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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for December, 2006

Half-Pipe Dreams

Posted by Rick | December 30th, 2006 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection

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A few weeks ago, my friends and I purchased a used half-pipe off craigslist for $250 bucks. I haven’t owned a skateboard since I was 13 and now, at 35, I’m planning on taking up the sport again. It’s only four feet tall, but standing on the platform, peering over the coping, the drop looks like suicide. Am I crazy? When it stops raining, we’ll find out.

Portland’s Department of Skateboarding has an “old man” night (over 30) on Mondays from 9-11.

$10.00 Can Help Change the World

Posted by admin | December 27th, 2006 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

Picture 1.pngThat’s right. In a sign of the times, our friends at Worldchanging are in the thick of a community challenge and can use our help. Yahoo is offering a $50,000 matching grant to the nonprofit that gets the largest number of donations before year end using its new “charity badges.â€? If you’d like to create a badge to support your favorite nonprofit check out Yahoo! For Good. What’s cool about this idea is that the number of donors matters just as much as the amount of the donations. Right now they’re in second place, but just by a slim margin. Our help can put them over the top. Please consider helping them by clicking on the link below and making a contribution to Worldchanging. It’s a small step to take – one that could help them continue to bring “worldchangingâ€? ideas, tools and models to ensure our future is bright green.

Click here to donate.

Be Here Now

Posted by Rick | December 21st, 2006 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection, Who We Are

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Shoulda been here ten years ago
(Before the resort bought the land)
Shoulda been here three months ago
(It was sunny every day)
Shoulda been here last week
(Before the touristas came to town)
Shoulda been here yesterday
(The waves were twice the size)
Shoulda been here an hour ago
(Before happy hour ended)

But I’m here now
(And loving every minute of it)

Happy Holidays from Punta de Mita, Nayarit, Mexico

A Day in Their Lives

Posted by admin | December 18th, 2006 | Filed under Positive Change

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The girls are all between the ages of 14 and 18. They are AIDS orphans who go to St. Andrews Secondary School in Matale, a community outside the village of Kalisizo, which in turn is three hours south of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda in East Africa. The school is partially supported through the efforts of the Harambee Centre, a Portland nonprofit whose mission is to connect the people of the Pacific Northwest with the people and cultures of Africa. The word itself, “Harambee,â€? means “let’s pull togetherâ€? in Kiswahili.

Julie Resnick traveled with the group this summer to Matale. Julie, a consultant who makes her living providing cross-cultural training to professional people moving around the globe, is well-traveled and a self-styled photo journalist, but this trip was a personal journey and one she did in her mother’s memory. She took 12 disposable cameras with her to do a PhotoVoice project ” one that has the traditional subjects of documentary photography step behind the camera and create the pictures that tell their stories. The girls in Matale had never held a camera and as Julie explained its inner workings she apparently struck a chord with the sound of the word “zoomâ€? ” a word the girls kept repeating and is now the name of the project ” ZoomUganda.

Read More »

The Big Dance at Nelscott Reef

Posted by Rick | December 16th, 2006 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection

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I had no idea what to expect when I arrived in Lincoln City, Oregon for the Nelscott Reef Tow Classic. On the drive there, I revisited my opinions on tow-in surfing: that the sport bypasses much of what real surfing is about via loud, jet powered watercraft. With tow-ins there’s no paddling necessary at all. No timing your pop-up in order to drop in on the most critical part of a wave. Instead, just whip into a huge wave as early as you like, do fifty s-turns as the swell grows, then fade back into the slot. I simply couldn’t relate.

The sky on Friday morning was eerily rosy and foreboding. An old sailor’s adage came to mind: “Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.â€? Sure enough, the first glimpse of the sea under that dramatic sunrise made my knees rattle. From my perspective driving down Hwy 101, the beach break was bigger than an Indian reservation casino overlooking the ocean.

Nelscott_Shorebreak2.jpgWhen I got to the contest site, a small crowd was already gathering along a bluff overlooking Nelscott as tow teams dragged their personal watercraft through thick foam on the sand to the heaving shoreline. Decked out in the latest neoprene and life vest technology, two surf heroes from my youth, Mike Parsons and Brad Gerlach, discussed their plan of attack. Eyebrows raised, Gerr gestured to where he thought a channel might be. All I could see were whitewater walls and crashing closeouts. Read More »

People We Love: Dee Williams

Posted by admin | December 13th, 2006 | Filed under Positive Change, Sustainability, Who We Are

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Our friend Dee is rad. I mean, she lives in a house the size of a tool shed, knows how to use every tool in a shed, is funny as hell and walks her talk like few people we know. For example, she’s already reduced her “footprintâ€? by way of how she lives, something we spend a little time with here, but now she’s gone and added an electric car to the mix just to keep things fun. Sure, she still has the (bio)diesel truck, but now errands and short trips are no-impact when it comes to fuel. Call it downsizing, smart sizing, going green. Whatever. I call it rad.

Preparing for Retirement

Posted by Eugénie | December 11th, 2006 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection, Who We Are

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The first time I went to Italy I made a promise that I’m hell bent to keep. “I’m coming back here,â€? I told myself then, “to grow old and die.â€?

It wasn’t for the food, or the architecture, or the beautiful people in their beautiful clothes. It was for one reason: I’d never seen so many old women”well into their seventies and eighties”cruising the streets on bicycles.

“Now that is how to be alive,â€? I remember thinking. “Why don’t old people ride bikes like this back home?”

Of course that was the blissfully ignorant, Euro-centric college student in me wondering those things, but the image has stuck, and today, at 29, as I am fast becoming a city-bound workaholic, I cling to that vision more than ever. It speaks to me”bellows at me, really”as a reminder that it’s never too late to get outside.

I thought about this the other weekend as I ran my way down the Double Dipsea. The Dipsea’s a popular trail run amongst the masochists of the Bay Area. It starts at Stinson Beach and climbs and drops into Mill Valley, at which point the sane would stop running, and the rest turn around and head back to Stinson, covering, by the end, fourteen miles of hilly terrain and roughly 4,500 vertical feet.

“My life depends on moments like this,â€? I remember thinking on the run. It felt good. At the end I hurt. I was starving, and a little delirious. “Perfect,â€? I thought. “This is why I’m alive.â€?

But not every day is this way. Read More »

Global Giving

Posted by admin | December 8th, 2006 | Filed under Compassionate Capitalism, Positive Change

Interesting people tend to hang out with interesting people. While at the recent Net Impact conference in Chicago, I met a ton of interesting people including an MBA student who previously had worked with environmentally conscious business woman Allison Koch. He suggested Allison and I should talk and a few days later, she gave me a call. Following a marketing oriented career path that included stops at Mossimo, Netflix and Stone Yamashita Partners, she founded Vibrant Planet, which provides strategy and communications for companies and non-profits focused on environmental and social innovation.

Picture 3.pngI sensed we could have dug in deep on a variety of topics, but our conversation quickly turned to one of Allison’s clients, GlobalGiving. It’s true that the internet has revolutionized many aspects of our lives ” the way we learn, the way we communicate, the way we conduct business, the way we engage in social activism ” but I wasn’t aware of the way Global Giving is using the internet to revolutionize the way international philanthropy is conducted. Global Giving creates an online marketplace, enabling large numbers of people to have direct and transparent access to grass roots projects around the world.

Prior to Founding Global Giving, Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle were heads of strategy and innovation at the World Bank, so they presumably know a thing or two about making economic investments in the developing world. What intrigues me is that their model of giving disintermediates the middleman, draws on the power of competitive markets and creates a very efficient model of giving. It will be interesting to see how traditional philanthropic organizations respond.

A Natural State

Posted by admin | December 6th, 2006 | Filed under Environmental Change, Personal Reflection, Positive Change, Who We Are

Watching our kids go from childhood to adolescence is a remarkable experience. We think we know them so well when almost overnight they are strangers: uncommunicative, moody, sleeping ’til noon. And so we launch a search, a search for the key to reconnection.

darcy and rex.jpgI was searching this summer when I signed my 15-year-old son Rex and myself up to participate with 10 other volunteers in a fence pull through Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) – returning desert areas to their natural state by removing obsolete fencing in wild areas. I was hoping the notion of “savingâ€? wild animals from grisly barb wire fates would light a kind of hero spark in him, open communication between the two of us, and inspire this city kid to bond with the natural world and find his natural state.

And it worked. Rex felt great about saving wild animals (“girls will love thatâ€?), he chatted and teased with me, and I smiled when he pointed out beautiful vistas, wildflowers and landscapes.

But something else happened. I watched as Rex fell in with the other males in the group ” ages ranging from 27 to 75. Without much dialogue they gave him direction, praise, teased and joked ” took him under their collective wing. My heart swelled as I watched Rex become one of them, one of a group of men working together for a higher purpose. In this natural world, he had found his own natural state. On our last night together the men proposed a toast to Rex, and while he grinned sheepishly I had to struggle to keep from tearing up with gratitude and pride.

The reason any of us participate in volunteer efforts is to make the world a better place, which is a very good reason indeed. But what I was reminded of during the fence-pull was that the personal rewards we reap as a result can be immeasurable.

For more information about ONDA and their efforts to restore and protect the Oregon desert, check out this story, or their website.

Give a Dime

Posted by admin | December 5th, 2006 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

missing_profile_pic.jpgI learned about greendimes yesterday and was immediately smitten. Here’s a company that could finally rid our mailbox of junk mail! I thought I was on top of the situation, but we hit an all-time junk mail low this year when we started receiving Pottery Barn Teen catalogs. (I had innocently purchased a gift card from PB Teen for my niece at my sister’s explicit direction and have been punished with the catalog ever since – it’s a medically proven fact that these fluffy mailers can cause migraines in adults.)

But, greendimes to the rescue! First, they are going to get us off junk mail lists and unsubscribe us from the catalogs we tell them to stop (hasta la vista, PB Teen). Then, they are going to plant 12 trees for us over the next year, all the while tracking the impact we and others who “give a dimeâ€? have made by stopping our junk mail ” trees planted and spared (20,000 and counting) as well as gallons of water saved (over 31,000 to date). All for a very modest price.

I am filled with hope.

I received an e-mail from greendimes thanking me for subscribing. I wrote back right away to say thank you, and promised to get the word out to others. Interestingly, they advised that when they tell credit card companies we don’t want their junk mail anymore, we may get letters regarding an “investigationâ€? throwing in words about our “credit file.â€? Sly, those companies. I am grateful for the heads-up since I am usually easy prey when it comes to mail scare tactics… but no more!

I was eager to check my mail today but wasn’t concerned that it was still full of junk mail because greendimes warned me it will take a couple of months to win this battle. Waded through a few catalogs for (hopefully) the last time before sending them to the recycle bin. Gleefully fed a fat credit card offer to the shredder with a knowing smile on my face. Am holding tight to the dream that greendimes can put the fun back into checking the mail while doing the planet a big favor.