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Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Author Kevin SalwenDear Amazon Readers, What does "living well" mean? By traditional standards, our family was there--nice cars, expensive vacations, dream house, fancy stuff in it. It took a fourteen-year-old to make us take a second look. That teenager, as you probably know from glancing at the book description above, is Hannah (now seventeen). As she and I waited at a stoplight just a few blocks from our home, Hannah's head swiveled between a homeless man and a pricey new car. As she wrote in her journal later: "Driving past the homeless man that one time changed my life. I felt sad, like I wanted to help him, but angry, really angry. At myself mainly. Thinking there was so much I could do for this man and for a lot of the poor people in this world considering I had so much." Now, Hannah is not one to keep emotions to herself. She brought that anger back to our family's dinner table, challenging us to "be a family that makes a difference in the world, even if it's a small difference." My wife, Joan, and I defended ourselves: We volunteer for Habitat and work at the food bank. Hannah stared, unimpressed. Joan and I described the checks we wrote to charities each December. Hannah rolled her eyes. Finally, Joan decided to challenge back: "What do you want to do, sell our house? Move into one half the size? Give up your room?" That opening series of questions launched our family on an audacious project that we chronicle in The Power of Half. How we decided to sell our house. How we chose to invest the proceeds. Our travels to the places where we decided to work. Along the way, we tried to figure out how much was the right amount to give to charity, both in time and money (the average American gives 2.1 percent of income). We learned about extreme giving (50 percent, anyone?) by average people and about new programs popping up to teach kids about sharing and spending. But if that were the whole story, I doubt we would have written this book. Joan and I began to realize that our "Half" project was transforming our family--heightening our trust in one another, empowering our kids, building a deeper connection. Because we, as the parents, shared influence and listened in a new way to our kids, our project to make the world a little better was making the chemistry between us a lot better. In other words, we had traded some stuff for togetherness--and I bet a lot of folks would take that deal. So Hannah and I are hoping that our book can inspire you to create your own "Half" project. We don't expect you to sell your house, of course (that's nuts!), just to look at your life to determine what you have more than enough of. It could be time; it could be belongings. Depending on what issue you care about, you can brainstorm creatively what you can live with half of. (One example: If fighting drug addiction is your passion, you could give up half of the cups of caffeine-laced coffee and cola you drink.) By following the road map in the book, you can build your own project, and in turn create deeper bonds among your family, community, any group you choose. Oh, and of course make the world a little better at the same time. That's our definition of living well now. Kevin Salwen
(Photo © Allison Shirrefs)
A Q&A with Kevin and Hannah Salwen, Authors of The Power of Half
(Photo © Allison Shirrefs)
Photographs from the Authors of The Power of Half
(Click on images to enlarge)
|The Salwen family in front of their old house||Moving day at the Salwen house||Hannah Salwen cuts the ribbon for the Hunger Project||Where "the power of half" brought the Salwen family|
This book will help you see how big a difference we really can make.
If her family would sell their enormous house, they could give half the money from the house to the poor and would make the world a better place.
I hate to be so negative about this book, but the more I write in this review, the more annoyed by the book I become.
The book is a good reminder of the value of extending beyond one's self. However, the family's ability to extend themselves financially and time wise is beyond the norm thus can be... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Judith A. Longfellow
it was a good book to read and it tells us alot we can do to make a difference.the book was in good shape and it came on time.Published 1 month ago by Nancy D. Talley
I believe the message, the idea, the intentions were good. The writing; however, was not. Distracting me from the main message was the product name dropping. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kimberly Lee
This is a very interesting life approach, one to be admired and makes one wonder if your own family could try this.Published 3 months ago by Glenna Corn
A very unusual family, especially the teenagers. (Of course, they have taken their cue from their parents. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ann F. Millican
At the urging of their then 15 year old daughter Hannah, the Salwen family sold their home, moved into a smaller one, and took half of the proceeds from the home sale ($800,000)... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Laura Anderson
The book changed my life. I thank the authors for writing about the power of half. It was the way that I learned about the book that began my journey to learn from the book and... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Maryann Pasda Diedwardo
I absolutely loved this book! I loved that it was partially told by a very passionate and thoughtful 15 year old girl who came from a lot of money. Beautiful and inspiring story!Published 5 months ago by Amy B. Fagan
This lovely book proves the heart of youth can melt the ego's of a greedy and self-indulgent society too apathetic to look at how consumerism is killing us. Great little book. Read morePublished 6 months ago by R L Phares