Monday, November 23, 2015

NWVeg Vegan ThanksGiving 2015

On Sunday Oct 22nd, I and about 300 veg-spectrum folks(vast majority vegan) gathered for the 12th annual Compassionate Thanksgiving. It was held at Oaks Park Pavilion for the second year in a row, which was a quick 15min bike ride from my house in Brooklyn neighborhood, along the SpringWater Corridor.

My housemate and I got in for free in exchange for volunteering, and we ended up setting up recycling/compost bins, and sorting them out at the end. A few of my other collective mates joined me as well, and we feasted on delicious food, made new friends, and gave a valiant effort during the trivia rounds.

I also signed up to mentor a local person  transitioning to veganism, starting in the new year! There is a similar program via Vegan Outreach.

Lastly, they showed  a great sneak peak of the upcoming Vegan: Everyday Stories movie NWVeg is backing:

*Photos courtesy Deanna Cintas

"Join Northwest VEG, other vegans, vegetarians, and veg-curious people as we celebrate community and healthy plant-based food. This 12th annual vegan Thanksgiving potluck will stimulate your palate and give you the opportunity to meet new people."

Portland Aquarium Protest

In middle, orange jacket+green sign

On Saturday Oct 21st, I joined about 15 animal rights activists to protest the Portland Aquarium. It actually is in Milwaukie, right off busy McLoughlin boulevard in strip-mall hell...right in my old stomping grounds near Oregon City...I used to eat at the Panda Buffet right next door all the time....barf....

This "aquarium" has been under scrutiny for some seriously shoddy welfare practices for years now, and this is just one of the recent efforts to bring attention to the plight of the imprisoned animals on display.

More info:

Facebook page boycotting it.

OregonLive article about it (2013)

Related info about Zoos, and keeping animals in captivity.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Oregon LNG/Fossil Fuel PDX Resolutions

About a month ago on Oct 22, I attended an info session in how to get involved in shutting down various fossil fuel projects trying to export through the NW corridor.

Several well-spoken presenters went over various threats to our region, most notably in my mind Alexander Harris, who helped organize the Hike The Pipe event. I nearly joined this endeavor backed in September,  that spanned 232 miles, crossing many areas of Southern Oregon.

Here is the fantastic video they put together chronicling the journey.

After the info session we had a big 'ol group photo as well! #KeepItInTheGround

Me far right in Bike Swarm Tie-Die shirt

More event details:

Sponsored by the Climate Action Coalition, 350PDX, Columbia Riverkeeper, 1st Unitarian Church-Community For Earth, PDX Bike Swarm, People of the Heart, Portland Rising Tide, Oregon Sierra Club-Beyond Gas & Oil Team, No KeystoneXL/Portland, Sustainable Energy & Economy Network-SEEN

For the past decade, Oregon has faced numerous schemes to transport methane through proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals and their related pipelines through our beloved forests, under our iconic rivers and watersheds, and across fertile private farms and fields. Ten years ago, corporate interests made a move to import LNG into Oregon by proposing terminals in both the north and south of the state - Oregon LNG near Astoria, Jordan Cove in Coos Bay and Bradwood Landing on the Columbia River. Over the next five years, resistance from a diverse coalition of landowners, environmentalists and climate activists culminated in then-Governor Kulongoski challenging federal approvals of Jordan Cove and Bradwood LNG. Both projects failed as LNG import terminals, and Bradwood LNG went bankrupt completely.

The specter of natural gas pipelines and LNG terminals, however, has not disappeared. The Jordan Cove project has returned, this time as a proposed LNG export terminal, and the Columbia River is still threatened by Oregon LNG which also hopes to export natural gas from the northern coast.

But never fear! Our communities are again rising up against fracked natural gas infrastructure and export.

Join us on Thursday, October 22nd for an info session on how you can get involved and give your body and soul to resisting LNG in Oregon. Learn about the plan for government collusion with corporate interests to ship explosive natural gas from fracking fields in the Rockies through fire-prone forests and earthquake-prone landscapes and threaten the climate, watersheds, and forests of our state. Hear about how we won against LNG, and how we will win again. Plug in to growing LNG resistance across the state, country and world.


Also huge in environmental news, just in the past couple weeks, Portland City Council held two hearings to pass tough resolutions to limit/ban expanding fossil fuel exports, and infrastructure in our city. I managed to attend the first hearing, and it was a packed house! Many impassioned folks stood up and gave testimony, including several young students who made sobering remarks about their bleak futures in the face of climate catastrophe.

Climate justice is definitely gaining mainstream traction...let's just hope we can seize these opportunities while we can, and push the agenda further...the stakes are too grim for anything less.

More articles about the victory.

Monday, November 16, 2015

PDX VegVest 2015
*Photo credits to Lynn Sargent*

Over the weekend VegFest took place at the Oregon Convention center for it's 11th(!) year. I had went last year, but was only around for a scant few hours, so this year I decided to volunteer for NWVEG all day, and helped from 11am-7:30pm on Sunday the 15th. Saturday was full with weekly Food Not Bombs pickups from PSU farmers market, otherwise I probably would have attended both days.

I dressed as my Halloween inspired alter-ego "The Mighty Vegan", and it was a total blasty blast! Initially I floated around, checking in with some samples(nom nom nom) and booths, making sure to touch base with the animal rights/environmental booths especially, like No New Animal Lab and Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry.  While I applaud the more mainstream food vendors and product booths for helping spread veganism, I feel very strongly we should expand ourselves to the full spectrum of wholesome living, not just on the diet trends, so it's nice to see a smattering of conscious raising booths represented. It's too bad FNB once again didn't have a booth, we seem to forget about setting that up ahead of time...maybe in 2016....there is a huge vegan crossover with FNB- one that speaks to the more radical segment especially.

Then I ended up doing a brief shift at a recycling station near the food court, though I started to feel a bit underutilized. Luckily, I made a request to shift positions, and was graciously relocated to the Kids zone area, handing out apple samples, and being a goodwill ambassador. Photo ops were also pretty fun, must have been a dozen or more people who posed with me.

Apple Samples!

I didn't get a chance to check out any speakers or films, but I did give my regards to Robert Cheeke and his PlantBuilt  buddies. He's one of the first well-known vegan bodybuilders out there, and is a native of Corvallis, Oregon, where I went to school, and my parents currently reside. Early on in my process of going vegan, I definitely recall watching a video of Robert shopping for healthy, plant-based foods, which helped give me some options to restock my kitchen with.

After the event a several of us from Food Not Bombs also helped with gathering donations via 6 bike trailers(2 giant 8+footers too), and aided in a bit of impromptu cleaning up for Vegfest, breaking down tables and such. All told I didn't get back and done with refrigerating, storing, sorting etc of food until about midnight...a long, but rewarding day.

Oregonian Article with more info


And just found this video below the other day from The Vegan Activist. He, The Vegan Revolution and Plant-Based News have really been crushing it lately out of the UK-super inspiring!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oregon Vegan Spirituality : Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry

I just came home from an inspiring casual potluck/presentation from the local Portland chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry! About 10 of us gathered at Kailash Eco-Village in SE PDX(a Veganic-culture hotbed in it's own right facilitated by the wonderful Ole Ersson. We touched upon all manner of intersecting topics regarding veganism, religion, spirituality and how we each contribute in a positive way.

From the UUAM website:

"We serve as a central source of nonhuman animal awareness and education for UUs by relating the religious and spiritual aspects of our tradition to justice and ethical issues.We provide a community to support one another. Whether we are undertaking personal changes in our everyday choices, or engaging in advocacy for nonhuman animals, we cannot do this work alone.We need one another.
We promote and support justice making efforts for nonhuman animals within congregations and within UUA as a whole.

Our Guiding Principles

The seventh principle of Unitarian Univeraslism calls us to respect the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part. We of UUAM understand that human beings are only a strand in the intricate web of life.

While our Unitarian Universalist principles affirm the "inherent worth and dignity of every person and call us to seek justice and compassion in human relations, we extend these principles to include other species who also possess an intrinsic value.

Recognizing the beauty and interconnectedness of all species that call us to wholeness and toward justice for all beings, we dedicate ourselves to:

Growing our Unitarian Universalist faith in the interdependence of all life that reveals itself in the inherent worth and dignity of all beings.
Informing ourselves about nonhuman suffering
Seeking and promoting ecological justice
Inspiring respect and reverence for the earth all its creatures
Living in harmony with the natural world, which includes a deep respect and commitment to human as well as nonhuman animals."


We each talked about our own pet projects as well, like Northwest Veg and my own involvement with Food Not Bombs. along with my own personal mission of full-time activism. Truly special to feel supported by other impassioned people!

Touching Earth Sangha September Gorge Trip

A bit overdue on this one :)

Back in early September, Satya, myself, Caitlyn and Bala all cycled out to the Gorge for a little weekend adventure. It was 50 miles to our camping spot, and took about 8 hours....rather grueling towards the end, but at least not as steep as going to Mt. Hood. The route took us on the historic Columbia River Highway State trail, which was very light traffic-almost like a wide Springwater Corridor.

Our Route

We hiked up the next day on what is considered the toughest trail...very few switchbacks, suuuuuper steep....I had to put my boots back on just to get more traction. After we spent most of the afternoon trudging up the hill, low on water and pretty well tuckered out, we all decided to bushwhack down a  300 foot gradually sloping ravine in the dark, with Bala sporting a sore knee-great idea! It ended up being pretty taxing and not one of our finer moments...but we carried on and found our camp spot close to our precious water source.

The next day we awake to glorious views of the lake, and feasted on chocolates! Bala and Satya decided to stay another day, so Caitlyn and I headed back for our city obligations.

It was pretty epic ride back, skirting throngs of Memorial Day tourists mobbing up the various waterfalls on our route back. The climb back up to the Vista House was brutally long, but we managed to keep  a good pace and made it back to PDX by the afternoon.

Open Spaces Open House Open Heart

On Oct 18th I attended a wholesome, inspiring open house in NE Portland. Several of my collective(housemates) went with me as well. The main facilitator was Karl Steyaert,-who has a history in NVC and a wealth of other culture-shifting avenues- to explore consciousness raising processes and events.

There were several rooms in the house designed to meet certain needs; the basement was the intensity room where you could wrestle, shout into a pillow, punch a bag; there was a stillness room for meditation/relaxation; an empathy room for connecting verbally about heartfelt matters; a offers/needs market, displaying what people can gain from each other; and finally a consenting touch zone.

We all could freely come and go as we pleased from 10am-6pm,. and I started out with some meditation to center myself, and calm my slightly anxious nerves. Next I went back downstairs and joined some of my collective mates for a fun icebreaker game reading off questions from cards, such things like "if you could talk with anyone, who would it be?", we did this for about 45min as our circle gained and lost fellow sharers.

After that, we had a breakout session talking about alternative economics, a subject right up my alley obviously. We talked about the gift culture, Bitcoin, Kindista and how value is exchanged on a deeper level. I was even mentioned as someone who has been experimenting with living in the gift, and trusting in that somewhat unnerving make yourself extremely dependable on the people, the wider community, all while going against the mainstream current. As I can attest to, it is all about having faith in the inherent goodness of folks, and the interdependent symbiotic relationship that forms once they see what you can offer.

Post-breakout session, we all trickled back downstairs and snacked a bit, talking in little circles about this or that. My friend Spencer held a little nature appreciation gathering in the backyard, adding a soothing element amid all the flowing energies.

To end the day, we had a formal closing and gave appreciation and feedback on the day. My overal feelings were overwhelmingly was nice to have the space to engage authentically like that, without having to trip over the usual culture trappings. I didn't engage in the consensual touch zone as I felt a little awkward, especially facing the threat of declining contact with someone....I'm still trying to find the right assertive tone for that without feeling remorse. My one negative takeaway was at times, it seemed like some people were parroting it each other in a contrived a rather overtly positive way...I've often chalked this up to general "hippie bs woo woo" type things, but this wasn't so bad....perhaps just people feeling out unknown territory, or my own relative lack of exposure to these types of gatherings.

All told, it was a rewarding experience, connecting me with lots of authentic folks trying to raise consciousness, and contribute good works. I also plan on doing a Solsara Immersion Workshop Dec 7th, that has a lot of synergy with this sort of movement.

Facebook Event Write up----------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Sunday October 18th we are excited to host OPEN SPACE / OPEN HEART / OPEN HOUSE – a transformational gathering at our new community home, and we’d love to have you join us! Feel free to extend this invitation to friends as well.

TIME: 10am-6pm, Sunday October 18th

LOCATION: 2602 NE 7th Ave (btw Knott St & Russell St), Portland, OR 97212

The gathering will offer an innovative, self-directed transformational experience – a bit of a real-life “Choose Your Own Adventure” – supporting whole-person thriving through authentic and empathic connection to self and other, self-realization, inspiration for action in the world, rest and relaxation, and lots of play!

There are a few options for how you can participate:

ALL DAY: If you can, please join us for the whole day experience, from 10am to 6pm on Sunday, as we will offer an orientation at 10am, and an end-of-day harvest from 5-6pm.

DROP IN: If you’re not able to make it for the entire day, please feel free to drop in anytime between 10am and 5pm on Sunday. Someone will welcome and orient you when you arrive.

If you’re interested in the full experience, come a day early for a Facilitation Training from 1-5pm on Saturday, October 17th, to join the facilitation team and learn about how to help hold space for the gathering on Sunday. The training will offer basic orientation to facilitating a variety of approaches to personal transformation and community building. Please RSVP to Will at if you would like to join for the Facilitator Training.

FOOD: We ask that you take responsibility for your own lunch for the day, and there are places to get food nearby. We will have a few snack foods available, and we welcome you to bring something to contribute.

CONTRIBUTIONS: We are so glad to host this event as a gift, and we also welcome donations from those who are inspired to support this kind of offering in the world.

If you have any questions, please email Will at

So looking forward to co-creating a deeply transformational experience and community with you!

With love,

Karl, Keri, Marisa & Will (house members)
Annie, Karl, Keri, Marisa, Rachel, Spencer & Will (hosting team)