Sostane Blog

Archives for the ‘All Meetings’

Portland September Meeting: Why Women are Green Leaders

TOPIC: Why are women leaders in the environmental movement?


We did introductions and then had lively banter about concepts and ideas from the book Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design by Kira Gould and Lance Hosey. We discussed and shared insights about being women and how that influences our thoughts, problem-solving approach and perspective on the environment.


The main themes we discussed from the book were: Right Brain vs Left Brain, Approaches to Problem Solving, and the Nature of Women. Here are the details:

  • Right Brain vs. Left Brain – Each of us had stories demonstrating how men think in a more linear, logical, left brain way; whereas women approach things more holistically and include emotion, memory, experience and consequences to their thought process. Quotes from the book supported these findings and offered some insights beyond our shared experiences.
  • Approaches to Problem Solving – Similarly, we shared stories about differences among genders and how we get to a solution. We referenced passages from the book as well as real life tales of men not considering the same kinds of criteria in a problem that women often include. We discussed how our self-confidence can hinder or accentuate our problem solving abilities. Specifically sharing tales about having confidence to know you can tackle a problem and needing that to be able to jump in vs. how men sometimes jump in first and try to figure out if they have the tools to solve it as an afterthought.
  • Nature of Women – Again, we discussed sections of the book that highlight how women are caregivers, nurturing people and how that approach is required to heal the damage we have created. We talked about the sphere of the earth and the womb and our curvy, encompassing features. Our chat supported assertions in the book about motherhood and the holistic approach required to raise a child (physical, mental, emotional needs of children all being tended to simultaneously)

We ended with some concluding statements about what we got out of the discussion and meeting each other and the benefits we are building with the SOSTANE network. We talked about leveraging femininity and all of its attributes as an asset/competitive advantage, not just a consideration. Like all the rest of the tools we bring to our careers, we also bring our feminine superpower to think and approach things in our unique way. :)


Keely (facilitator), Carol (meetup member) and Lia (meetup member)

Seattle May Meeting: Finding Your Sustainable Voice

Photos coming soon. (Thanks to Jessica who remembered her camera!)

Topic: How To Speak From Your Inner Sustainable Voice – Finding your green roots can help you speak up, communicate your passion and send out positive no’s.

We had a fairly healthy turnout seeing it was Memorial Day Weekend and many activities were going on around the city and how beautiful the weather was. Thank you everyone for spending a couple hours out of your Saturday to share in our discussions.

Focusing in and around the topic of saying “No” in a positive way, we started out the discussion on the Yes-No-Yes concept by William Ury and the book The Power of a Positive No. While the book itself is not focused on sustainability, we felt it was an appropriate topic for women who have a tendency of agreeing to too many things in their lives. Overcommitting, finding ourselves in situations where our gut was telling us we shouldn’t be there, or not staying on a clear path to what we really need in life – all of these things we can say no to but it ‘s learning how to do it in a positive way. By giving ourselves permission to say no, communicating it well and standing strong in our inner voice, we can show others what is important to us.

The book itself gives an example diagram of a tree (roots-yes, trunk-no, branches-yes). Our interpretation for our discussion was the bottom is rooted in your positive beliefs, the trunk wide with your unwavering policies of what you are unwilling to bend to, and the top branches are the positive outreach you are able extend to others freely and willingly. While the book showed how you can use this for individual issues you need help deciding in your life, we thought it was also a great visual for diagraming all of your sustainable values.

Jocelyn shared how she has deep roots in doing the best for the earth and was having trouble agreeing to spend over-budget trying to buy all organic at her local grocery stores. Her strength (trunk) was solid enough that it lead her to investigate alternatives for her and her family. She found that 21acres and other CSAs allowed her to stay in budget, purchase locally and give her family healthy food. Now she speaks this sustainable voice to others to encourage them to look into these alternatives to see if it can work for them as well.

Karen told us about her experiences as a music teacher . She knew that her roots of music were highly valuable and by insisting on raising her rates to the professional standards, she was able to tell others yes or no more easily because of her new policies. Those who didn’t value her services at the higher rate were not the type of clients that she needed any longer.

Becca related about trying to assist some non-profits who kept asking her for free help but then never heeded her advice. She realized they were overstepping their boundaries and decided to sever the relationship as they had not respected her needs in their relationship.

Jessica talked about her recent experience in trying to volunteer with a group that she was very excited about joining. During the training process she was dismayed with the rigidity which put a halt to her energies. Should she stick with it as she had done most of the hard work or was this a sign of things to come, that something that should be fun and artistic wouldn’t end up how she thought it would be. Using the Yes-No-Yes may bring her some answers to what she can offer them and what she can’t bend to due to her own mental and physical sustainability.

In what ways have you become strong and voiced your inner sustainable voice?

Attending sisters: Jocelyn, Becca, Karen, Gayle, Jessica and Kaytlyn

Seattle Meeting: Support Your Sisters


A touching turnout for Earth Day! Less formal than our last Lifeline Activity, our April meeting focused on ways as women we have been able to support one another. Whether it’s appreciating those who have stepped up to believe in our ideas or those we have encouraged along the way, our threads of connecting to each other are strong and unwavering. It’s also about asking for help when we need it. Something many women have trouble with. I know I have!


Jacquie shared that her son is a huge support system not only as a family member, but his background in environmental studies has allowed them to connect and inspire each other. It inspired her to look at her interior design skills and see how she can incorporate sustainability in all areas of sourcing materials, reusing elements and keeping chemicals out of our indoor environments.


Jessica informed us that she has been investigating art therapy as a way to give back. Her BA in arts and passion to make a difference locally has led her to seek out this resource.

Jocelyn has found many ways of being supported by the collaborations she has nurtured through other local business women. Even meeting entrepreneurs who may do very similar work to you usually lead to differences in preferred clientele that you can usually refer to each other. You can also pick each other’s brains for how you solved certain problems for your customers and clients. Together we can achieve more than if we were all separate.

Several of us knew Marlo (a fellow sister) who has helped us in many ways. She is a creative arts consultant and knows the ins and outs of becoming a self-employed woman who makes a living from their crafts. We definitely agreed that she is supportive and we love to support her endeavors.


Tara shared with us about a new cause she has connected with. Because of her passion for kids to have a chance to experience the outdoors, and being thankful that she had the opportunity to go camping when she was young, she found The Fresh Air Fund as a way for her business to give back. You could tell the personal connection and passion behind her commitment to this cause.

From Tara’s Blog:

In honor of Earth day, I would like to share a cause with you that is very close to my heart. The Fresh Air Fund helps give inner city kids the chance to experience nature. Please help spread the word, donate, or even become a host family. Check out my blog post to find out more.

It’s passions like these that we want to help encourage, inspire and promote through Sostane. Some may have found their purpose, some may still be experimenting. But I think we all need to take a look and see what ways we can support each other while fulfilling our own needs of happiness.

Near the end of the meeting we all shared what support we were still looking for. Jessica was looking for a running buddy close to her home, Tara is looking for a sales rep to help assist getting her clothing line in stores beyond Seattle. We also talked about common business supporters can be lawyers, accountants and financial specialists. Jocelyn shared her skills in bookkeeping and the local connections she has with similar business owners. I had personally made a great connection with a lawyer back east who is willing to host a scheduled phone chat to share her knowledge of business entities, liability concerns and business consulting. I would like to open this up to Sostane members soon, so if you are interested in participating please let us know!

Shared links:

The Fresh Air Fund
Get Rich Slowly
Pink Magazine and its article on women-owned partnerships
Wilderness Awareness: Youth Programs
Michelle Bomberger of Small Business Legal Services
Digital Eve Seattle
Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability

Attending sisters: Jessica, Jocelyn, Tara, Jacquie and Kaytlyn. Thanks everyone! See you next month!

Seattle March Meeting: What is Your Sustainable Path?


Looking at your past can help you identify what commitments you want to make in the future

The Past

This meeting was a little different in that we started out with an activity. We had a lifeline from birth to today and we were to write down pivotal, influential and meaningful times/people/events that we contribute to our sustainable beliefs. Whether it’s from your parents, family, friends, teachers, books, travel, life changes, moves, career changes or more, we have all either found the passion within ourselves or been inspired by it from outside sources.

Kaytlyn started with her experiences as a child and remembering how her father taught her how to start tomato plants, and how to create a garden that the family ate their meals from. To then recycling in her teens, remaining the northwest to be around the natural beauty and attending the event 101 Things Designers Can Do to Save The Earth a few years back that really opened her eyes to what power designers have on product creation.


Gay related to her biggest change in her life was moving out from Chicago. From literally seeing the trees from the plane to implementing her own sustainability with recycling, canning, growing their own food and teaching her children those values. Her story shows how you may not have found your sustainable side until much later. Kaytlyn agreed that there were parts of her life where there were definite gaps.

Iraz told us that she had realized a true connect to nature in her life from some of the earliest times she could remember, one vidid memory being a time where she was mesmerized watching ants and their behaviors. That they were animals to be aware of and are just important as we are.


Deborah said she had a huge impact by a book called Raising Your Child Toxic Free that completely changed her career in marketing to a life as a naturopath. Just reading the novel drove her to seek out organic foods and create a sustainable life for her family and son.

Amy had a great connection to her past as her parents were contractors, builders and constructed their home out of repurposed materials from an old school. Gym flooring, toilets, wood panels–all reused to form their home. At the time during the 70’s and where she was living (no hippie commune here), it wasn’t cool to be wearing used clothes, use cloth napkins (and reuse them), or even make all of your food from scratch. Kaytlyn could definitely agree. As a kid you don’t know why you feel a little unusual, but look at us now! That’s what everyone is striving for.

Colleen related that when she become exposed and active in PETA, did she find many other resources that resonated with her in terms of environmental information and ethical passion.

The Present

Jacquie communicated her attempts in keeping her interior design business materials as local as possible and a current project left her dissappointed but on a mission to find a better solution or collective that could help in her efforts. Perhaps purchasing materials as a group could lower the costs. Amy could definitely relate to that point as sustainable fabrics sourced locally could cost five to ten times as a client would want to spend. This creates an image of sustainability being out of reach and impossible to incorporate into our lives and provide for our clients. More research and demand could lead to lower prices and products being more plentiful.


Kristin talked about her current work being a bit unsatisfying due to higher management in her workplace unwilling to be open to education outreach. Instead of only fielding questions from their customers, she would rather inform and education. Iraz, Kaytlyn and Deborah all chipped in ideas of newsletters, emails, seminars or gatherings to monetizing the situation so her managers could realize the impact these outlets could influence and reduce costs.

Some resources mentioned during the meeting:

Raising Your Child Toxic Free, Herbert L Needleman
Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver
Maria Rodale’s Organic Gardening

• NPR: Reducing Carbon Footprint of New Gadgets (Omar Gallaga)
CurbWaste & Conserve, Ask Evelyn for Seattle Public Utilitities (example Q&A)
Chinook Book at Eco Metro
Killawatt and Smart Strip


Attending Sisters: Iraz, Colleen, Kristin, Ellen, Deborah, Jacquie, Gay, Amy and Kaytlyn. Thanks for coming everyone! What an enjoyable meeting. If you want to find a SOSTANE ME SISTER, contact us and we will help you find someone.

Portland February Meeting: Living with Less


What have you removed from your life to bring you more happiness?

This month we held our meeting in the new Laughing Planet location in the Ecotrust building. A little cold, but wonderful somewhat sunny Saturday afternoon.


Tangible Items

Almost half of our attendees could relate to moving in the last few years, long or short distances. Brie recalled her story of getting all of her boxes and packing materials from a family who had just moved, used them on her trip out east and then completed the cycle by giving them to another family who was getting ready to move. It’s almost as if those boxes had a long story of their own!

We all related on the many ways to donate and get rid of items we no longer need: Freecycle, CraigsList, Goodwill, Salvation Army and garage sales. None of us missed our old stuff and we all felt freer for doing so. Jennifer related that she had one room in her home that she purposely left empty and loves it. Maybe you could do the same and turn it into a mediation, dance or partying space.


Brie and a few others could relate on signing up for Green Dimes (now Tonic) and have found a definite reduction in junk mail. You can also do this at a few other site: Do Not Mail, Catalog Choice, 41 Pounds, and the DIY version at the Direct Marketing Association. It was also mentioned that you can feed your shredded papers to your worm bin. Never thought of that! Of course, you have to keep in mind the amount you are feeding them.

Some other ways of keeping items out of our homes, but still in our lives, was to use the library. You can borrow so many movies, documentaries, music, books and other entertainment and never have to keep a collection in your own home. Granted, you may need to wait for some of the latest releases but it’s free!


Local Experiences

Jennifer brought up how she would like to create a bike machine that could provide her with energy using her existing bike. Most businesses are trying to sell the whole machine, but we should be able to buy just a few parts to transform our existing assets. If anyone has any information on how to do this, please contact us!

We also touched upon low price or free yoga instruction and it was mentioned that Portland City Parks holds yoga classes in your local parks. We weren’t able to find a link for it as they were still showing their winter schedules, so if anyone has a good link, please let us know! You can also find instructional videos at the library or some studios hold a free class or two to let you find out more about their services. Here is a good example from January that allowed 21 free classes and you could try out 21 different instructors, seeing which one best fit you.

You could also try finding others to skill share with. Maybe you can provide some services for their services in return.

Brie also shared with us that she had done a presentation for her local Toastmasters group about living green and was surprised with how many people were interested and had questions for her after the presentation. Although we all may share our experiences in our green circles, it’s when we step out of them and share with others that we are spreading the message.

Wrapping Up

A book worth checking out: The Gort Cloud by Richard Seireeni

Barbara shared an upcoming event with City Repair and the Humanities Sustainability Research Project. Cheryl shared her new about Leave No Plastic Behind and her efforts to live plastic free for three months. See if you can take up the challenge!

Attending sisters were Kelly, Barbara, Brie, Cheryl, Siobahn, Jennifer and Kaytlyn. Great meeting everyone. Always inspiring.

Seattle February Meeting: Living with Less

What have you removed from your life to bring you more happiness?

We held our meeting in Fremont’s Caffe Ladro this evening right before another snowy night. Very cold, so thank you for making the time to come out!


Tangible Items

We started off by recalling ways we have purged physical items in our lives. Jessica could relate to downsizing several times before moving. Once before moving to Seattle a couple times since while moving around the city. Christie could relate as she had done the same since moving out from New York. Jessica mentioned a space in her apartment building where she could leave items that were being given away and within a day they were all gone. Marlo agreed that she had a similar space or if you leave items out by the curb with a free sign, they are snatched up very quickly. Other means of getting rid of items: Freecycle, CraigsList, Goodwill, Salvation Army, a garage sale–and if you want to make a little cash on your good items, Ebay. We all agreed we have taken advantage of finding used items through these sources as well. As long as people are reusing the items, they aren’t going into our landfills.

We then talked about getting rid of personal documents and Margo was able to shed some light on what papers we should be keeping. Any tax papers should be kept 5-7 years, papers and receipts for your taxes should be kept for that year and any utility bills should be kept about 6 months. ALL paperwork with your name and address on them should be burned or shredded before disposing as they carry a huge risk of identity theft. If you can sign up for online billing, this will keep paperwork from coming to your home, but usually you can’t get rid of it all. Emily shared that the state of Washington is having Community Shredding Events. We are looking into coordinating a meeting with one of these events.


Mental Clarity

From tangible items, we moved into talking about mental clarity. Kaytlyn shared some personal experiences about saying no in her professional and personal life, and setting up boundaries that people will respect. Everyone could relate to how we sometimes feel overrun with responsibilities and giving to others. But clear communication with others about what you are willing to do (and not do) can actually breed more respect.

If you are getting to the point where you are mentally exhausted, you aren’t honoring your mental sustainability. Women at times can go, go, go and fail to look at the situation before deciding if it’s in their best interests to accept new responsibilities. If you need to, ask yourself multiple times if this is really good for you and what you are trying to achieve in life.


Personal Safety

Margo brought up some good points about physical personal safety that many women face walking around town or on hiking trails. Margo recanted a situation with the safety of her daughter and we all agreed that she had done the right thing by raising the issue with authorities in the area. Honoring our gut instincts of when we feel safe and when we don’t is important.

Wrapping Up

The sisters who attended were Christie, Margo, Emily, Marlo, Jessica and Kaytlyn. Great meeting everyone! You all brought up ideas we hadn’t even thought of. Keep the questions and ideas coming!

Portland January Meeting: Looking Back, Moving Forward


Our kickoff meeting in Portland (woo hoo!) at the Ecotrust building. We would have had it at Laughing Planet, but they were not open yet so we found a great spot in the atrium.

Looking Back

How did you green your live last year?

Many sisters had participated in their local CSAs, purchasing from thrift stores, buying locally, and supporting local groups. Cheryl told us about her involvement with Leave No Plastic Behind and Hannah relayed info about her Q19 Greening cleaning company.

Many of us had expanded our personal gardens with bigger plans in the coming months. Composting, worm-bins, growing your own food. It was a hard year for tomatoes, but we were looking forward to this next year.

Some of our holiday giving last season was done through Heifer International and allowed us to connect with younger members of the family due to their “give a goat” or “give a duck” campaigns. A great way to introduce children to farming, sustainability and social impact.


Moving Forward

What do you have planned for next year?

Since Brie was new to the area, she appreciated learning about all the local resources such as the closest CSAs and Farmers Markets, New Seasons Markets, Portland’s Bright Neighbors, Tryon Life Community Farm, Free School Portland, and more. Barbara was a great resource in telling us all about these local avenues to source your food or to get more involved in your community. She seems to be connected with everyone! But we were amazed how many resources everyone brought to the table. We were all interested in finding more ways to trade products and services, either through bartering or skill trade.

Cheryl was also brave enough to put her idea out into the world of a grocery store that has no containers or plastic. We loved this idea and will help and cheer her on in any way possible. We know she can do it.

Sisters who attended: Hannah, Brie, Cheryl, Melora, Barbara, Kathryn, Kathy and Kaytlyn. Great meeting everyone. Thanks for making the table in the atrium work and your enthusiasm to start up this group!

Seattle January Meeting: Home Assessment


Wendy was kind enough to open up her home for Gina’s presentation of an sample home assessment by Green Diamond Consulting. Wendy also runs Childish Things in Crown Hill/Greenwood. Thank you so much to both of you for your time and donations!

The Assessment

Instead of focusing on the home, Gina actually perfers to focus on how you are living your life and what makes the most sense to tackle first so it means the most to you. Some basics of looking at what you are eating (less red meat, organics, cooking from home) to how you are commuting, she can help you examine which areas can give the biggest impact.

Our exercise was to come up with one goal that we would like to tackle in the next month or so. And then to achieve this goal, she had us step back and write down the steps to getting to our goal. After looking at it as a serious of baby steps, the goal looked highly achievable! Thanks Gina!




Starting in the Kitchen

Many recommendations can start in one of the most used rooms of the house–the kitchen. Looking at energy saving appliances, using a dishwasher instead of hand washing, making sure your refrigerator coils are clean, warming foods on the stove instead of the microwave (we all agreed that food stayed hot longer from the stove), looking through your cleaners for safe alternatives, biodegradable trash bags, fabric towels/napkins, composting, less packaging and which plastic numbers to avoid, and more.

Washington Toxics Coalition
EO Hand Sanitizer
Jubilee Farm CSA
Green America (formerly Coop America)
Goods for the Planet
Nature’s Path


Attending Sisters: Kathleen, Masa, Gina, Wendy, Stephanie, Emily, Sarah, Jessica, Julia and Kaytlyn. Thanks again to everyone who could make it. It was great to have a private space to talk freely and connect with others.

Seattle December Meeting: Best Sustainable Gifts

What are the best sustainable gifts? What gifts keep on giving?

A hard meeting to schedule before the holidays! We met in Belltown’s Uptown Coffee on 4th.


Ideas for Gifts this Year

Jessica shared with us that she would be flying home and that her family is focusing on being together, food and cooking. She has many little ones in the extended family but they have agreed to not buy anything for them. That will be up to the parents. She was also going to give the gift of cleaning to her roomates and exchange household tasks.

Emily was also flying home and told us she had made writing kits with old art supplies and envelopes from bills she didn’t use. A creative way to use what you have and keep in touch with extended family. She also makes a point to give experiences instead of tangible items like those through the King County Waste Free Holidays.

Gina’s family was going to focus on a vacation for everyone into the mountains and Emily said there was a shuttle that could take them there and back, making it more eco friendly.

Kaytlyn was in the midst of hand-making most of her gifts for that year, inspired by items found in magazines and catalogs. Why buy them when you can make them!


The key thing to focus on for everyone during the giving season is what can you do to add and promote the values you believe in. Can you give to a charity like the United Way or use the White Envelope Project and let the gift giver decide? Since the economy is down, charities need your help more than ever. What causes mean the most to you? What causes mean the most to your loved ones? We agreed that Oprah’s Favorite Things seemed more meaningful this year. Please consider shopping locally and eco-logically this season.

Home Decorations

Organic Christmas Tree
• Tree from the UW College of Forest Resources
• Consider a live tree you can plant after the holidays
• Bring nature indoors (old branches instead of a tree, holly, tree boughs)
• Beeswax candles (instead of lights)
• If you still want lights on your home, consider solar or LED versions
• Find alternative wrapping like old cookie tins, flour bags, pillowcases


Spotlight Sister: Gina Diamond

Gina shared all of her information about her Parties with a Purpose and assessments she creates for home and business owners. It’s a great way to get everyone together for special events, holidays and parties. Please see all of her services at

Attending Sisters included Jessica, Emily, Gina and Kaytlyn. Very thoughtful meeting everyone! Enjoy the holidays.

Sostane Meeting: November

Let me start off by saying, this won’t be the last meeting we cover the topics of beauty and cleaning products and recipes. We had about 12 sisters show up at Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park and each brought their best finds.

Now to be clear with our promotional policies, only some of the items mentioned with be linked from here. The others you will need to search for yourselves from the names we provide. Our goal is to provide the most local and sustainable products available and we haven’t researched them enough to feel comfortable promoting them. There are many other sites out there that can tell you about the national and international options. We will leave it up to you to search the product names (they usually came up first in the results) and examine the ingredients and sustainability factors you feel comfortable with.


Jeannine started off by telling us about her recipes for fizzy bath balls and salts. Two local shops that carry the ingredients are Dandelion Botanical Company and Zenith Soap Supply in Wallingford. Sandra told us about the simplicity of using oatmeal and water to make a face mask. Or just holding your face (at least 8-10 inches) above boiling water for a lovely steam. Love that! Even almond, jojoba, coconut and olive oils can be good for the skin.

Local Products

Our fellow sister, Rebecca, offers Country Meadow Soaps which smell just heavenly! For those with sensitive skin, there is Bienella Eczema Butter Skin Therapy line or their regular BienElla. And make sure you don’t miss Ballard Organics and Moon Valley Organics who also provide honey and beeswax candles.


The subject of using Vaseline was brought up, but we quickly had to point out that it is in face petroleum jelly and don’t condone using it as a petroleum product. Jeannine mentioned purchasing Kimbery Sayer at Stylus in Belltown as well as other paraben-free products they have in stock. Cynthia brought all kind of products from Melaleuca, Tracy mentioned her Arbonne products and Enjo, Amy mentioned Origins, Debbie brought her Pureology line of hair products and Ecover cleaner.

Helpful Websites

Trish brought some very helpful sites that not only can help you pick out sustainable beauty products, but also some other handy sites for finding all sorts of green products (via Newsweek): This well-organized site rates personal-care and household products. Seventh Generation’s Natural All-Purpose Cleaner gets top marks. Info on packaged foods is coming soon. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic-safety database scores personal-care products based on their potentially hazardous ingredients. This site evaluates companies that produce apparel, food, beverages, electronics and household products for their impact on global warming. Results: Nike scores high. Billed as “the consumer action guide to toxic chemicals in toys,” this site lets you look up toys to find out how they rate in lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and PVC.

Spotlight Sister

Amy Woidtke of EcoKind Design gave a great presentation on some simple eco-styling and repurposing we can all do. CD case coasters, cork tile placemats, flower pot wine chiller, and creative ways to use draperies and tie-backs. She also brought beautiful organic cotton fabric swatches from Live Textiles made locally in Seattle.

Attending Sisters: Jeannine, Cynthia, Tracy, Amy, Julie, Meghan, Trish, Marlo, Sandra, Debbie and Kaytlyn.

Let me know if I missed anything!