Month: June 2015

Two sides of a historic coin and wrestling with the past

The debates over the public and state-sanctioned display of the flag of the slave-holding Confederacy point to the United States’ not-so recent past. No country is pure, and the United States’ evolution is marked by great accomplishments, great divisions, and also some historic acts that leave a painful legacy. Our history of conflict in the 1800s stretches the entire century, from the War of 1812, through the Mexican-American War, dozens of conflicts with Native American bands across the continent, overseas expansion and trade wars (the Opium War), and the Spanish-American War.

in 1902, Portland area residents and war veterans erected a statue honoring the nation’s war veterans at the city’s historic Lone Fir Cemetery in Southeast Portland. The cemetery is filled with graves of many white, Christian early settlers from the 1800s, and latter-day residents of all persuasions. I stumbled on the cemetery accidentally at a staging of Macbeth last weekend.

Close up of memorial honoring soldiers who fought for the United States against Native Americans.

Close up of memorial honoring soldiers who fought for the United States against Native Americans.

I looked up and saw this statue of a Civil War soldier, with memorials plaques honoring veterans of Spanish-American War of 1898, the Civil War, the Mexican-American War, and the American Indian Wars from 1846 to 1856, which saw most of Oregon and Washington occupied and appropriated as U.S. territory from many native tribes.

There were conflicts, but many of the original inhabitants were perishing en masse due to diseases like smallpox that accompanied the arrival of new settlers. Even after land was ceded by treaties and tribes were resettled on reservations, hostility was pronounced. Eleven years before this statue was erected, in 1891, the Oregon Legislature was passing resolutions with language that characterized the state’s Native residents as “a wild man.”

State lawmakers signed their names to a measure that stated: “… it would only be a fact of evolution to call him a wild animal on his way to be a man, provided the proper environments were furnished him. While the instincts and perceptions are acute, the ethical part of him is undeveloped, and his exhibitions of a moral nature are whimsical and without motive. Brought into contact with white men. whether of the lowest or of the highest, he is always at a disadvantage which is irritating, and subject to temptations which are dangerous.”

Today, what are we to do with such legacies to this time when these attitudes prevailed, and good people erected monuments to their fellow soldiers who fought for their country, and many doing so believing they were in the right and doing it for the best of intentions?

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

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The big toys come out during summertime

Everywhere I walk and go it seems, some water or road project is going on, digging up streets, laying new sewer lines, and creating some inconvenience for all of us. Hey folks, that is called the price of living in a modern world. Be thankful you have these things. According to Food and Water Watch, 2.5 billion people, 1 billion of them kids, live without basic sanitation like a sewer system. And if you think your roads are bad, try them overseas, where they create literally lethal situations daily. So,  you may just try and chill out if you have to wait. You can even smile at those flaggers. They are your price for a modern, comfortable life. It is worth our investment.

How Portland Looks from the Burnside Bridge

Burnside Bridge gives one a great view of the Willamette River and downtown Portland. It’s also near the areas where the city’s large homeless community congregates. One normally has to keep one’s wits about oneself here at night. Usually some crime noir is happening here, in a not so pleasant way. I came here on summer solstice to capture a few random views. I love the view of the grain elevator the Steel Bridge to the north and the freeway jumble where I-84 and I-5 collide.

Testimony to my love of running

I can never seem to get rid of my running shoes after their intended purpose ends, usually around month six. But they still work fine for walking and other sports. And so my stack of shoes is alive and well by my door. I actually just dropped off four pairs at Goodwill too. (Click on the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Swan Island and downtown Portland

One of my favorite views of Portland is from the overlook along North Willamette Boulevard, looking at the Swan Island shipyards to downtown Portland. It is always worthwhile checking what ships are getting work here. This shipyard keeps our economy ticking, and to date we have not found a way to outsource the jobs and industry to Indonesia or Brazil, but I know people are working hard to do that. I want this shipyard to stay.

The Resurrection River, Alaska

One of my favorite day trips from Anchorage was traveling to Hope, Alaska, and then heading up the Resurrection Trail on the Kenai Peninsula. Lots of bears in here, but almost no salmon. I think the salmon runs had been decimated by placer mining on the Resurrection River, and fish and game officials were trying to restore the runs as I was leaving the state in 2010. Ran and biked many times along this beauty, including a 50 mile ultra. Always great in June.

The benefits of Shinrin-yoku

The Japanese have a term that describes taking in the atmosphere of the forest. It is called Shinrin-yoku. The expression does not exist in English, but the concept is not unique to the Japanese, and the idea of clearing one’s mind by walking in the woods is very old and trans-cultural. It turns out some scientific studies measuring cortisol (the stress hormone associated with chronic disease and so many other ailments), heart rate, blood pressure and other health indicators found improvements in those measurements of people who walked in forests. I have known this all my life. I always feel better after a walk or run in the woods. If you are living near some woods, if you can, remember to get out for even a short walk.

Click on the picture to see a larger photo on a separate picture page.

It’s summer, time to celebrate

These are some of the many dancers who parade through the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle every solstice. The forecast this weekend in Northwest makes me want cheer and welcome the new season. So why not have some summer worshippers show what that means to us in this region. (Photo taken June 2014.)

Click on each the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.