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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for January, 2007

What Do North Dakota and Saudi Arabia Have in Common?

Posted by admin | January 31st, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Outdoor Sport, Positive Change, Sustainability

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North Dakota Senator Bryon Dorgan said that “North Dakota is the Saudi Arabia of wind and we have the potential to build a significant wind industry that will bring good-paying jobs to our state, improve our environment, and help eliminate our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.” That’s why Sam Salwei and Jason Magness set out the moment the new year was ushered in to snowkite across North Dakota. The traverse took them nearly two weeks and raised awareness of the potential of wind energy. They’ve named the trek “To Cross the Moon.â€?

Reasons to Love Portland, #12: Happy Hours

Posted by Rick | January 29th, 2007 | Filed under Who We Are

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Of the three West Coast cities I’ve lived in over the past ten years (SF, LA, PDX) Portland has proven the happiest. By “happyâ€? I mean that its bars and restaurants are most willing to offer drinks and food at discounted prices ” often twice daily ” which in turn makes the city’s residents more smiley.

I attribute the abundance of happy hours in this city to our proximity to the 45th Parallel. It rains more here and it gets darker earlier in the winter. Cozy gathering spots like bars and coffee shops thrive by offering happy places for residents to hunker down during months when it’s tough to hang outside.

While the more traditional happy hours of around 4-6 pm are a favorite of the Nau staff (especially when meetings can be scheduled at our local crepe-and-cocktail spot Le Happy), it’s the innovative 9-11 pm slot that keeps us coming back for more. Those just so happen to be the hours that find us rolling back into the city after a day on the mountain or in the surf. And nothing beats a four buck burger-and-beer special to nourish sore muscles before beddy-bye.
Some of our favorite happy hour spots:

  1. Le Happy: Try the “Le Trash Blancâ€? special (Three bucks for a bacon and cheddar crepe with a bottle of PBR).
  2. Andina: Four dollar drinks and Peruvian tapas at 2005′s restaurant of the year.
  3. Portland City Grill: A PDX fave that’s a bit stiff, but has an unmatched view and happy hour menu.
  4. Sapphire Hotel: Once a den of iniquity, now only the décor and dollar PBR tallboys hark back to the good ol’ days.
  5. Pambiche: Called their “Hora del Amigo,â€? this highly regarded Cuban joint has beer/wine specials and snacks for under three bucks. The only thing missing is hard liqs.

Redefining the Debate

Posted by admin | January 24th, 2007 | Filed under Compassionate Capitalism, Environmental Change, Positive Change

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Social Edge, a program of The Skoll Foundation, is running a new question-and-answer feature. The current question is trying to generate an alternative to the terms “nonprofitâ€? and “not for profit.â€? Why? In their words, “because it’s humiliating to describe one’s favorite universe in negative terms.â€? Leave your thoughts here or engage in the dialogue at Social Edge.

By the way, Jeff Skoll’s a pretty cool guy. He was the founding President of eBay. In 1999, he created The Skoll Foundation, which takes an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy by supporting social entrepreneurs. In 2004, he founded Participant Productions, which is a media company that possesses a public interest focus. Participant Productions has brought us films like Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, Fast Food Nation and An Incovenient Truth.

Where on Earth Is It Minus 63 Degrees Celsius?

Posted by admin | January 22nd, 2007 | Filed under Outdoor Sport

Picture 1.pngI first met Paul Landry in 1982 when we worked at Outward Bound. Over the next eight years we logged a few paddling miles, ran dog teams in Northern Ontario and Baffin Island and occasionally downed assorted Canadian beers with one another, although Paul was partial to scotch. When we left Outward Bound Paul moved to Iqaluit, the capital of Baffin Island, but before settling there managed to get in a dog sledding expedition circumnavigating the entire island. That was no small feat given it’s the fifth largest island in the world. He hasn’t stopped since, recording three expeditions to the South Pole, four expeditions to the North Pole and three expeditions traversing the Greenland Ice Cap.

If that wasn’t enough, Sunday it was reported that Paul just became the first Canadian to reach the geographic center of Antarctica, known as the Point Of Inaccessibility (POI). The 47-day journey, led by Paul, was the first time anyone had reached the POI without mechanical assistance. Only two other expeditions have ever reached the southernmost continent’s center. Both were Russian expeditions; one in 1958 and the other in 1967.

Paul and his three compatriots skied and kite-skied nearly 1400 miles from their starting point in Novo, on Antarctica’s coast, to reach the POI. Their last day involved a 24-hour push, covering over 100 miles.

Picture 15.pngWhile standing at the POI Paul said, “For me, it’s a bit of a hidden paradise. I’m passionate about kiting and I’m passionate about polar travel and when you put the two together, it all kinds of blends into the ideal expedition.” Typical Paul, humble to a fault. By the way, yesterday at 17.00 the temperature at the POI was a mind-numbing minus 40 degrees C and the wind chill was minus 63 degrees C.

From the 45th Parallel: Culver

Posted by Eugénie | January 18th, 2007 | Filed under Personal Reflection, Who We Are

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Took the back roads home last weekend and stumbled across this sign. Slammed on the brakes and fell in love. Culver… who knew? What other artistic brilliance is tucked away in the small towns of this state?

The place is one hair shy of the 45th parallel, and they’ve got poets there, too. On the town’s website it reads:

“Nestled in a fertile valley with Haystack Reservoir and the Crooked River National Grasslands to the east, Lake Billy Chinook and the Cove Palisades State Park to the west, Juniper Butte to the south and Round Butte to the north, Culver is home to those who wish to make it theirs.â€?

Oh Culver, how I wish.

The Compleat Mountaineer

Posted by Alex | January 16th, 2007 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection, Positive Change, Who We Are

brad_washburn_cred.jpgWith the passing of Bradford Washburn this past Wednesday, a long and venerable life spent climbing, photographing, mapping and writing about the mountains comes to a close. He was 96.

I count myself among the generations of alpinists whom Washburn inspired. One of the pioneers of American mountaineering, his achievements were legion, and included first ascents in Alaska, revolutionary surveys of Everest and the Grand Canyon, articles in National Geographic and the reshaping of Boston’s Museum of Science. But it was the spirit of his expeditions, part athletic pursuit, part science experiment, part love affair with the mountains, which drew me to his life’s story.

I never met Washburn; my senior year in college I composed a letter to him that, to my lasting regret, I never sent. But though the unaddressed envelope is now long lost, I can still remember what I wrote. Full of youthful enthusiasm for adventure, I asked him what frontiers remained to be explored in this age of satellite imagery and GPS mapping. I wanted to know where he might have gone on a fresh pair of legs, in what direction he thought a young man ought to start out. I wanted to know how I might lead a life as full of use and beauty as he had.

I wish I’d sent that letter. I would have liked to know where that mind, full of maps and photographs and mountains, might have sent me. In the end, I’m making my own way, as I suppose we all must. But in a life that so often seems shaped by chance events, I wonder what might have been different had the great man’s hand reached down and given me a push. Or, perhaps without my realizing it, did his life give me, and many others, all the push we needed?

Thoughtful, inspiring, and complete obituaries are available online at alpinist.com and The New York Times.

People Who Inspire Us: Tess

Posted by admin | January 15th, 2007 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection, Positive Change

We fired up The Thought Kitchen to highlight stories of positive change and create a forum for dialogue. Well, we just received an email from the mother of a girl who’s pretty inspiring. I thought you might want to read it yourself:

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Green Pod Soup

Posted by Rick | January 12th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

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I’m sure some of you have been hip to podcasts for a while, but in case you’ve only been using your mp3 player for music (as I had before my last plane trip) here are a few earth-friendly programs you can download for free and listen to anytime you want:

Grist Environmental News: Weekly highlights from Grist.com’s irreverent point of view.
Living on Earth: An award-winning environmental news program broadcasted on 300 public radio stations.
NPR’s Science Friday: “Making science radioactiveâ€? ” It’s NPR… need we say more?
America the Green: A smart weekly program that hits home by covering topics from organic wine to cell phone hazards.
Earthwatch Radio: A weekly show produced by the staff and students of Sea Grant Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Lazy Environmentalist: Nothing wrong with being a little lazy… like listening to podcasts instead of reading, for instance.

And these are just the ones that I test drove. There are tons of others out there, many of which are available directly from iTunes.

How Can You Take a Small Step Towards Massive Action?

Posted by admin | January 10th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Outdoor Sport, Positive Change, Sustainability

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The answer might be: One step at a time. Literally. That’s what 24 people between the ages of 18 to 28 will be doing when they embark on the first ever human powered expedition from the North Pole to the South Pole. The goal is to raise awareness of global warming and other environmental and social issues during the course of their journey. What’s particularly interesting about this adventure is that the team at Pole To Pole intend to use the power of social networks to teach millions of young people around the world what they can do to stop global warming and play a role in creating lasting, positive change.

Picture 10.pngThe expedition will be split up into four interconnected teams. The Trek Team will make the actual physical journey from pole to pole. They’ll walk, ski, kayak and bike the entire way. The Advance Team will work on charitable projects in various parts of the world with the goal of improving the quality of life in the communities they’re working in. The Education Team will connect all of these efforts to schools in North America and Europe, enabling them to learn via a virtual association with the program and inspiring them to take action in their local community. The Virtual Team will follow the other three teams via the internet. They’ll receive online training in leadership and civic engagement and also set up service-oriented projects in their own communities.

Pole To Pole sounds as though it will be an epic journey. Perhaps I’m projecting based on my experience working with Outward Bound, but I suspect the participants will be strengthened by acts of consequential service to others and, in the process, become stewards of the earth for future generations.

It Starts With a Question

Posted by admin | January 8th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

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I’ve often thought that being able to formulate the right question is the first step towards taking concrete action.