Hope for Hotter Times

Explorations in sustainability & justice

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Resilience Tea Project

Thomas, Paul and I set out to gain resilience using the natural resources found wild in Portland. The first step we took was to  research herbalism too see how it has been used and continues to be used in today’s society. This helped us understand the basics of the practice and got us familiar with certain terminology. After doing this research, we started brainstorming and planning to make our own teas and use herbs in various ways.

st-johns-wort First we identified what herbs we wanted to work with. St. John’s Wort (seen above), Lemon Balm, and Hawthorn (seen below) were the herbs we decided to use. Their anti-anxiety/anti-depression properties are what we were trying to target most. In a high-stress situation, the tea could be extremely useful and potentially save lives. Making herbal tea is also very easy. Just pack desired dried herbs into a tea-bag and then let steep and cool in boiling water. The benefits of herbal tea are as wide as herbs themselves. Between the thousands of species, you can truly find a cure for just about anything.


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Community Engagement

Many problems need to be addressed in today’s society. While many people took the approach of addressing problems to the environment, Matt and I decided to do something different. Helping the environment is definitely a good cause, but we wanted something different. We wanted to take a step back and reflect on the people of the community. It was in both Matt and mine’s interest to serve the community and let them know someone out there cares. We established a common goal to serve the homeless people at the Portland Rescue Mission. The Portland Rescue Mission serves a vast majority of homeless people daily. From my personal experience I was able to get, a better understand that people come from different lives. This helped me develop a kind heart to those who had an unfortunate series of events. The guest at the shelter may not know my name, but they do know that someone helped served them food that day when they needed it.Photo2


Forest Park Revisit

On our second visit to forest park, I noticed several changes to the park. There were many plants that were not in bloom the first time we went in the fall, but they were this time. I was able to identify many different types of berries and plants. None of the berries were in season this fall, and they are harder to identify when the vines are bare. Also, I saw a few of the plants that Lara Pacheco from Seed and Thistle Apothecary taught us about such as Wood Sorrel and Yarrow. On this visit I brought my Jordan from South Dakota. She had never been to a park like this before, and she was amazed when I would pick things up and eat them (such as Wood Sorrel). There is nothing like that where we are from. I am happy that I get to experience it here in Portland. 11083649_10153309066800984_2946166131740360041_n.jpg

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Trip To Columbia Ecovillage

When Dr. Gerwing mentioned a trip to the Columbia Ecovillage, I was highly intrigued because I didn’t really know much about what entails in an ecovillage. I was really excited to see what it would look and be like from the way that Dr. Gerwing would talk about it. Before the trip, it really piqued my interest when he mentioned that the ecovillage was a bunch of condominiums in the area and, with that description, I had a hard time picturing what it would look like and how they worked around it based on previous descriptions that the class was given sporadically. It wasn’t really what I pictured, but not in a bad way.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing all the many different parts to the ecovillage. I wasn’t anticipating for the space to be as big as it was and for it to be organized in the way that Dr. Gerwing had described. I was actually surprised that they had built in a community hall for gatherings and big dinners where everybody in the community was able to congregate. After going inside, I was not expecting for it to be built as well as it was. The kitchen looked like an industrial kitchen and there was so much space; there was even a kids area.

My absolute favorite part was the chickens! I wasn’t expecting there to be so many! There were at least 10 of them! The chicken coop was also a lot bigger than I was anticipating.

After seeing the ecovillage, I was very surprised with how much land they also had. There were so many different nut trees, fruit trees, and available land for gardening. It was interesting that the gardening plots were split apart. Dr. Gerwing explained that each family was given a plot to plant whatever they wanted to plant. I guess that it was an easier way to micromanage the gardening plots instead of having everyone using one big plot.

All in all, I really enjoyed this trip! I never anticipated for it to be as organized as it was but I would love to see what another ecovillage is like in comparison.


“Magic Tea” Resilience Project

The main purpose of the resilience project in our Sustainability FRINQ class was to allow each student to develop a new skill that would make him or her be able to transition into a sustainable lifestyle in a comfortable way. The type of skills we were encouraged to acquire were related to preparation for a disaster and sustainable living practices. My group decided to approach this project with the angle that we had to bounce back from a major, destructive earthquake.

I came to realize my interest in herbal remedies once Dr. Gerwing had a friend come in and give us a full presentation about the basic fundamentals of herbalism. She provided us with tons of information about how herbs are commonly used to help people and how humans have been relying on plants and herbs for a very long time.  What amazed me was the fact that everyone has safe and effective herbal medicines all around them, even in downtown! Its also interesting how accepting our bodies are to these natural alternatives. Since our ancestors relied on natural plant-based medicines for many years, it is clear to me why they are so compatible with  the human body. My early interest in herbalism is what made it easy to choose this topic.


During our class presentation, we learned mainly about the plants that would be useful during first-aid. Most of the plants had anti-septic and anti-microbial properties. Some of the plants also reduced swelling and even helped reduce bleeding. Since our class had already leaned about first-aid, we went ahead and learned about specific plants that would reduce anxiety during times of stress, such as a disaster. After some research and a long convo with the herbal shop employee, we were able to choose hawthorn, lemon balm, and st. johns wort as our best herbal candidates. My group chose these plants specifically because of their natural abundance in the northwest and their uplifting and sedating properties. After gathering the leaves and drying them out for about a week or 2, just place them in a tea bag and drop it in boiling water.

This topic is important to me not only because of its tie to resilience, but also because of its relation to mental health. As a new student in college, it has become clear to me how important it is to stay mentally and physically healthy. Obviously college is a stressful time, so its important to have a way to relax. These relaxing herbs are a great way to loosen the grips of anxiety during tough times. Not only are these herbs cheap, but they are also exponentially healthier and more sustainable than other alternatives such as benzodiazephines.

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Community Engagement at Rock Wood Urban Farm

Before this project I had never experienced any sort of community engagement or really done any volunteer work.  Rock Wood Urban farm is actually far away from where I live and I wouldn’t consider myself one of their community members.  However, upon arrival I was greeted with cranberry muffins and smiles as Leah the farm owner was happy to have help.  Leah had us shovel mulch into wheelbarrows and dump the mulch on the other side of the farm forming three new beds for various vegetables.  This work was surprisingly physically demanding and by the end of the day my arms felt like noodles.IMAG1158

At the end of the day I felt good moving those mulch piles there was a feeling of accomplishment and it felt better knowing that someone actually benefitted from my help.  Leah said that the work our group did would have taken her fifteen hours to do by herself and we shortened that down to three.  This not only helps her, but it also helps the community as Leah now has less work to do and the people that rely on her for food are benefitted as Leah can produce her crops faster.


Not only was the experience of community engagement eye opening as I felt I was benefitting myself by helping someone else, but I also felt apart of the community even though I don’t see myself as a part of the community.  There was something about it that just felt right.  Something else that was surprising about that experience was how beautiful the farm was in the middle of the city somewhere that isn’t considered beautiful.  I felt there was something special about that place and I am glad that I had the opportunity  to help and engage with the community.


Eco Living

The visit to columbia Eco Village was great.  The idea of using a complex of condominiums is great, and one that I had never considered before.  But the benefits of reduced energy consumption, less square footage of the grounds used for housing (as vertical space can be utilized) and communal spaces in the other buildings allow for space to socialize,  and have gatherings without fear of disturbing other residence with noise.


Additionally, The idea of consensus decision making is intriguing as well.  This idea is a little hard to conceptualize as we are all so used to this ‘Democracy Rules’ method of thinking.  Although, after reflecting on this process, it seems like it may offer a better solution than the simple ‘majority decides’ philosophy.  By discussing ideas further, and allowing for open forums in which to speak, and debate, it is ensured that all voices that want to be heard are.  When it is time to make a decision ideas are well constructed as these conversations work to develop them more thoroughly,  and I feel that discussing the doubts of some community members actually allows for ideas to be more fully developed and well rounded before they are put into action.  This process utilizes the strengths of everyone involved, and therefor acts to counter balance the weaknesses of each individual member as well.  A brilliant idea, and a great practice in constructing a more resilient and sustainable community.IMG_0544

Along with the idea of consensus decision making, and intentional living, the room provided as a large multi-use kitchen and socialization room is fantastic.  The community meals Dr. Gerwing described sound like a great way to participate in, and contribute to your community.  There is truly something about breaking bread or having a drink together that solidifies bonds, and helps to build connections.

Thank you Dr. Gerwing for letting us visit your home.  I wish it was closer to campus so we could have seen more.