Hope in a Hotter Time

Explorations in sustainability & justice


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Our Return to Forest Park

We went on a Thursday, May 18th to the Lower McClain Trail at Forest Park. We surveyed animals and plants.  We were looking for birds and native and non-native plants.  I pointed out some plants and identified some cool birds.  I also looked for fish in the pond.  I also looked under rocks for insects. I went on a nice hike on up the trail and I saw a lot of dogs and people and other groups.

I saw lots of different types of birds and plants.  I saw Black Cap Chickadee’s, a Robin, and I also saw a Humming Bird.  Their was a lot of bird singing.  I also saw some Pond Weed, some cool flowers like Trillium flowers and Blackberry Flowers.  Finally, I saw wild mushrooms hanging on the side of a tree.

This trip had a lot more greenery and life than the trip last fall.  I identified different birds and plants than I did last fall.  I’m more aware of my natural surroundings than I was last time, and it helped me understand my impact on the environment.  The weather was also different, it was more clear this time than it was last time.  I really enjoyed it and i learned a lot of new facts about plants and animals that I didn’t know!


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Delish fridge

Usually Portland’s weather isn’t too bad however, this winter Portland had a large snowstorm. This left slowed public transportation, disrupted max lines, and closed local stores. As a heavy dependent of dorm food and constantly eating out my food sources where no longer available because of this storm. So, for my resilience project I decided to create meals from food that was at my disposal.

For this project when thinking about meals I only considered food that was in my mini fridge as well as, anything that was on my kitchen shelves. I had to work with ultimately the most random foods including:

  • 2 apples
  • Sour cream
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Maple syrup
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Mayo
  • Soda
  • Coconut milk
  • Tapatio
  • Nuts
  • Cinnamon
  • Oil
  • Baking soda
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Tea
  • Pancake mix
  • Salt
  • Peanut butter
  • jelly

With these foods I created a meal plan. For breakfast I had some pancakes with syrup and juice, lunch: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and for dinner: a yogurt parfait with tomatoes and an apple on the side.

My experience during this project was as followed: After only eating random foods in my fridge I was a little hungry but felt full. Most products like the bread and pancake mix would last me a while so if it got to the point where I didn’t have a dinning hall to eat food of or had the opportunity to go to the store which would most likely be closed in a snowstorm, I believe I would be pretty well off for a bit .

 


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It’s Knot Too Late to be Taut…

Whether it be because of the big earthquake, a camping emergency, or a zombi apocalypse, knowing how to tie knots could be a good skill to help your chances of survival.

For 4 years, I was a part of a performing aerial circus company. One of the requirements for working with the company was knowing some basic knots for rigging equipment. These knots ensured that performers didn’t fly into the crowd or a wall while doing an inverted arabesque split on the lyra, while spinning on a spanish web, or any other crazy things we came up with. Doing a knot wrong could mean getting seriously hurt, so MAKE SURE you know what your doing when you do it. Just those few knots I used while I was a part of the circus company helped me with, among other things, bear hangs for my food while camping, and securing an unbelievable amount of stuff onto the back of a pickup truck. So even if you aren’t in an apocalypse scenario, knots could come in handy.

Coming into this project, my first goal was to learn how to make a makeshift harness out of ropes and be able to pull myself up a tree. I did use one non rope thing in this project: a carabiner. Carabiners are super helpful if you need to rig/ pull things up, and are great for connecting a water bottle to your bag, so I suggest you get one. I was successful after some trial and error in pulling myself up a tree. I’m sure there is an easier way to do what I did, that doesn’t require using so much upper body strength. If I hadn’t done over 10 years of climbing ropes and swinging on trapezes, I don’t think I would have been able to pull myself up very far. I know that creating a more efficient rope pulley system is possible, I just didn’t do it. I wanted to take a picture of myself hanging, but taking a picture of that while in an extremely uncomfortable harness and holding yourself up in a tree is a bit challenging. So, instead of an awkward picture of me in a tree in a park, here is the link and a picture of the harness method I used:

hasty_harness

*There are risks to using this harness. It is only for emergencies. Always opt for an actual harness, not only because they are way more comfortable, but because they are safer!

Other than that, I also learned some basic hitches, which are used to tether something to a base, such as a pole or a tree. There are lots of different hitches, and they are very useful. They are used to tether boats and horses, and are also what I mostly used when rigging circus equipment. One important note: hitches can slip. You have to know what you are doing, and some knots have the risk of slipping or rolling, so make sure you are using the right one.

Learning knots is a great pass time.  If you are a knitter, like me, this might really appeal to you. I sat on the floor of my bedroom tying knots around the legs of my bed for well over two hours, and enjoyed it. So even if you think you won’t be needing these skills soon, you should definitely practice, because its fun and because you want to make sure you know what you’re doing before you use them. Also, knots are pretty:

ocean_plait_mat

I tried this one, and have “knot” yet succeeded, but I will keep trying!


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Truth-seeking for the climate activist, the religious person, or the journalist

NO THANKS!

courtesy of fidedubitandum.wordpress.com

The “truth” is a complicated matter. Journalists are held to a vague standard of “unbiased” reporting. Christians can revert the facts to “God is in charge.” Climate activists are told the facts “depend” on your point of view…How do we begin to tell the truth?

As an aspiring journalist, it’s my job to be as unbiased as possible while reporting as thoroughly as I can with the limited sources that will respond to me. This last week, when myself and two other aggressive, passionate student journalists reported on Portland’s May Day mayhem, we were determined to report not only the happenings of the day, but on every angry controversy that arose after the event. “Riot is a strong word to describe a peaceful protest,” many activists said after the event. “Police caused the aggression” others claimed. “Why do the anarchists always have to ruin peaceful protests?” was the common-citizen response.

Most newspapers reported merely what the police documented, a copy-and-paste of Portland Police Bureau’s May 1st Twitter feed. At the end of the article, I address some of the controversy surrounding the burning trash cans and broken windows that resulted after the protest. While I was able to reach Portland Police to answer some questions (such as there was no proof of Molotov cocktails (homemade bombs) on the scene, which Portland Police claimed was a reason they shut the protest down), there was one issue that we could not report on. The issue was a police action Portland Police claimed was ok, and activists claimed was not. After phone calls with an angry district attorney, the leader of Portland Resistance, conversations with the American Civil Liberties Union in Oregon and the National Lawyers Guild, and a few hours pouring through policies on the Multnomah County website, I did not have a conclusive answer from an unbiased source (not police and not activists), so I could not report on an unsubstantiated claim.

That was my way of telling the truth.  The truth was one thing for angry activists and another thing for confident police officers. But the objective truth needed to compare these versions of reality with what the law says and what common practice is. Truth needs context.

For climate activists, as well as climate journalists, the truth is even more complicated. Christine Russell, from the Columbia Journalism Review, says climate journalists have an unusually tough job. Says Russell, “Journalists will play a key role in shaping the information that opinion leaders and the public use to judge the urgency of climate change, what needs to be done about it, when and at what costs. It is a vast, multifaceted story whose complexity does not fit well with journalism’s tendency to shy away from issues with high levels of uncertainty and a time-frame of decades, rather than days or months.”

Not to mention that climate change is still deemed a “debate.” No matter how many studies are quoted, how many suffering coastal regions are documented, how many droughts are photographed, or how many tearful stories are on a documentary, there will be no “truth” about climate change. While I, in my reporting, can compare the actions of police to the letter of the law, there is no Law of Climate Change.

That’s because political truth and religious truth are different than scientific truth. While scientific proofs, tests, and control groups give our brains the logical sigh of relief that maybe we know all the facts and can now move on together, politics, policy, and mass opinion seem to be swayed more by the heart.

A few months ago I posted an article about the Dakota Access Pipeline on Facebook. I prefaced it by asking why climate change was a partisan issue. I explained why I, as a Christian, believed it was both anti-humanitarian and un-Christian to put America’s impatient, gas-hungry quality of life over the lives of climate refugees and suffering ecosystems. My Sunday School teacher from the 5th grade, Rhonda, wrote me back: “I applaud your desire to make the world a better place; I just think that the trust you place on environmentalism will fail you. It’s noble, but God is really in control. God sustains the world, we are the caretakers. Yes, we should live responsibly, but we have limited knowledge.”

As a student, a journalist, and a prayerful Christian, I would have to disagree that we have “limited knowledge” as Rhonda thinks. I think we have a burdening amount of knowledge at our fingertips: the entire internet at the tap of a thumb. What we lack, I believe, is context, which is why good journalists aim to lay the facts out in fair context to help readers navigate through the studies, the claims, the laws, the debates, and the secrets. I, as a Christian, live in my sweet little house with my husband, my cat, my air-conditioning, my garden, my television, my computers, my toaster oven, and my air purifier and think “wow am I blessed!” And I am. I am free to enjoy what privileges God has given me, I am free to have children if that’s what is best, and I am free to keep the inside temperature at 72 degrees when it is 99 outside.

Placing my life in context of other people, however, changes how I believe God wants me to live my life. I am thankful for the framework of sustainability to help me live in a way that hurts others less.

The end-all, be-all for truth is, for a religious person, the God Impasse. The God Impasse pits one interpretation of God’s word against the interpretation of another. It concludes debate because there is no more conversation, forward-movement, or room for consideration in the mind of a decided Bible-interpreter.

Rhonda concluded her piece of the debate with a Bible passage that condemned my version of the truth.

“II Thessalonians 2:9-12: The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

To Rhonda, and to some climate change deniers, religious voters, and “fake news” critics, a “bias” against their singular experience with God is morally reprehensible. They back their spread of bad journalism, false claims, and opinionated rhetoric with the fact that truth doesn’t really matter because God is in charge.

Religious, climate-sensitive truth seekers like myself are not few. Navigating facts and context, and collecting enough sources to report on an issue is an incredibly hard job for anyone. For me, it forces my religion to the forefront, not the back burner of my thoughts. The God Impasse goes against everything know to be true about being a changing, growing Christian.

Revealing (and growing with) reality, in context, is the God-given right I choose to indulge.

 


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Earthquake survival

For my Resilience project I wanted to show people how to be prepared in the event of a large earthquake. I created my video in order to suggest to people how to find food, particularly protein, after the crisis. One of the main points I tried to get across was trying to stay in a good state of mind and remain positive, regardless of circumstance. If you are not in a productive mindset, and you just are worried and tripping about the whole situation, nothing that anyone has told you will stick with you. I also tried to use humor as a source of getting people to actual watch my video. We all know how boring it is when people harp about something that’s not directly related to yourself or your interests. I tried to keep my video short and engaging by using music and editing effects. Basically all I’m saying is what good is your informal video if people aren’t going to watch it.

In the video I included “survival tips,” small things that you can do in the event of The Big One these quick tips will make a big difference if followed. The first is to fill up a water bottle will clean, running, water. I chose to demonstrate with a water station in the Smith building. A human can’t go more than 3 or 4 days without clean drinkable water, getting as much water as quickly as possible needs to be a priority. The second survival tip is to wear your boots. It seems in a hipster city like Portland, lots of people are into wearing boots, so I included a practical fashion to function tip. Boots will keep your ankles from twisting and getting injured, they have grippy soles preventing you from slipping or falling, and the main thing and most important is that boots will keep your feet dry. If your feet become wet and you end up with some sort of foot issue, you become immobile and no matter who you are, you can’t survive if you can’t move. Gotta take care of your feet. A quick side note, it’s always good to have a source of cash somewhere. You can use cash as a bartering tool, or if somehow grocery stores are open, they will always take cash.

The main focus of this video was finding sources of food in a city like Portland where you might not be hunting for deer, or bears, or elk. There’s a lot of vending machines around campus and that would be a good quick solution for someone who’s say diabetic and needs sugar. Another reason to keep cash on you. I also showed how if you were really desperate, you could find sources of protein even in a large city like Portland. The Park Blocks offer the perfect spot to find birds, and squirrels. To hunt most birds there is a permit you need to have (permits are issued from Oregon Fishing and Wildlife department), however after the event of a huge earthquake the last thing on an emergency responders mind is going to be regulating hunting licences. Squirrels on the other hand can be “controlled (killed) by landowners or land managers if the animals are causing damage to land (lawns, gardens ornamentals, landscaping), livestock, agricultural crops or forest crops.

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