in the daily tasks that can easily be done, resulting in a lot of devastation.

Having  also struggled with depression for years, I knew I barely functioned during those times. When you’re neither grounded nor reflecting on the difficulties you face or traumatic experiences you come across, things can spiral downward very quickly.

It’s no surprise that there are tremendous gaps in who is usually able to afford and access mental health services, and who isn’t. For the most part, communities of color are left on the outskirts of affordability. There is also a slew of cultural stigmas and systemic oppressions in acquiring treatment that further distance certain communities and ethnic enclaves from receiving these services.

There are also a set of issues that make mental health support services particularly challenging for women to acquire.  As a survivor of domestic violence and childhood abuse, I can say economic abuse and lack of wealth for women play key roles in why  so many stay in abusive relationships.  I went to therapy during the time I was getting out of a bad relationship, and continued treatment while I was gradually rebuilding my life (which actually might still be occurring…ha!)  So, I can attest to how important it is to have as much support as you can when you are transitioning to a better situation.

Therapy will not save you from every problem you are facing in your life. I treat it as a space where I am made to reflect on things happening to me. You won’t necessarily get homework from your therapist, or see a linear/straightforward process, but at minimum, you may be able to gain a better understanding of yourself and the current situation troubling you. Therapy is not a solution in itself, but a process to help you arrive to a solution.

The process: Many services and insurers cover treatment from psychiatrists (these doctors can prescribe medication), psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers (L.C.S.W.s). There are also specialists who focus on certain issues, like alcoholism or domestic violence (or partner violence/abuse), so you may seek them to fit your situation.

Once you find a specialist, do the intake at the office (usually just some basic contact info and your medical history), and then you have a session and get to talk with your specialist. It is wise to make appointments with various therapists, because this process is similar to “dating”, in that you’re making the decision whether this specialist and you are a fit. Sometimes, you may not like their approach/method, their offices are too far, or that you just plain are not feeling them. It is within your right to request a new specialist. Keep doing this until you feel like you are getting your needs met.

Also, consider finding a local support group for whatever issue you are facing, which are usually free. One place to start is the listing at Mental Health America, and then doing an online search for issue-specific groups, as well.  This can also supplement your therapy sessions so you have a community of people with similar issues who can help support you.

Below this entry is a list** of organizations in the New York City area with opportunities for low-cost/sliding scale therapy. If you are not local, it might still be beneficial to call one of the providers and ask for any recommendations they may have in your area.  They might be able to refer you to national or regional affiliates or contacts that may be better able to help you.

I know it can be overwhelming, so do the best that you can with what you have. Good luck on your search! I’m rooting for you!   -h!




**This is an old list I compiled for a women’s organization I worked with closely in the NYC area.

Please also check these sites for the most current NYC area listings:




Phone (212) 228-6036

9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday-Friday

16 West 10th Street
(between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)



Crime Victims Treatment Center (this is a mental health resource)
St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center
411 West 114th Street
Suite 2C
New York, NY 10025
(212) 523-4728


Center for Educational and Psychological Services
Teachers College – Columbia University
525 West 120th Street, Box 91
New York, NY  10027
North side between Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue – 6th floor of Thorndike Hall at Teachers College
Procedure: Apply directly by calling its telephone number. Once the appointment is set up, the patient fills out an application and is assigned an advanced graduate student closely supervised by Teacher College faculty members.
Pricing: Sliding scale – $5 to $40 per session
Note: The Center’s services are not reimbursable under Medicaid, Medicare or other medical insurance plans.
Schedule: Every month except August. Monday through Thursday, 9am to 9pm. Friday, 9am to 5pm. Summer hours vary.
Phone: 1-212-678 -3262

If your life seems out of control and nothing you do seems to help, you may want to call us (516-741-0994 or 1-800-317-1173). Our professional, caring licensed counselors provide individual, couple, children and family counseling

The Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy
1841 Broadway @ 60th Street, 4th Floor NewYork, NY 10023
Tel: (212) 333-3444 Fax: (212) 333-5444
Albert Ellis Institute
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
45 East 65th Street
New York, NY  10021
Institute offers short-term therapy that offers long-term results.  To arrange an appointment or discuss fees or insurance coverage, call Monday – Friday from 9:15 am-8:45 pm or Saturdays from 9:15 am-5:00 pm.
Individual counseling and therapy sessions range from $50-$150.  Group sessions are $30.  Lectures are $10 and workshops are $50.
Phone: 1-800-323-4758 or 1-212-535-0822
“The core mission of the Albert Ellis Institute is to provide global access to the benefits of Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies through the training and education of mental health and allied professionals worldwide.
The Institute is committed to the evolution, refinement, and application of these techniques and methodologies according to the principles of our founder in clinical, academic, and private sector settings.”


Redeemer Presbyterian Counseling Service
1359 Broadway, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Patient first goes through an “initial intake” where he or she is assigned a counselor based on his or her specific needs and each therapist’s expertise and availability.
Sliding scale: $40 – $120
Phone: 212-370-0475   x1365
“Redeemer Counseling Services is a ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and exists to provide biblical perspective to the challenges of life. RCS provides professional counseling for individuals, couples, and families for the urban population of New York City. The goal of counseling is to provide a context of growth by equipping individuals and the urban community with emotional and spiritual wholeness. The counselors of RCS are trained individuals committed to Christian perspectives in dealing with mental health.”



A Psychotherapy Group in the Village
160 Bleecker Street 9C East
New York, NY 10012
Call for a free consultation.
“Generous fees based on ability to pay.”
Phone: (212) 673-4618 or (646) 239 9112
“Psychotherapy Group in the Village New York City was founded in 1993 by André Anthony Moore and a group of psychotherapists, counselors, social workers, family therapists, psychoanalysts, psychologists and psychiatrists – trusted colleagues whom André has come to know over the years and whose work he admires and respects.”

NYU Behavioral Health Care Programs
401 East 34th Street – 4th Floor
New York, New York 10016
Phone: 212-263-7419
Office Hours: Call for Appointment
200, 75 each


Bellevue Hospital Ambulatory Community Psychiatry Programs
462 First Avenue
New York, New York 10016
Phone: 212-562-1000
Office Hours: Call for Appointment
sliding scale therapy:
NYU’s referral service
888 769 8633


Mental health


Angela, 28: Nottingham, UK (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)

angel espAngela, 28: Nottingham, UK (2011)

Angela is a Radical international educator and emcee. Provegan snackmasta and yogini. Half of Filipina hip-hop duo 1st Quarter Storm as well as anti-racist, anti-imperialist radfem diode Sisters of Resistance. ( &

Cost of a loaf of bread: [£0.99] A loaf of Polish bread Kaya Market on Alfreton Road


Cost of a cup of coffee: [£1.20] A soya latte from the university cafe


Dinner [£25.00] a vegan Sunday roast dinner from  Alley Cafe – vegetarian/vegan cafe in city centre. About £25.00 for two (incl. meals + non-alcoholic drinks)


What do you like most about this neighborhood or city?  It’s culturally diverse and open to interpretation. Plus the university gave me money for school.

How has the recession affected you? Decided to go to grad school in the UK due to limited employment prospects in my hometown (Seattle, WA).

What would you spend your last £5 on? tea and biscuits (it’s the UK — standard).

Why did you choose these 3 items? I’m a snackmasta, and these items are part of my everyday life. but don’t forget the £1.00=$1.70 conversion!


Angela is a very close friend of mine, who is also a 1st year PhD student. So, thank you for finding the time… – h!


F, 30s: Center City Philadelphia, PA (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)


F, 30s: Center City Philadelphia, PA

F is a writer after his 9 to 5, but is a storyteller all the time. He currently lives in Philadelphia.



Coffee: [$3.75] (No description provided)

photo (2)

Lunch: [$7.29] Cheesesteak, fries, and a soda.

photo (1)

Price of daily commute: [$0.00] Free. I walk.

photo (3)

What do you like most about this neighborhood or city?  Livability.

How has the recession affected you? It made me leave a job where I was complacent, and I got a job where I’m rarely bored.

What would you spend your last $5 on? I don’t really know. I feel that I’d find some public transit to a friend or family member’s house.

Why did you choose these 3 items? Well, for the questions asked, they were the most accurate answers I could give.


Thank you for a look Philly, F!  Truly appreciate this perspective. Hope you don’t mind that I stole your image off your website :) – h!


Eric, 28 & Jennilee, 27: Honolulu, HI (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)


ericandjennileeEric,28 & Jennilee,27: Honolulu, HI

A not-so-newlywed couple getting into their second year of marriage. They’ve just moved from Philly to Houston and are finding out what life in Texas is all about.


Price of a loaf of bread: [$6.49] From ABC Stores


Price of gasoline: [$3.94] from Aloha Station, per gallon


Price of water: [$.99] a 16 oz bottle from ABC Stores


What do you like most about this neighborhood or city? The weather, the beach, and the best spam musubi!

How has the recession affected you? We’ve already been pretty budget conscious before the recession started, so it didn’t affect us too much financially. On the job side, we did feel the decline in business, but not as badly as most of the country since both of us were lucky enough to each be in what seemed to be a relatively recession-proof industry (information security & discount retail)

What would you spend your last $5 on? Water. You always need water.

Why did you choose these 3 items? These are the three items that we consume on a daily basis.

Thank you both for being this project’s first couples entry, and putting in the time while you were both on vacation!  Looking forward to catching up with you newlyweds soon! – h!


Yvette, 30s: Tashkent, Uzbekistan (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)


vettievetteYvette, 30s: Tashkent, Uzbekistan (2011)

Yvette is a counseling specialist at Tashkent Elementary School, and is currently living in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.



Cost of housing: [$850] 1 bedroom house w/ courtyard: $850 (paid by employer – includes gas/electric/water)

Lunch: [~$3 USD] Chicken, coke and bread at the bazaar avg. cost = 7,000 soums (~$3 USD at the black market rate)



Dinner: [~$10 USD] Lamb, bread, and salad at Cafe Efendi, a Turkish restaurant + drinks and dessert (not pictured), avg. cost = 25,000 soums (~$10 at the black market rate)

Daily commute: [~$1.50 ] to Tashkent International School; Taxi commute to school from my house (6km distance) : ~4,000 soums (~$1.50 at the black market rate)



What do you like most about this neighborhood or city?
Tons of hidden gems in a place that a lot of people in the US have never even heard of. The food is awesome (and cheap), the locals are friendly, it’s safe (I can grab a taxi aka any car that will stop at any time of day/night and not worry about anything bad happening to me) and the people I’ve gotten to know – my friends from work and the locals – are a great bunch. It has a lot of quirky character being a mix of the former Soviet Union, Muslim (they like their vodka and sometimes eat pork), Asian, Russian, and Uzbek.

How has the recession affected you?
The recession has taught me that somebody with my education and credentials – a master’s degree and licensed therapist – has to compromise a lot in order to survive, BUT it’s not the end-all. It inspired me to look beyond my comfort zone and I wound up overseas in a country that was not even on my overseas wish list. Looking at what’s happening in the U.S. now, I think I left at the right time.

What would you spend your last $5 on?
Shashlik (kabob) and a cab ride to the airport.

Why did you choose these 3 items?
I chose these 3 items because I don’t think many people – including myself – knew what to expect of Tashkent when I moved out here. Some of my friends and family thought I’d be in some desert, remote, backwoods place where it would be hard to enjoy living here. Living here isn’t so bad – great food, great house to call home (my friends’ apartments are cool too!), and a great school to work for.


Thanks for an amazing submission, Yvette!  Your photos are incredible…an making me hungry! Looking forward to your next set of travels, and to following you along that trail!  Cheers! – h!


Corinne, 30: Seattle, WA (2011)

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.) 


Corinne, 30: Seattle, WA (2011)

Corinne is a documentary filmmaker and media educator from New York City, currently living in Seattle, WA. More about her at 


Cost of Travel to a Place You Frequent: [$2.50] One way during peak time.


Lunch: [$2.98] Bahn Mi Sandwich at Sun Bakery

Bottle of water: [$0.50] At QFC


What do you love most about where you live? Since living here, I have learned to appreciate more of the outdoors and the lowkey environment here allows me to relax better.

What would you spend your last $5 on? Not gonna lie, a bag of Andy Capp’s hot fries for $.99, a banh mi sandwich for $2.98, and a can of green tea with ginseng and honey for $.79.

Why did you choose these 3 items? These are three items that I consistently think about during my daily work grind: my commute to work located in Chinatown, what to eat for lunch, and what to drink. Every morning I make sure I have the funds to even do these things.


Thanks for submitting, Corinne! Keep reppin’ Andy Capp’s Hot Fries while on the Left Coast! <3 – h!

CJ, 30: Old Bridge, NJ

(Snapshots, Elsewhere is a feature of recessionFRESH, where users are asked to submit photos and prices of everyday items to explore the cost of living around the world. If you’d like to submit, please visit this link.)



Coffee: [USD $2.49] Dunkin Donuts

Cost of Travel to a Place You Frequent: [$12.75 one-way]
From the bus stop near my house (Old Bridge, New Jersey), one round trip from where I live to New York City via NJ Transit bus costs $25.50. When you factor in the subway trip to where I need to go and back to the bus station, the cost of the whole trip is $30.

Gasoline: [$3.09 per gallon] from 19 (local gas station)



What I sold for a Surprising $212.50

In cleaning out my life, I’ve been focused on getting rid of as much as I can, for the highest turnover possible.  I didn’t realize the amount of added stress I placed on myself by placing such sentimentality on numerous items.  I bordered on hoarding.  Growing up  poor, I learned to saving every last scrap, which translated to holding onto things beyond their prime utilization.

My life became storage with a bed placed in the middle of it.

Needing to move, the purge began. In this process, I’ve returned items to stores for credit and created piles to donate and discard.

When items were in decent condition, I’d set them aside to look up their value online. I’d then dedicate a day to eBay research, and I’d put items up for sale or auction if there was potential to make more than $7 from it.  I lucked out when I posted a doll online.

Turns out, an old gift from an ex of mine paid off when I listed it on eBay.  We apparently were dating when Monsters Inc. was popular, and he got me this doll.  We broke up shortly after, and the doll joined the rest of the items in my “ex box.” When I was organizing items to toss, I came across it in almost perfect condition!

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 6.18.32 PM

See!  Proof that it sold for a lot.  When I looked it up, I originally saw it selling for around $35, which would have worked for me.  I think there’s some kind of rarity that runs for this particular doll, so fair warning, when you have a rare item many internet strangers will try to swindle you.

I lucked out with this listing, and I want to share with you what I think worked for this.

  1. First, the item was in pristine condition, it had all the original pieces.  Many of the same listed dolls were missing the original pigtails and socks.
  2. Second, the item still functioned – it still made said all these phrases, etc.
  3. Third, I labelled it pretty accurately and based it off the title of other listings
  4. Fourth, my photos were pretty good.  I did a lot of these macro shots , and had detailed photos in good lighting.
  5. Last, I took a photo of the label for clarity and to prove the item was genuine.  (See examples below)
    boo1 boo2 boo3

Hopefully you can dig up some gems in your junk.  And forgive me, as I’ll be posting like this every now and then, because I’ll be mostly bragging…

Good luck on your auctions!

Move Your Money to a Credit Union TOMORROW – Saturday, 11/5

The Occupy demonstrations have made one thing clear: big banks and corporate America can no longer gouge the every day account holder with arbitrary fees and random exploitation. There seems to be a tacit understanding between us: we no longer want to support big businesses that don’t support us. But if our money walks, where will we put it?


Well, I’ll tell you. Tomorrow is National Bank Transfer day, where millions of Americans will leave their big bank and join a financially responsible, people oriented, and community-minded credit union. (Besides, you really shouldn’t be hiding your riches under a mattress. Mattress fires are a real thing.)


To make it even more official, take the pledge to move your money to a credit union this Saturday, NOVEMBER 5, 2011 HERE . Be one of the 650,000 Americans who have already transferred their available funds to credit unions in the last month, and haven’t turned back since running far, far away from their former big bank’s fees


To keep this simple, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. You’ll find below some links (all found via Google) to help you prep for tomorrow. Know that the credit unions are READY FOR YOU with extended hours and possibly, pastries. Also, bring 2 forms of photo identification, your SSN card, proof address, and your money (oh yeah, that) to start an account.


Read what I’ve gathered below, and go visit the Move Your Money Project for more details.


What is a credit union?
A credit union is a member-owned, not-for-profit, cooperative financial institution. Credit unions are similar to traditional banks in the sense that both institutions offer financial products to customers. Credit union members, like bank customers, have access to checking and savings accounts, CDs, loan products, and credit cards.

What is the difference between a credit union and a bank?

Table taken from this link

Credit Unions Banks
Not-for-profit Profit-oriented
Returns profits to members in the form of lower loan rates, higher savings rates, and free or low-cost services. Returns profits to stockholders
Each person who deposits money is a member with a share of ownership Customers have no ownership in the corporation
Members elect a volunteer Board of Directors to represent their interests Controlled by stockholders and paid officials
Member-service driven Profit-driven
Are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration or a private insurer Are federally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Can serve only those individuals within their field of membership Can serve anyone in the general public

Why are credit unions better?

According to this site:

A credit union is a democratic, member-owned cooperative. So when you join a credit union, you’re more than a member; you’re an owner—and that means you have a say in how your credit union is run.

Credit unions provide the same products and services as other financial institutions—but credit unions are non-profit and exist to help people, not to make a profit. As such, all earnings are returned to their members in the form of high-interest savings and low rate loans.

Credit unions across the country are committed to their communities, offering financial services to underserved populations, engaging youth in financial education, and returning profits to their members.

Credit unions also tend to offer more competitive rates (via DailyFinance):

Credit unions offer most or all of the services you need from your bank, and they generally charge lower fees, offer higher interest rates for your savings, and lower interest rates for loans. Compare these rates for June, 2011, the most recent data available from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA):

Credit Unions(national average) Banks(national average)
5-year CD 2.09% 1.78%
1-year CD 0.75% 0.59%
$1,000 in a regular savings account 0.25% 0.20%
30-year fixed mortgage 4.78% 4.64%
Classic credit card 11.64% 13.17%
Unsecured fixed 36-month loan 10.37% 11.98%
36-month used-car loan 3.88% 5.61%
60-month new-car loan 3.91% 5.22%

Where can I find one:

or go to Google Maps and search for “credit union”

If you’ve successfully moved your funds to a different bank – tell us where in the comments below!