Want To Know The Future?
Upcoming Earthwise Sustainability Luncheon
Brings Businesses, Leaders Together
Want To Know The Future?
Elaine Blatt wants business leaders to
know that materials matter.
As the senior policy and program analyst at
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Blatt focuses on sustainable consumption and production of materials. She says
the issue of which materials to purchase is
complicated and confusing.
"The fact that a material is recyclable does
not always mean that it is a low-impact material," she said. "You have to look at the full
lifecycle-from the impact of producing the
material to how it is disposed."
Blatt will get her chance to educate the people who matter most-business leaders-at
the second annual EarthWISE Sustainability
Luncheon Wednesday, March 6.
The event is hosted by Salem Environmental Education, a nonprofit started in 2016
by longtime, award-winning environmental
educator Jon Yoder. Salem Environmental
Education provides free environmental programming for kids, particularly those who
may not have access to this kind of learning, as well as a lecture series and hands-on
learning workshops for adults.
Recently, Salem Environmental Education
took on the task of helping to lead the effort
around Outdoor School. It provides professional development for teachers and works
with 10 agencies and organizations that deliver the Outdoor School experience.
"We are working to develop an Outdoor
School program that is rather unique-even
for schools that do not participate in overnight camp," Yoder said. "There are 44 elementary schools in the Salem area so we
have our work cut out for us."
The Sustainability Luncheon serves as a
fundraiser for the nonprofit. Its aim is also
to celebrate past successes, chart the way for
the future and honor those whose commitment to sustainability sets them apart.
"This event celebrates folks that are doing
great things around sustainability and the
environment," Yoder said. "It provides new
information and excitement around sustainability topics. And it allows for people to network around their work and sustainability."
SEE is giving two awards at the luncheon.
Judy Skinner will receive the Volunteer of
the Year award for her deep commitment
to recycling, reusing, reducing waste and
properly disposing of materials used in dayto-day living. Skinner is a Master Recycler
who shares with her community what each
of us can do to change bad habits into good,
to teach how easy it is to be waste-free and to
make the least possible negative impact.
Dottie Knecht will receive the Educator of
the Year award for leading, engaging and facilitating a wide variety of student experiences related to the environment from awareness to action. Knecht is a teacher at South
Salem High School.
Two businesses in the community will receive EarthWISE awards but the winners are
confidential until the event.
EarthWISE is a Marion County free business assistance program. EarthWISE staff
helps businesses recycle, save energy, reduce
waste and much more. If a business meets
certain environmental criteria, they can
achieve EarthWISE certification.
With so many business leaders in one place
(last year brought 160 people to the luncheon), the event serves as the perfect way
to spread awareness and education about
pressing environmental topics.
Oregon DEQ's Blatt, as the keynote speaker, wants to convey the importance of materials' full impact-from how it was produced
and transported to what happens to it when
it's used up.
"We are excited to talk to sustainable business leaders because they need to understand the impacts of the materials they are
purchasing and using to support their businesses," she said. "We are so used to thinking
that buying a recyclable product is the best
for the environment. It is more complicated
Blatt explained that an environmentally
conscious consumer presented with the
choice to purchase coffee in a plastic recyclable container or a foil bag that must be
trashed would likely pick the plastic container. But the impact of producing the plastic
for the coffee container is higher than that
of the foil bag and, from an environmental
standpoint, it would be better to purchase
the foil bag and landfill it.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is working on a system to advise
businesses on materials' life-cycle questions.
For now, Blatt wants business leaders to
know that the issue around a material's lifecycle is complex.
The EarthWISE Sustainability Luncheon
on Wednesday, March 6, from 12 to 1 p.m. is
open to the public. It is at Willamette Heritage Center, 1313 Mill St SE . Tickets are $10
for the general public and $7.50 for EarthWISE-certified businesses. Visit www.Salemee.org for tickets and more information.
20th Annual Clay Ball: Pop Of Color
Salem Art Association (SAA)
On February 23, 2019, the Clay Ball auction and dinner is going POP! Come to the Salem Convention Center dressed in bright 1960s Pop Art colors, or simply add accents to your formal attire. Those who want to go all out can put together a costume inspired by Lichtenstein, Warhol, and their contemporaries.
At the event, start off by perusing a wide array of silent auction packages while enjoying complimentary wine from Bryn Mawr Vineyards, beer from Gilgamesh Brewing, and scrumptious hors-d'oeuvres. Afterward, you will be treated to a gourmet three-course dinner, followed by an exhilarating live auction featuring original art, and exciting experience packages. Once the bidding ends, stick around to cut loose and dance.
Your tickets and auction purchases help the Salem Art Association (SAA) provide arts opportunities to everyone from underserved students to established artists.
Buy your tickets today at www.SalemArt.org/clay-ball or 503-581-2228.
The Giving Pledge:
For The Millionaires In Our Midst
Not many people know about "The Giving
Pledge." One reason is that so few people are
wealthy enough to sign onto it. Most of the
approximately 170 signers of the pledge are
What is a billionaire anyway? We know a
billionaire is really rich, but here's a factoid
to give you a better feel for just how wealthy
a billionaire actually is:
If a billionaire's assets
were all converted to dollars,
mounded into a gigantic
bundle of cash -
and if those dollars were
then counted at the rate
of $1.00 per second - it
would take about 32 years
before just one billion was
counted! Hard to believe
That's because a billion is
1,000 million. A billionaire is 1,000 times as
wealthy as a millionaire.
What about a millionaire by comparison?
A millionaire's assets, converted to dollars, is
1,000 thousand. It takes about .032 years,
or 11.68 days, to count to $1 million, at that
same rate of $1.00 per second.
Most people who are millionaires actually
have assets worth in excess of one million;
many are multi-millionaires.
I did some research to try to figure out how
many millionaires there are likely to be right
here in our Mid-Willamette Valley area.
In 2015, I guesstimated we have somewhere
between 2,300 and over 3.000 millionaires/
multi-millionaires in our Mid-Valley midst.
That number, given recent dramatic increases
in the value of real estate and financial assets
owned by these "financially fortunate"
folks, is probably higher in 2018.
And I've now further guesstimated that we
have around 300 folks in our locale whose
assets range from $5 to $25 million - or
I've done some fundraising for nonprofits
over the years, going back to 1978. I used to
be reasonably pleased if a donor would give
$100.00 to whatever charitable cause I was
working on. That amount - then - seemed
to me to be a reasonably generous donation.
It's now 40 years later, and I've observed
that the pace of charitable giving has generally
not kept up with the pace of inflation.
For some reason, people - including the
millionaires and multi-millionaires - still
seem to think a $100 donation is quite generous.
I don't. Here's why: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics'
Consumer Price Index (CPI), the dollar
experienced an average inflation rate of
3.38% per year since 1978. So prices are
about 278% higher in 2018 than they were
40 years ago.
In other words, $1.00 in the year 1978 is
equivalent to $3.78 in 2018. A difference of
$2.78 over that period of time.
So instead of giving our local nonprofit
organizations $100.00 and calling it good
enough, we should actually be giving closer
to $400.00; $378.00 to at least match the
basic rate of inflation.
There's just no doubt that donors - particularly
those who can easily afford to be
generous - tend to give too little, based on
this statistical fact.
Furthermore, we Americans tend to think
we're quite generous. Some people really
are. Most of us really aren't.
I recently read another statistic reported to
come from our Bureau of Labor Statistics:
"...the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans
give significantly less to charity as a fraction
of income (1.4%) than the poorest 20 percent
This means the "financially fortunate" only
give 40% of what less fortunate folks give,
based on income.
In relative terms, people of lesser means
give 150% more than the wealthy. Hard to
believe, but that's the math.
Wouldn't it be awesome to see those hundreds
and even thousands of Mid-Willamette
Valley residents who are among the
financially fortunate really up their ante on
Rather than to give a paltry percentage
of income, the better formula would be for
them to give a percentage of assets. This is
especially appropriate since wealthy people
are skilled not only at preserving their assets,
but also at adding substantially to them over
time. Very few millionaires/multi-millionaires
are likely to "run out of money."
Let's say a wealthier person or couple had
a net disposable income, after estimated
expenses, of $100,000. At the 1.4% rate,
$1,400 would go to charitable causes.
If the percentage were increased by 150%,
to equal the 3.5% given by folks of lesser
means, the donation would rise to $3,500
per year - a lot better, and still less than $10
That significant improvement is one that's
likely to be easily affordable for people at this
level of income.
Now let's say this person or couple has a
net worth of "only" $1,000,000 - reasonably
easy to accomplish for those who have
a good-paying job, or reasonably successful
business, or inherited wealth.
These folks can likely afford to invest in a
home and/or other real estate and/or other
financial assets - which tend to increase in
value and equity over time.
What if the millionaires in our midst were
to pledge to give to local charities only 1 percent
of their net worth annually? At the $1
million level, charitable donations would be
Yes, that's a large increase from $3,500,
but it would take 100 of these $10,000 annual
gifts to equal $1,000,000. Using this
very simplistic example, we see that a person
could give $10,000 for 50 years and still
have $500,000 left - and that assumes that
the value of the initial $1 million hasn't increased.
It likely has increased, however.
If we go up the ladder, to net worth positions
of $2 million, $5 million, $10 million,
or more, the "one percent benchmark"
means, of course, larger charitable donations.
But again, such higher levels of giving
will in great likelihood not adversely affect
the donor's personal lifestyle.
People who are in the upper echelons of
wealth usually have far more money and
assets than "necessary" to enjoy a very nice
For those who can, investing $10,000,
$20,000, $50,000, or even $100,000 of
"non-needed" money in our local charities,
boosting the quality of life in our community
- for benefit of all of us - is money wellspent.
Back to the concept of the billionaires' Giving
Pledge; you can go online to find out
more about this pledge and who has signed it.
Here's a quote from the web site: "The
Giving Pledge is a campaign to encourage
wealthy people to contribute a majority of
their wealth to philanthropic causes.
The organization's goal is to inspire the
wealthy people of the world to give at least
half of their net worth to philanthropy, either
during their lifetime or upon their death.
The pledge is a moral commitment to give,
not a legal contract."
The use of the word "commitment" prompts
my mentioning what W.H. Murray wrote in
his brief commentary titled: "Commitment."
The last two of his twenty-one short, poemlike
sentences read: "Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius,
power, and magic in it." (Note: Murray
attributes these two sentences as being derived
from one of Goethe's couplets).
I think this message has application for us
right now - right where we live. It urges us
as individual residents, and as members of
the collective community, to make what we
might call our "community commitment."
As part of their commitment to our community,
may I propose the local millionaires/
multi-millionaires in our midst establish
their own form of the Giving Pledge.
It seems reasonable to suggest that the financially
fortunate give, say, 12.5 percent of
their net worth to local charities during their
lifetime, and at least another 12.5 percent
upon their death.
Better yet, how about at least a 25 percent
threshold of "giving while living," and another
25 percent at death?
And speaking of death, please people, don't
die without having created a will!
An incredibly high percentage of people die
"intestate" - without a will. I saw a source
from 2007 which stated 55% of all American
adults don't have a will.
Another source, from 2012, said 50% of
Americans with children don't have a will.
And this same source pointed out that
about 41% of "Baby Boomers" don't have a
These statistics are alarming. Don't become
such a statistic yourself.
If you die without a will, the state will decide
how your assets are distributed. Is that
what you'd want - for the state to be in
charge of your assets?
Most of us would (or should) answer "No"
to that possibility. Yet far too many of us
don't spend a bit of time and money to draw
up the incredibly important document of instructions
we call our will.
So children, don't let your parents grow up
to be will-less.
To die without a will is irresponsible,
wouldn't you say? Some might say it's stupid.
In any event, DON'T DO IT!
Let's finish these these observations with a
brief mention of the great philanthropist Andrew
Carnegie. The legacy he's most known
for is having given "Carnegie Grants" to build
He said: "A library outranks any other one
thing a community can do to benefit its people.
It's a never failing spring in the desert."
According to Wikipedia, Carnegie built
2,509 libraries between 1883 and 1929, including
1,689 in the United States.
My hometown had a Carnegie Library, and
I was a frequent visitor/book borrower. I can
still picture its exterior in my mind. What a
treasure trove it was for me as a kid.
Oregon has 31 Carnegie public libraries and
1 academic library - here in Salem at 790
State St. It's now owned by Willamette University
and houses the Oregon Civic Justice
Here is a famous quote by Mr. Carnegie -
one of many he made: "Surplus wealth is a
sacred trust which its possessor is bound to
administer in his lifetime for the good of the
community." Today, we should add the word
her; so he would say "in his/her lifetime."
While the wealthy amongst us have greater
means with which to set lofty examples for
"local philanthropy," each of us should make
a pledge to "give back to our community"
- in our own personal way - while we're
That's the sacred trust we're all bound to
administer in our lifetimes.