Thursday, July 9, 2009

What is a girl to do???

By Lee Edmonson, aka "Dad"

Alisha is preparing to hit the road tomorrow for her 3,800 mile drive to Washington, DC via San Francisco, Phoenix, Tucson, New Orleans and Atlanta, with her Mom along in the right seat for the Phoenix / Atlanta portion. This was a compromise to help get through the endless scrub brush of Texas.

Of course packing her car was a bit of an experience. Her apartment bedroom in DC is 6 feet, 10 inches by 11 feet, 8 inches. If you know Alisha the biggest challenge will be to find enough space for clothing and shoes. Shoes are an entirely different category, although one could argue that bodily coverings of any sort are "clothes". Alisha takes shoe acquisition, display and storage to a level seldom seen in this hemisphere.

Nothing in my 58 years of experience has prepared me for the task of packing a small hatchback sedan with so much of life's flotsam. When I was in the mining business we made money when we could move tremendous quantities of rock quickly to our crushing plants and we used really big equipment to get the job done. We are a bit more limited by Alisha sensitivities toward the environment because she will not consider owning a Suburban or equivalent land yacht. She does like to borrow mine occasionally as long as I fill the tank, and it would be really useful for this trip, but she has declined the offer.

So, I suppose, as is normal, that I have absolutely no control or say in any of this and that my job is simply to help let loose the lines when she wants to go somewhere and hold my tongue about the acquisition and storage of "stuff" lest someone inventories my own belongings. We were able to get 99% of everything into the little car for her departure in the morning and that will just have to be good enough for now.

Friday, March 20, 2009

new orleans video never posted

I found this video that a volunteer on the first house I worked on made. it reminded me of the amazing things people went through and how we all fought to change things.

I don't have many pictures so I thought I would post these videos three years later.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Are you who you think you are?

There are times in ones life when the question “who am I?” arises. Most of the time the question is in regards to personality, actions and interest, do you see your self how others see you. I am not asking that question right now; I am asking if you are biologically and organically who you think you are? I personal have always wondered if my seizures, which are neurological and not epilepsy, were caused by pesticides that my mother consumed while I was in the womb, or is it what the doctors say and I developed it from being near deaths door at six months old. Do we really know what we are at the cellular level?

My ponderance comes after reading an article this morning regarding a briefing given to the congressional staffers in the Dirsksen Senate Office Building where several key scientists reported on the use of antibiotics on livestock and the direct link to antibiotic resistant bacteria in humans. The report outlines cases where livestock and livestock workers carried the same resistant bacteria, pointing out that the antibiotics are then carried off in the food we eat, water run off and that the workers become carriers of these antibiotic resistant bacteria spreading it to other people. At the same time that they are reporting this they slowly retreat, ending their report by saying that hospitals are the biggest culprit and maybe we don’t need to do anything about the livestock.

Now I for one try very hard to not take antibiotics, taking them only where absolutely necessary, and I never use antibacterial soap. In fact in the last three years I have taken antibiotics once and that was for strep throat. Reading this article has made me realize that I have involuntarily been consuming the very thing that I try so hard to avoid and am just as venerable to resistant bacteria’s as the next guy. Don’t get me wrong I have known that livestock is feed antibiotics and try to eat organic whenever possible, but to read the stats in this report gave me chills. It also made me think once again about what my body is going through and do I really know what I am.

In my head I am a healthy eater. I cook most of my own meals, eat plenty of greens and try to by local organic food whenever I can afford it, but where does that really put me. Do the live cultures in my organic plan yogurt that I eat in the morning help my body fight against the antibiotic riddled chicken I eat at night? Can you really cancel out one bad food with one good food? How many toxins enter my body when I eat the lettuce that was grown in soil that is over fertilized and has 20 years of pesticide leeched in it? There really aren’t any test to tell me how many toxins are in my body and the test I can take wont tell me what foods put them there.

As a society we are consistently raising money for cures. Cures for breast cancer, cures for arthritis, Alzheimer’s….ect all these things just appear in our body and we try so hard to fight them off, to cure them, but what are we doing to prevent them. There are many research projects that are looking at what cells or genes may cause such diseases but there is little being done about things we may consume that would cause diseases. Albeit it is near impossible to prove with out a doubt that one thing causes a disease, but perhaps we need to stop requiring absolute certainty in these matters, for a life is priceless no matter what value the EPA and economist have put on it and I for one want regulation that allows me to know that what I am consuming will not harm me. There may not be a cure for what I has already happened to me but there is a way from stopping future damage to us all.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Snow in MARCH!

If you are reading this sorry for the rant, I always consider this blog more of journal.

I stood outside my apartment today, there in the parking lot with coffee in my hand I stood. Large snow flacks fell on my face and hands. I felt like I was gliding through stars. The flacks were so large and the air was so still. In these surreal moments I thought of what it meant, this phenomenon of snow in March. How many times has it snowed in March, were any of these times before the industrial revolution and after the last ice age? I envisioned all the plants that wanted to bud, would they survive this snowfall. I thought of the farmers who are thinking of there crops dyeing before there time. Where any of these potential dead crops meant for food aid. If they were would the countries accept them if they were genetically modified, “wait Oregon doesn’t plaint corn, so that wont matter”. These were my thoughts as I enjoyed snow gently landing on face.

There was a time when I would have never thought of things in such a manner, where snow was snow and there was little to it. I sometimes, for split second, think that it would be nice to go back to those innocent days, but then I remember that ignorance for me is not bliss. I remember that as my life has unfolded the knowledge that I have gained has led me to a happier place. It is one where life is harder, but there is purpose.
So as I walked back to my apartment and reached for the door I turned around and thought of what I could accomplish if I were to get into grad school. How wonderful it would be to not only gained more knowledge of the cause and effect of things but what can be done to change, what needs to be changed. It is not a simple solution, I know this, but it does not lesson my willingness to be part of a paradigm shift in how we live our lives and treat our world.

So many of our wars are fought in the name of religion but think of the conditions of the area in which these wars are waged. Wars are not usually fought in places where life is good, where the food is plenty and there is little environmental struggle, no wars are fought in the deserts, in the tundra’s. They are fought in regions that have been decimated by drought, loss of resources or other environmental hard ships. In the Congo people are killed for coal, in Duffer there is little water where it was once plenty, Afghanistan once had trees. In all these places life was once good, in those times there was no war. So while we fight with guns we spend little on the buildup of a sustainable life, maybe that is because it is more complex and less immediate, I don’t pretend to know this yet, but I will.

I never thought I would turn my interest to these things. I always thought that I would be an artist but the more I live the more I read the more I want to be an architect of a different kind. Instead of designing buildings I want to build habitable societies.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Life is not always what we think it should be, but it is life none the less!

It is hard for me to watch the news when every day they seem to only cover the bad state of the economy, never touching on what we can do to get through the tough times or how we can help others. There are times during each day where I feel the inevitable pull of all the things that I don't have a whole lot of control over; losing my job, getting into grad school ect..  But then I remind myself of all the things I have. In a world where 1.1 billion people have inadequate water and where 20% of the world population consume 76% of the resources, I am doing alright in the scheme of things. My intentions is not to point out all the bad things going on in the world, it is simply to put things in perspective. 

Life is not a bowl of cherries, there are some difficult times ahead, but nothing that I am going through is going to kill me, or leave me in disrepair. I think it is important to remember what life has to offer rather than what it is missing. For even at the  worst of times my family is always there for me, giving me the mental and finical strength to dredge forward. There is also my friends, those closest to me give me strength and laughter in a way that at times makes me feel guilty.  Guilty for being so lucky. 

So as I go to sleep in my lush bed, in a apartment that I cant afford, in clothes that I spent way to much money on (and have to many of) I look back at the the things that I have thought important at one point in my life. So many of them mean nothing to me now, the clothes and shoes that I so once coveted are not aiding in my economic recovery or emotional state. But those things that are intangible, the friends, family and memories of all the adventures I have been on, small and large and the one I know are ahead of me, I stay grateful. For even at the worst of times we (I) am still one of the 20% who consumes more than I need and though it might me less than some, it is still enough to live off of and as long as I can do that, there is still time to be happy:)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

As I watched the Gustav creep closer to New Orleans I began to wonder. What would happen if the levees don't hold? How will all the amazing families that I have met cope. How will all the workers and volunteers that I had met in the last two years deal with the destruction?

New Orleans is a city that forever changed who I am. I went there two years ago to help, to give my time and knowledge, for it was all I had to give. I went for 10 months and stayed for 22 months. When I decided to go my thinking was "what would it be like if my beloved Portland was destroyed like New Orleans was, what if the government was not there for my city?" I also had the fortunate experience of having gone there before so I knew how different the city was from other cities. I knew that there would be more aid needed than in other cities, it's just how the social and economical structure is there. The people who needed the most help are worse off than most Americans

In my time there I was introduced to people from all over the world who were there to help. I help volunteers to build houses, work through out gender stereo typing (A female doing framing, no way) and volunteers taught me how to overcome diversity,  see beauty in horrible things and build a community where there seemed to be no hope.  I found myself with no monitory stability but yet a lot of emotional strength that comes from being part of such a strong group of people. 

So when the storm looked like it was going for New Orleans I thought about the homeowners that just moved into there new homes, how would they survive being displaced one more time. I began to wonder if my decision to go there and help rebuild was wise. There were a lot of  people  who thought we shouldn't rebuild.  At times I thought about the unnatural placement of homes in swamp land. Yet when I would look at the city my issues with an urban environment would be washed away by the rich culture and architecture of New Orleans.  As the storm approached a thousand ideas about the city came rushing through but in the end only on idea remained. I don't question that New Orleans should be rebuilt or that my time there was not invaluable. My thoughts all focused on Mr Go and the degradation of swamps and the improper building of structures that ignore the basic environment needs of the area.

New Orleans was founded on land that the Indians lived on, above the flood planes for most of the year, the first houses were build in the area were raised and build to weather through hurricanes. Windows closed out the debris, first floors were for storage only and things were built solidly. Before Mr. Go there was a natural barrier to storms from the gulf, but in the name of progress a access way was built that brought a few ships in and a lot of sediment and water. I hope that people start to discuss the real causes of flooding not only in New Orleans but all over the US. 

We watch every year it seems as cities get flooded and lives get altered. There is talk of the levees that break or rivers that flood. There is lots of coverage about what happened the news shows clips of poor families sweeping up the mud from there houses, but where is the stories about the development that has completely altered the water flow of the river. Or how about showing how removing drain spouts from houses coupled with good retention landscaping would help. I just wish that real progress would start to take place in the area of environmental protection and responsibility. I can rebuild houses all my life, but without policy reform, political responsibility and social awareness there will be no relief to the destruction that we inflict upon ourselves

I will end with something I heard on the radio and I am paraphrase here "people think of Armageddon as a big meteor that will come and wipe us out.... perhaps we should look at the human race as the meteor."