The Random Post – 3.13.21

An idea. Create a new variant of blog post. Call it The Random Post. Happening now…

Writing helps me get clear.  It helps my brain organize around a topic. 12 months now, less time to make strategic blog posts. The available instances (or chunks, rather) carved out for longer form writing are moments I’ve had to fight for; good posts and the research they require take time. Opportunities to write often feel like they come at the detriment to spending time with my family.

In a perfect world the day begins in silence with a cup of coffee, in pajamas, various colored pens and a Leuchtturm1917 (B5,dotted). Ahh, yes. A perfect world. Yah, right. I recall reviewing a new device that’s like a digital pad, feels like paper, you can write on it and it turns handwriting into digital text. Where is that thing? It was expensive and reviewers said it was buggy. Not ready for the big show yet.

There has been so little “free” time. Parenting, COVID, wildfire, parenting, sleep, repeat. Conversely, work alcoholism. I suppose there is a side of me that gets off on working harder, longer and kicking out more than the other guy. I derive a little joy from surprising a citizen with the evening and weekend call. As if, government never works late.  If it must be done, then it must be done. It’s a volume game sometimes.

I enjoy completing an idea in writing accompanied by snazzy graphics.  Creating a narrative with beginning, middle and end – on my terms – brings me joy. Attempts at little blog essays often result in novel discoveries:  new ways of thinking I did not anticipate. New thought patterns emerge that were previously hidden or unknown.

Journaling satisfies, as well. It’s where I capture ideas worth pursuing and push gratitude recognition. Full tilt immersion incorporates bullet style, legend and indexing. It makes it easier to reference and find stuff later. However, it does take up time and I am lazy at formatting entries, currently.  Paper journaling has a big handicap. No hyperlinks. One of the supreme advantages of digital writing is real time access to the modern footnote.

I would add, there’s Facebook and Instagram. where I feel somewhat inundated by my serial poster friends. Like, they are good people, right? Is it a FOMOish, loneliness, sort of narcissism, or what?  Innocent grabs at dopamine hits?  So much posting. I don’t want to do that to people. Yet, I do that to people. Just the indented effect the corporate giants planned for. 

So… why not loosen my creative boundaries. Let’s see what happens.

Just In – Hot off the Digital Press – My Kick Ass Wife Appears in Underscore!

She recently emailed me the link. “Moccasin Telegraph’ Finds New Life as Source of Vaccine Information

Yes, I love her so. My wife the nurse. Clinical Services Director of Siletz Community Health Clinic – Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians. So much pressure and stress over the last year at the front lines of COVID response. She is an amazing Mom and shines at all the household/life warrior responsibilities. Last April, when the COVID shit was hitting the fan she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was scary stuff. Thankfully, after two surgeries and radiation – cancer free.  Amazingly, she took very little downtime because of her serious commitment to the health care of others. Maybe work’s calling was a timely distraction. Not sure. I should ask.

I asked her, yesterday. Did the COVID urgency and volume of activity distract you from your cancer diagnosis? She said it did. I pulled this photo from the Underscore story. On this day she and her team were vaccinating in Salem.

The Underscore article states “While the U.S. as a whole is just finding its stride administering the COVID-19 vaccine to its citizens, many Native American tribes – including the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians – are on a mean streak.”

Man, I believe that! Because I’ve watched her day after day grind away. They have made amazing progress and are now assisting the greater community with vaccinations. Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians contributes a lot to the regional community. Considering everything First Nations have endured… it just disgusts me sometimes thinking about the nastiness of colonialism, the atrocities. 

Sometimes I think she is right where the universe wants her. She is the lioness. Cherity genuinely cares about her work, the tribe and standing up for their spiritual, cultural, and physical health.  Way to go babe! And, way to go CTSI. Read the article – here.

Recovery is a LONG Road – Echo Mountain Fire Survivors

Thursday, during a bi-weekly meeting with FEMA Stan proposed this concept: “Have I done anything today to help a survivor move forward on their path to recovery? He said he was asking his staff this question too.

It’s a raw, stoic question and I love it. I wrote it down. Determined to meditate on its simplicity. So, here I am. Overthinking can be a real problem. Planners can plan, plan, plan. But we must execute. Let us deliver something real that changes a life for the better.

I was already busy – our organization was already busy – before the wildfire hit North County. Emergency “response” has its own unique trajectory. Eventually, as it does for survivors, the fight or flight wears off as the journey into recovery unfolds. I am a newbie to an actual larger disaster. Veterans warned us of the “end of the honeymoon” and how this impacts the mental health of survivors.  Be aware of the toll this will take on these individuals and families.

FEMA Logan Road – Direct Temporary Housing. Made possible from the significant contribution of the property by Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians. (Lisa Norton, CTSI, Assistant General Manager/Dan McCue, CTSI, Chief Financial Officer, Lance “Duke” Davis, Federal Coordinating Officer, FEMA Region X)

Simultaneously, I’ve seen how the same principle overlays the responders and the organizations they work for. Recovery feels painfully slow… Living this is the only way I would ever understand it. All the FEMA courses in the world will never compare to the real deal. I spoke with a FEMA staffer whose career trajectory resulted in deployment first.  It was later that he took his required “book training”.  He noted, “No, that’s not how its works in a real disaster!” Perhaps, there is no glass slipper. Only endless variation.

I continue to have revelations, continue to stay open and at the ready for the unknown. Sometimes I feel like a communications and project management MacGyver. So many variables and bumps in the road. I have worked with FEMA, EPA, OHA, ODOT, Army Corps, COUNTY, CITY, TRIBE, etc. Our journey is far from over. Despite the frustrations of SLOOOOOW. I have frequent recognitions that we create systems for a purpose and ultimately, they do materialize in direct benefit. FEMAs direct temporary housing was a joy to behold.

People help people. The volunteer efforts and self-organization that continues in Echo Mountain is remarkable. Why wait around for government when you can get this done? Really. Why?  Would I have waited. Probably not. Nevertheless, ODOT’s Debris Management Task Force is finally at work now. Yes, contractors are cleaning properties as I write.  When “Debris Removal” began with EPA there were some estimates of up to two years for the work to be done. At the time I thought, how could it possibly take that long?

There have been moments when I’ve thought… If these conference calls were broadcast live. If the public at large could hear these conversations, they might benefit from knowing and hearing what I am hearing. Good people, well intended, trying their best to solve this problem and manage this project.

“Have I done anything today to help a survivor move forward on their path to recovery?”

Crossfit OPEN 20.1 Begins

Today, when I breath in, a faint pulse of pain that radiates from my middle back and chest. Why is that?

Crossfit.

I don’t suppose that’s the best promo for the discipline I love. Sometimes, I do wonder if I’m living in my own twisted narrative of exercise endorphin induced cognitive bias.

Yesterday, I completed a fifteen-minute couplet comprised of jump roping and wall walks. That’s it, two different movements. I felt energized throughout the day – kind of surprised at my resilience. I was also pumped that I was joined by my son, who is 10; my joy was further stoked because he was pumped! We shared our trials and tribulations about the workout, and both found it remarkable that this exercise stuff gives us energy. Interesting.

Son and Father after our 20.1 OPEN workout. Reed “scaled” his workout jump rope>jumping jacks – wall walks>bear crawls. You know, I was worried he is doing this just for me. But, I think he kind of gets it. He will be even more prepared for soccer season by exercising now.

The idea of the OPEN is as follows. Each Thursday a unique workout is announced. Participants have until the end of Monday to complete the workout and submit their scores. After five weeks (and five different workouts) the submissions are totaled, and the best scores qualify athletes for further advancement to regional and semifinal competitions – ultimately resulting in the CrossFit Games.

It’s the largest coordinated exercise event in the world. This year, as Crossfit HQ is under new ownership, there is targeted emphasis to bring the event to the broadest demographic possible. The workouts are designed with numerous variations of inclusivity. Reed for example, did jumping jacks and bear crawls and did so for 15 minutes.

It’s a SUPER dad moment. That certainly added to my buzz. Today, I do hurt a little. Typically, our workouts have a little more variation.  The OPEN adds that extra layer of competition that makes you push a harder. I love it and Reed is so stoked! Awesome. Sauce.

Rocket Stove is Back – Learning to Cook

We moved the grill to our back yard. It is now underneath a roof. This was a total win for grill access in our household meat eater model.  Simple things bring great joy. Until, one is reminded of the animal agriculture problem. Where do myth and truth intersect? I have done little homework on the subject. It’s in the queue. I promise vegan friends. I promise.  

Reed is a picky eater. A flat iron steak has been one of the few sources of animal protein that he’s found palatable.  Just this year he finally discovered the profundity of the bacon cheeseburger.  When lighting struck several weeks ago. I thought, why not get this boy grilling.  

I am so proud of this kid! Lately, we’ve been tasking him with grilling and he’s really making progress. I had forgot about our rocket stove and for some reason it popped into my head today. Pulled it out of the shed and put it to use for a quick day camping session. Local company – Eugene, OR – Silver Fire

Many years ago. Long before fatherhood. I listened to the various teachings of Wayne Dyer. Not too far into parenting I recalled a line from him in which he said to his children “I did your laundry for the first eight years of your life – you can do mine for the next eight.”

Strange that this stuck with me as it did. I have been waiting many years for this moment to present itself. Parenting is an ongoing lesson plan. The parent brain projects onto the child brain. The self-narrative may be risk heavy in its expectation of the other.  Find balance in my outlook for his emergence I must. The person he is. The person he is becoming.

My hope is the grilling continues to be a skill he can own. He told me last week that “If a person cooks their own food they are more likely to like it.”  I asked why he enjoys grilling and he said “I just enjoy the satisfaction of the meat’s tenderness and the steam…” I lost the exact words he used.  It was an epic response. This kid.

Public Officials Fly Planes Too

Thankfully, planes do not crash land around here often. Thankfully, I have never discovered snakes on plane either.

I digress. “We all got to witness the freak occurrence of an actual snake on an actual freakin’ plane this week. And while news of the scrub python quickly spread from the side of a Qantas flight to YouTube, actual scientists are pretty used to this sort of thing. Seriously. We asked a real-life snake detective” – The Atlantic

When Dean crash landed his plan after running out of fuel, we were relieved that everybody lived.

We are thankful he navigated his pane to an empty section of beach.  I am ignorant of the skills required to be a pilot and furthermore the skills required to land a plane without fuel. If it is anything like driving my truck without power steering then I might assume it was an act of heroism to make the landing. 

I dig the retro movie posters. I do not mean to demean the seriousness of the accident with this image. At the same time I can not but help recognize the symbolism. News Times noted that flight reviews required “every two years under observation of an experienced operator.” Sawyer says, “its too hard to get one done.. There is one guy here, but I wouldn’t get in an airplane with him because he’s not good.” Mmm…

One of the questions raised in my mind is whether the accident should reflect (or not) on his role as mayor. While the work we do – when we go to work – is often site and subject specific the person we bring to the work is inseparable from the whole.  With the release of new information from the National Transportation Safety Board, I assume Lipp was compelled to ask the fellow councilmembers for their opinion.  I am not entirely sure how he framed the questions.  CM’s quote feels like it hangs somewhat in air as placed in the story. Did he ask other Councilors for their feedback?

I know Dean from conversations related to shared governmental activity.  We are friends on Facebook so I am aware of his FB persona. Do I really know the man? Maybe a tad more than the average citizen. I do however have a perspective that is somewhat unique. Considering that I am a communicator for the County (by profession) I take note of how other public officials share information that may have been discussed collaboratively.

I’ve noticed that Dean uses his “personal” Facebook page as a way to share City “civic” business. Much of this is a natural occurrence considering that he is the Mayor. My recommendation to other public officials is that they create a sperate FB page to compartmentalize their communications. It’s kind of a pain in the ass but it allows for the community to understand which hat the public official is wearing and in the case of litigation an easier separation of identities for technical discovery.

It might be helpful for Sawyer to make a public statement to help us understand our concerns. How does he view the accident? Are there any correlations between the cognitive capacity required to operate a plane that are also shared by his cognitive capacity to make sound judgments as the Mayor of Newport? 

There is a quote not featured in News Times article that appears in the “Federal Aviation Administration – Record of Conversation”.  The FAA document says, “He stated he pulled back as hard as he could on the yoke to make sure he didn’t nose into the ground. He said that within minutes there were “a bunch of stupid Samaritans at the aircraft.”

I question why on earth the Mayor would refer to his constituents as “stupid Samaritans”. The interview conducted by the aviation safety inspector occurred the day after the incident. Seems like this gap would give him time to cool down and think a little more clearly about the events. I can understand that the whole situation is somewhat embarrassing, and he may want to move on from it all. At the same time, the FAA documents demonstrate a certain laziness and disregard of attention to detail that is critical to safety.

Do I think we need to ask for the keys to the City back? I do not. It does make me ponder the breadth and depth of leadership required and how important it is for public officials to demonstrate that leadership across the board.

Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve (Part 1)

Question: What are Biosphere Reserves? (UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

Answer: “Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges. Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use…. Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.”

Hart’s Cove Trail at Cascade Head. A welcome bench awaited us as we made the 2.7 mile descent. This rest stop appears to gaze over the destination to come. We didn’t find out on this journey. But, we’ll be back!

I saw Paul Robertson (Re – Robertson Environmental) in September at the Multi Agency Resource Center (MARC). He flashed me on the concept of our biosphere reserve and that Kaety and I might participate in an upcoming listening session with interested parties. At the moment I don’t have a lot of details about this event and do not see it posted on either (www.cascadehead.org) or (https://www.facebook.com/CascadeHead). I should have more to come on this soon. Nevertheless, this run in with Paul was a stimulus for my own exploration of the Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve.

I had difficulty wrapping my head around the general concept in the beginning. Indicative of how little I am knowledgeable and trained in matters of ecology and nature’s living systems. I spend an unhealthy amount of time in the digital matrix.  So, instead of navigating to resources about our actual biosphere reserve I first watched the 2020 documentary Spaceship Earth – as if I expected to see a Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome unknow to me in north county!

It was designed to explore the web of interactions within life systems in a structure with different areas based on various biological biomes. (Wikipedia)

The documentary is well done and enjoyable. As I learned more about Cascade Head the concept of “Biosphere 2 (which) was originally meant to demonstrate the viability of closed ecological systems to support and maintain human life in outer space” became a nicely placed tangent to my growing understanding of why we might create an artificial system or designate a geographical space as a biosphere.  

Real or artificial we have an opportunity to observe, measure, explore and discover. Biosphere 2 was comprised of seven biome areas (3.14-acre).  How might a small group of “biospherians” survive in the largest materially closed ecological system ever created?  How would the enclosed mangrove, savanna, ocean and more thrive along with its inhabitants? Turns out (spoiler alert) not well.

We have much to learn and optimize before colonizing our next planet.  Taking it up an octave we much to learn about the original spaceship earth. Modern times debate our current stewardship. Oxygen levels were difficult to maintain in the 1991 experiment. It turned out the microbes in the soil and the curing cement were outliers that necessitated turning up the volume on the carbon dioxide scrubbers and pumping in some fresh air.

Biosphere 2 is now owned by the University of Arizona. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. Looks like they have a podcast. We’ll be checking that out!

Our First Trip – A Hero’s Journey

On November 30th, my son and I embarked on our first adventure to the real deal. Its notable to disclose that I did close to zero research about where we were going and what the hell we were getting into. Oddly, post hike, I am still having difficulty searching the interwebs for practical information about how to access and enter the area. I’ll take responsibility for my clunky research should I just be missing the simplicity of the request.

We traveled up Hwy 101 not far from Lincoln City/Otis and turned east on N. Three Rocks Road – Cascade Head Trail. The gated and gravel road was easily navigated with occasional tight spots with oncoming traffic. We initially traveled to the Nature Conservancy Trail which was closed. We continued to Hart’s Cove Trail and found parking and turn around space along with 15 other vehicles.

Reed Miller. 10 years old. We debated heading down Hart’s Cove Trail. After months of distance learning and tele-work at home we were finally on a journey together. It was epic simplicity. He demonstrated courage and a positive mindset to get moving!

My lack of planning would thwart our endeavor. We left our home in Newport with minimal intel:  “We’ll take that turn off…. You know the one we’ve seen on the way to Pacific City? The one that says Cascade Head Trail. I think that’s where we should go. I think we can hike to the ocean? Let’s just see what happens.” I had watched several videos on the Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve You Tube channel anticipating we would be in for some ocean eye candy at some point.

Shortly after we entered Hart’s Cove Trail we inquired with passing hikers.

“How long did it take?”

“About an hour down and an hour back”.

One hiker had the rhythm. “Naismith’s Rule estimates hiking time on reasonably easy ground based on 19½ minutes for every mile, plus 30 minutes for every 1,000 feet of ascent.” The trail head sign said “This 2.7 mile hiker trail takes you past Cliff Creek and into the Neskowin Crest Research Natural Area. It ends in a grassy meadow with no beach access. The first ½ mile of trail is rather steep.”

Calculating our situation, we realized that at our current time of 2:15 pm we would exit the trail head at dark. This left us little time to explore the grassy meadow, soak up ocean views and worship the setting sun. It would be prime time for photography. I could taste the Instagram worthy outcome of making it to the end. We continued. The other hikers we encountered were going the opposite direction.

“Most people do not know at all how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is revealed in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf. (Letters on Life)”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

As the clock ticked and our legs continued to tire, we stopped and deliberated. He was becoming nervous and I was concerned our return might be too intense should we tackle the last of the trail in the darkness. We had no food or lighting. I provided an inspiring lecture: it was the journey not the destination that we should embrace. We decide to reverse course. During our return I could hear Reed’s boots dragging into the trail. We were in darkness as we lifted ourselves into the comfort of our truck.  

I am grateful for Paul’s request to include us in this upcoming conversation about our local biosphere designation. At the moment, I know little of the breadth, depth and purpose this meeting he has asked me to attend. It has required that I begin to explore the subject of Cascade Head. Most significantly, for my own mental and physical health, the greatest reward thus far has been spending time with my boy in the outdoors. Reed and I desperately needed to get out of the house. In my professional work as a public information officer for Lincoln County 2020 has been vigorous. Our organization’s response to COVID has created a significant workload. Additionally, the response and continued recovery to the Echo Mountain fire has added a seemingly endless menu of options in my work life.

We struggled for about 1/2 hour deliberating to stay the course or turn back. Ultimately, we called it quits. To date, this is the longest hike Reed has made. He displayed courage and joy. Being outdoors is the rejuvenator.

One layer of future inquiry is the possibility that structures destroyed in the Echo Mountain Fire might result in toxic run off into the Salmon River. The Salmon River and its estuary is a notable feature of Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve. This “social system” of human dwellings may have a negative impact on the “ecological systems” within the biosphere. The purpose of a biosphere is to create conscious awareness of our interrelationships with other living systems: winter rains pass through ash and debris and enter larger waterways. What are the consequences?

Since our adventure I have continued to research this topic. Right now, I am curious to understand more about how the United Nations fits into the sphere of influence.

The UN’s objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law (Wiki)

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.” (SDGS)

How might we model these goals locally? Its inspiring to think we’ve got a head start in this thinking turned into action: Cascade Head Biosphere is our local biosphere within in Spaceship Earth. Its a living template. We are certainly blessed to have this asset.

Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve. The local influencers: Paul Robertson, MSc (Project & Communications Manager), Duncan Berry (CHBR Co-Organizer/Cascade Head Resident) and Dan Twitchell (CHBR Co-Organizer/Cascade Head Resident).

More to come in part two… My continued lines of inquiry include the following links and more: