Sunday, December 31, 2023

Roses, Thorns, and Buds

I considered archiving this blog because I struggle to keep up with it and have taken to using social media to share what I normally would have posted here - it's just easier! But, everyday while working from my home office I look at an old Vision Board I made in 2017 and it includes the words "journal more." I've realized that while I love my vision board because I was able to accomplish the big goals: pass the PE, find healthy love, travel more, etc. - the rest was all about habits. Habits that I've managed to start and stop inconsistently for over five years... This blog is like that and part of my journaling habit. 2023 may have been a year of few blogged thoughts, but maybe 2024 will be the year I write more!

There's so much that happened this year that I have nowhere to start and I started writing this post a few times this month. I also started feeling guilty for some of the somber feelings I've had about the challenges of 2023 when in spite of them, I had so many wonderful opportunities and experiences to be grateful for. I'm going to try again and use the nature reflection activity I use with the youth in my nature excursions.

Rose - highlights. 

Thorn - challenges.

Bud - things I'm looking forward to in 2024.


  • Moving into my new home and it feeling like home. Over the last month I've been a bit of a recluse because I'm enjoying being home so much. 
  • Moving back to my old work group. There are a lot of bad jokes about government employees and their lack of productivity, but I can honestly say, I work with a group of incredibly hard working, competent, and smart as hell engineers. They respect the rate payer dollar more than any group I've worked in (and I've worked in a few at the City) and I didn't realize how lucky I was until I had left. Returning to the comfort of a good team was a relief and one I needed this year. Big rose. I may be frustrated in so many ways working in the bureaucracy, but I really love my core team. 
  • Travel - Yucatan Peninsula in Tulum and enjoying my first week as 31 in Costa Rica. Both trips were right on time and the first trips I'd really tuned out everything to rest and explore. 
  • Co-creating an amazing Community Environmental Justice Indicator zine with friends at CCC / Unite Oregon / Multnomah County. It was a big labor of love and a project that I was so happy to see come to fruition. Read the zine HERE. 
  • Speaking engagements and the amazing people I met at all of them. My first keynote was the Annual Southern Oregon's Black Youth Leadership Summit and I am ecstatic to now know a community of thriving Black educators and students in Southern Oregon. I also visited Harvard for the first time as a speaker at their first Summit on Energy and Environmental Solutions (SEES) event. A student ran event with amazing humans I was so humbled to have been included with! 
  • Starting my first paid contracts as a "consultant," including a culturally specific field guide for exploring Portland's parks/nature. Seeing pictures of students using my field guide and leading a hike to pilot the curriculum in Oxbow Park was a huge highlight. I'll be adding some pages to preview on my website later this week! Stay tuned next year for the revised final :) 
  • Hosting, planning, and co-creating over 20 events with community organizations that have meant a lot to me. STEM workshops, professional development, focus groups, environmental education, little free library builds, etc. 
  • Art Shows - it is so hard for me to make time for my creative practice, but I was able to prioritize applying for a few this, including my favorite showing this year: 'Black History is History,' which was an incredible curation by artists, Daren Todd and Steph Littlebird. 
  • Becoming a mentor with Holla Mentors. I have only known my mentee for a few months, but I feel so lucky to have been paired with a such a perfect match. For those who know me well, most know I am not interested in becoming a parent, but I've been big sister / community auntie for dozens of kids who are now adulting. Because I don't teach anymore, I haven't had a "mentee" in a while and never been an official mentor. It is so fun to spend time and get to know my mentee with Holla. The organization is SO well organized and both mentor/mentees feel celebrated / supported. I could rave about Holla for a long time, but it is an amazing program and it's nice to give back to an organization that means a lot to my family personally. 


  • I was really bad at making time to process the feelings of fear and grief I had related to my mom's health. I made myself busier than I have ever been to distract from the walking grief of knowing one of the most special people in my life was suffering from an incurable heart condition. There are lots of bad days, but there are a lot of really good days too. Seeing mom do everything she can to make the best of those days is inspiring. She has an infectious curiosity, laughs often, and loves my sister and I a little harder! 
  • This year I also learned a lot about grief and how much being an empath is painful. I served a term of Grand Jury duty and it threw a monkey wrench in my life in ways I couldn't have predicted. What I thought would be a break from work ended up being a month of the most emotionally tiring days of my life. Second hand trauma is real. I learned so much about our justice system and the underbelly of our city. I still tear up in certain spots around the city and I can't watch crime shows or horror like I used to. While I can't say much more, I don't quite think I've been the same since. I have pushed further into my social justice work and I can no longer tolerate oblivious privilege / apathy, or, frankly, sociopathic sentiment I've seen in our media outlets (and local politicians) who berate the experiences the people of this City are facing. 
  • Railroads, sinkholes, and permits, oh my. Not gonna say more, but I had a few restless work nights dealing with those... 
  • Non-Profit Toxicity. I continue to be burned out and burned with non-profits. As someone who is action focused, I give a lot of myself to the organizations I serve and there's only so much that can be given before it starts to feel just like capitalism's extraction of labor. I'm still learning boundaries and I will be make sure to build good things with good people in 2024. It is also unlikely you'll see me joining any new boards in the future. Please don't ask me. 
  • Grief and anger for all that is going on in the world and how truly powerless I feel sometimes. Free Palestine, Congo, and all the oppressed people in this world. We're not free until we're all free. I don't want to hear about how folks justify their taxes going to a genocide when we have a food insecurity, housing insecurity, privatized healthcare, and educational debt plaguing our people in this country. 


  • Creating a succession plan for NSBE Portland Professionals! After two years (and four years total in a leadership role), my term is complete as President of our chapter. I have recruited a great President Elect. I'll still be President and have a few events I'm leading in 2024, but I'm looking forward to this transition. 
  • Less boards means more time to focus on fulfilling projects
  • Gardening for community and spending time in my mini greenhouse. My partner and I took the first steps in getting rid of our front lawn to build a mutual aid community garden. More updates in 2024. It's a project we're really excited about. We also planted a field of clover for pollinators in our back yard. 
  • Next steps in my career. This week I got a rejection for what I thought was my dream job out of engineering. I'm taking it as a sign to find a way to stay in my field for a little longer and something else is in store for me. Looking forward to exploring that. 
  • Japan 2024. I will be getting myself more active to plan for the thousands of steps per day I will be walking in Japan next November.
Here's hoping 2024 brings more roses and buds. I expect thorns, but I'm ready!

Not a rose, but I'm really into ferns right now. These were incredible in Costa Rica. I have been cutting paper stencils for an art piece over the last month. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

A New Decade

Tahitian sunsets are like no other

Last week I entered my 30's in Tahiti for a week long blip of rest, and promptly returned home to a whirlwind of new changes. I have always kept myself very busy with creative, career, and community based commitments, but a new wrench thrown has been starting a new (now almost 4 months) job and handling family health issues. I'm used to balancing different realms of my life by compartmentalizing, primarily because I've had the privilege of not being emotionally or mentally drained externally, but having my most dear family compromised has been a lot to handle. Something new and foreign to my balancing act. It has also helped me find a new gratitude that I think is more common with folks of faith, but I am so grateful the experiences, privileges I have in so many realms, and for the time being - my health. As I learn more about my DNA and what things I may now be at risk for, rather than slow down with caution, I am feeling almost frantic with a need to do things that bring joy. I've said that before, but this is a truly new inclination I'm acting on. I love my community and the network I've grown over the last few years, but I have finally started saying 'no' to things that while fulfilling, may take more than I have to give. 

In September I stepped down from my role as Environmental Justice Committee Chair for the Portland NAACP and Parade Co-Chair with Good in the Hood. I feel so lucky to have had energy to work with both organizations and give so much of myself, but I've grown a lot by stepping down. I've taken the legislative action, programmatic management, and grant writing skills with me, which have opened up new doors for how I can serve my community, so it was 100% time well spent. I also constantly advocate for compensating BIPOC community for their time and energy, but I've seen so many projects relying on volunteer time or under compensated paid capacity- something that as BIPOC folks (statistically least compensated in our society) is just extractive. I've felt almost guilty taking on paid roles lately, but I know this is what practicing what you advocate means. Knowing what I'm worth outside of my engineering career has been a new skill in itself! I've had so many interesting opportunities in the last few months to expand the realm of 'J'reyesha Inc.' into public speaking and program management, which has been fun to imagine what stepping away from public sector engineering would look like. The holistic and layered self in a capitalistic society makes it hard to take risks. I'll always love problem solving and the satisfaction of completion that engineering provides - the things I hate about my job are unrelated to what engineering actually is (and I worked too hard on my P.E. license to ever abandon my career) - but that does not stop me from thinking what a full time creative or community career would look like. 

 Looking forward to what 2023 brings and my first year into my 30's! I could self reflect and monologue for too long, but below are some highlights of the last few months: 

  • Promotion at work within a new group - yay for the P.E. paying off!
  • The Multnomah County Charter Commission I served on had successes in the measures we recommended. All but one passed! Thank you to voters who supported our recommendations!
  • A new home! So looking forward to more space and being closer to family. 
  • Opportunities to share about myself with Energy Trust, Saturday Academy, and Lake Oswego
  • Travel to Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Tahiti (further and further each month!)
  • COVID-19 finally got me, a negative highlight, but a huge part of last month's forced rest... it was good to see that things CAN and must stop to heal. Cancelling a week's worth of work, events I organized, and presentations really put prioritization in perspective. 
  • Learned Arc GIS Pro with Walle Plans and making progress on my Harvard Climate Justice Design Fellowship deliverable - I'm less than one week from finishing my fellowship and feeling college-like de ja vu with the deadline approaching.
  • Joined Verde's 501c4 Board! Absolutely loving this healthy and supportive non-profit space where I can continue EJ work, while maintaining boundaries and joy!
  • Organizing new programs related to geology, STEM, Superfund Environmental education, and more within community- so lucky to get to share my passions in so many different spaces. 
  • Two art shows - Uncommon Threads (virtual) and Kalayaan’s Anti-Fascist Community Art Showing (open until 12/10)
  • Mom and I ended our 11 years vending with Found on Fremont after the store moved out to Gresham. Bittersweet, but we're starting new adventures at Antique Alley. Find us in space C-18 😀
Preview of the new vintage space in Antique Alley (Space C-18)

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Exciting Question of "Now What?"

Post PE  / waiting for results mini trip to the Redwoods

I am writing this post with a soon to be licensed PE (Professional Engineer) after my name. I passed the PE in Environmental Engineering! For those who know me well, they know how long I've battled with the PE licensure exam. That 8-hour test with a recommended 300+ hours of studying has been my nemesis for the last 3.5 years. As someone who is unable to just focus on one thing, studying while juggling all of my commitments was really hard. I stubbornly refused to give up my community work that brings me joy, and instead had a temporary (did not last long enough to really help) reduced work schedule and isolated myself from socializing. The big difference with passing the test was also having a partner who pushed me to study when I would rather binge true crime on the couch and who made sure I ate when I got in the zone and hadn't left my computer half the day. Grateful and so proud to be done with the PE exam for good! 

In all honesty, I was considering project management and leaving "engineering" by proper definition because I couldn't fathom studying again if I didn't pass. I was tired of it being the reason I was told no for promotions, in spite of my workload and tired of not seeing my study hours pay off when I didn't pass. I kept rolling around in my head how those hours could have been used to make community programming, create more art, work on my business, and generally create invaluable memories with friends and family. Passing the PE reinvigorates me into my career and a reminder to myself of how few licensed Black engineers there are in Oregon (and nationally) and narrowing it down even further - Black women licensed engineers. Having a PE helps creates pay equity for those underrepresented in the field and allows the opportunity to join in making this licensure process more inclusive and equitable. As soon as all my license paperwork is completed, I plan on being a bit of a pest to OSBEELS about making the process easier, ha. 

Now that the exam is done, I find myself with the exciting question of, now what? I had two weeks of literal jumping for joy and still find myself smiling in relief. I then had a a few weeks of chaos brain where I didn't know what to do with myself or what my next goal is! I'm slowly setting into the thought that I don't need to constantly have something I'm working towards because it stops me from enjoying the now and all that I do have. Also, I'm plenty busy with some of the new (and old) projects I'm working on. I've graduated past simply Committees to Boards... the difference seems to be an annoying hierarchy, but sometimes with less work on my part and I appreciate that. Being on a board is a great way for me to still be part of orgs I love and wish I could do more hands on work with - such as with Building Blocks 2 Success (BB2S), which I recently joined as their newest Board member. A newer project that will be starting at the end of June is the Harvard Climate Justice Design Fellowship. I was floored when I was selected (and personally really happy to get a 'yes' from them, after my rejection from Harvard my senior year of high school.) I'll be working on making tree canopy and urban heat zone data more transparent and accessible for frontline communities. Been really enjoying my environmental justice / climate justice work with the NAACP and am excited to get some new training in data skills!

It's also that time again - Good in the Hood is back and this time in person! It's been easier to balance with most of our planning meetings and sponsor meetings being on Zoom! We just announced the 21 Scholarship Awardees - one of my favorite things is managing scholarship programs. I know how much funding like this meant when I was a teen, so it's really fulfilling to be part of an org that gives so much. I've also been getting better at social media and have managing the Good in the Hood social media presence. I don't care for social media, but I really like Canva and making information easier for community to see. The parade planning with Good in the Hood is the thing I'm most nervous about as I haven't been around 1,000+ people since 2019. My anxiety around crowds (and even small groups in person) has gotten really bad especially when we're not out of the woods yet with COVID. I plan on wearing my mask and boosting my immune system as we get closer to the festival. See you all June 24 - 26! And, if you want to join in and volunteer, we NEED it! We are about 60 people short of what we usually have for volunteers. Sign up here. Also, give our social media a follow - @goodinthehoodpdx ! 😀

This week I'll be putting all my effort outside of my day job into getting the second annual NAACP Youth in Nature Leadership Program started. Our 18 youth will be starting their three day training on June 16 with Metro's awesome educators. I wish I was able to find volunteers (though I know it's a huge privilege to have time and capacity to donate so much of one's time) to help manage programming with me, but for the time being I've recruited a past youth leader with a stipend and that alone feels like a huge improvement to the labor for the program. I'll be bugging all of my friends and family to help Chaperone this summer! The kids will be leading their community hikes almost every Friday / Saturday. Our Environmental Justice Committee is recruiting too - specifically for folks who like writing advocacy letters, sitting on policy meetings, and are interested in managing programming or grants. Good experience for the resume, but mostly just fun / valuable! In full transparency, I want to have a succession plan started for the committee. Email me if you're interested:

As usual, the more things I juggle, the less time I have for my blog, creative endeavors, or personal projects. I'm trying to change that and as I get past June and training, I see a few areas where I'll be stepping back to make room for my art, piano, and diving into the 'Now what?' 

Friday, March 4, 2022

In the Midst of Everything

I really thought 2022 would be better. I didn't jinx it and say that, but it's become clear that 2020 was the start of an era. All of the experiences, even just in Portland, are going in the history books. While we're heading into March, COVID lingering, gun violence by white supremacists in our Portland protests, and now our hearts saddened for Ukraine (and then quickly angered at the racism that of course did not stop in a time of war), I am unsure about the future. There are traces of good news - on our way to having the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice - but the sci-fi nerd in me keeps wondering if we've accidentally stepped into the wrong timeline in an alternate dimension. 

In the midst of everything, I'm still trying to do my little part of good by committing almost a part time job's worth of service hours. I've learned a lot in the last few months. Mostly, that non-profits will not be the way we solve issues for community - as a meme I saw said, "the revolution will not be under a 501c3." The bureaucracy in the name of processes like "Robert's Rules, insurance, MOU's" have shown me that so many grass root ideas get killed by the same bureaucracy that led many of us to leave corporate or government work for non-profits. Leading my dual life as a City of Portland engineer, it's a problem when my volunteering work starts to be caught up in more weeds than my work (i.e. when a Railroad Permit for an outfall processes faster than a grant agreement signature, I can't help but laugh - engineers who design around railroads will know what I mean, ha). I hope someday we can find a way to support grass root actions without red tape. Mutual aid efforts are starting to be come my preference above all. With that being said, I am committed to completing all the projects I've started with organizations and I figure as long as the work is helping community, it's worth the barriers I seem to keep facing with non-profits. 

One of the more important commitments I've been working on is the Multnomah County Charter Review Committee. The County Charter is the County's constitution, which every 6 years is amended by a committee of legislator selected community members. This time it's happening at the same time as the City of Portland's Charter Review (theirs is every 10 years) - so they are not to be confused as the same Charter. I will be able to share more about my experience on the County's Charter after the Committee's report is submitted and our recommendations go to ballot in November, but I do want to encourage everyone to view BOTH Charter review processes and take part if you can. Public Comment and ways to participate in the County's Charter are here. 

Outside of community work, the Jordan Schnitzer Black Lives Matter Artist grant I was selected for in 2020 is finally being displayed. COVID postponed our reception, but the gallery has been open since January and will continue for another month. Seeing my work in a gallery was an amazing experience - I missed the feeling. I haven't had my art displayed in over a decade and it's been years since I felt comfortable calling myself an artist, which is why I usually refer to myself as a "crafter of things." I'm back to collecting supplies and planning out some new works - super inspired lately. I created two new pieces for the show - all three below. I was also lucky enough to be asked to talk with another grant recipient about the art show on OPB's Think out Loud last month. 

I've been spending less time working on the vintage business at Found on Fremont, but it is a highlight of the month when mom and I meet up for an estate sale. She did an excellent job decorating for Valentine's Day - we had some beautiful 1940's Valentine cards that sold out so quickly! I've been preferring Etsy for my sales - truly enjoying all aspects of working from home, both as an engineer and as a small business. 

Again, in the midst of everything, 2022 continues to throw curve balls. Last week my dearest Great Aunt Verda passed. She was 93 and one of the most special people in my life. I will be making the journey to Daingerfield, Texas next week to give a proper goodbye. I blame COVID for preventing safe travels to visit a senior, but also myself for not asking more about my family's history from the long life she lived. I am missing her so much, but so grateful that I was able to see her in 2018 for her 90th birthday - memories I will cherish forever. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Busy Blur

This year has been a blur. In the past I've expressed how busy things are and how I just never get around to posting here, but I don't think any past year has compared to the steady stream of frenzy that is 2021. Lots of life updates, new projects, and some restless stagnation. 

Biggest change is that I am now part of a blended cat family, or more importantly - I moved in with my guy. After two years together, with a large chunk of that during a pandemic, it seemed like a natural step. Coming up with new organizing methods, blending our different styles, and consolidating my dragon's hoard of trinkets/art/etc has been a challenge, but I couldn't ask for a better person to share space with.

My elusive new fur kids, Leo and Pi 

In the middle of moving, I also helped organize Good in the Hood's first virtual festival. The festival was amazing and probably the best virtual event I've seen during the pandemic. It was fun to be on site filming and see LIVE music for the first time in over 2 years. I learned how to use 'Canva' and became a Social Media coordinator for the festival (follow @goodinthehoodpdx). I also became an impromptu Switch Tech for the festival's director. Amazing and kind of stressful experience - I have a newfound respect for all that goes into filming, directing, and lighting. You can still stream the festival on Youtube!  We also gave over $22,000 in scholarships this year to some incredible teens

During the same week of GITH, I also began implementing a Black/Brown Youth Leadership program in collaboration with Metro. The NAACP Environmental Justice Committee I chair, wrote for our first grant last fall and we spent June through August getting (10) youth leaders out in nature. They were trained for three days and then practiced their skills by leading hikes for the community. The kids were amazing and I loved being able take time off work to hike. I was a four-time Outdoor School Counselor in high school, so it was full circle to rekindle my old interest in nature with the teens, many of whom had never hiked before! The Portland Observer highlighted the program here. I also found that I absolutely loved working with Metro! From the moment we got our grant, Metro nature educators worked to co-create some amazing curriculum, and with all black/brown staff! The experience prompted me to apply for their Parks and Nature Equity Advisory Committee  and I was selected! Note - I have worked for the City of Portland for over 6 years and never applied to be on their advisory committees - I actually feel a lot of progress is delayed because of how long things take and how little action results in committees. (With that being said, I lead and am on a lot of committees, ha)

And, when it comes to committees, my Environmental Justice (EJ) Committee has been incredibly active! In August, the committee turned one years old. We helped pass a bill, testified on a few others, wrote and received two grants, held a community forum session, participated in a few coalitions, and started the Youth Leadership program. We also have a few big grant proposals pending and new ones in being written. I never thought I'd get into grant writing, but it is so much like applying for scholarships in college, which was something I was pretty good at in the past. Means so much more to me seeing the funding help run programming that benefits my community!

After the hectic summer, I tried to focus on rest and was due for a vacation. My baby sister turned 21, so we took her to Vegas. It was also my first time there and I realized I do not like Vegas. The best part of my trip was the quickly planned Hoover Dam tour I took myself on. Absolutely stunning engineering feat. Much better than the anxiety inducing glam of Vegas. After Vegas, I also took a real vacation to Cabo, Mexico! A lot of this traveling during the pandemic was pretty scary with the Delta variant raging, but with so few travelers and being fully vaccinated - I felt safer than I did in Portland. Masks were worn and the anti-vax sentiment was not something common in Mexico. I didn't get COVID-19 and also survived a Hurricane Olaf while there - we had a week of beautiful days and one final day with a hurricane! 
Hoover Dam views 

Restful nights in Cabo

While things haven't calmed down a ton, I've been working on saying 'no' when I don't think I have capacity, and it feels like I am more in control of what is on my plate. The next few months will be focused on the Portland Clean Energy Fund's grant cycle for the Portland NAACP, working on the Multnomah County Charter Commission that I was selected for, and getting ready to study for my nemesis: the PE exam! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Mise en Place

 What. A. Year. 

I was adamant about writing before 2021 because it will be my first time posting as frequently in over 5 years. Maybe next year I will meet my blog goal and post once a month. But, I'm also tired of making goals when so much can happen in a year, as seen in 2020, where our entire world has changed in 9 months. Being disappointed in what we "should" have accomplished this year wouldn't have allowed us to celebrate the successes of this year. Surviving a pandemic, a wildfire with hazardous air quality, political unrest, global racial awareness, etc. The list goes on because honestly, this year was so traumatic that I am hardly able to remember sometimes. What I do remember is that I felt more well rounded than I have in over a decade. With so much going on in the world, this year challenged me to strengthen my friendships, reactivate my artistic creativity, explore ways to give back - all while maintaining 6 feet and social distancing. 

A small successes for 2020 included diving into my filipino roots. I have spent so much of my life dedicated to my Black community and background, but I wanted to also give time to my other half. I am also Filipina! I can go into a long discussion on being bi-racial and multitude of layers that creates in identity, but I'll stop for this post. I read Filipino American books (Thank you Carlos Bulosan, Jose Antonio Vargas and Elaine Castillo!), joined the Filipino American City Employees (FACE) Affinity group, and spent lots of time in the kitchen with my mama. I've also been making up for lost time and eating lumpia WAY too often. My mom always says it's supposed to be for celebrations, which I think is fair because 2020 calls for parties at dinnertime simply for maintaining sanity and joy. 

Lumpia! (No, it's not a spring roll) 

Some much larger success happened all right in the last month. In my last post from August I talked about working on an artist grant. The Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation had announced the Black Lives Matter Artist Grant, which dedicated $150,000 to 20 artists in Portland, Oregon (and another 40 in Washington/Eugene) for artists whose work responds to Black Lives Matter. I haven't made a visual art piece in over 8 years, but my past work was all themed on social injustice, so this grant was a perfect chance to funnel all my feelings in to a new piece. It was hard. I learned I can't just jump into art at a whim anymore - thinking too much on materials, dimension, composition, etc. Too much engineering lately, if you ask me ;) In spite of the hours staring a blank slate, I pulled together not just a proposal, but a completed piece for the grant. It was worth the effort too because I was announced as one of the grant recipients earlier this month. I was and am still elated. I thought I had given up the artist in me when I became an engineer - choosing not to study art in college and giving up the street shows I used to do. Details on the upcoming grant showcase are TBD due to COVID, but I plan to share the piece at that time. Applying for the grant also prompted me to reactivate my old domain and recreate my website, so is also up and running again! 

Also, around August when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with the state of affairs, I did some research on starting scholarships, foundations, etc. Thanks to some great advice, I was able to start my own scholarship for BIPOC women majoring in engineering, the 'Brannon Diversity in Engineering Scholarship' through my alma mater, University of Portland (UP). It is essentially a unique way to support diversifying STEM fields, which to almost all who know me, is a passion. As part of the 2% of engineering graduates who are black women, I am personally vested in diversifying my field. My scholarship was highlighted this month by UP in their Annual Giving Campaign. Highlighting my scholarship was astounding because it got so much support! Seeing my friends become donors and even a local company supporting this effort brought me so much joy. I am so grateful to all of the donors who made my education possible via scholarships, so it is a pleasure to give back to the future generation of engineers. More info on my newest website tab! ;) 

I can't pretend this year was all good. I lost my great grandma, spent many days in bed, slept more than I thought possible, cried over a lost foster kitten, drank too much, postponed parts of my life and found myself feeling helpless. In spite of the tumultuous year our world has had, we each accomplished so much - working from home, maintaining health, getting closer to friends, and reshaping our "normal." The french phrase "mise en place" means 'everything in its place,' as well as 'setting up' and thats a bit how it feels right now. A year so wretched, but hopeful - setting up for something better in 2021. 

Small orange highlights to this year. Meet Franz.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Some Assessment and Some New Things

I feel torn between two states of mind. One part incredibly hopeful for the future with all of the activism / awareness that’s spread around the world. And, the other feeling hopeless with some people’s innate lack of empathy and willful ignorance. I’ve seen many of my (what I thought were) friend’s/family’s true colors to which I’ve realized that who I am as a person was just the one exception to their racist world views. The moment I show emotion or solidarity with activists who are trying to make change, I’m being “racist.” All of which is comical and frustrating at the same time. I’ve learned this little summary of insights:


-       Don’t read the comments. Trash world trolls there and they will make you doubt hope for humanity

-       I will get called sensitive and throwing the ‘race card’ for discussing who I am, but they’ll be the first ones to claim they feel left out, upset that they’re being “targeted,” and that they’ve had a rough life, so therefore don’t carry privilege…  A LOT of people miss the point. For the people in the back – To have white privilege does not mean your life hasn’t had struggles, it just means your skin tone was not one of these struggles. Given that I can’t change my skin tone and it’s the first thing that is seen, along with my assumed gender, it’s a big one to have at the forefront of how I walk through this world.

-       I’d rather take well meaning than willfully ignorant. Was frustrated by this concept when this activism bug caught on, but I’d rather have folks trying to learn or do better, than deal with those refusing to see facts or experiences, and having a stubborn inhumane lack of empathy. Just because it doesn’t affect you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.


All of this being said, this blog was never very personal or political as far as my emotions and frustrations, but with the world in its current state, I can’t pretend that my COVID crafting streak or increased involvement in community wasn’t fueled by a desire to destress, self-care, and a need to do something that creates meaningful change in a system that is undeniably broken.


Cross stitching (a new craft hobby) via virtual “Crafternoons” with friends, gardening, making cocktails, cooking almost every meal, and spending time with my beau have been some of the calmer parts of my life. I have also seen more friends virtually and socially distanced than I ever had time for in pre-COVID times, and value their friendship more than I realized. I am also thankful for having a job that allows me to work from home, though finding out this work style will continue into 2021 was a bit of a shock. The cats definitely enjoy this work life, not very balanced lifestyle than I do…

Gardening Results

My completed cross stitch projects from the last few months. ;) 

Cats enjoying backyard office time with mom :) 

Joining the National Association for the Advance of Colored People (NAACP) Portland Branch has been a whirlwind. I was recruited by a friend who chairs the Political Action Committee and within a few weeks, I’ve stepped into a new role as the Environmental Justice Subcommittee Chair. With the increased racial awareness that has spread worldwide, there has been a reinvigoration of activism with the NAACP and its breathing new life into the local chapter’s committees. Meetings are thought provoking! I’m learning a lot on honing my leadership skills and the work that goes into legislation. It’s a different experience than working with engineers all day at work, which often continued in my time as the Vice President for the NSBE Portland Professional Chapter (also, check out our new board members on our site) I am very excited to continue working with the NAACP and gain a more political background, to which I hope will create real change within our society. Stay posted on IP 44 on your ballots, which is one of the measures our committee is supporting!


I have a lot of projects in the works now too. Potential app development, attempting to apply for my first artist grant (remember when I was an artist 8 years ago? I'm hoping to tiptoe back into my creative side again…TBD), continued studying for my PE license, and maintaining my existing commitments – NSBE, Etsy Shops, Found on Fremont, CAAN projects on empowering my fellow black employees within the City of Portland, and the inevitable search for BALANCE.


See below for my first site visit in months. Very cool project in SE Portland, that to be fair, I was just visiting for cost negotiation on my own projects, but I got to go on this fun field trip afterwards. I do miss Construction management sometimes.


Construction in the time of COVID - masked up!