Saturday, June 28, 2008
Well, my 14+ hours of video footage and I made it safely back to San Diego. Before I get to a summary of the last few days I want to say thanks to everyone who has been commenting on my posts. One of my favorite responses is from my Uncle, who pointedly asked, "...are you sure this is scholarly research?" And while I know his comment comes with a 'wink', he has a good point, and the way my blog entries have been written so far is definitely not geared toward the academic scholarly approach. No worries though! I plan on carefully going through all my footage and posting entries for each location of the Tour with a bit more detail into my geographical/academic observations...even though the official trip is 'over' the work for me has just begun!
Back to the Tour...
I had a wonderful time in Eugene. Not only did I get the chance to catch up with a great friend (thanks Allison!), but I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the bike-friendly, outdoorsy city. I interviewed someone who works at 'Green Store'- a new store in Eugene geared toward helping people explore energy-saving retail options. They offer a variety of products and services-anything from cleaning supplies to light bulbs to installing solar panels. I've seen several 'green stores' on the trip, but this was the first one where someone agreed to speak to me on camera. I really lucked up too because the man I spoke with was a long-time Eugene resident and had been involved with solar energy technology since the 70s. He was incredibly knowledgeable about the area and the path solar energy has taken over the past few decades. Something else Eugene's 'Green Store' offers, that fits right along with all the other places I've been to, is free workshops and classes to help educate people on 'green' options that fit with their individual lifestyle and income. Education is key!
Salem, the capital of Oregon, was an interesting stop for the Tour. I have to say, it was probably the least visually 'green' place I've seen; 'green' sinage has been overwhelming in most of the places I've been, but I really had to search for it in Salem among the endless chain stores and fast food...I think the only sign I finally found downtown was for a 'green oil change' (whatever that means!)
Anyway, the main reason I went to Salem was to visit Pringle Creek Community- recently heralded as one of the most sustainable neighborhoods in the nation. It was a really cool development, and even though it's still early in the building stages, they have SO many neat plans that emphasize low-energy use, community, sharing (space, gardens, etc.), habitat restoration and protection, education and outreach with the city, and more...I'll add more on Pringle Creek later.
After Salem, I made my way back into California picking up David (my boyfriend) in San Jose so I could have come company for the last stretch. We enjoyed a leisurely drive back (purposefully stopping in Santa Barbara for dinner before hitting LA in order to avoid some traffic-it worked).
So, 3,300 miles later, I think it's safe to say that I've seen a few pieces of America's new green spaces!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Portland is an awesome city. As much as I have loved the smaller towns we've been exploring, it is very refreshing to be in a bigger urban area (especially for an urban geographer such as myself :) ). Portland's neighborhoods are accessible and fun to navigate between. And the large number of people out on the streets and on bicycles makes you watch to ditch your car as soon as possible.
I think the coolest thing about Portland- well, besides their outstanding recycling program and the amazing local, fresh food Emily and I enjoyed at every meal- is that the people in Portland I spoke with acknowledge that 'going green' is a continuous process. Just because something gets the 'green' label (like the city of Portland as a whole) doesn't mean you then get to stop thinking about better, more energy efficient ways to lower impact. Basically, throughout the entire Tour, the most common answer I receive from, "What's going green?" is, "an environmental awareness"; it was the same in Portland but with one extra twist...for the Portlanders I spoke to, 'going green' is a continuous, growing awareness; they're very open to new ideas and new technologies.
As someone told me yesterday, "There's always room for improvement...and Portland is no exception." I think that statement alone reflects why Portland is one of the 'greenest cities'.
Sad news: I dropped Emily off at PDX this morning to head back to San Diego (she does have her own research to work on!), so I'm heading down to Eugene solo later this afternoon. Since I've absolutely loved Portland, I'm really looking forward to traveling to other parts of Oregon over the next few days. I'll be in Eugene tomorrow then Salem on Tuesday.
Another quick note about Portland: we stayed in the Northwest Hostel and it was incredible. It's in a super fun, trendy area surrounded by a ton of great little shops, pubs, and restaurants; plus, it was one of the cleanest, most comfortable hostels I've ever stayed in- two thumbs up from me!
Well, until next time...
Saturday, June 21, 2008
We finally made it to Oregon!
I was a bit worn down from the past few days and wasn't looking forward to the 7 hour drive from Arcata to our hotel outside Portland, but oh my goodness...the drive was absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to explore Portland tomorrow!
The rest of our time in Davis was awesome. It actually reminded me a lot of Athens, GA (where I was an undergrad)- small, friendly, young, active...I really enjoyed it. And, of course, the biking was great. It's super flat and everything is very accessible. It's definitely one of those places where you feel silly driving around town. Emily and I biked around for quite a while, visited one of the co-op houses and chatted with some of the people who live there (one was conveniently wearing a "go green" shirt :) ). We enjoyed the fun and food at the Farmer's Market, and then stayed with some friends of a friend (thanks Shannon!) who actually live across the street from a cooperative block. Basically all the homes on the block have opened up their backyards and share the space for gardening, hanging out, and any other outdoor activity- very cool! Davis in general had a really strong community feel- so here we have, once again, community playing a huge role in the 'greening' of spaces for people.
Thursday morning we left Davis super early and drove the 5 hours to Arcata (it was a gorgeous drive). After getting a bit oriented with Arcata, we headed over to City Hall where I had the chance to speak with two city employees in the Environmental Services Department. Arcata has SO many great programs going on! Not only are they increasingly working on habitat restoration, particularly in the wetlands and Redwoods, but the energy saving initiatives are incredible.
After City Hall, we made our way to the main downtown square and chatted with several people. Arcata is very unique- I've never been anywhere like it. It's an active city- I felt like everyone was out and about and enjoying interacting with each other and their surroundings. The people of Arcata most definitely have an open appreciation and an understanding of their environment.
Before heading to our campsite for the night, Emily and I checked out the Marsh Interpretive Center and then hiked on some of the trails surrounding the waste water treatment ponds- very cool!
Patrick's Point State Park (about 19 miles north of Arcata) was a beautiful camping spot. We were literally sleeping among the redwoods...incredible stuff!
This morning- Day 7- we packed up camp, went back down to Arcata, walked a bit through the city's Community Forest (for trails and sustainable logging), and then hung out at Humboldt State University's Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT). It's a on campus student-run house dedicated to showing appropriate technologies for sustainable living- they want to demonstrate that living a low impact life is not that difficult to do (and won't cost a fortune). We went on a tour of the house to hear about some of the amazing features (the list will have to be a detailed entry later!) and then got a chance to speak with several of the student employee and the Co-directors for the coming year. Some of the things they are clearly demonstrating (gardening, natural cleaning products and paint, and insulation techniques) are really simple things that people can easily adapt to....which brings me to my overall green lesson from Arcata: minimize and simplify. Minimize needs and wants by simplifying the way you do daily activities. Most of your biggest needs can be easily met and safely handled just by working with your surrounding environment.
Like I mentioned before, the drive the Arcata was beautiful and Emily and I had a nice run on the way at Prairie Creek State Park.
Ah, another good day for the Green Tour.
Tomorrow is going to be super exciting- I've made it to Portland!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
It feels nice to sit down and reflect a bit on the past couple of days.
I'm sitting in a cute, organic coffee serving cafe in Davis, CA, and it's a beautiful, hot day. It's kind of crazy how much has happened in the past two days- it's impossible to explain it all, but here's a short summary:
After a wonderful evening at Spring Lake Regional Park, we started Day 4 with another early morning run on some of the nearby trails, and then headed to Oceansong, a farm and wilderness center near Occidental. (A sidenote on the run- we kind of got a little turned around at one point and asked two women to help us out. Turned out that one of them was an environmental engineer and the other was close to retirement and was then going to sell all her possessions and sail around the world for the rest of her life- the love for the environment seems to dominate everyone's mind up here!)
Oceansong was absolutely amazing! I didn't want to leave! We had the opportunity to interview an on-site resident named Annie, who truly portrayed a passion for environmental education, the wilderness, farming and gardening, and obtaining a much deeper understanding and connection to land and nature. Speaking with her and wandering around the gardens stopping here and there to try some fresh spinach, broccoli, and raspberries was calming and inspiring. Annie emphasized the importance of local efforts and community and most importantly, something that Oceansong teaches to all their young campers in Coyote Camp, we should enjoy nature- enjoy and discover the amazing wealth and beauty of the outdoors.
With Annie's advice in mind, Emily and I drove to Bodega Bay, checked into our campsite at Bodega Dunes (which I highly recommend) and then went out to Bodega Head to watch the waves crash into the stunning coastal cliffs. After a hike, we decided to take full advantage of the wind and fly a kite (I completely understand why Bodega Bay is nicknamed "Blow-dega" Bay- it was SO windy).
Day 5- this morning we got up, packed up camp, and drove here, to Davis, the bike capital of the nation. With bike racks outside every establishment and way more bikes on the roads than cars, this college town near Sacramento is sure to help highlight some 'going green' trends and help me work through some of the contradictions. Our plan is to bike around the city chatting with people and then catch the Farmer's Market tonight. I'm looking forward to letting RITA rest today and jumping on my bike.
So in closing, here's a quick 'Green Tour' suggestion to everyone: park your car, jump on a bike or just go for a walk, stop and chat with a neighbor, and connect a bit more with your surroundings...from what I've learned, I think it's a must do in 'going green'.
Until next time...
Monday, June 16, 2008
The Green Tour is well underway! I have been having a great time exploring parts of California that I've never seen before, and Emily is SO happy to be in Northern California again.
Day 1 was a little slow, but still successful. Since I'm shooting all the LA spots later in the summer, we just drove straight up to Monterey...it was about 7 hours in the car. My plans to stop in at a sanitary supplies store that sells green cleaning products (advertised as being "so green you can drink them!") fell through because they were closed. We still got some footage around Monterey of their awesome bike paths and harbor and then continued up Hwy 101 to Santa Cruz. After searching for quite a while for a place to stay- pretty much every campsite and hotel in the area was booked!- we went into downtown Santa Cruz and had a great time enjoying the Saturday nightlife on the streets. From seeing "Support Your Local Businesses" and "Green Business Certified" signs in store windows and talking with a New Leaf Grocery Store manager, it is safe to say I saw evidence of Santa Cruz's environmentally conscious population.
On Day 2 Emily and I got up and headed straight to UCSC's campus. A majority of their buildings are surrounded by beautiful Redwood trees; bike and pedestrian paths meander through all the buildings, and there are numerous nearby farms and gardens that the students are involved in maintaining. In addition, we explored an alternative housing area (essentially it was a RV/trailer park on campus) and spoke with one of the students living there. There is something absolutely beautiful in thinking about being on a university campus that openly encourages and advertises low-impact lifestyles.
After stopping for a quick snack at "Emily's Bakery", we headed to Bonny Doon Vineyard to check out some 'green wine'. Unfortunately, I couldn't bring the camera inside but we did taste a few of their wines and learned all about their biodynamic farming techniques.
From Bonny Doon, we drove the 2 hours to Berkeley. After getting our bearings, we speak with five people hanging out in a small park, which was wonderful and definitely gave me some great perspectives on 'greening', but Berkeley's historical involvement in the environmental movement (social movements in general) is overwhelmingly important and I just didn't get an honest feel of it. I really feel like I should have spent a lot longer in Berkeley...but then again, maybe that's something to note... One of the guys we spoke with, who grew up in the area, mentioned something along those lines- he said that Berkeley has lost some of it's intensive, model-worthy initiatives that it sort of dominated over in the 60s and 70s. Something interesting to think about...
Day 2's evening was spent at Emily's amazingly sweet grandparent's home. We had a great night visiting with them. One of the nicest parts about the visit was that this morning we were able to get up and go for an awesome trial run in a nearby park. One of the most essential parts about the 'going green' movement is encouraging people to actually get out and enjoy what nature has to offer- Emily and I are definitely trying to do that as much as possible...and it makes things super easy when every other corner has a park or trail area.
This morning we drove to Santa Rosa and interviewed Rick, a great voice for electric vehicles and alternative transportation options in general. We spent the morning looking at all sorts of electric bikes, cars, and other 'toys' and chatting with Rick about his work. Not only did I feel like the Tour got a nice jump-start during my interview with him, but he definitely talked about a lot of issues that I need to keep in mind as I continue with my trip. Here are a couple:
Access- how does access (products, knowledge) affect 'going green' options for people?
Community and sharing- two huge parts of a 'green' life that is not advertised; do they strictly comes with the mentality?
Well. My time in the Infusion Teahouse in Sebastopol, CA is up.
Until next time...