The 2013 Job Journey Conclusion- and Many Many Thanks!

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I haven’t had as much time to write blog posts recently, but I wanted to get a final update out for all those rallying behind me in my job seeking goals the past year. After 9 months of being unemployed or underemployed, I now have a full time job! Woohoo for consistent money! Here is a look back at 2013 and my job seeking journey…

At the beginning of 2013, I made a New Years resolution to take back my career path. In addition to updating my online presence, networking my butt off, attending job-seeking workshops, and applying for jobs continually, I joined the blogging world again. I made myself accountable with this blog post: The Long Hiatus is Finally Over

In those first few months I spent a lot of time building my connections. For all of you out there presently looking for work, the adage “It’s all about the people you know,” is absolutely true! Every door that opened for me was a result of my own determination, and the help of someone I met along the way.

I knew volunteering would be key to meeting new people, and building that network, plus I love giving my time to organizations doing good things, (and… being unemployed offers you a little more time in your week).

My first venture was with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, a non-profit focusing on stewardship and place-based education.  I wrote a 4-part blog series here: CSWC Blog Series

L.G.-Dinner

I did some volunteer communications work with LettuceGrow, a  nonprofit that brings gardens and gardening education to correctional facilities in the State of Oregon. I assisted with the annual fundraising dinner and wrote all about the big night HERE. (pictured above)

Last fall, I joined the Communications Board at SOLVE (an organization I have had my eye on since moving to Portland). Here is our Earth Day volunteer experience.

university-of-oregon_200x200I wrote a 5-part blog series for the University of Oregon Career Services Department, and a 5-part series for Mac’s List, a well-known Portland based job-seeking platform. Both of the series were based on my job seeking journey, and tips I came across along the way. (Links to these posts below)

networkWhat really sealed the deal on my employment in 2013 however, were the individuals I met along the way. Not only did these people assist me in my job seeking goals – inspiring me, coaching me, telling me to “hang in there,” some of them have become friends. It’s beautiful to watch your network grow. Although many people touched me and encouraged me along my path in 2013, there are a few that really  went the extra mile, or came into my life at just the right time. Below is my example of just how connected we all become, and how one thing truly leads to the next!

My networking break really came when the fabulous Aimee Fahey came into my life. I met Aimee through Twitter back in the spring. She reached out to me, asking to meet for coffee and I remember thinking, “things are really starting to turn around for me!” Aimee owns her own career coach & recruiting business, and knows A LOT of people. (She also writes a great blog!)ecogrrl

Not only was Aimee the catalyst for many of my new connections, she has been a huge support to me. She is a strong woman with conviction, and I admire her spirit and tenacity. Aimee has encouraged me to believe in my abilities, value what I bring to the table, and ask for compensation that is fair – all things I appreciate so much. It’s partly because of Aimee that I negotiated my current salary. (A few years ago, I would have accepted what was first offered without question.)

Macs ListAimee introduced me to Jessica Williams, which led to the blogging opportunity on Mac’s List. At the time, Jessica was leading Mac’s List (a Prichard Communications project), and I met with her for an informational interview. She was so kind, very encouraging, and offered to let me write some blog posts for the site. (Just weeks before this unfolded,  I was reading a guest post on Mac’s List thinking, “how did this woman get on here-it would be so COOL to have that opportunity”….Well-manifesting what you want really works sometimes)!

I also did an informational interview with Mac Prichard, such an outstanding man of the community, and I really appreciated the time he gave.

One of my favorite job-seeking events of the year was with Vicki Lind (I found on Mac’s List). She offers a free interviewing & networking practice workshop once a month. This opportunity was extremely helpful, and Vicki was kind enough to give me a copy of her book, “Finding a Job Worth Having.” 

SOLVE_Logo_Process_v2.6

Aimee introduced me to Michelle Lasley, Executive Assistant at SOLVE, which led me to meeting Mark Bendinelli, SOLVE’s Marketing Committee Chair, and now I’m on the Marketing Board for SOLVE! (Check out Michelle’s blog!)

My involvement with LettuceGrow was also Aimee’s doing, which led me to meet the Founder and Executive Director, Sarah Patterson. Not only did Sarah rally behind me in finding a job, she actually helped me get one! Sarah introduced me to Mark Gaskill, President & CEO of MKG Financial Group, Inc.

office view-4thof July-My Office View – Fourth of July weekend, Waterfront  Blues Festival-

I was interviewed for a communications/marketing position for MKG, and started a few days later. I was thrilled to finally have a “real job.” And getting to work downtown in a beautiful office on the river was exhilarating. But, this position was only part-time, and after 4 months, I decided to begin looking for something more full time with benefits.

Two days later, I received a phone call from Jackie Mathys from Mathys+Potestio, the creative recruiting company that I made connections with way back in February! I wrote about them in my Dance of Networking  post. Jackie had a position she was trying to fill and thought I would be a good fit. She met with me briefly to explain the job duties; but more importantly, she was a real cheerleader, encouraging me to fight for what I want in my career life and be a strong woman. I value these conversations and moments dearly.  Don’t ever underestimate the impact you may have on another individual!

I interviewed on a Friday, and started working the following Monday. After two months of the temp-to-hire arrangement, I was offered a permanent full-time position. See how everything comes full circle!

New Office View2-No “Office” view at the new job, but we are right next to the river trail in Johns Landing-so I have a slice of nature on my walk every day.-

During this time, I also had the good fortune of meeting Greg Bell, founder of Water The Bamboo Center For Leadership. I love how we meet individuals during pivotal moments of change in our lives. Greg met with me one morning, and his presence is calming and his spirit is inspirational and encouraging.

BambooGreg wrote the book, Water The Bamboo, a highly recommended read for any individual forging their dreams, or any business desiring to create a solid foundation. I am so grateful Greg took a morning out of his week to meet with me, as the seeds of hope he planted that day have become a new foundation for my living. Again…never underestimate the impact you may have on another!

I now work for the cyber security event company SecureWorld Expo as there communications and marketing coordinator. It has been a great atmosphere for learning many new things with a fun group of people. Plus, I have my very first “grown-up” job with paid vacation and benefits!

I’m slowly learning the life-work balance, and my career journey certainly isn’t over; but for now, the stability of employment is a true blessing I’m very thankful for.

Office SunriseAnd…I still work very part-time at MKG, so I get the perk of that great office view every so often. Now I watch the best sunrises as I start my day very early!

Many thanks to all of my friends and family that supported and believed in me through my 2013 job seeking year, and many thanks to all the new people that entered my life – what a journey it was!

Extra Links From 2013:

Guest Interview: Post on Aimee Fahey’s EcoGrrl interview blog series

Mac’s List 5-part Blog Series:

1. Don’t Do These Four Things When Looking For Work in Portland (This was shared nearly 2000 times.)                                                                                                           2. What to do Before You Send Your Resume to a Portland Employer                     3. How to talk about Your Job Search                                                                                       4. Maintain Your Online Presence-4 Tips to Keep it Fresh                                              5. Use Feng Shui to Help Your Job Hunt                                                                    BONUS: Top 10 Most Read  “Mac’s List” Blog Posts of the Year

University of Oregon 5-part Blog Series:

1. Introducing Heather – What I learned From My Job Search Mistakes
2. How to Start Your Job Search
3. How to Maintain That Online Presence – 4 Tips to Keep it Fresh 
4.How to Talk  About Your Job Search –  Keep if Fresh                                                        5. How Heather Got the Job – BONUS Interview Video  

Urban Backyard Farming Part II

  A Look Back…Late Summer 2013

vegies1-August Harvest-

Although I haven’t had time to write new blog posts, I collected photos and took notes over the past few months, and as promised, here is part II to my urban farm story.

Eggs1

Our darling chickens started laying in mid-August. I was a very proud mama, and we have been so happy with our fresh eggs. Since we have four different breeds, we have varying eggs from size to color, making the carton a beautiful site!

We wanted to maintain their natural laying season so opted not to install any artificial lights in the coop. (This is how farmers make chickens lay year-round.) Most chickens will stop laying when the days grow shorter, yet even in mid-winter we still got a couple eggs every day.

Eggs

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Because my partner loves to grow things, and he loves to make beer, HOPS are an obvious part of our garden. The harvest wasn’t as large this year as last year, but he made 10 gallons (two batches) of tasty beer from our very own hops!

Hops

Pom2

Most will say, “You can’t grow pomegranates in the Pacific Northwest.” But, we did, and we grew a handful! (Well, it’s not really a “we” thing, I can’t take any credit.) The tree got a beating this year, as we got a new roof installed and the roofers weren’t very sensitive to our vegetation – but it bounced back and looked great all summer and fall.

plant2-Pomegranate Tree-

We had some late sunflowers bloom beautifully in the front yard (courtesy I’m sure from the neighborhood squirrels and birds). These were so fun to have near the front window.

Flowers

If you missed it:  Urban Farming Part I

Stay Tuned For Part III!

The Necessary Struggle

                                                       -Image Source-

In honor of my birthday today, I wanted to share a story from earlier in the year about growth, inspiration, and hanging in there. In the middle of my recent job hunting journey, I interviewed for a position I thought I was perfect for. It had the most ideal blend of my communication skills and the meaningful work I had been looking for. It was a position at a community college (a location I have longed to work at), that provided a flexible schedule working with students and local nonprofit groups. I honestly felt the job description was written for me, and I would be the perfect hire.

The interview went well, so I waited for the phone call, just knowing I was getting the job. While I waited, I continued my job seeking goals. One night I attended an event at the University of Oregon, Portland campus. The speakers were great, the free beer is always fun, and  I was so convinced I had this community college job in the bag, I was on cloud 9 with very little worries. 

As I left the event and waited for public transit to take me home, I checked my email. That’s when I got the terrible news…I didn’t get the job. I was devastated. At this point, I had been looking for work nearly four months, and I was SO excited about this job, I just thought it was meant to be.

I boarded the MAX with tears in my eyes, feeling so defeated. This was an entry level part-time position. All I could think of was, “If I can’t get this job, what job can I get?” I sat there letting the news mull in my mind. Maybe I should have answered a question differently during the interview, maybe I was too confident, maybe I didn’t have a particular skill-set, or enough experience. Then suddenly, a vision flashed across my mind.

I saw myself entering a stage in front of hundreds of people. Although I’ve clearly aged, I have a spring in my step, I’m smiling, waving, and the people are there to hear my story.  Then I realized, my story will start out with trials, struggles and rejections, but my story will end with, “I just kept trying, and look where I am today!” I had a beautiful “aha” moment. 

This vision made me smile as I realized that all the “no’s” I receive today make my story that much more interesting and inspiring for those to follow. I’m paving the way, I’m making myself stronger, and one day, I will make it!

Looking at my rejection in this positive light gave me hope again.  I thought about a story I read recently in a parenting book, about the necessity of letting our children struggle because it’s the key to making them strong and independent. This story really resonates with me as a job seeker, and as someone figuring out my path still facing rejection from time-to-time.

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“A teacher sends his students into the woods to watch a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The student watches and waits, and the butterfly struggles to free itself from the cocoon. The student begins to worry about the poor butterfly. He watches some more and waits, and finally, his heart is filled with compassion for the poor butterfly’s struggle. Very gently, he reaches over and helps the butterfly out of its cocoon. The butterfly flies for a few feet and then falls to the ground and dies. The student begins to cry and runs back to his teacher. “Why,” he demands, “why did the butterfly die?” The teacher replies, “When you reached in and helped the butterfly out of its cocoon, you deprived it of the opportunity to strengthen its wings in the struggle.”                                      -”How to Hug a Porcupine” by Julie A. Ross, M.A.

Roadside Libraries

Free Books Right on the Side of the Road!

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Several months ago, walking my dogs around the neighborhood in North Portland, I came across this little box on the side of the road. Obviously I was intrigued with my first roadside library encounter.

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I started envisioning walking down here with my daughter and the dogs, sitting on the swing (shown below), enjoying our books. There was something so simple, yet so fun and special. I thought warmly, “Only in Portland…”

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Then a few weeks ago, I came across another one! Still in North Portland, but an entirely different neighborhood. I didn’t realize this was a “thing,” assuming the the first one I saw was a creative whim of the household behind the library box. I love the Green Roof on the one below!

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                                                                                                                Then, even more recently, I saw a local news clip on roadside libraries. There has been one in the Sellwood neighborhood for 15+ years! I guess it really is a thing…I haven’t actually borrowed or donated a book, but I love that this exists.

Have you seen one in your neighborhood? Have you borrowed a book?

Library 1

Library 2

Backyard Farming-Chickens to Corn: Part 1

…Enjoying Our Own Backyard…

Hadlie &Chick-Hadlie and our friendliest Chicken Scarlet-

Inspired by my friend Aimee and her blog EcoGrrl, I thought I would share some of our homey photos and our summer backyard fun. One of Aimee’s blog series provides updates from her fabulous garden. I found myself really enjoying these simple photo updates, so I thought I would follow her lead.

Chickens 3

After years of thinking about getting chickens, we finally took the plunge two months ago. Although we are vegetarian we eat eggs, and having fresh eggs from chickens we care for has always been a goal.

Knowing where our eggs come from (just like any food we eat) is such a treat. Knowing we aren’t supporting all the factory farming that takes place in this country simply makes my heart sing.

CoopWe built a coop and a yard for them, but they are already spoiled running around our entire backyard most days – they are some lucky chickens! Not only will these birds provide us delicious eggs, but they are so incredibly entertaining. We can sit in our backyard watching them run around, peck the ground, chase each other and explore for hours. (Well, while we drink home-brew.) 

Garden

My sweetie did a lot of work getting garden beds into our yard last year, and I’m so glad he did! This year we had good friends give us corn starts. I’ve never grown corn, it’s not really one of my favorite vegetables, but for some reason it has been SO fun to watch that corn grow. Between the corn and the chickens, I feel like a real farmer this summer! :) 

Corn 1Watermelon Chicks

                                                                                                                With our bird feeders full of sunflower seeds, we now have a beautiful crop of sunflowers! In addition to all the amazing birds we saw all spring, we had 2 different nests in our yard, Chickadees and Red-Shafted Flickers. The Flickers actually pecked a nest into the telephone pole in our front yard-pretty incredible.

Sunflower 1 

I will write my Backyard Farming Part II when we husk our corn, gather our first eggs and harvest our melons!

Chicken

How to Use Feng Shui in Your Job Hunt


Simple Feng Shui Suggestions 

The following post was originally written for my Mac’s List series. I think it’s fun, so thought I would share, enjoy!

At the very beginning of my job hunt journey I found myself trying all sorts of things, and Feng Shui was one of the most fun. You might think Feng Shui is used for decorating homes, but the principles can be useful in many areas of your life, including the job hunt. When used in conjunction with your hard work and determination, Feng Shui can bring the right kind of energy to your career goals. If nothing else, the small effort you put into Feng Shui helps solidify your intentions. The idea of Feng Shui is to create space in your home that allows energy to flow freely and harmoniously. During the job search, it’s important to be open to new things coming into your life (i.e. that new job). Here are a few Feng Shui tips I learned in my research to help create that energy.

1. De-Clutter:

According to Feng Shui teachings, clutter is the antitheses of energy flowing through your home freely. Check that your closets aren’t over stuffed, areas under the bed are orderly, and your desk is cleared before beginning work.

2. Identify the Career Corner:

The North area in your home is connected to the flow of energy in your career life, also called “Path in Life.” This can also be the north sector of your living room, office, bedroom, or dining room. There are elements that activate the career chi, bringing in opportunities. Try hanging or placing in your career corner a few metal objects (especially gold in color), a mirror, water feature, or decorating with blue and black colors. You can also display images of people whose career and professional life you admire in this North area.

3. Home Entrance:

According to Feng Shui philosophy, it’s important to make the entrance to your home as attractive as possible to invite new opportunities in. Make sure the front door isn’t blocked or difficult to open, and the path to the front door is well-lit and clear. Wash the door and hinges, and perhaps buy a new welcome mat, potted plant or wind chime. Another suggestion is to tape your dream job description on the inside of your front door to help manifest it into existence.

4. Other Corners:

Identify the Southeast corner of your home, this is your money and abundance area. The element for this area is wood, so avoid metal objects and try placing a green plant or water feature in the corner. Good Feng Shui in the Northwest corner, including art with a metal element, can attract helpful people in your life.

Finally, recognize that your personal energy is connected to the energy in your home / office. Take care of yourself, and the rest will fall into place.

Do you have some favorite Feng Shui tips that would benefit the job seeker? Please share below! For more detailed Feng Shui suggestions to use in your office, visit: Using Feng Shui in Your Home Office.


Earth Day – SOLVE – FORCE LAKE – Volunteer #3

SOLVE-Our Volunteer Crew-

Continuing my 2013 Volunteer Series, here is our super duper fun EARTH DAY volunteer gig. (I know this was a couple months ago, but better late than never.) Being outside is key for me on Earth Day, and finding a way to give back and volunteer is even better. Thankfully, we live in a region that provides a plethora of opportunities. This year I decided to keep it VERY local. I found an outdoor beautification opportunity in North Portland only 1.5 miles from my home-it was perfect.

FORCE LAKE

Force Lake Area Map

Force Lake is located in the Kenton Neighborhood of North Portland on N. Force Avenue next to the entry to Heron Lakes Golf Course. The lake is near the Portland Expo Center and the I-5 interchange with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Marine Drive West.

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In full disclosure, I had never heard of this gem in North Portland, so I was intrigued, and a little embarrassed I hadn’t explored this lake so close to my home.

The way to get things done: WORK TOGETHER!

Introducing the lovely collaboration between SOLVE, the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC), and Friends of Force Lake, with Portland General Electric (PGE) as a business sponsor.

According to the Friends of Force Lake website, 38 of us hard-working volunteers worked for 3-5 hours (depending on the family) to provide these results:

  • 25,000 sq. ft. cleared of invasive Himalayan blackberries and English Ivy
  • 500 native species planted
  • 500 lbs. of trash removed from in and around the lake

SOLVE 4My 12-year-old daughter was reluctant to fulfill her volunteer duty. She didn’t want to get up early on her precious Saturday, and volunteering with her mom didn’t sound like tons of fun. (She has volunteered with me countless times on a variety of tasks, but as she get’s older it’s harder to “convince” her it’s still an awesome thing to do.)

However, as we started clearing the invasive species, and planting the natives, her face lit up. At one point she said, I’m so glad you made me do this mom, it’s actually really fun.” That is what an eco-mama wants to hear- music to my heart! Additionally we had friends visiting from Seattle that volunteered with us. What better way to spend time together than volunteering outdoors!

I have to provide a huge shout-out to SOLVE. This is an incredible organization that cares for our beautiful state harnessing all the awesome volunteer power we have. Here is a quick rundown of their accomplishments during the Earth Day volunteer extravaganza during April taken from the website.

1 month — 343 projects — 10,000+ volunteers — and a whole lotta LOVE for Oregon as thousands of volunteers pitched in for a spring cleaning of Oregon’s beaches, waterways and natural areas.

On Earth Day: 143 volunteers came out to make a difference across the state as part of the 24th annual SOLVE IT event, presented by PGE. These impressive watershed improvements were made:

  • 3,970 native trees and shrubs planted
  • 74,260 pounds of trash removed
  • 259 tires collected
  • 39 acres cleared of invasive weeds

Force Lake Cleanup was a SUCCESS!

SOLVE 3

In addition to the Collaboration Team mentioned above, a big thank you goes out to Portland Parks and Recreation for disposing of the trash and providing mulch. To Champoeg Nursery and the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services for donating native plants, and to the Kenton Neighborhood Association and HEART for their support.

                                                                                                                   

                                                                               Want to see the other posts in my Volunteer For A Year Series? Visit:                         Oregon Food Bank                                                                                                             Columbia Slough Watershed Council

Adventure #6 – Hiking The Gorge – Oregon Side

Columbia Gorge

Gorge View-View From the Top-

                                                                                                                                                                          Gorge- Flower 2A year-long Portland area adventure series can’t be complete without at least one Columbia Gorge entry. My partner and I hiked Angel’s Rest a few weeks ago (before the heatwave) with the dogs, and it was the perfect time of year – the wildflowers were in abundance!

This hike is a popular one, located just 25 miles east of Portland off I-84. Take exit 28 to the historic Columbia River Highway 30. The trail (No.415) parking area is on the right just up the road a quarter mile.

Gorge TreeDogs & River- Gorge

Unlike a lot of the waterfall hikes in the Gorge area, there isn’t much water along this one, so bring some extra for the pooches, they will be thirsty when you get to the top! The only water you will encounter along the way (shown above) is Coopey Creek, 0.7 miles from the trailhead. You will see a glimpse of Coopey Falls (hidden behind the tree above) just before you hit the creek.

Gorge Trees

Traveling along switchbacks (you climb 1,500 feet), you will see remnants of a 1991 fire that swept through the area.Gorge Hut

 

You will also get to see a little stone hut (not sure how or why it’s there, but it’s cool) that is sure to bring smiles to the youngsters in your group and the adults that get excited about things like me. 

Gorge view 2

The views we were awarded with after making the 2.2 mile trek up the hill were breathtaking. Every direction you turn is an amazing landscape with the Columbia river below, Washington State across the river and the Gorge in both directions. Pack a lunch and a camera, as you will want to enjoy the scenery for awhile!

Gorge

With a high point of 1,640 feet – this was a rewarding hike both in beauty, and exercise. The book I use for the Columbia Gorge area hikes: “Day Hike Columbia Gorge, the best trails you can hike in a day”  by Seabury Blair Jr. (2011 edition) – mentions a campground another .5 miles up a trail from the “top” for hikers that want to avoid the “vertigo cliff” feel. We didn’t go on to see this camp, but it’s an option and apparently a little creek runs through it, a bonus for thirsty dogs and tired hot feet!

Gorge cliff

If you are interested in my adventure series posts – visit the CATEGORY, also, here are a few of my favorites so far:  Sauvie Island, Cross-Country Skiing, and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

Gorge- Flower & DogGorge-flower

Hanford Nuclear Site- What You May Not Know

Image Source

If you are concerned about the fluoride debate, you should be REALLY concerned about the Hanford site.”                                                 -Green drinks guest speaker

This Months Portland Green Drinks featured a presentation on the Hanford Nuclear Site. Two guest speakers from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR Oregon Chapter) highlighted the Particles on the Wall exhibit, which utilizes art and science to tell the Hanford Site story. (See Info about the exhibit at the bottom of this post.)

“The display was thought of during a happy hour brain storming session, so we thought it was Green Drinks appropriate,” said Kelly Campbell, PSR’s executive director, with a laugh. “Hanford is kinda a downer, so having a drink makes it a little easier,” Maxine Fookson, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who volunteers on the Oregon PSR Peace Work Group, adds with a smile.

Although Campbell and Fookson’s attitudes were lighthearted, their message was delivered with the utmost concern, poise and passion as the women explained the Particles on the Wall’s mission, a brief history on the Hanford Site, and current concerns.

Below is a quick overview for those unaware of the Hanford site, or need a little refresher, as well as key take-away thoughts.

Who What Where:

Hanford occupies 586-square-miles (for comparison, Los Angeles is 503-sqaure-miles) in the desert terrain of southeastern Washington state along the Columbia River, and sits approximately 250 miles upriver from Portland Oregon. It’s the site where plutonium was produced for the devastating bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. It’s considered the most toxic site in the Western Hemisphere. 

Social Justice Concerns:

For centuries, the Hanford area was home to several tribes of Native Americans.  According to the Hanford website, “Remnants, artifacts, and burial sites associated with historical Native American activity are found throughout the site and are protected by law.” Hmmm…doesn’t seem like their was much protection to me. 

“When the War Department decided to locate portions of the Manhattan Project to this part of Washington, it also decided that work to develop atomic weapons had to be done in secret. Subsequently, in early 1943, all of the residents of White Bluffs and Hanford were told to evacuate their homes and abandon their farms, and were given just 30 days and a small amount of money to do so.” -Source 

Once the residents vacated the area, people from all over the country came to Hanford creating a workforce of 51,000 to build the nuclear reactors and processing facilities required to extract plutonium for atomic weapons. Apparently, very few of the workers knew what they were building (until the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in August 1945), but worked under the guise of “very important war work.”

After World War II, production increased in response to the “Cold War” and continued until 1987 when the last reactor ceased operation. 

Environmental Concerns:

So why is nuclear a big deal? – For one, it produces a gigantic amount of toxic waste that we still have no idea how to get rid of, and no safe way to store.

The main Hanford product, plutonium-239, has a half-life of over 24,000 years. At this rate of decay, the plutonium produced at Hanford will take 200,000 years or more to become stable nonradioactive material. -Source 

The Tri-Party Agreement-Cleanup:

In 1989, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Washington State Department of Ecology, entered into a legal Tri-Party agreement to clean up the Hanford Site.

According to Fookson and Campbell, the federal government spends 2 billion dollars annually on Hanford cleanup, that’s 1/3 of the money spent on nuclear cleanup in the country. With the sense of urgency generated by World War II and the prevailing secrecy, wastes were dumped in the soil and the river. Additionally, large volumes of high-level waste were placed in huge single-shell storage tanks, with the assumption that it could all be taken care of properly after the war.

As you can see in the picture at the top of the post, the Hanford site sits RIGHT ON the Columbia river. Nuclear anything (power for electricity, weapon development etc.), requires a HUGE amount of water. The diagram below helps explain how the toxins leak into the soil, water table, and the river. 

Image Source

Health Concerns:

“The government did not reveal a number of significant health-related events until forced to do so in the late 1980s when citizens exercised the Freedom of Information Act. Although highly sophisticated radiation monitoring was performed throughout the history of Hanford, the government did not tell the public the details, repeatedly assuring them that everything was safe.” -Source 

Understanding of radiobiology slowly evolved. Initial hopes that the soil would hold wastes from leaching into the groundwater were eventually proven wrong. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster alerted the public that a serious accident could occur at Hanford as well, and the resulting contamination of the Columbia and its basin would affect the population of the entire Northwest. 

“The true situation at Hanford remained hidden from the public. The community faith in “good jobs, good pay, and a good cause” had long fostered an emphasis on production and a neglect of safety.”  -Source

Only after a particularly brave inspector and whistleblower leaked information to the press, and a very revealing series of expose articles appeared in the newspapers, did any meaningful changes occur. 

Local Stories:

In addition to the towns of Hanford and White Bluffs, the 300 residents of Richland were forced to leave their homes as well. Richland is the only town of the three that still exists with a current population of 48,000. The high school mascot remains to this day the “Bombers,” with the recognizable mushroom cloud as its logo.

During the PSR presentation, Fookson read moving, and often heart-wrenching poetry written by individuals effected by the Hanford site, some from the Richland region, “…even the snow was dusty…even the dust was radioactive, though we didn’t know it.” 

Image Source

Columbia Generating System-Nuclear Power Plant:

Located 10 miles North of Richland, this reactor provides Washington with approximately 10% of the state’s electrical generation capacity. With the 1992 retirement of Oregon’s Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, it is the only commercial nuclear power reactor remaining in the Pacific Northwest. According to Fookson and Campbell, Oregon receives approximately 3%-4% of its power from the Columbia Generating System, and the plant recently received an “okay” for 20 more years of operation.

Grave concerns about the use of nuclear power energy has prevailed for decades, however with the catastrophic events of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster following the earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011, potential problems have been revisited. 

Potential for Pacific Northwest Catastrophic Event:

The Pacific Northwest is due for a huge earthquake, and scientists say that it’s not a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when.”  Need a recap of the destruction caused by the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan on Fukushima? : A series of equipments failures, nuclear meltdowns, releases of radioactive materials and foreseeable years of cleanup. Can you imagine something similar at the Washington sites in the event of a catastrophic earthquake in our region?

Along the Columbia river, electricity is generated through hydroelectric power (utilizing the dams), wind power (utilizing the wind turbines) and nuclear power generated at the Columbia Generating System plant. Did you know that when there is too much electricity on the grid (yes, our grid is in need of a SERIOUS overhaul), the wind turbines are shut down, not the nuclear plant, because it is next to impossible to turn that power plant off. Does this make progressive, environmental sense?

Where should our Energy go? What Can We Do?

As explained by Campbell and Fookson, you don’t have to be an expert on nuclear power and the Hanford site to be concerned. Since the Hanford site is in Washington, Oregonians don’t have any jurisdiction, but we are equally effected, (those arbitrary state lines). Portland is far closer to the Hanford site than Seattle for example. I encourage you to contact your local politicians, and Washington state politicians to share your concern about the cleanup of the Hanford site, and the need to close the Columbia generating system power plant. 

I will close with Campbell’s thought provoking and inspirational plea.

When we think about the incredible national support, the immense amount of money, the quick response, and the brilliant minds brought together to create the technology of the atomic bomb, it’s truly amazing.

What would it look like, if we took that same energy, funding, citizen support, brilliant minds, and sense of urgency towards fighting climate change… Imagine what we could accomplish!  

You are cordially invited to join Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) for Particles on the Wall, a multi-disciplinary exhibit combining visual and literary arts, science, and historical memorabilia to explore the lasting impacts of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the nuclear age.

When: Exhibit runs from May 3rd through June 14th. Open to the public weekdays from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM and Sundays 8:30 AM until 2:00 PM.

Where: The Ecotrust Building, 2nd Floor (721 NW 9th Avenue in Portland)        Free and open to the public!

Want to Tour The Hanford Site? It’s Free!

For Additional information on the the History of the Hanford Site Visit: Hanford History, Hanford Site

For Additional News Stories on the Hanford Site Visit:

 NBC News.com:  “Six tanks now said to be leaking at contaminated Hanford Nuclear Site”                                                                  Huffington Post: “Hanford Nuclear Waste Tanks Could Explode, Agency Explains”                                                                              Scientific American: “Hanford Nuclear Waste Cleanup Plant May Be Too Dangerous”

Please share your thoughts and additional resources in the comment section below-thank you!

 

 

Adventure #5 – Exploring Powell Butte (Waaaaay East Portland)

P.B. Inca-3

As dog owners, we are always trying to find new pockets of nature to explore that are dog friendly. (i.e.- We won’t bother others if we let them off leash, and we aren’t in danger of getting in trouble.)

As an eco-concious person however, I also want to ensure the area isn’t sensitive to disturbance, or undergone recent restorations. (We want those little seedling to survive.)                                                      

                   - Inca Pearl- our “climber” dog-

Powell Butte is a fantastic oasis for both human and canine. We visited on a Sunday, and surprisingly had the area to ourselves, (my favorite). A fair warning however, the few people we did encounter were all friendly, but their dogs were not. It was the strangest thing, of all 4-5 groups we met along the way, everyone had at least one dog, and every person told us their dogs were mean.  Hmmm…(not really a big deal, just interesting).

P.B-woods 1

The area is a forested wonderland, complete with wild Trillium flowers, and those tasty cute Fiddlehead ferns. We saw a good variety of birds, slugs, and mushrooms as well. It’s so fun  hiking with my daughter, she always notice things that I pass right over.    

P.B. Shrooms 5

I think the best way to explore Powell Butte is to go without much of a destination in mind. There are several places to access the butte (parking lots in many directions) and trails seem to wind all over. At 611 acres, it’s a small enough area, I can’t imagine ever getting really lost. There is the butte of course, where the summit offers nice views of the mountains if you go on a clear day (we did not). Johnson Creek meanders on the hill, and the area is a beautiful combination of wetland, forested slopes of Western Red-Cedar, and open meadows.

P.B. Valley 2

                                       - Meadow on top of Powell Butte-

“As an extinct cinder cone volcano, Powell Butte rises near the headwaters of Johnson Creek- an urban creek with remnant populations of native salmon and steelhead.”    Source

If you aren’t one to enjoy the “wandering” exploration- here is a link to an actual hike. 

And if you aren’t into the “dog” thing, this area is equipped for hiking, horseback riding, and biking as well!

Want to learn more about the area, get involved, maybe even volunteer? Friends of Powell Butte Nature Park provides all the above. 

Where It’s At:   SE 162nd & Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97230 

I’m still looking for Portland metro area suggestions I should go explore.      Please comment below!

P.B. Trail 7P.B. Trailheads 6

Need a reminder on why I’m doing this Adventure series? Visit my first post that explains my year-long quest for finding hidden treasures in my own backyard. 

Here are a couple favorite posts in the series:                                                     Adventure #2: Snow, Soul Healing Fun, with a Story of Planned Obsolescence              Adventure #4: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden