28.5.14

If anyone ever needed an editor (or: thoughts on #nyaway)

Well, that was a week.

Spent the last few days marveling at Cambridge's and Brooklyn's ongoing pedestrian build outs, reveling at the astonishing three point birthday gift from the suddenly clutch Maxi Urruti, consuming an amount of pizzausually necessary to feed a little league baseball team, blowing money on public transit and overpriced coffee and diner milkshakes, taking fastidious notes on discussions regarding the nuances between the Jamaica Plain and Somerville subspecies of hipster, discovering that despite years of begrudging indifference and cavalier West Coast snobbery Boston is actually a pretty cool town, especially on two wheels; avoiding emails about this brow-furrowingly problematic but possibly necessary regressive street fee back home, and smiling to myself while listening to a half-dozen languages and taking in a whiff of that explicitly Only-in-New-York scent at the midpoint of subway creosote and stale urine. More than all of that, though, I spent the last week meeting up with people I forgot I truly loved and cared about, some of whom I haven't seen in as many as seven years, others of whom I’ve been tremendously close to and forgot could make me laugh so hard I had to pull over while biking. Maybe it's a side-effect of celebrating a birthday on this trip and feeling increasingly age-conscious as I get ever-older and ever-more cantankerous and boring, but the pattern of my interaction with my friends and couch-hosts became obvious: all these people, many of whom removed from my life since the college dorms or other seemingly done-and-buried chapters of my life, were out pursuing their passions, navigating this weird late-twenties-in-America, online-dating-horror-stories, is-this-actually-my-career-now excitement/malaise that makes up the variety of cheap longform thinkpieces and sitcoms, and doing so with aplomb, and opening up to me about it with grace and charm and candor. It's perhaps the best birthday gift of all (sorry Maxi) to know that the all those cities on the other side of the continent are chock full of gracious people willing to share a couch, bicycle and (most importantly) stories about the What Has Happened Since chapters of their lives, with the corollary that we immediately pick up Wherever We Left Off and eagerly keep in touch and share photos of Whatever Happens Next in the years to come. Those reminders that everyone’s getting older, graduating, navigating, negotiating… and NOBODY KNOWS WHATS HAPPENING but you’re all DOING and BECOMING terrify me but inspire me to keep up my end of the bargain and hopefully do something worthwhile with my own time on this next journey around the calendar. Plenty of unanswered emails await (sorry, Bus Project and Oregon Walks, probably a bad time to take a week off), so I’m certain my end of the bargain is cut out for me. To all those that I connected with this week: you should all come visit me in Portland, where the beer's cheap, we don't have sales tax and the water's usually potable. It meant more than I could ever type on a trite social media platform to see you and relive our past, present and future, especially if Donovan Ricketts kicksaves are involved.

You didn’t all have to tell me that hanging out with me reminded you of how loud I am, though.

Onward!

18.5.14

Thoughts on the Movement Building Training

Just wrapping up an exhausting, overwhelming, and marvelously transcendent weekend in Denver with 80 courageous immigration rights activists from around the country. I've always been drawn to social activism and progressive politics, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't absolutely star-struck by the tenacious work-ethic, optimism and sense of purpose displayed by these folks who experience and organize against injustices on a more visceral, emotional, personal level than to which I will ever be familiar. Knocked my socks off to meet people overcoming impossibly difficult circumstances to become the next generation of community organizers and social activists well-poised to leave their mark on making our communities, country and our planet an indisputably better, more just place to live. May I work my ass off in the weeks and months ahead to advance our shared cause and be worthy of association to the struggle for equal rights; I'm returning to Portland energized and focused to work with Bus Project and Causa Oregon to mobilize voters in Oregon around the Driver's Card Campaign. 

23.4.14

on the job hunt.

Since graduating college in 2010, by my rough gmail approximations, I've applied for roughly 200 jobs. I've had about thirty interviews, fifteen second interviews, interviewed thrice and rejected thrice for the same position, rejected as a finalist for three different positions i'd had multiple interviews for in three straight days, been rejected for jobs with organizations i'd volunteered for for countless hours, been rejected for internal jobs at places i'd put in a fair amount of work, rejected and told explicitly under not quite legal terms another candidate was chosen based on race/gender, sat in on steering committee meetings in which i was the only person in the room not getting paid, spent hours on applications that never even earned me an acknowledgement of receipt, sat in on steering committees in which every other person in the room had previously rejected me for a job, worked multiple sub-poverty level internships and part time gigs, came within hours of buying tickets to faraway nonportland cities to try my luck at crafting a career anywhere other than my hometown, burned through personal savings through the throes of unemployment at an embarrassingly juvenile clip, forgone trips with good friends and concerts and beers with friends, sat in offices where I watched supervisors offer positions to other candidates, spent $300 i didn't have on a flight home early for an interview for a job i ultimately didn't land, and spent a lot of nights listening to the rain wondering why on earth I was so snakebit and unable to meaningfully move the needle on what i felt like was the next necessary step on my quest to whatever quasi-adulthood north portland story I wanted for myself. I know that choosing to get involved with social justice movements and the nonprofit industry as a snotty millenial in Portland, the town of extended adolescence, was never going to be a cakewalk, and I was happy (and remain happy) to forgo personal financial profit and stability for the satisfaction of working for causes I care about, and I've never claimed to be anything approaching an "exemplary employee," but holy smokes. it's been profoundly demoralizing, and the search for a foothold to a career has undoubtedly been the most difficult, soul-searching, self-doubting experience of my otherwise privileged life. nothing - relationships, college, even the portland timbers miserable 2012 outing - has been as maddeningly difficult to come to terms with than my absurd familiarity with the "why aren't we hiring you" conversation. i've had varying levels of success keeping my chin up, but i'd be lying if i said i haven't over the past couple years felt myself increasingly tinged by bitterness at myself, my surroundings, my peers, and whatever i could even tangentially tie to my seeming inability to carve out the basic rent/beer/timbers money doing work i demonstrably love so much that I'd been willing to do for free for years.

so the fact that next month i'm starting a job that doesn't actually have an expiration date, that pays for things like health care and a bus pass, with an organization i've worked with in a variety of contexts since I was 16 that is undergoing a transformation to position themselves to politically empower a new generation of Oregonians for progressive causes, well, i was startled by the emotional release that came from receiving that phone call. i could easily list the dozens of you that have made calls and references on my behalf, forwarded me every mac's list posting you could find (and plenty of dubious craigslist gigs that inevitably involved bicycles in some sort), and i am heavily indebted to all of you; i'll be sure to do that privately over the next couple weeks. and for those of you still working to navigate portland's convoluted job market, I have nothing but remorse that the only answer I know how to give is to "keep at it; keep your chin up; keep networking" although those trite cliches feel disgustingly hollow coming from your employed friends when you're thoroughly miserable and doubting every ounce of your passion, your worth, your ability to meaningfully contribute to the things in life that get you excited; instill in you a reason to wake up in the morning; that cause you to gesticulate and talk with your hands wildly. I don't post this somewhat personal diatribe for any other purpose than to say that if Portland's finally getting around to hiring me, your chance can't be far behind, and that that sense of dissatisfaction and frustration is legit and emotionally valid, and we've all been there.

relatedly, is your voter registration up to date? if not, get in touch with me; i've got a lot of work to do.

onward!


31.12.13

2013, in review

Highlights from 2013 include working at a nonprofit I'd dreamed of being part of since I was 17, a memorable #dcaway trip that involved a Rodney Wallace goalazo, riding my bike to the coast on the fourth of july, spending all too many summer nights listening to Andrew Simon sing karaoke, participating in a few bike moves (including one in a typhoon), somehow managing to become Board PResident of a board I care about and not yet running it into the ground, winning said nonprofit a hefty grant and surviving our big annual fundraiser, the Fort George stout festival in Astoria, a trip to Arizona to learn about just how noble cacti are and also some trails stuff, a pretty extravagant set of birthday celebrations, that time I got a bunch of important portland politicos to tweet about The Wire,  four points in three trips to Seattle, testifying in front of City Hall twice, rabble rousing with the media (and them letting me actually write my own damn piece about my man-child love of my beloved club), somehow managing to be runner-up to jobs-of-my-dreams roughly five times this year, and ending the year unemployed and broke! That's a highlight right?

I didn't do nearly as much with music this year as I have in year's past; good shows I can recall include Sally Ford and the Sound Outside, the Death Cab for Cutie Transatlanticism Anniversary Show,  (whatever, it was awesome), talkdemonic and Helio Sequence at Cleveland High School, the Dismemberment Plan, and Magic Mouth's show at pdxpopnow. I didn't go to many movies this year either, but I remember really liking How to Survive a Plague, and Frances Ha, and I enjoyed them both immensely.

2013 was a year on the precipice, of being so tantalizingly close to success, to "making it," to being as baffled as anyone else that the Timbers were on the verge of a trophy. While so much of this year largely came up empty, my Stockholm Syndrome for this town, this community, this group of friends and allies and people who mean the world to me only grows. I spent a lot of time on a bike, I spent a lot of time with a beer in my hand, I spent a lot of time doing what I love. I don't have much to complain about, although a job would be nice. I was always a fan of even-numbered years anyway.

Onward!

(2012)(2011) (2010) (2009) (2008)


Waffles and hangovers. Good morning, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood., originally uploaded by _ambrown.


Hello and welcome to nopo's newest resident, courtesy of friends of trees, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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Oh man, I love these guys., originally uploaded by _ambrown.



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Hallowed Grounds. #rctid, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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Prepping for #dcaway, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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@aaron_maples are you in this?, originally uploaded by _ambrown.

.@anomalily #pedalpalooza, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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Oregon, my Pacific Wonderland. , originally uploaded by _ambrown.



Two more shots from Thursday's 100.7 mile #neskowinorbust trek., originally uploaded by _ambrown.



Make way for ducklings, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


Cruisin' down burnside, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


#pdxsummer, originally uploaded by _ambrown.




Sunny sowa, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


St. John's you are my favorite, originally uploaded by _ambrown.




A good night., originally uploaded by _ambrown.


Oregon, my Oregon., originally uploaded by _ambrown.


The summer's life is good., originally uploaded by _ambrown.



Ugh, what jackass wrote this shit., originally uploaded by _ambrown.


How cool is it that we get to watch the very infrastructure that holds our rainy city together being built and renewed before our very eyes?, originally uploaded by _ambrown.








America's pedestrian holiday, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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#brobrunch, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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19.10.13

In which I lay bare my heart and ask you to come to the Weston Awards.

Friends and family, are you wondering why you haven't seen me around much in the last couple months? Well, I've been working my tail off as Board President of Oregon Walks, the state's walking advocacy organization. I can't say enough about our cohort of board members who have been doing some insanely awesome heavy lifting to make sure our nimble, scrappy organization is well-poised to continue our twenty years of history of adding a needed voice to the region's active transportation advocacy scene. Between our letters on projects like the CRC and SW Barbur, to our work out in Washington County to partner with Adelante Mujures and empower Latina women to document their unsafe streets in their neighborhood, to the fantastic Walktober programming that somehow coincided with this gorgeous autumn weather, I consider myself truly lucky to have stumbled into this position and to be afforded the opportunity to see our organization continue to thrive into the future. It's not always been easy, but it's certainly been emotionally satisfying and personally gratifying work, and it resonates strongly with my personal politics and interests.

The craziest part of all this? We've been writing letters, organizing programming and planning our annual fundraiser without an Executive Director! Just imagine how much we'll be able to accomplish when we are able to reinstate and rehire new staff that will be tasked with the near-impossible task of filling the shoes of a one Steph Routh.

This is where you come in! :)

The Weston Awards are this next Saturday, October 26. It's our annual fundraiser, and I wouldn't be on facebook grovelling for your money and volunteering opportunities if I didn't sincerely, truly believe we're on the precipice of an important, unprecedented opportunity to forge new partnerships between active transportation, local economic development, public health and social equity activisms, and if I didn't truly believe that you digging into your wallet wouldn't sincerely make a difference in our ability to stand up for the right to roam. I've thrown my heart into the cause, and it'd mean the world to me if you were able to buy a ticket and attend next week. Early Bird rates on tickets expire tonight; go ahead and buy one this evening! I mean, do it right now! If you can't make it next Saturday (especially if you'll be busy watching the Timbers clinch the Supporters Shield, which HOW THE HELL ARE THESE EVENTS OVERLAPPING, THE TIMBERS WILL WIN THEIR FIRST PIECE OF HARDWARE AND I WON'T EVEN BE WATCHING, THAT'S HOW COMMITTED I AM TO THIS CAUSE) any donation, from $50 to $5, would warm the cockles of my heart.

Hope to see you there. You're all wonderful. Onward, Rose City.

http://wpcwalks.givezooks.com/events/the-2013-weston-awards/

20.5.13

Why I'm voting for Fluoridation tomorrow.

"But as Slate points out, the anti-fluoridation movement is not driven by science as much as an ascendant knee-jerk anti-establishment politics that sanctifies "personal choice" over all. This attitude unites the extreme left and extreme right in a weird nexus of alternative medicine, Infowars-type conspiracy theories, and environmental activism that results in both your high school friends and your aunt spewing the same articles from NaturalNews all over your Facebook wall."
-http://gawker.com/quacks-of-all-political-persuations-fight-fluoridation-508884755


I'd also add that much of the anti-fluoride pseudoscience skepticism seems to come from an ardent, irrational provincialism that seems to be the lynchpin of everything amazing and frustrating about our town and our local political process. Our forefathers in the seventies fought for and established an "Oregon Exceptionalism" brand of politics that espoused moralistic and borderline-religious language to demand protection for our natural resources and landscape from waste and destruction, and an awful lot of the things I admire and cherish about this state (public beaches, recycling, the UGB, local food) are the eventual outgrowths of this raucously independent experiment in political innovation. 

Yet now, in a troubling manner, I see these well-meaning tropes of Oregon Exceptionalism espoused by friends and colleagues to demand the "purity of Bull Run water" (or, even more infuriating, fluoride-free microbreweries), as though a public health initiative undertaken in literally every other major city across the country that has tremendous benefits to our city's most disadvantaged young folks is somehow a threat to the political underpinnings and identity of our state. 

It's not surprising that a rhetoric and political worldview written forty years ago for a sparsely populated, staggeringly middle class and homogeneous Western state dependent on natural resources is showing its cracks; Oregon in general and Portland in particular are none of those things anymore. And yet, on the eve of an election, I'm watching otherwise smart folks falsely-equivocating a social justice initiative that will largely help young children of color as an attack on "clean water" due to the imposition of "chemicals," or something, as though its an affront on our Oregon values to prudently monitor and utilize our natural resources to make our communities healthy and prosperous.

Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, I'm troubled by the development of this eery, navel-gazing, borderline-nativist politics rooted in moralistic "protection of the environment" that stands to marginalize the folks who have most recently joined us in Tom McCall's Eden, and who have worked hardest to get this bill to the ballot. I'm voting yes for Fluoride, and hope you do the same. 

31.12.12

2012, in review.

It's that time of year again.

Memorable trips in 2012 include February's excursion to DC, May's to St. Louis, June's to Seattle, July's to Smith Rock and Manzanita, the epic Papa Brown/Aaron Brown trek to Ecuador and Argentina in September, and my visit back to the Twin Cities this December. 

2012's highlights include painting the city of Portland's flag on the speed bump outside my house, a raucous weekend in Latacunga, the Sunset-at-Rocky Butte Pedalpalooza Ride, following the trials and tribulations of local and national politicians of varying degrees of trustworthiness, my first podcast appearance, a few too many nights of karaoke, spending entirely too much time on the internet, organizing the third incarnation of a pub crawl that's sprawled out of control, and of course, David Horst's goal against the Seattle Sounders.

The year ends much as 2011 did, in which I reflect on a wicked awesome year of good times with good friends, both old and new, in a tiny little town on the Willamette that continues to reveal itself in new ways with every passing year. Every month seems to open my Portland-bubble world to a new bike route, an undiscovered coffee shop, a new set of friends who live in those new apartments, a new scrappy nonprofit working on some awesome cause that intersects with my own, another stakeholder advisory committee for me to join and another reason to feel warmly about my continued commitment to attempting to live out my own little paradise here in Portland. I definitely found enough things to do with my time this year. I spent considerable amount of time out in East Portland with my job, spending time with some inspiring young students at David Douglas High School who are already, inevitably, growing up and shaping their own Portland bubble. I also spent a full year in North Portland, learning quite a bit about everything from how much people love automobile parking to how many people I care about all seem to live within a ten minutes walk. Yet, just like the year before it, the year comes to an ending at an awkward time. I may be pumped about my community and the ways in which I'm engaged in it, but I'm saddled with the continued frustration of underemployment, drizzly winters, underperforming soccer teams and the feeling that maybe it's time to get out and explore somewhere else. My trip back to Minnesota, first since I graduated, revealed to me just how many good friends I've accumulated across the entire country, and how many new friends are out there awaiting for me to jump on a train and start somewhere new.

Special thanks to The Alabama Shakes, Real Estate, First-Aid Kit, John K. Sampson, The Helio Sequence,  Two Door Cinema Club, Hey Rosetta!, AU, Dana Buoy, Onuinu, Frank Ocean, Lost Lander, The Lower 48, Tennis, Sharon Van Etten, and Youth Lagoon for writing music that I listened to quite extensively in the past calendar year.

(2011) (2010) (2009) (2008)


life in boxes, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


good morning from michigan haus, originally uploaded by _ambrown.



dc brau, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


WOULD YOU TRUST THIS MAN WITH A BICYCLE, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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michigan haus, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


is spring coming?, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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Food Carts, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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St. Louis, MO, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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pedalpalooza 2012 begins, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


Reunited with Surly Furious, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


nopo transportation, originally uploaded by _ambrown.

Ginger Ride, Portland Oregon, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


Not a bad day at the office., originally uploaded by _ambrown.

Sharat Ganapati, ULTRA., originally uploaded by _ambrown.

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The scots, reunited at last, originally uploaded by _ambrown.


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BA Bookstore, originally uploaded by _ambrown.

Palermo, Buenos Aires, originally uploaded by _ambrown.

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St. John's on a lazy Sunday, originally uploaded by _ambrown.

Minneapolis., originally uploaded by _ambrown.

The Midwest is best., originally uploaded by _ambrown.





Good morning., originally uploaded by _ambrown.