Hope in a Hotter Time

Explorations in sustainability & justice


Resilience project 2018

In the coming weeks we’ll be developing our  resilience projects. For this assignment students, individually and in small teams, will develop skills that could increase their resilience in the face of potential disasters and in the transition toward sustainable & just ways of living on the planet and interacting with one another.

Wild plants for food and medicine – To help jumpstart our ideas for possible projects and learn about some of the plants growing on the Portland State campus, we’ll have a plant walk and talk with Lara Pacheco founder of Seed & Thistle Apothecary.

Other resources for project ideas – Here are some additional web resources that might provide ideas for projects:

  • OPB – Unprepared – A site developed by Oregon Public broadcasting (OPB) that provides lost of information related to preparing for the earthquake(s) that are anticipated for the Portland region.
  • Resilience.org – Focuses on building community resilience in a world of multiple emerging challenges: the decline of cheap energy, the depletion of critical resources like water, complex environmental crises like climate change and biodiversity loss, and the social and economic issues which are linked to these.
  • Cascadia Wild –  a Portland-based non-profit dedicated to connecting local people with the local ecosystem.
  • PREP (Planning for Resilience & Emergency Preparedness) – provides practical information on getting ready for any potential emergency, from storms and power outages to floods and earthquakes.
  • Peakprosperity.com – The “What should I do?” page of Peakprosperity.com provides some starting points for increasing personal and community resilience.

During mentor lab on Tuesday, April 10 each person, or small team, will be asked to describe their resilience project idea as a “comment” to this post.  Your description can include links to other websites & sources that you might use to help develop your project.

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Obesity in the United States

As of June 2nd, 2019, the United States population is close to 329 million, making it the third most populous country in the world, according to the U.S. and world population clock. Despite the large population base, health trends are somewhat consistent across the nation. This blog serves as a promotional medium to help raise awareness of America’s most important public health problem and concern – obesity.

Many people do not think of obesity as a disease, but I believe obesity is a complex disease, and it is difficult to treat. Traditionally, medical professionals assert that poor eating habits, physical inactivity, and medical conditions are three leading factors of adult obesity. However, a meta-analysis of family studies shown that obesity is highly heritable. The analysis examined 140,525 individuals in different countries and found a heritability of body mass index in the range of 0.75 to 0.82. In conclusion, it seems that the human genome heavily influences individual obesity. On the other hand, the authors also suggest that genetic differences do not affect adult obesity, despite its degree of heritability. Therefore, the traditional views on the causes of obesity remain the same.

Based on findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adult obesity rates have reached a record high of 39.6% in 2015-2016, a 10% increase from the year 2000. That being said, approximately 93.3 million adults were obese. At the same time, childhood/youth obesity rate (aged 2-19 years old) rest on 18.5%. This trend deserves more authority attention, given that childhood obesity is a critical contributor to adult obesity and linked to a higher chance of premature death. The United States has an obesity epidemic, and it is the most significant health concern. Obesity increases a person’s chances of having hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and cancers.

Furthermore, when it comes to obesity, demographics matter. Differences in ethnicity, gender, income, education levels, and geographic location could alter the likelihood of having obesity. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity rates are the highest among Latino and black women without a college education who are living in rural areas.  Nonetheless, there is a positive relationship between health conditions and income. Adults in higher incomes brackets are less likely to be obese than their counterparts. Conveniently, often time education is the strongest driving force behind the different income earning capacity among a group of people. In most situation, low level of education typically translated into lower income earning capacity. However, one thing to keep in mind is that while obesity is more prevalent at lower education levels and lower income brackets, people of all socioeconomic rankings have been gaining weight at a similar rate since the early 2000s. The rapidly expanding “food deserts,” and the lack of investment in public spaces forced a third of the American population to live on unhealthy food sources and unable to be active. The society has collectively denied many Americans access to safe environments that could cultivate healthy lifestyles for those very people.  Therefore, reducing body weight is difficult, especially for lower income households as they lack the resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The solution is simple: eat less unhealthy foods and exercise more. Medical professionals always advise their patients to develop a balanced eating habit that is rich in necessary nutrients and stay physically active. The problem is that not every individual has the mental capacity to control what they eat entirely. People have limited abilities to eat healthily and stay active every day, and once the consistency cycle breaks, most people would repeat what they have done in the past and forgo all the progress they have made in the weight loss battle. As a result, even though the solution to obesity is easy to comprehend, most people would never achieve their goal. Now, lifestyle advice seems to be ineffective; we need to enact innovative tactics to solve the obesity epidemic. We need government intervention. Since people have limited self-control in their lives, it is necessary for federal agencies to enforce public health regulations to lead the way. For instance, a great approach is to tax unhealthy foods and redirecting those funds to subsidize healthy foods in lower income areas. Also, reducing the availability of sugary beverages in schools is an effective method to lower teenage consumption. Moreover, regulatory policy to eliminate the aggressive marketing of unhealthy foods on TV, online platforms, and other public places have been proven to fight childhood obesity.

Obesity is a genuinely concerned public health issue that requires personal will and authority assistance to resolve. Although overwhelming evidence suggests that genes play a huge role in obesity, the two most commonly recommended interventions, diet, and exercise continue to dominate the mainstream discussions.




Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. (2018, August 13). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

Census Bureau, U. (2019). The U.S. and World Population Clock. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/popclock/

Elks, C. E., Den Hoed, M., Zhao, J. H., Sharp, S. J., Wareham, N. J., Loos, R. J., & Ong, K. K. (2012, February 28). Variability in the heritability of body mass index: A systematic review and meta-regression. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3355836/

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db288.pdf

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Blog Post#3

I was really excited to go on field trip with the class, I woke up too early like a high school student. Although, I got lost nearby Forest Park. Eventually, I make it to the spot and we went out to the forest. I loved looking for new species of animals and plants that I never seen before. We were able to identify couple of plants and unfortunately I can’t name them. There was some Douglas fir around the place, I love these kind of trees because they are ancient trees they live too long.

We also identified some birds that around the creek. We saw two kinds of birds, one of them is brownish with small peak.The other one, has black feather all his body and orange feather on his nick. We kept walking on the trail till we saw too many of banana slug on the side of the trail.

I was really happy when I saw the forest cleaned up and there is less trash around the place. People developed the place and they created a trail for disable people from the start of the trail till the middle of the forest. I wish if I could see more animals there like dears, owls, and foxes. I hear too much about the forest and its animals and I’ll go there again to look for these animals next time.

-AlAzhar AlHadrami

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Reflection on the Past

Last week, our Sustainability class went to Forest Park to view some of the exciting things it has to offer. Initially we were given a book and a list of things to be on the look for. Including birds, trees and rare flowers. Grouping up with Racheal, Damon and Josh, we set out to find almost everything on that list. This trip was quite a nice experience and a good change of pace rather than sitting in a classroom.


Ahh but yes a quick preview of the upcoming conversation. We will be having a conversation about three quite pressing matters in todays modern times. The first being a very controversial topic not only at PSU but through most of the nation. And that topic is bud dum dum bud dum….. Planned ParentHood. Quite a large debate has been conducted on many campuses nationwide to decide if this type of thing is needed in the modern world.

The second and slightly more controversial subject is Gun Control. Many people on the left and the right argue day and night to put the other side to rest. Some people believe that you can either have weapons and then there are other who’s say you shouldn’t be able to have them.

And finally, the third potential topic is the idea of feminism and equality based wages. We all want equal wages and we just think that fighting for the right cause in the right way is a key factor for opening peoples minds to new ideas

After this post, we are most likely not going to be posting any time soon, I appreciate everyone looking at my blogs and reading them thoroughly and with an open mind. Have a great 2018!

Dylan Perrin.

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Blog Post #3 The Forest

I’ve been to many forests across Portland, but never have I tried to look for certain plants, animals, or birds. To me, much of the plants or animals I see look the same to me, so I never pay close attention to them. Going on this trip was cool becasue I got to see the complexity of the forests. When trying to look for plants, they looked the same with a quick glance, but once you started to look at the petals, the shape of the stem, and the shape of the leaves a clear distinction could be seen. This has got me curious on what else I can find on trails, forests, or small creeks around town. So the next time I go into a forest I will be more observant of my environment and try to identify anything that I can get my hands on!


Forest Park and Some Feelings

While those of us who took the streetcar to Forest Park might say that the journey there was the adventure and not the actual exploration of the forest, this field trip was a lot of fun and I still feel like I learned good information.


While identifying the flowers to the right I learned that there are actually multiple types of blackberries that grow in oregon, as well as salmonberries and thimbleberries, which is what the picture is of. All of them are edible though I couldn’t tell you how salmonberries or thimbleberries taste. Pictured below we also found several types of moss including old man’s beard, as well as several types of ferns including the maidenhair fern.

My group and I were not able to identify the black and yellow centipede however, and we weren’t entirely sure what type of bird we found was either just because we didn’t get a really good look at it. I did catch a video of it bathing in the stream though which was really cute.


After spending so much time talking about ways we need to be more sustainable to save the beautiful world we live in, both the environment and our social structures, I really appreciated seeing at its core what we’re trying to save. Normally on a stroll through the woods I wouldn’t look for animals or types of wild flowers and would just think “Yeah, it’s a forest. There’s trees and whatever,” so actually looking and seeing the immense diversity was refreshing. Also as the year draws to a close, I just want to say that I’ve really enjoyed this class. I’m a very closed off introverted person and I don’t navigate social situations very well. If it wasn’t for having this class through the entire school year, it’s unlikely I would have made any friends at all. I liked getting to know everyone and I appreciate everyone’s kindness and wish everyone the best throughout the rest of their education and beyond. Thanks for a great year! 🙂

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Field Trips!

I’m all about any excuse to get out of the classroom and into the world. As a kid and in my earlier education we never took field trips. Partly because I went to school in Clark County Nevada (which is one of the worst school districts in the nation) and because I lived in Vegas, So you know where do you go? A casino, although informative, isn’t necessarily the best educational experience. Getting to go to forest park however was fantastic! I had hiked there previously and it is stunning out there. I think it was also really great not to just appreciate the beauty as a whole but to start to identify its parts. A forest is so alive and it’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking close enough. Having grown up in the desert I don’t have a vast knowledge of plant life. Sage brush, tumble-weed, cactus you know, the basics. But being in forest park and trying to identify different flora and fauna was a difficult task for me. It’s easy to look at a forest and just say, “Yeah, those are trees…” but to be able to identify the different types of trees through leaf shape, and bark color is something I’ve never done and something I thoroughly enjoyed. I saw many things for the first time or at least really noticed them for the first time on this field trip and that’s what its all about right? Being able to get you the hands on experience that is memorable and informative is so important and exactly suited towards my learning style. I can’t wait to take my wife back to forest part and show her some of what I learned.

Also, looking forward, I am so excited for our Thursday field trip to see where Dr. Gerwing lives. I interviewed him last term about what an urban eco-village was and why they were important and it was a great experience and I’m so excited to go see it in person. Being someone who studies architecture the eco village is something I’m incredibly interested in and designing them is something I would love to do as a career.

Can’t Wait!

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Blog #3 Habitat for Humanity

For our community engagement project, Althea and I teamed up to help out at the Beaverton ReStore center. The ReStore center is a retail store managed by the Habitat for Humanity of the Metro area that sells new and used home improvement materials. Most all of the available stuff to buy comes from donations of goods that are no longer being used by the person donating it. Income from sales at the ReStore support Habitat’s mission of building affordable homes by helping support the overall cost it takes to build. The ReStore provides the most dependable and sustainable source of funding as goods that are bought are being recycled and reused further extending their life avoiding becoming municipal solid waste at the landfill.

I was able to volunteer eight hours of my time at the beaverton location. Much of the work that I was doing involved unloading furniture, cabinets and other goods, and loading related materials that customers had purchased. During the hours when the store is not as busy, I gave a lending hand in pricing and stocking newly donated goods onto the store floor. My favorite task in being a part of Habitat for Humanity was helping out on the loading dock where people would donate their goods. I also has the chance to talk to the store manager Josh Laville on one of my breaks. It was nice to be able to talk with Josh about Habitat for Humanity and other subjects. He is a very welcoming and big-hearted person, it was not hard to recognize that Josh believes in sustainability and the work everyone is a part of at Habitat for Humanity.

I really enjoyed the time that I spent helping out at the Beaverton ReStore center and I hope to return again and be a part of Habitat for Humanity whether I choose to help build a home or volunteer at the ReStore.