Several years ago people in the Pacific Northwest started talking about this article in The New Yorker. As an Oregon native I've always been aware that living in The Ring of Fire has risks. I was in middle school when the 1993 "spring break quake" jolted me from a sound sleep. We do not routinely have the large-scale natural disasters that other parts of the country face, but we do have wind, ice and flood events. The concept of Neighborhood Emergency Teams first came on my radar by noticing a sign in my neighborhood. Since I've always been a "10 Essentials" kind of person, disaster preparedness immediately made sense. I realized that relying on camping gear didn't cut it and started doing research on FEMA and Red Cross recommendations. I started "prepping." When an e-mail from the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management arrived one day, reaching out to Portland Pubic School staff, I knew it was time to take the next step. In the video clip above, a local news crew happened to catch me stabilizing a "survivor" on my first day of NET training as we practiced using a backboard. After serving as a lifeguard through high school and college I came away with fairly solid first aid skills. Then as an occasional park ranger assistant, I obtained basic knowledge of radio protocol and how to deal with distressed (and sometimes belligerent) members of the public. As a 15 year veteran of public schools (okay one of those was at a private institution) I've herded kids through over 100 fire drills, in addition to earthquake, lock out and lock down drills. And no, asking teachers to carry guns is not a solution to the current epidemic of active shooters. NET explicitly forbids the carrying of weapons during training and deployment. Knowledge continues to be the greatest tool we have.
In early October, my partner and I made a weekend get-away at the coast. On one of our beach walks we found a startling amount of biological detritus washed up on the shore. Nature's drama played out in front of us as we observed a live crab lose a battle with a hungry seagull. How do you tell if a starfish is alive? We weren't sure, so my partner is seen here attempting to give it a second chance on life.
Later in the month we visited the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. Both of us have lived in Oregon most our lives, and neither of us had ever been. It was a blue sky, 70 degree Saturday, so there was a bit of a line to get in. The most photographed tree in the garden had a posse of mostly men crouching and sitting in front of it. I wasn't sure if the scene was one of reverence or one that required immediate feminist commentary about the protruding lenses being shoved under and into nature's singular canopy.
10 Days in the mid-Appalachian region with a group of geography teachers connected through C-GEO, the Center for Geography Education in Oregon.
Books that helped me get a better grasp of the areas we visited:
White Trash. The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, by Nancy Isenberg
Colored People, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America's Class War, by Joe Bageant
At Home in the Heart of Appalachia, by John O'Brien
We flew in and out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and traveled through Western Maryland and West Virgina.
PPS has already had 5 "snow days" prior to today, but they were typical "Oregon snow" days, where we get wet, icy slush. This was a legitimate 4" plus (depending on what part of the city you live) magical winter wonderland. I didn't measure the snow by the book, since I took it on the porch under tall Douglas Fir trees, so we probably got more than 4 inches. It's going to stick around too...just got the text from the District, going for snow day number 7 tomorrow. Sheesh. We're going to be in school until July!
A visit to the home place brings forth amphibians on the fourth.
Helping you find
Jenny Gapp, has fifteen years experience as a teacher librarian, four seasons as a seasonal state park ranger assistant, and two summers adventuring with National Parks in an official capacity.