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

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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.

SOLVE 6

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

Giving Back at the Oregon Food Bank- Volunteer #2

Second Installment in my Volunteer for a Year series- Introducing…

The Oregon Food Bank

Filling the role as service learning project coordinator this year for my daughter’s 6th grade class at the Portland Village School– we chose The Oregon Food Bank  (OFB) as our organization to volunteer for. When we arrived on site, we were introduced to the project-CARROTS!

Food Bank 10

Apparently we were lucky to get produce as our task for the morning, as fresh produce donations are rare for the food bank. Typically school groups measure out bags of dried goods (beans, rice etc.).

Food Bank 6The students worked for 1.5 hours creating 5 lb. bags of carrots that would later be placed in food boxes and distributed to families in need.

Since the beginning of the 2008 recession, food box distribution has increased 41 percent.

In an average month, 92,000 children in Oregon eat meals from emergency food boxes.

Of those receiving Emergency Food, 34% are Children.

FoodBank with kids

-Village School Students Working Hard!-

In 2012, 20% of households receiving food assistance had one or more veterans living in them. (Since 1996 this number has ranged from 15% to 21%.).

The percentage of individuals with education beyond high school or GED receiving food assistance has changed from 29% in 2000 to about 42% in 2012.

Food Bank 1

Working alongside another school group, the students packaged:

6,333 pounds of carrots in the 1.5 hour shift.

A meal is considered slightly more than a pound of food. That means the students provided approximately 4,872 meals during their volunteer shift

(94 meals per volunteer)!

Way To Go 6th Graders! 

After the students completed their shift, we were given a quick tour of the facility- it’s an impressive place! The OFB addresses hunger in a multi-faceted manner:

  • The innovative Fresh Alliance program collects and distributes nutritious, perishable foods for people who are hungry.
  • Education Programs teach low-income participants to grow food from seed and to stretch food dollars while cooking healthy meals.
  • Work through FEAST (Food, Education, Agriculture Solutions Together) workshops and other partnerships help communities build stronger and more equitable local food systems.
  • The Advocacy Team works to find long-term, public-policy solutions that benefit people with low incomes.
  • Huge outdoor garden on site.
  • Commercial kitchen on site for nutrition and cooking classes.

Food Bank 2

“Last year, Oregon Food Bank distributed 43.5-million pounds of food to hunger-relief agencies.”

Food Bank 4In 2012 at OFB’s two Portland area locations, volunteer hours were equal to 74 full time employees, valued at $2.4 million.  WOW!!!

Photo Left: I attempted to get a photo with my daughter, but she exclaimed, “No way mom, you’re going to put that on your blog!”  I guess the volunteer outfits weren’t flattering enough. 🙂

So, one of her friends posed for a photo with me. Thanks Jaslie!

All the above statistics were found on the Oregon Food Bank website. Click here for a PDF version of the 2012 stats, and to find additional information.

The OFB has plenty of opportunities to volunteer for groups and individuals. There are shift dates and times planned in advance for school groups – you simply sign up for the shift you want to volunteer for.

10-Point CheckList – What to do BEFORE You Apply for the Job

“You Must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to be.” -David Viscott

Although it’s tempting to dive right into the job application process, I highly recommend building a solid job seeking foundation first. This will position you to be far more organized, focused, and successful in getting what you want.  

I recently wrote a blog post for the University of Oregon’s Career Service Center (Portland office) with suggestions on what to do before you start applying for jobs. Here is an expanded version with a few more suggestions.

1. Career Coach / Counseling

If you are finding yourself totally lost on where to start with the job search journey, seek out a career coach or career counseling center at a university. Most (if not all) schools have some sort of career advising. Career websites are a fantastic place to start. Try University of Oregon or Portland State University to launch your search.

If you graduated from a university, or attending one, take full advantage of the career counselors. You might as well, you pay for their services in your tuition fees. Even if you feel like you have everything figured out (like I did my first time around), I really encourage you to go for one visit. I can almost guarantee the person you talk with will provide some sort of insight into job seeking tactics you hadn’t considered.

Career coaches often offer a free consultation and different packages to fit your budget. Maybe seeing  someone just once or twice will be the push you need to get going in the right direction. I recently found Vicki Lind, a Portland based career coach. She offers free introductory workshops on how to craft yourself (those useful elevator pitches), the first Friday of every month. I recently attended her workshop with seven other people, and it was really helpful. Not only did it FORCE me to practice my message, but I learned a lot of great tips – all in a comfortable safe setting with fellow job seekers.

I have recently been acquainted with  EcoGrrl Consulting. Aimee is a local Portlander and has been in the recruiting world for years. She is well connected, offers a variety of services and comes well recommended-check out her LinkedIn profile too! 

[If you have a favorite career coach, or career counseling service, please add them to the comment section below- I would love to provide more resources, thanks!] 

2. Figure out what you really want from a job

Begin thinking about what’s most important to you. Are you wanting a position that offers flexibility in hours and days? Maybe office location is important because you hope to bike or take public transportation to work. Is it important that the company’s mission statement aligns with your beliefs? Perhaps salary or potential for promotion is most important to you.

Knowing the answers to these, and making a list of priorities can help you weed through the job postings. At a recent Women’s Roundtable event, I learned knowing your priorities is also helpful during salary revues.

3. Make Yourself Accountable

Upon embarking on my second attempt job search, I wrote a blog post letting everyone know that the long hiatus was finally over. I was ready to try again at finding my first career position. I did this to explain my online absence for the previous year, and share my story; but mostly, I wanted to make myself accountable. Tell your friends and family your goals and intentions, this way they can help rally behind you through the process, and keep you accountable.

4. Brainstorm

Take a few days to brainstorm tactics you plan to apply to the job search, and design a way to keep track of your ideas. I am a huge advocate for lists, so I created several of them to help me flesh out everything I think of. This really helps me stay organized and ensures no possibility goes unexplored. Some of my categories include:

1. People to contact for informational interviews                                    2. Organizations I may enjoy working for                                                 3. Online items that need attention ( blog, LinkedIn etc.)                       4. People I can contact for references                                                          5. Job posting locations (job boards, career service sites etc.)

5. All Things Positive 


You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.”  

-Deepak Chopra

There is no better time than now to surround yourself with positivity. When I started my job hunt, I went to the library and simply browsed the “self-help” section, picking out a dozen different books on finding your true self, and maintaining a positive spirit. These books helped me get in touch with what I really want from my potential career, and continue to provide me with inspiration.

Figure out what makes you feel great, motivated, and uplifted. Maybe a favorite comedian that makes you laugh, or a favorite painting that evokes a sense of peace – surround yourself with these things before you dive into the job search world (and as you travel through the journey). This includes surrounding yourself with positive people and places too!

I always have a favorite quote on my mirror or refrigerator reminding me to keep at it, and stay positive. Here are a few examples:

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.”          – Helen Keller

Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base                      and keep your foot on first.”    – Frederick B. Wilcox

The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” -Anonymous

6. Make a plan and set goals

Before I dove into anything, I took a week to come up with a master plan. Tackling the gigantic “to-do” list without order is overwhelming and leads to inefficiency. My plan included what I needed to do in the first couple of weeks (laying the foundation), and what my weekly goals would be from there.

7. Look Your Best

Money is most likely a little tight during the job search, and I certainly advocate budgeting and being mindful of spending, but now is the time to look your best. When I graduated college, my grandmother gave me money and said, “I want you to buy a nice suit for your interviews, and get your hair done.” This is certainly sage advice. Not only do we need to look great making those first impressions, but looking nice boosts our confidence significantly- which goes a long way in those interviews! 

I always honor inner beauty first and foremost, but most of us enjoy a little something that adds spunk to our walk, and that’s okay too. Maybe it’s getting your nails done, purchasing new dress shoes, or a new tie, whatever your thing is – know you deserve to look your best! Spend a little bit of money, and rest assured it’s a secure investment.

Nothing shouts “powerhouse” like a strut of confidence. And you don’t need to spend a lot of money. I bought one of my favorite interview outfits at the Goodwill. (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)  Sometimes salons offer free hair styling for interviews (if you are a client of course). Ask your hair dresser if he or she offers something similar.

8. Clean up your online presence

Make sure your online presence is in tip-top shape before you send out a single resume. (More online presence info to come in a future post.)

9. Affirmations

“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.”

-Tom Blandi                                                         

It’s easy to get discouraged during any endeavor, so it’s imperative you begin with a positive attitude. That doesn’t mean you won’t get down from time to time, we are all human, but it’s much easier to pick yourself back up if you start with a positive frame of mind.

I love having positive affirmations written down that I can turn to. Try reading a few out loud before you go to bed, or when you first get up in the morning, or if you feel yourself struggling through the day or week to accomplish your goals. Here are some I really like:

I have confidence in myself.                                                                          I am skilled and talented.                                                                              I will make an excellent addition to any organization or business.      I make a difference whenever I can.

This site has some great examples, find something that works for you!

10. Make it happen!

I’m a big believer in the power of our thoughts and the ability to manifest what we desire into our lives (hence the positive affirmations above).  After you figure out what you are really wanting in a career, write it down, look at it every day, tape it to your bathroom mirror or other visible space. Don’t limit yourself to anything at this stage, I say dream big. You may not manifest everything you want in that first job, but over the years, you will be amazed how you have the power to mold your life to the shape you most desire. 

Finding a job may not be easy, but believing in yourself and setting a solid foundation to launch the job search from, will make the process a lot more fun, and being successful far more likely.

What are some foundational steps that you apply when embarking on a new journey or challenge, please share below!

Image Sources In Order of Appearance:     #1        #2        #3      #4     #5       #6

Adventure #4 – Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden & Lessons in Avian Health

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Although I enjoy my natural “wild” areas, I also really love city parks. Stumbling upon Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden was such a treat for me in a day that was packed with appointments and informational interviews. I had two hours between items on my calendar, when I typed “city park” into my trusty smart phone, and noticed I was only two miles from this lush sanctuary. So, I decided to check it out!

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To make the occasion extra awesome, I happened to be there on a Wednesday- Free admittance on Tuesdays and Wednesdays!                                                                                                                    

The Price Scoop:

Between March 1st and Labor Day, there is an admission charge of $4.00         Free Admission for children 12 and under and members of the American Rhododendron Society

The Hours Scoop:

Open from Dawn to Dusk daily

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I will let the photos tell the story – this place is absolutely gorgeous. Located in the Eastmoreland neighborhood (SE Portland), the garden is home to 2000+ species of Rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and related plants, covering approximately five acres.

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The rhododendrons are in bloom fr0m earlyMarch through the middle of June. The peak bloom period coincides with Mother’s Day in May.  – Source

In addition to the plant life, the park has so many birds! My heart was singing as I kept spotting new species-and you don’t need binoculars to get a great view. Several species of waterfowl make their home here, including Wood Ducks, American Wigeons, Buffleheads, American Coots, Pied-Billed Grebes, and of course Mallards and Canada Goose (among others).

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The garden does a fairly good job reminding visitors:

DON’T FEED THE BIRDS!

I have so many childhood memories of feeding birds in the park (albeit great memories), but I come from a generation where that was normal practice. It doesn’t take too much thought to realize that bread (especially white bread most people purchase for the park feedings), is not food for wildlife. In fact, it can make animals very sick. A sign in the park reads as follows:

“Nature has provided wildlife with both the physical means and the instinctive behavior needed for survival. Naturally occurring food sources provide a healthy diet for wildlife…Bread and food scraps are poor sources of protein for wildlife. Feeding leftover foods also discourages natural foraging habits, degrades water quality, and favors a relatively limited number of species.”

Want to learn more about artificially feeding birds? This is a great article written by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

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Crystal Springs Lake (shown above), at nearly 8-acres, was created by a small dam installed as part of the Eastmoreland Golf Course (bordering the garden) in 1917. Crystal Springs creek and lake are fed by the largest system of springs in the Portland-Vancouver region – 13 springs supply approximately 6,000 gallons of water per minute throughout the year.

Rodie Lake

If one is looking for a beautiful wedding spot, this place delivers. It won’t be a unique idea however, a lot of weddings take place here June-September. There is a beautiful open field in the far end of the garden (the geese like it as well).

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The original owner of the property, William S. Ladd, served two terms as the mayor of Portland in the 1800s – he called it Crystal Springs Farm. The oldest rhododendron in the current garden was planted prior to 1917.  Source

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LOCATION                                    SE 28th and Woodstock                                                                                            Located between Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course

If you are interested in making a day-long adventure in the SE Portland neighborhoods, you can also incorporate Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, only a mile or so from Crystal Springs. Visit my last post for more info on the refuge.

For an online brochure of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, click HERE.

For a map of the Garden, click HERE.

For additional info, click HERE.

A Few More Photos For Your Enjoyment!

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Columbia Slough Part IV – Environmental Education

My Volunteer Experience

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) works directly with several of my passions: outdoor place-based education, service learning projects and stewardship. I volunteered with their Slough School education program, which works with students in the surrounding schools.

volunteerStaff members visit classrooms and teach students  a wide range of topics, such as water quality and native plant species. Students also come to restoration sites to learn in the natural environment. The CSWC provides opportunities for service learning projects (planting native plants), and learning about the eco-systems through water chemistry tests, observing micro-invertebrates, and identifying species and habitats.

                                                             -Whitaker Ponds-Outdoor Classroom-4th Graders-

I volunteered at a community site near Fairview (just off I-84) with a 5th grade class. The students planted native species to beautify the area and create a sound barrier next to a busy road. They also did water chemistry tests to explore Ph, oxygen, and temperature; learning how these things effect water quality.

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A couple of the students grew tired of the project quickly, but the vast majority were thrilled to be outside, getting their hands dirty, and helping their community.

One student said, “I wish I could do this every day!”

Since the class wasn’t able to plant all the plants on site that morning, many of the students were asking to return the following day to “finish the job.”  

Almost all of them wanted to stay longer, a testament to the power of placed-based education! 

Plants

Many of the field trips take place at Whitaker Ponds, (also the CSWC office site). Students have planted hundreds of native species there this year. I volunteered at this site twice, assisting with plantings, water quality tests, and micro-invertebrate studies.

It’s so great to watch the children become scientists and stewards, enjoying their natural world.

kids planting

If you are a teacher interested in having your class volunteer with the CSWC and creating a plan of study with the Slough School, contact:

Sheilagh Diez, Slough School Education Director
Phone: (503) 281-1132
email: sheilagh.diez@columbiaslough.org

(Note: The program fills quickly. I recommend contacting her spring/summer before the school year begins.)

A big thank you to the staff and volunteers at CSWC for all they do with the community and fostering a sense of stewardship with our youth! It was fabulous getting to know your organization. 


Whitaker Slough
-Whitaker Slough and Canoe Launch-

Note: I encourage you to check out Whitaker Ponds. Located at 7040 NE 47 Ave, a ¼ mile north of Columbia Blvd., The area is a pubic park, with two ponds, a canoe launch into Whitaker Slough and a half mile loop trail. Although it’s a small pocket of nature in the middle of industrial Portland, it’s home to many species. On a recent birding event I attended there, we saw 35 species of birds in just two hours! (FYI- No dogs allowed)

Watch this great 5-minute documentary on Whitaker Ponds – really well done.

Map of Ponds

Suggested Reading Material on children and the outdoors: Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv- check it out here.

Want to Learn more about the CSWC and the Columbia Slough? Check out my other posts in this four-post series.

1. Columbia Slough – What is it?

2. Columbia Slough Part II – Natural Surroundings Education

3. Columbia Slough Part III – A Peak Behind the Scenes (The Interview)