Meet Bethany


Last but certainly not least, meet Bethany. She is a 23 year-old military civilian brat who grew up all over, including time spent overseas. She most recently moved to Denver from Las Cruces, NM.

Q. “To me, simplicity is…”

A. To me, simplicity is enjoying the moment, in the best way that works for you.  For me personally, I feel I am living the most simply when I am able to meet my own basic needs, saving money where I can, and am able to enjoy the wonderful people in my life.  In the context of this year, and our house goals, simplicity is helping me reduce the hectic bustle of life that I often visualize as ambient noise.


Q. What do you expect to experience during the next few months of “simplicity challenges?”

A. These past few months of simplicity challenges have been a fun way to remind me of the conveniences that I have been blessed with, in more ways than one.  I have not only be realized how much I have had in my life by giving up, like the dryer, but also rediscovered blessings that I may have taken for granted, like library books and friends.


Q. How did you live simply before you began this year-long volunteer program?

A. One way that I lived simply before this year that I have managed to maintain is my awareness of energy waste.  I unplug almost every lamp, “gadget” and appliance that I can when it is not in use.  I have also been very enthusiastic about recycling, which I am glad was something that was shared with my housemates this year.  My most recent residence in NM did not have recycling and that was difficult.  They implemented it not too long before I moved to Denver, and I spent about 45 min filling our new recycling bin when it arrived because there was so much we had refused to throw away.


Q. How have your ideas of simplicity changed since August?

A. I don’t feel as if my own view of simplicity has changed very much, but I have learned a great deal about how people define simplicity differently.  It is a personal definition that one chooses to live, and I am excited to keep mine and other’s view of simplicity in mind as I move forward.


Q. What has been the most difficult aspect of “simplicity” thus far?

A. Adjusting to what each challenge means, and building it into my schedule.  One’s life and habits shift in some ways because of what is being given up or taken on.  For instance, giving up the dryer meant taking on diligence of my time.  Remember the blog on needing a shirt for the evening which had been washed that morning? Hanging clothes to dry with enough time before you need to wear them is a pain for me, but much less so for others.


Q. What is one thing you simply could not live without?

A. Music!  I think I would at least need a radio if I lost all other methods of music.  I don’t play an instrument, so I can’t make my own.   And singing to myself just isn’t quite the same…


Rebecca and Kelsey’s One Things

Rebecca’s One Thing was to have a sleepover. As housemates, we sleep under the same roof every night. But we took it to another level. All eight of us slept, elementary school style, in our living room. Some were on the floor, some were on couches. We ate pizza. We played games together. We turned on a movie as we fell asleep.

Kelsey’s One Thing was to participate in a murder mystery. Earlier in the year we assigned each other to characters of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (or Snowy and the Dorfs, as we like to call ourselves). For the murder mystery game (created by our very own community member, Rebecca) we each had assigned roles that were combinations of our own personalities and the personalities of our Snowy characters. We did this as a game at the aforementioned sleepover, and we all had a blast. It turns out Bashful killed Grumpy with some poisoned apples…


Elle as Sleepy, Bethany as Sneezy, Juli as Doc, Pat as Happy, Colleen as Snow White, Kelsey as Bashful, Rebecca as Grumpy, Kat as Dopey

Pat’s One Thing

Pat’s One Thing was to have a BBQ in the backyard of our house. We have done this a few times, but we decided to do another one on July 4th to celebrate being together, and also to host a get-together for our friends in Denver. We ate ribs, corn on the cob, potato salad, chips – a typical Independence Day spread. For dessert we had delicious ice cream with strawberries and blueberries, and lots of whipped cream (regular and chocolate!). A good Fourth of July.


Juli’s One Thing

It may be hard to believe, but our year with Urban Servant Corps is almost over. Eight of us came from different parts of the country last August, all to live in one house and work in non-profits here in Denver.

As we have been reflecting on the last 11 months of our lives, many of my community members (myself included) have realized that there are still things we want to do before we all move on. Because of this, we have come up with a concept of “One Thing.” Each of us will choose one thing we want to do (all together when possible) before our community disperses.

The first community member to leave will be Juli, as she is beginning a dental school program that starts in August. The next few weeks will be spent immersed in our community as we strive to do One Thing that each of us wants to accomplish before our last day together.

Juli’s One Thing was going salsa dancing at a local bar/club. Though we would not all choose to go salsa dancing on a typical Thursday night, we enjoyed being able to share Juli’s passion for latin dancing for a few hours.


July: Local Produce

Finally, it is Farmers’ Market season!

For this month’s Simplicity Challenge our house has decided to buy produce exclusively from local growers. This will mostly be accomplished by shopping at local markets over the weekends. We hope to explore the Denver Farmers’ Market scene and visit a few different locations over the course of the next 31 days.

Eating locally is important to us because it reduces transportation costs (both financial and environmental) and it allows the food to be more ripe and flavorful because it does not have to withstand going from one end of the country to another.

We hope to gain a better understanding of the local food environment in the Denver area, to enjoy the fresh food we eat more, and support local farmers with our time and money.

We also want to watch documentaries on how eating locally can really be good for us, for farmers, and for the world in general. We want to learn why produce is better that processed foods (though most of us have at least a basic knowledge of this already). We want to understand why what we choose to do matters!

Do you have suggestions for documentaries to watch? How do you eat locally? Comment below!


It has been way too long since I posted something.

June has filled up from out of nowhere. Part of it has to do with the realization that I only have another month left in this volunteer program and I am trying to squeeze out every last bit of fun that I can. Part of it is because this month’s Simplicity Challenge (June Cleanse) is not much fun to write about. And part of it is because I have been plain lazy.

On August 2nd my year with Urban Servant Corps will be over. No longer will I volunteer full-time at Urban Peak youth shelter. No longer will I live in a house with the 7 other lovely ladies of my intentional community. No longer will I have a routine (as I do not yet have a job or a place to live set up past August 6th). I have been spending this past month doing all the things I wish I would have started doing when I moved to Denver: hiking, going to different church services, exploring restaurants, spending time with high school and college friends in the area. I have little down time, between wrapping up my year and attempting to fit in everything Denver has to offer me at this point in time.

Also, the Simplicity Challenge of drinking only one beverage per day besides water has proved to be difficult for me. Most days I can do it, but some days I forget and catch myself on my second cup of coffee or having a kombucha in the morning and a cup of milk with lunch and a glass of wine with dinner. On the days I do remember, I sometimes just disregard the rule, to be honest. I am not proud of it, as our community has committed to doing these Simplicity Challenges. But sometimes it is worth it in order to have tea and a smoothie in the same day. Though I have not stuck with this challenge 100%, it has made me a lot more aware of the liquids I am putting in my body, and has increased the amount of water that I am drinking. When I do remember the Simplicity Challenge, I will usualy replace the glass of milk I am wanting to drink with a glass of water. Other times it makes me plan ahead. If I know I am going out for drinks with a friend later on that night I will not have a cup of coffee in the morning. In fact, my coffee consumption has gone down a LOT! I pass a 7-11 on the way to work every day and the temptation is to go in at 6:55 a.m. (I start work at 7) and get a large coffee. However, because I don’t want to use my one drink up in the first waking hours of the day I have stopped frequenting that 7-11 so often. It has felt good to not be reliant on that kick of caffiene to wake me up in the morning.

Lastly, I have just been lazy about updating the blog. Writing is a priority of mine, as is simplicity, but this month other things have taken precedence. I have not put posting to Intentional Simplicity to the top of my list, though I hope in the coming month to do a better job at this in July.

My apologies to people who read this blog and are (for whatever reason) interested in the Simplicity Challenges that my housemates and myself have been carrying out. Thank you for reading. We appreciate all of your support and curiosity.

(Written by Kat)

Meet Kat

(Written in March)


Kat is a 24-year-old woman who comes to Urban Servant Corps from the midwest by way of the Pacific Northwest. Having grown up and attended college in Minnesota, Kat wanted a change of scenery after she graudated in 2011. She participated in a year-long volunteer program (Lutheran Volunteer Corps) in Tacoma, WA, and decided to continue living in community this year in Denver. Kat is working at Urban Peak, a shelter for homeless and runaway youth ages 15-21. Her daily duties include helping the youth prepare for their day, serving breakfast and lunch, talking with and listening to youth, and supporting youth in exiting street life. She also transports youth to a weekly poetry group, and facilitates a twice-weekly Fitness Group for the shelter youth.

Kat is the primary writer/administrater behind this blog, and is very excited to be working on this project.

Q. “To me, simplicity is…”

A. Living as near to the natural state of things as possible. I see this in many ways – in creating community with others, in eating raw veggies and pasture-raised meats, in reducing my consumption of manufactured goods and processed foods. Simplicity is also using my time to develop myself, others, and my community in a way that I enjoy, rather than spending time doing a myriad things that do not feed me.

Q. What do you expect to experience during the next few months of “simplicity challenges?”

A. I am expecting the challenges to be difficult, yet eye-opening and creativity-inducing. It will be interesting to see what challenges our community as a whole decides to pursue, as we all understand “simplicity” to manifest itself in different ways. I am also expecting to be frustrated with members of my community when they do not understand my idea of simplicity, and I expect them to be frustrated with me when I cannot see their conception of simplicity as well. However, I believe we can work through these differences and hopefully teach each other valuable lessons, if not about simplicity itself, then about tolerance and acceptance of other ideas/points of view.

Q. How did you live simply before you began this year-long volunteer program?

A. My parents taught my brother and myself that money is better spent on experiences than physical objects. I have never been one to strive for the tangible status symbols (expensive clothes, big TVs, shiny cars). Instead I have enjoyed frugality at its finest, including infrequent spending, buying cheap things or quality things, and shopping at the Goodwill. Last year I participated in another year-long volunteer program (Lutheran Volunteer Corps), and lived on a very small stipend in a house with 5 other women. “Simplicity” was a tenet of that program, as well, so I have explored this concept in similar settings as the community I am in now.

Q. How have your ideas of simplicity changed since August?

A. I have become more convicted of what I had believed previously: GMOs are bad for you, certified organic foods are wonderful, recycling should be done whenever possible, reducing consumption is best, responsible consumption is also best, 

Q. What has been the most difficult aspect of “simplicity” thus far?

A. Dissenting ideas of simplicity within our community have been difficult for me to understand. I know that simplicity is a very grey issue (there is not one “right” way to be simple, nor one 100% “wrong” way to do it).

Q. What is one thing you simply could not live without?

A. Bacon.

June Cleanse

During our months of simplicity, my housemates and I have focused on technology, conservation of energy and water, and reducing waste.

This month we are going to focus on the most simple and essential ingredient of life – water. In Colorado, hydration is very important. Coming from Minnesota myself, the land of over 10,000 lakes, I am used to moisture in the air. However, Denver’s high-altitude dryness requires that I drink a lot more water than I am used to. So this month’s Simplicity Challenge is to drink lots and lots of water!

As a househld we will drink water for all of our thirst-quenching needs. However, we can each drink one other beverage per day (ie: one cup of coffee, one can of soda, one glass of wine). It is not required that we drink another beverage, but some of us were hard pressed to give up that morning cup of coffee or a glass of milk with dinner. Aside from that one exception we are to drink water and only water.

We hope to cleanse ourselves of unnecessary chemicals, decrease extra calorie intake, and nourish our bodies with its most vital ingredient.

As part of our water conservation month we already watched a few H2O-based documentaries, but we hope to collect more information specifically related to drinking water.

We will also continue some of our previous challenges, such as :

  • “tech-free” will not be regulated (ie: we can use technology whenever), though we will still be mindful of the amount of technology we are using
  • “air drying” will continue, though we can each dry one load of laundry this month
  • “shower time” will not be regulated, but we will each continue to use less water in the shower
  • “waste less” will continue by each individual being aware of what she consumes and throws away

(Written by Kat)

Do you have suggestions on what documentary we should watch? Do you feel better when you drink only water? Leave a comment below!

May in Review

Our thoughts on using our electric clothes dryer only once a month :

  • We extended our clothesline outside and I love it! Not using the dryer at all this month was much easier with the combination of nice weather and not feeling stressed about where to awkwardly hang all of my clothes to dry when they don’t fit on our small indoor rack.
  • My clothes were dry in 2 hours – and smelled great. So glad we have a clothesline!
  • Now that we can use a clothesline I feel the limited dryer is easier.

Our thoughts on taking faster/fewer showers :

  • Not using a timer – mine are still short but frequent
  • I haven’t felt as disciplined on timing my showers but feel like I’ve definitely cut down on the time I have the water on but shutting it off while sudsing up. Also, warmer weather has made it much easier to shut off the water for a bit to shampoo my hair without being super cold.
  • My showers aren’t as short but I am still taking them less frequently.
  • I stopped using a timer and am sure my showers have gotten longer. However, I do take them less often, and the warm weather helps me to keep the temp of the water colder so I’m not using all our house’s hot water.

Our thoughts on creating less waste :

  • I wish I had watched more documentaries about waste this month. I meant to, but I got super busy and that fell to the bottom of my priority list.
  • I want to be thoughtful about the way I live and consume. I am concerned about maintaining this awareness when I’m not with like-minded people.
  • Is it better to have more clothing and do less laundry (and use less water) or to have fewer items of clothing (consume less “stuff”) and do more laundry?
  • I don’t think this challenge was specific enough to really do anything about. I did pay attention more to the things I was throwing away versus recycling/composting, but I did not change my behavior drastically.
  • I tried to be less wasteful but I think our house was doing a great job before this challenge so I did not notive a big improvement.
  • Honestly, I don’t think I made any improvements on this. I think I became more aware of other housemates and people at work that throw away paper and food that can be composted. I think it’s much harder to reduce waste as a household when it does not feel like a very united effort. Even though I was looking forward to this simplicity month I don’t think there was much energy from most other people in the house. I also think with the amount of donated food (some that is rotten and that comes in a lot of boxes) it makes it more challenging to not waste or recycle more than the average household.

Waste Less: Paper Towels

In our home we do not use paper towels. We use cloth rags instead.

When out in the community, however, I do use paper towels – usually between 2 and 4 of them. This TED talk by Joe Smith can, in a few short minutes, teach you how to stretch these products farther. Whether you use paper towels at home, at work, at the airport, or at the mall, you can use this technique to reduce the amount of paper waste you create.

(Courtesy of Pat)