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!