Sunday, November 23, 2003
On Friday, many Americans will use their day off to get a head start on Christmas shopping, and much of that buying spree will end up on credit cards for debt in the new year.
Members of the Steamboat Springs Peace and Justice Center want to send a message that there are alternatives. On Friday night, they will be showing the PBS documentary "Affluenza" at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
Peace and Justice member Summer Laws saw the film years ago and never forgot it.
The group chose to show the film on the day after Thanksgiving because it is the biggest shopping day of the year. Friday also is the target of a years-long campaign by the Canadian magazine "Adbusters" called "Buy Nothing Day."
"Last year, Americans, who make up only 5 percent of the world's population, used nearly a third of its resources and produced almost half of its hazardous waste," begins a description for the film on PBS.org. "Add overwork, personal stress, the erosion of family and community, skyrocketing debt and the growing gap between rich and poor, and it's easy to understand why some people say that the American Dream is no bargain."
The term "Affluenza" is defined as "an epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream."
"Affluenza," the documentary, runs one hour and explores the social and environmental costs of buying too much.
"I think Christmas is a stressful time for people," Laws said. "There is pressure to give a lot because if they don't, it will seem like they don't care about that person enough.
"I think there are other ways to give, and you don't have to be consumptive."
The screening of "Affluenza" is part of an ongoing effort by a group calling themselves the Steamboat Springs Peace and Justice Center.
The group started meeting and talking in June.
The group opened their meetings to the public at Epilogue Book Co. on Sept. 16. The group's goal is to educate and organize the community on political issues such as a livable wage, peace and international affairs.
Last week, organizer Linda Lewis opened the front room of her house at 410 Pine St. as the official site of the Steamboat Springs Peace and Justice Center.
The room will be used as a meeting space and lending library. The Peace and Justice Center is open during Thanksgiving week from noon to 5 p.m. daily.
Materials can be borrowed for two weeks.
The center is slowly building a collection of periodicals such as the Utne Reader, Yes magazine and Mother Jones, as well as books on the environment, simple living and politics.
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