Tea, trees and tattoos

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I’ve been drinking a lot of tea this past week as I felt a bit under the weather and I’ve been favoring GoodEarth organic green tea and was so pleasantly surprised at the little quotes on the tea tags.  I got some lovely ones last week; here are two of my favorites:

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung

“I make the most of all that comes; I make the least of all that goes.” Sara Teasdale

Perhaps in your daily morning ritual, you could start drinking tea with quotes; its a lovely way to start your morning.

Green Team schools were back in action this week and we were fortunate enough to get a break from chilly weather.  We had one of our middle schools (Rachel Carson) out on Wednesday: 90 of my closest friends!  Students rotated stations between planting dogwood saplings, (about 100 were planted) harvesting douglas spirea branches to stake into the ground near the water to stabilize banks and a creative writing station.  We are hoping to get a lot of our Green Team students to write or draw about their experiences with streams and restoration and submit them for publication in Honoring our Rivers.  Students wrote poems, short stories and other creative pieces on waterproof paper; they were thrilled at this idea.  Visit the SOLV blog to read more about their writing and to see some of it firsthand!

I also had a meeting this week with some city planners about one of the friends groups we are forming; it was a really positive conversation about the great need for community stewardship and engagement in the area.  We’re hoping to do door-to-door canvassing in the neighborhoods around the SOLV restoration site and see if people have interest in the site and stewardship of the site.  We are still in the midst of planning our Green Team poster for the UERC (Urban Ecosystem Research Consortium) conference that SOLV will present at next week; it will be about Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School and their work at Willow Creek, including building native turtle habitat.  We’ve started planning for Women in Science Day, which is a tree planting and presentation that SOLV puts on every spring for young girls and female scientists, geologists, engineers, zoologists, etc.  Fingers crossed for a successful event!

Miles and I were out at Estacada High School on Friday morning, working with two science classes there to build brush dams to install in the creek behind their school.  When the school built their baseball fields years ago, they literally moved the creek and rerouted the water flow to accommodate building.  Because of this, the creek is in extremely bad condition since it now flows through clay that was never meant to hold water.  One of the things I love most about working with Green Teams is our bioengineering we do at the sites with students.  We use a form of bioengineering called brush dams relatively often, as its a really simple method, cost efficient and very successful.  Students bundled together willow stakes harvested from other sites and tied them together with twine; those bundles were linked with a few others and staked into the stream bed.  This slows the flow of the stream, stabilizes banks, catches sediment and once the willow stakes take root, they will grow very quickly right in the middle of the stream to provide shade and cooling the stream.  We had a really successful day with the students and will install more dams when they come out again in February.

After our classes at Estacada, Miles and I headed further east to Timber Lake Job Corps in the middle of the Mt. Hood National Forest.  We gave a watershed basics presentation to their Forestry and Wildfire Fighting students, who will be working with SOLV on restoration over the next few months.  These are students between the ages of 18 to 24 being trained for occupations in fields like culinary arts, auto mechanics, engineering, business management and medical assistants.  A student can be in the program anywhere from six to 24 months, though many are finished in eighteen months; when they graduate, they are guaranteed a job, an apprenticeship or advanced training at another job corps.  Though its not something I would necessarily have researched, it was great to see so many students taking their future more firmly in their own hands and choosing an alternative to four or two year colleges.  I’m excited to work with them along with our Green Teams at our SOLV sites over the coming months.

Tuesday evening was a great night as SOLV granted employees tickets to the Knicks Blazers game, courtesy of Wells Fargo who is one of our sponsors.  Wells Fargo gave us their suite for the night and we were able to bring our housemate Sean along as well as his friend Meg who was visiting.  Certainly a swankified way to spend a Tuesday evening.  All of the Hillsboro housemates were able to get together on Friday evening to have dinner at one of our support couples’ homes; Fred and Tina have gone above and beyond in sharing their time and treasure with us and they are so fantastic to talk to.  They have three sons, two in residencies to become doctors and their youngest still in college and are very active outdoorspeople and travellers.  Tina will be going to visit their middle son in Uganda in February and told us all about her experience walking across Spain in 2002 in the Santiago Pilgrimage.  Fred is a retired emergency physician and seems to know something about everything; he always has a great Jesuit friend for us to meet or a book to recommend.  We hope to do a few more day trips with them as the year goes on; I’m so grateful for their friendship and support as we get to know the Portland area a bit better.

Miles and I were up early again on Saturday to attend an amphibian egg mass monitoring workshop with Meghan.  We learned the identifiers of certain types of egg masses found in ponds so we will be better equipped to look out for them when we are out with Green Teams.  It was amazing to hear all of these stories from veteran monitors about being in four feet of water in chest waders, recording miniscule egg masses on a clipboard for two hours at a time.  A really interesting workshop; hope to be able to put what we learned to good use…

After a quick trip to the tattoo parlor with some housemates, (I was strictly there for support) we went for tater tots and happy hour beers at White Eagle, another McMenamins in Portland.  A few of us went on to Gresham, on the other side of Portland, for a JV gathering and party.  After a long weekend of being on the MAX and being in and out of Portland, I’m finally back in Hillsboro and getting ready for our area visit from our area director Jillian as she arrives today.  This morning was spent at the Oregon Food Bank with SOLV staff; we packaged over 5,000 pounds of dry pasta for distribution in the Washington county area.  It was a really great way to participate in the MLK Jr. Day of Service and see the work of an amazing nonprofit in our area.  Each person packed enough pasta for 108 meals that will be shipped out tomorrow; we worked with other groups from Intel and Kaiser Permanente.

A happy week to all!

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