Environmental Issues · Sustainability · Travel

My Portland Hipster Vacation

FriendsWhen I told people about my plans for a short trip to Portland, OR many were convinced I’d want to make the city my new home. As Portland is the mecca for environmental progressivism, being one of the greenest cities in the United States, I can understand why people would fear I would never return.

Right off the bat, just outside the airport doors, my friend Mary and I jumped right onto the train to the city. Five dollars a day for full use of any kind of transportation is a great deal in my opinion.  Once in the city, we found everything was easily walkable and most people were almost too nice to pedestrians. On countless occasions we had cars stop right in the middle of the road with no stop sign or stop light to let us cross the street. It got a little dangerous though when it was a multi-lane street and only one car would allow you to cross.

Beer beer beer! It seemed to me that beer ran out of the faucets in Portland. Around every corner was another microbrewery severing craft beers for prices that were out of this world for a girl who has spent $7-$8 for a craft beer in Cincinnati. And oh, was the beer good, yay for local business! They were also pretty “crafty” in the kind of buildings that were repurposed for a microbrewery including one of my favorites, a school building.

As you can imagine, bikes were everywhere. The bike lines were painted in fluorescent green and some intersections even had designated traffic lights for bikes so cyclist could cross the street diagonally! I would like to say, hats off to all those bikers who ride in the rain.

Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls

Have you ever dreamt of opening your own Etsy inspired gift and retail shop? Perhaps a restaurant that only serves local, organic food? Well, most likely the store or restaurant in your imagination probably already exists in Portland. It’s hard to describe something in Portland as unique and different, when everything there already holds that title. How do the residents keep from taking all this wonderfulness for granted?

And you can’t forget the beautiful natural surroundings in Portland. When you get your first glimpse of the majestic river gorge covered in a misty fog, it feels like a scene right out of the The NeverEnding Story. Even in winter, the beauty of Multnomah Falls is outstanding, and the hike is breathtaking…literally. It was such a misty day my skin was so soft from the waterfall mist, who needs a spa? Speaking of mist, Portland is known for its sputtering rains, and my hair was continually growing and curling like Monica Geller in that Friends episode where they go to the tropics (okay maybe not that bad, but still).

Have I found my new home do you wonder? As much as I loved the environmentally friendly mentality of a city that even has roadside compost pickup, there’s something about being in place where everybody thinks like you do.  As nice as it would be to have all these sustainable options available to me, I can’t help but think of the kind of impact I can make as an environmentalist on a place that isn’t already mostly environmentally friendly. It feels good to be unique in Cincinnati and to be a part of a movement towards a more sustainable city. For now, I’m proud to say Cincinnati is still my home.

Environmental Issues

Environmentalism Inspired by Dr. Seuss

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” –Dr. Seuss The Lorax

In honor of the Great Dr. Seuss’s Birthday and the opening of the movie “The Lorax” I begin my post with a quote from Dr. Seuss’s famous environmental book “The Lorax”.

Over 40 years ago this book was published, in a time when environmental activism was in the forefront and people were beginning to understand what was happening to their resources and environment. Books like “The Lorax” and, 10 years previous, Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” brings to attention the countless consequences of a careless attitude toward the environment, and it’s not pretty.

Even today, amidst the daily chaos, it’s hard to realize the environmental repercussions of your actions. With all the marketing schemes playing with the idea of sustainability and being 100% natural, but in reality not really following through, it’s hard to be a responsible consumer. I’m not saying there aren’t responsible companies out there who are making a difference, but they are not always easy to find, and are hardly convenient to the everyday consumer.

Striving to be an environmentalist myself I sometimes get disheartened. The battle of productivity vs. sustainability has been going on for a very long time. When I hear politicians talk about the environment, and what should and should not be done, it worries me in regards to the power they have to control outcomes. I know that “the people” have the power to vote, but just like the consumer has the power to decide what to buy, I feel like the process is never as easy as the idea.

Last week I stopped by Lake Michigan to watch the sunset. Even though I should, I don’t make it out to the lake as much in the winter as I do in the summer. In that moment I wondered how someone could see something as beautiful as a sunset over the water, and not have compassion for the artwork God creates. Then I thought, maybe in the closed off world that we live it today, it’s hard for people to open their eyes to the beauty, peacefulness, and mightiness of the environment.

So for the sake of all the “Truffula Trees”, “Swomee-Swans”, “Brown Bar-ba-loots”, and the “Humming-Fish” we hope there are people out there that care a whole awful lot!

This image was derived from the educational materials of http://www.seussville.com