Hattie Berg and son Alder, 18 months

Holistic moms

Becoming a mother only solidified the values of Hattie Berg's childhood, which was split between New York City and an eastern Washington cabin without electricity or running water.

Although her own Medford residence is by no means so rustic, Berg strives to keep life simple for her 18-month-old son, Alder, and in the process, leave behind a better planet for his generation.

"There's a lot of awareness right now of the state of the environment," Berg says. "He's watching me setting an example, too."

The family walks as much as possible to the city's downtown, nearby parks and the Bear Creek Greenway. They compost kitchen scraps, subscribe to a community-supported agriculture program and tend their own small vegetable garden. Berg, 34, purchases Alder's clothes second-hand and line-dries laundry, including her son's cloth diapers.

"We cloth diaper because we don't want to consume things that are wasteful," Berg says. "To me, it's worth a little bit of inconvenience."

Hoping to find other local families with similar lifestyles, Berg reached out to Holistic Moms Network, a New Jersey-based nonprofit group that in March formed a local chapter. Meeting monthly, Holistic Moms provides resources and support for parents in more than 120 American and Canadian communities. Members pay a yearly, tax-deductible fee of $45, which purchases and grants access to a library of books and videos.

The network's members don't subscribe to a specific definition of "holistic living," says chapter co-leader Augustine Colebrook. The concept means something different to everyone, and its numerous facets hold varying degrees of appeal, Colebrook says. Holism, however, usually is interpreted as a complementary relationship with the natural world, she adds.

"Everybody's at a different stage in that journey," Colebrook says. "Holistic is very individualized."

Meeting topics for Holistic Moms range from the pros and cons of vaccinating to positive parenting techniques, Colebrook says. This month's speaker will discuss healing with herbs and homeopathy. While some families, Colebrook says, are most concerned with consuming organic food, "fighting consumerism" is a major goal for others, including Berg.

"How we consume is a pretty major theme," Berg says.

The theme is evident in the family's modest home, sparsely furnished with well-worn and heirloom pieces. Favoring durable household goods that "will last for generations," Berg encourages family members to purchase Alder's toys with quality and longevity in mind.

So the toddler's rocking horse has real wooden runners, a hair-like fabric hide and leather-looking tack. His set of wooden building blocks are stored in a crate painted to look like a house. There isn't a primary-colored, plastic plaything in sight.

"We're not continually putting more stuff in the consumer stream," Berg says.

Employed part time to promote Pacific Power's Blue Sky renewable energy program, Berg says the number of households that share her interests are growing. Holistic Moms' first meeting hosted just a few would-be members, but Berg and Colebrook are hopeful that many more moms are looking for the support network and sense of community that the organization can provide.

"There are new, young families that are moving to Medford that are thinking along those lines," Berg says.

Additional information can be found online at www.holisticmoms.org or by calling Augustine Colebrook at 541-840-0706.

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