Oregon Inspirations

I have always had a travel bug and I have always been attached to the school rhythm schedule – long summer break, short fall break, relaxing Christmas break, cabin fever spring break.  We almost always went to Florida over spring break and somewhere along the line I started imagining an orange-blossom scent floating on the Indiana breeze every March, summoning me to warmer climates…

This year I was ready for a break but decided to focus on visiting old friends and inspiring places so I headed out to the Pacific Northwest, abandoning Will and the dog.  It was a bit of a whirlwind trip – a day in Eugene, a day in Corvalis, two days in Portland, and two days in Seattle – but it was a wonderfully rejuvenating trip.

Mostly I was traveling to to catch up with old friends and revisit some old stomping grounds (including McCredie Hot Spring – ahhhhh).  Partly I was there to attend a Farm to Cafeteria Conference, which was very cool except that it made me realize how much work there is still to do regarding local/healthy food.  And lastly I was there to soak up the progressive ambiance.

Bloomington is pretty darn progressive, especially for the Midwest, but it just can’t compare with Portland or even Eugene for cool, green, hippie stuff.  I was able to jaunt around car-free using trains, buses, light rail, and trolleys with bicyclists zooming by at every opportunity.  (There were several bicycle rickshaws around but I couldn’t quite bring myself to hire someone to pedal my sorry butt around.)  There was organic vegetarian food everywhere.  The level of consciousness just seemed incredibly high!

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t relocate out west and the only thing I can respond is that I’m very attached to my home state.  Indiana sure isn’t perfect (no hot springs!) but it’s home to me.  I love the flora and landscape around Bloomington and I love being surrounded by my extended family.  So I content myself with dreaming up ways to bring more of the northwest home.

I picked up a few green living directories in Oregon and am debating how they might work in Bloomington.  Portland has a very cool “ReDirect Guide” that I initially thought was a guide to recycling but it ended up being a sort of yellow pages for green living, totalling 322 pages.  Eugene has a more modest 144-page version called the “Natural Choice Directory.”  They both use a pretty broad definition of sustainable living that includes everything from soy-based insulation to electric cars to holistic health care to bicycle shops. All of it is totally awesome stuff and yet I’m not sure I could fill more than 30 pages of Bloomington content.

Still, maybe it’s worth it just to have it all in one place?  Or maybe I published it with some blank spaces for things like “Electric Car Rental” and “Bionic Hydrotherapy” then eventually my fellow Bloomingtonians would fill in all the gaps?

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    ruchi aka arduous said,

    March 31, 2009 @ 9:52 am

    Gosh, if every environmentally conscious person moved to the northwest, what would happen to the rest of the US?!

    I think it’s really important that people like you and Will who love Indiana stay there, and work to make it more sustainable. Just as I thought it was important to me to demonstrate that you could live a sustainable life in LA, a city that I dearly loved.

    People are often really quick to write off places as just unsustainable: like Indiana and definitely LA. But I’ve learnt that sustainability is where your heart is. If you love a place, you will do your darndest to make it more sustainable. 🙂

  2. 2

    Maggie said,

    April 6, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

    Good point.
    I do love Indiana but every now and then I feel a little frustrated by the lack of progressiveness here in Indiana. Also, I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few years about sense of place and about where it makes sense for people to live. I have an image in my mind of a reduced human population centered in a few key places, leaving the rest of the planet to return to a wild state. It makes me wonder where it makes the most sense for people to live. Warm climates, good sources of water, fertile land… Southern Indiana is not probably the most hospitable place for self-sustaining cultures although it’s better than a lot of desert areas or very cold areas. Oregon has some amazing areas where I could really imagine a sustainable culture that lived in harmony with the land and was surrounded by abundance.

    But yeah, we need to do what we can where we can.

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