Rem Stokes knows that talking about money makes most of us a little uncomfortable, but he argues the reward is well worth the exercise in his new book titled Cultivating Generosity: Giving What’s Right, Not What’s Left. Rem is an author, teacher, veteran fundraiser and a two-year resident of The Garlands of Barrington. He’s also a voracious reader, and a tireless advocate for conscious living and generous giving.
In Cultivating Generosity, Rem invites us to do some thoughtful introspection, with the hope that we’ll consider finding more resources to share. He challenges us to think about the influences that shape our attitudes toward money and he explores how donating money can bring more happiness and personal satisfaction.
On February 10, at 11:30 a.m., Rem will share his book’s message at a discussion and book signing at The Garlands of Barrington’s Performing Arts Center and all are welcome (more details below).
Rem, 83, is a true Renaissance man. A former engineering manager with Bell Telephone Laboratories and Motorola, he holds 22 patents. He holds degrees in both mechanical engineering and educational psychology.
His home at The Garlands is lined with books meticulously organized by subject–and he’s read them all. When he’s not spending time with his wife, Lee, you can find Rem writing in his light-filled office (which has a spectacular view, by the way), or teaching anything from neuroscience to history.
Rem has been thinking about our relationship with money for quite some time. In 1953, at age 23, he joined the Unitarian Universalist Church in Summit, New Jersey. When the church’s minister asked Rem to canvass for their capital campaign to raise funds for a new religious education building, Rem enthusiastically agreed. He thought people would give eagerly to the cause.
When he asked people to donate, though, he was shocked by their “enormous ambivalence.” People were hesitant to give, and even more reluctant to say why not. That was the beginning of Rem’s involvement with 77 churches’ capital campaigns, and his lifelong study of money attitudes.
In Cultivating Generosity, Rem writes “For many, money is a delicate subject. When I was a kid, it was considered to be in bad taste to discuss sex, politics, religion, or money…Well, times have changed. People talk openly about yesteryear’s most personal problems: mental illness, personal diseases, and every form of cancer…But not money! Money may be the last great taboo.”…
Rem wants to start a conversation about money – no matter how taboo it may be. While some financial experts advise followers to “trim the fat,” Rem wants his Cultivating Generosity readers to go a step further. He guides us back to our earliest awareness of money – most often our families’ discussion of or attitudes toward it – and asks us to think about how those experiences shape our current financial personalities.
“There are as many different financial personality types as there are people,” Rem says. It’s okay to have different money personalities, he says. “The problem happens when these deeply ingrained personalities conflict with our professed values. Like when our knee-jerk reaction to spending, or giving, prevents us from doing what we know is right.”
Rem has taken his decades of experience and distilled it down to create Cultivating Generosity. The book is essentially a mirror, asking tough questions that reveal some essential truths about our attitudes toward giving. It gently guides readers through exercises that show them their “money values.”
Chances are, Rem says, that some of the exercises in his book will make his readers a bit squeamish. “Wherever there’s embarrassment, though, there’s some essential learning to be done.”
Rem practices what he preaches. Each time he looks at his own spending, he finds it liberating. He once took a bank statement, and created a post-it note for every expense. He separated the notes into columns: one for essential expenses, another for non-essential but desired expenses, and another for donations or soul-satisfying expenses. “I reordered the non-essential expenses until I had the least important at the bottom, which happened to be one of many magazine subscriptions I never got around to reading.”
Rem decided to reallocate those magazine funds toward gifting. He found that he could forgo many of the non-essential expenses without even noticing. “It’s much more gratifying to give $240 to Operation Smile to repair a child’s cleft palate.” That’s just what Rem has chosen to do, funding several operations per year for many years.
Join Rem for a discussion and book signing at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, February 10, at The Garlands of Barrington’s Performing Arts Center, 1000 Garlands Lane, Barrington. Rem will talk about his 12-step exercises and rationale for encouraging not-for-profit organizations, especially churches, to stimulate giving by helping move constituents from “self-interest” toward “self-esteem.”
Cultivating Generosity: Giving What’s Right, Not What’s Left
A discussion with author Rem Stokes
When: Monday, February 10, 11:30 a.m.
Where: The Garlands of Barrington Performing Arts Center, 1000 Garlands Lane in Barrington
Reserve your place by calling Amy at 847-304-1996.
Copies of Rem’s book are available for purchase on Amazon, you’ll find more information about the book on his website at AuthorRemStokes.wordpress.com and you’ll hear from Mr. Stokes himself in this video where he summarizes the purpose of his book, Cultivating Generosity.