Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 3: Outdoor Education

As we near the end of our Destination trip, we reflect our experiences so far. We had a very long car ride to Portland.  Monday and Tuesday we got to volunteer at the Rebuilding Center.  The Rebuilding Center saves landfills and provides the Portland community with affordable home building and renovating materials.  This place is the definition of sustainability.

As for today, we had a chance to be outside.  We helped restore the Carter Creek river way and plant trees in a city park watershed.  We worked with Abby and Steve, who work for SOLV (Sustainable Oregon Living through Volunteerism), which receives grants to restore water ways and parks. The Portland metro area of around 2.3 million people makes up 70% of Oregon's population.  This large population lives in a small land area - only 14% of Oregon.  Land use planning and storm water mitigation is critical in making sure the dense urban development does not pollute the tributaries. We learned it is important to plant natural species and remove invasive species so the native habitat can thrive and function properly.  We learned how things connect within the local ecosystem.  For example, if the Douglas Fir trees are surrounded and killed by invasive English ivy then the rivers will not be shaded and light will increase the temperature leading to the death of the many salmon which use them as a home.

We have had the opportunity to meet a variety of different people in Portland.  Their passion for the environment is threaded into the daily morals of the entire community.  The city takes pride in being sustainable and most local businesses are active in helping the environment.  It's great to see how tightly our world is connected.  Being progressive is important for our future no matter what the issue is.

Our experiences here have changed some of our view points.  We are becoming more mentally enable to make drastic changes within our society.  It didn't take long for our group to take a unit and a half of wood chips and cover a trail once we all worked together.  Everyday people are taking the time to recycle and reuse things that are obvious for being sustainable. There are also other small things we all can do to help reduce our carbon footprints.  By planting trees today, we reduced thousands of carbon emissions. It's also great to see the community here at our hostel in the Hawthorne District.  The Hawthorne District is made up of many small shops that are aware of their impact on the environment.  Ethnic restaurants, coffee shops, bicycle shops, among many other specialty stores make up the majority of the shops on the main drag of the Hawthorne district.  It really builds a community and becomes sustainable when you are able to work with one another.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
-John Muir 

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