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. 

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