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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 than that."
    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.
Want tickets?

    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 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 or 503-581-2228.

The Giving Pledge:
For The Millionaires In Our Midst

Craig Cline

    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 billionaires.
    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 but true.
    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 more.
    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 (3.5%).
    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 charitable giving?
    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 per day.
    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 $10,000.
    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 lifestyle.
    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 will.
    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 libraries.
    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 Center.
    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 living.
    That's the sacred trust we're all bound to administer in our lifetimes.
    Craig Cline
    January 2018