Sunday, December 20, 2009

I still dream of art school, but this is okay too

I'd like to dedicate this next post to Planet Earth and as a form of encouragement for all individuals working to protect, save and nourish this home.

Whilst traveling I have had the pleasure of meeting a handful of amazing people who have completely revolutionized their former lifestyles to be more green and less "mean" or who have been living eco-sensitively forever... as it made more sense to them from an early age.

My thoughts and attitudes have changed drastically over the last decade. Probably the biggest blessing in disguise about attending the University of Oregon and taking a WIDE variety of liberal arts classes was that it has opened my mind to a range of lifestyle options, food production and consumption habits, and has left me a bit more critical of social norms. Perhaps even to my own detriment at times it has left me too open-minded and unsure about how to participate in the world as an active-beneficial member of human society (my common excuse for not knowing what i want to do with my 'life').

Ron and Leanne were my eco-terrorist neighbors in Wellington... by terrorist I mean they were "guerrilla gardeners" and waste-busters! Converting unused public grassland and desolate hillsides into robust and fruitful community gardens- to be used and loved by all. One day while reflecting on life something happened to them... like a click or a trigger that went off and completely changed who they were and how they were living. I won't go into great detail about what motivated them to radically change there lives (as I am unsure myself), but they went from being typical 8-5 members of society, who collected motor vehicles, clothes, household goods, and other common luxuries to making their own toothpaste, shampoo, using nature's soft leaves as toilet paper, incorporating a Zero Waste policy in their household (which they haven't yet been able to achieve but they are certainly making the effort to reduce their household waste to very close to zero), questioning themselves about "Why am I throwing out this much crap each week??? Where does this black bag of trash really go when it leaves the sidewalk??? How can I reduce this???" not buying into things they don't need to be happy, clutter that distracts them from what really makes them happy- health, adventure, nurturing each other and creating a friendly community around them- and by revolutionizing their shopping habits (buying bulk, searching for things with less packaging, growing a lot of their own fruit and veg and supporting local farms).
They have created a niche in Wellington- the 350 Organization (a world-wide campaign to lower CO2 in earths atmosphere to 350 parts per million- the "safe" number), urban greening on their lunch breaks (yes they still work in the city as well-respected professionals but on their lunch breaks eat with friends and plant native trees in unused urban spaces), and so much more.

I loved meeting these two people. I told them so; how much I appreciated their resilient commitment to living "sustainably", their leadership and the positive example they set for me and for many, many, many other people whom they've come in contact with. They reminded me to try to not be so self-conscious about my ego and what others think about me and odd living habits...
It's quite often that the people who we think are "strange and crazy" who are living differently and thinking outside the box who eventually inspire change, who succeed in creating alternatives! (see William Kamkwamba)
This brings me to my next subject: Michael Reynolds (architect from New Mexico)... I watched the documentary film "Garbage Warrior". This film was a mental roller coaster for me. At times I couldn't help but thinking how stupid and ridiculous this man was, how smelly and "hippy" his crew must be, that they are all just ridiculous pot-smokers who have eaten too many Magic Mushrooms and been to too many Burning Man Festivals, BUT I continued to watch and my layers of judgement slowly peeled away and my criticisms softened when I realized what he was working for and towards- a SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVE! He hasn't and will never save the United States (or world) from our infectous consumer/waste/destroy behavior but he is thinking and living critically.
I highly recommend going to the library/movie rental store and watching this film, its interesting, perhaps inspiring, and if none of that then hopefully comforting to realize that people like him and Ron and Leanne are out there- forward thinkers, who have the ability, time and motivation to "think outside the box".

GREEN ROOF PLAN: (in case you were wondering, "how could I put a green roof on this shed?":

Thursday, December 10, 2009

morse code inside my left ear!!!

For the last three days when nothing is going on and I am relaxing on my couch or laying down trying to get some sleep there has been this irritating taping coming from the hollow of my left ear... so today I went to the computer cafe to do a little research and this is what I read:
"A friend of mine had the same thing, but it stopped after a few days, however her hearing became muffled.
She had her ear flushed and 3 small dead spiders were washed out, so that is always a possibility!"

AHHH!!! how terrifying, please say there are no dead insects, especially spiders, lying dead inside of me!!!

Thats all. Nothing too much is happening in my world. Trying to debate whether or not I should keep my road bike or try to switch/sell for a mountain bike which is a bit more useful out in Otago. Also trying to learn how to meditate.

Alibi and I have been getting along like oil and water most of the time these days. I keep coming home from a long day of work to his mischevious messes (the worst included him eating all of my organic bullion that I just bought and then drinking every drop of water in the house AND then pissing all over my house out of necessity)... this is probably why I am trying to take up meditation so that I don't get so angry with him when he is naughty. Regardless I drew this little sketch of him and he looks like an angel which is how I'd like you all to remember him.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Clementine... longet post yet

“Nice day” the girl says as she wades knee deep through the riverbed
“Yes, its beautiful. I’ve been thinking about jumping off that … how do you say… bridge? Platform? Over there, the thing for boats. Have you ever jumped off of it?” The guy on the bike points in the direction of the dock.
“No I haven’t, but you should!!! I think about it every day, but I am not sure if its deep enough.”
“Will you jump if I do?”
“hmm… maybe. But you go first and then I’ll decide” she sarcastically replies
“What’s your name? I am Colleen”
“Oh I am Clemens. Nice to meet you. Be right back”
“Okay good luck. I’ll watch from here”
So Clemens climbs off of his bike and places it down, off the path and against the tussock grass clumps. I wade deeper out into the river so I have a better view of the platform. We exchanged thumbs up before he jumps. He dives, head first and without hesitation into the deepest part of the river, and reemerges much further down the river with the current a with a smile across his face and lets out a howl about how cold the water is. I didn’t jump, but this was how I met Clemens… the unofficial couch surfer from Frankfurt, Germany who I proceeded to hang out with for the next 36 hours.
We both had bikes nearby and decided to go for a ride from my small town of Albert to the larger town of Wanaka for a quick drink- after all it was Friday and neither of us had ever gone out in Wanaka. I made a comment about how I thought it was cool he was hitchhiking and couch surfing through New Zealand, how that had to be more authentic and exciting than the ways I have previously traveled. Upon hearing this he quickly invited me to join him and thumb our way to Fiordland. I might have had some inclining to go with him if I was backpacking through New Zealand, but I am not, I am living here and saving money so I can travel to Australia, besides John and I had just been there two short weeks ago, so I politely declined. However I enjoyed his company and had a nice evening chatting and eating cheap Indian food with him on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
His bike lock fell off of the bicycle earlier that day and so he decided he would bike back to Albert Town in the morning to look for it. I told him to stop by my house for coffee, maybe breakfast if I had anything to eat. Clemens showed up with bread, avocados and hummus. I had eggs, which we poached. He was really excited about poaching eggs- he had never poached an egg before. Breakfast turned into hiking and somewhere along the lines he asked me if he could couchsurf on my couch, and since I have a spare loft I hesitantly replied… “Um, okay… but I have a lot to do this weekend, and I don’t want to feel responsible for entertaining you.” Which was really my way of saying, “I am not too comfortable with the thought of a stranger staying at my house, in a town where I don’t know a single person and have no flatmates”… but I couldn’t bring myself to say what I sort of felt deep down inside. And so deep down inside my uncomfortable feelings turned into a nervous twitch in my eye, which didn’t stop until after our hike to Rob Roy Glacier. Finally, on the drive back when he put on some German funk music I came to the conclusion that this person really was a kind, traveler who really was backpacking through New Zealand and whose stories about hitchhiking and couchsurfing with other people along the way really were true. I relaxed and my eye stopped twitching. I decided to tell him what a relief I felt, when I realized he wasn’t a terrible person who was lying or dangerous. He laughed and said he felt a little guilty (which was unnecessary) but he didn’t know I was uncomfortable with the situation. And I told him I wasn’t anymore, which was a relief.
Clemens is a lovely person, who in many ways is a lot like myself- taking some time to learn about himself, not sure of what he wants to do, has many ideas for jobs but not sure he is good enough at any of them to really make it. I enjoyed our conversations about life, sociology and traveling. That night we went out to the local pub, listened to 3 punk bands, moshed a bit then went back to my house where he passed out on my miniature pink couch and I made a late-night snack for Alibi and myself.
Sometimes being a woman is a disadvantage when it comes to safety and privacy- some terrible things can happen when someone is kind, friendly and opens their doors to strangers- but its bit of a relief to know there are people in the world who are polite, respectful and just looking for just a couch to crash on.
I had previously thought that I might host couchsurfers at my home in Wanaka, but I don’t think I’ll make a habit out of it. I’ve hosted in the past in Portland and Eugene, but have never gone through so many mental conundrums as I did upon meeting Clemens. Regardless, I am glad I met Clemens and was happy to have hosted him and hopefully look forward to a trip to Frankfurt, Germany someday so he can make me some lasagna and marshmallow pie (a German thing?... I was kind of confused about the dessert but it sounds good)!

This is a photo of Clemens poaching his first egg.

A little about Clemens and his philosophy about his life…
“Ich mache mir die welt wied-di wie sie mir gefaeit!”
-its important for people to create their own life and seek what they are looking for.
- be proactive
- Clemens is a self-described sociologist and journalist who enjoys talking about cultural differences, politics, and making small talk with the people he meets while traveling. Example of a “small talk” question from Clemens, “Is there Nutella in the US?”