First days at SOLV

(Posted August 17, 2010)

It’s official. I have my own cubicle. I have been an “employee” in so many words for SOLV for four full days now and getting myself settled in and getting to know my way around the office.  After an eventful week and a half of getting to know my housemates and settling in in our new home, we were forced out of our newly formed bubble and into the workplace.  It was quite a jarring experience for most of us and stories were aplenty at the end of our first day…

Miles and I took the MAX a few stops from our town center to the SOLV office and were quite early; first day of school-esque jitters, for me at least. We were greeted in the office moments later and given a brief tour of the office by our supervisor, the effervescent Sara.  It was then off to a few meetings to get to know the staff and how everyone worked within departments and programs. With a staff of about 20, Miles and I came at a great time of transition and new projects and felt right at home very quickly.

With the shared title of Education and Outreach Specialists, we will be working most closely with the Green Team program as well as Team Up for Watershed Health.  Green Team is a fantastic program which engages students and their teachers in hands-on environmental service learning to the fullest extent.  Just yesterday, Miles and I met with Meghan, head of Green Team, and visited some sites on which I will be working.  These are areas in watersheds near streams that are plagued by invasive species of plants and/or animals as well as litter and thus, SOLV adopts these sites for eight years and works with them to rehabilitate them with the help of classrooms and return them to their original state.  This involves the removal of invasive species such as reed canary grass and Himalayan blackberries and the planting of native species that will further shade and nurture the area and its wildlife.

Its been fantastic getting to know the office and the amazing staff that keep this renowned organization working.  We are gearing up for our Beach and Riverside Cleanup on September 25, which will be clean up events occurring all across the state of Oregon.  Miles and I are off to Stream Team Captain training this week to learn the ropes of how to coordinate a site of volunteers. We will be covering how best to manage tree plantings, invasive plant removals, litter removals and maintenance and monitoring of sites.  Its been an overwhelming past few days as we get to learn the database and figure out how to use the super-fancy copier but I am so excited to get rolling, meet students and get out in the field.  I will have a hand in working with four schools, one being an environmental magnet school that is a part of a larger middle school.  I am told that while they are large in number (nearly 200 students from one school) they are also large on enthusiasm, creativity and dedication.  It will be quite a departure from getting some Fairfield students together for a beach cleanup during a rainy Earth Week!

Aside from work, the past few days and weekend have been great in our community.  We have kept a pretty good flow of cooking and eating together most nights.  As I mentioned earlier, we have had some great interactions with our neighbors and they have been offering us some wonderful additions to our house, including a big screen TV since they just got a new one.  Simple living right?  We’re still discerning about this one, though one housemate mentioned it was fate that the brand of the TV was JVC…

All of us made the trek into the city of Portland this past weekend for some fun and went to watch some of the Soapbox Derby at Mt. Tabor.  Think Little Rascals mixed with Wipeout and outlandish costumes… People from all over the area decorated derby cars in crazy fashion and raced them down a winding and steep hill in Mt. Tabor Park.  Thankfully, the most serious injury was “just” a broken collarbone and the race officials took great care to use their megaphones as often and as loudly as possible.  Its been a very hot past few days and Saturday was no exception, so we trekked back down and visited a non-profit coffee house housed in a Presbyterian church, called TaborSpace.  Its all run on donations and its in a converted community space of the church, a really great place to chat and listen to live, local music on weekends.

We all headed back to Hillsboro and met up with one of our support persons, Fred, from the area to finally pick up our free piano we found on Craigslist! (Pictures of all of these adventures to come soon!)  We hauled it into the back of Fred’s utility trailer and drove, very carefully, back to the house and set it up in the living room.  Its already brought some great laughter and fun to the house as we all dabble with it!

After a not-so-quick dinner, we headed back into Portland to meet up with some other JV houses in our area for our first get-together.  It was great to see some familiar faces and everyone meshing so well already.  Chatted with a few people from the Portland MAC house and had a great night there in general. Unfortunately, we missed the last MAX/bus combo back to Hillsboro and has to pull an all-nighter and return home Sunday morning.  We amused ourselves with the brave few in Portland and explored the neighborhood and after three or four different busses and MAX lines, we made it home Sunday morning at 6:30am.  Needless to say, Sunday was a rest day and we geared ourselves up for our first full work week.

I have yet to secure a bike but our great friend Fred has tuned up some bikes for us to use for the year and I am hoping to try to snag one of those to start riding to the MAX in the mornings as opposed to hitching a ride in the car with Ted in the mornings.  Did you know that 40% of urban travel is 2 miles or less?  90% of that travel is by car.  ClifBar has a great campaign to bike to fight climate change called the 2 Mile Challenge; try to see how long some of your errands take and perhaps take the old Schwinn out for a spin!

Pictures to come, loving this West Coast sunshine while it lasts!  I’ve been told that I should probably secure rain pants and a hat… the autumn and winter weather will be here soon enough.  Thank goodness I’m not going for looks out there in the wetlands!

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