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Just across from the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, CA…


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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I haven’t written at all on this blog since I went to Alaska.

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There wasn’t much internet connection there. Only one wi-fi hotspot, at the only coffeeshop in town. Otherwise it was a sign-up computer at the library, and with only an hour, I had a lot of Facebooking to do. More importantly, I hadn’t really spent much time setting up this blog to have any relevance to what I want to do with it.

I am really interested in transformation. What makes people change? Why do we seek out new experiences, climb unclimbed mountains, and forge into virgin territories? On the other hand, why do others never leave the house?

For a long time, I stayed in Chicago while helping people to change their lives through their housing. A few years ago, I realized that I needed to change my life first. I moved to California, and took some time away from real estate to reflect on the life that I was living. While in San Francisco, I thought about the impact that nature had on my life, and what I wanted to accomplish with my time here.

I realized that I wanted to work with kids, and I wanted to be outside a whole lot more. I looked into educational farms – there’s quite a lot of awesome places where they teach kids about where eggs come from (chickens) and how you make cheese (magic cows). I found wilderness therapy, thought that sounded neat, and a couple of weeks later I’m on my way to Alaska.

That was back in January. Now I’ve been back in California for a week, and I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with what just happened. I had this life-changing, monumental experience – different than what I had been doing on so many levels, but the same on so many others. How do I take this process that I’ve gone through and translate that for other people?

I’m going to spend the winter in Oregon, getting to know some new people in a new place. I feel like there’s a balance of liberalism (greenest city in America!), surroundings (wet & pretty!), and culture (highest per capita amount of microbreweries in the country!). It’s like San Francisco, only slightly more Alaska.

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I’m planning on going back up North this Spring, with some more questions. I want to understand more about the Wilderness Experience. I want to spend more time canoeing with the bald eagles, seals, and whales. I love having the open sky in all directions, even when it’s gray and cloudy. I love the simplicity of my daily routine, and I love having my head wrapped around the lives of 9 kids all day long. I am immersed in incredible richness while I am out there, and I feel really good about my life.

Here, back in the city, things are good. I have plumbing, email, music, a microwave, and on-demand gas on the stove. There’s take-out, graffiti, public transportation, and great people-watching. I can dive right into movies, magazines, and gossip.

The problem with having incredible experiences is that they become addictive. My life feels so good while it is being transformed. Having a deep philosophical conversation with a kid while staring out across open tundra feels so engaged, completely connected, and totally a part of the magic of the world. Here, I feel like a small little blip, like no one would notice if I walked away from it all.

To make myself feel larger, I want to create some conversation.
What change happens when you go to the wild?
What does the green movement have to learn from the outdoors movement, and how are they fighting each other?
What does the USA have to learn from other countries about the benefits of Wilderness Therapy?
What is Experiential Education, and how can it change the world?

Little man, big questions…

When I moved into the place where I live, I was mostly motivated by location.  I had sat in Dolores Park, and pointed directly at the block where I live.  It’s not on the hill, it’s a quiet side street, and it’s close to everything.  The apartment itself is a beautiful Edwardian with a gourmet kitchen, marble bathroom, and fantastic vintage detail.  The roommates are two gay guys in their 40s and 50s (not together), who are each really nice people who do good things.   We got along, and they let me move in.

There’s a little problem.  I’ve become a bit too much of a hippy to live here comfortably.  There’s no CF bulbs.  The trash gets filled with recyclables.  The lights get left on.  The smallest detail has become the biggest – my housemates love to flush.

My room shares a light-well with the bathroom, meaning that they both face a small vertical tunnel that’s open to the sky above and the basement below.  Sound carries really well, so I frequently get to hear the sounds of the bathroom in my apartment and the two below.  Hearing the gastric distress of various individuals would be fun enough, but the sounds of water going down the drain disturbs me more than anything.

Keep in mind, I’m not the greenest kid on the block.  I try to bring my cups, bags, and bottle with me so I don’t have to use throwaways.  I got rid of my car, and I rely on public transportation.  I vote green, but I’m not militant or perfect by any stretch.  I would love to help my flatmates to change, but I don’t want to try to convert anyone to my beliefs.

There’s a little journal that lives in the kitchen, and it’s used to write notes back and forth – “I took your dog to the park, and he pooped,” or “I’m going out of town for the weekend, see you on Monday” all grace its pages.  Recently I found a new one, “Would whoever is not flushing after urinating please start it is unhygenic and smells disgusting.”

Hmmm.  I first heard the phrase, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” about 12 years ago.  I’ve practiced it on-and-off since then, and as my green awareness has grown, my flushing has diminished.  I don’t want to flush my pee.

I thought about buying 2 gallon jugs of water and putting them on the counter (our toliet is low-flow, thankfully) as a visual statement about the benefits of peeing into drinking water, perhaps with a note that says ‘WE LIVE  IN A DROUGHT STATE’.  I almost wanted to print out some articles about how to conserve water, and quickly realized that printing would be a no-no as well. I have a little guide to “going green” that someone had bought me as a quick-gift, and it’s been untouched on the counter since I left it there.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t able to find much online in the way of actual facts – I was looking for data on how much water would be saved by flushing only the poop, and not the pee.  Instead I found:

– A video of a little girl crying on the toilet because her brother flushed her pee before she had the chance
– An environmental activist uses the sewage treatment system as an analogy of disconnection and to explain why she doesn’t drink orange juice.
– The Mayor of London says don’t flush if “you’ve only had a pee”.
– A Treehugger post explaining the philosophy of the Selective Flush, but without any good data.

So far no luck… Can I live in a house of non-greenies? Only time will tell. In the mean time, the battle of the flush continues.