Went kayaking with Joan Lundell, recent grad from PNCA MFA in Collaborative Design and Sasha Davies of Cyril’s fame; Joan generously hauled her boats up to Cathedral Park where we set off, and in 4 hours of drifting and poking around, got as far as the edge of Swan Island. It’s doleful out there, especially on an overcast day. Across the river, what look like gas storage tanks read like a cluster of blank mosques. Homeless camps dot the shore. “Aquatic squatters” live in boats in Willamette Cove, near-permanent transients in the heart of LWG’s superfund remediation plan, ducks are drifting, dogs are chasing sticks into the water, and people are fishing.
I’m confused by the directive that you’re not supposed to walk in the sediment, where most of the superfund site’s toxins are embedded. This is where people are camping, and dogs are being walked. And none of this gets back into the water, next to a swimming beach? Nothing stirs it up, not even “prop wash” – propeller agitation from the tankers that come up and down the river collecting grain and depositing cargo from overseas?
1. Talked to Dr Elaine Ingham, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute in PA (formerly at OSU). She’s a Soil Diva: an energetic, brilliant, committed soil expert and the author of my favorite quote from the film Symphony of the Soil*:
“It’s Times Square on New Years Eve in the soil, all the time”.
I already found out that half the microorganisms I drew are “bad guys,” which really upset Dr. Ingham. I clearly need some schooling. I’m going to learn this fall, soil analysis and microvideography, at least superficially (bad pun sorry I bet soil can engender lots of those) .
* I’m indebted to Stefani Bardin for turning me onto the film.
2. I went to Pomarius, Peter Schoonmaker’s brother-in-law’s nursery in part because it’s spectacular (and full of foreigners:) but also because the city’s doing sewer lines and there was a big cut outside along the curb, in which a lot of clay was exposed. So we grabbed a shovel and started to make for the trench when a worker came and forbade us to get in there – and dug the bucket of clay up himself. Stinky, but awesome. Now I have material to test this winter til I get back out on the river.
He also gave us a tour inside the manholes – flowing waters, nasty pipes suggesting toilets (as Timothy Morton likes to say, “There’s no there there”), and stagnant shit under the nursery’s plein aire dining area, with strange stumpy crickets clustered around the upturned lid…
My hosts Sasha and Michael, the proprietors of the brilliant wine and food spot in the SE, Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery, think I make all this stuff up, just ride my bike all day long and come home with weird stories:)
It’s been lux, and I am sad to be going home.
Left: magnified view of the area just north of the St Johns Bridge; Right: lower Willamette / Columbia River framing North Portland with Sauvie Island and Washington State at the top
Drawing is a way of knowing – that’s such an obvious statement but it’s true.
I started work on a way to visualize the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, flanking North Portland, the 11 mile superfund site and the startling fact that so many uses and agents (typologies, species, agendas, wants and wills, actions and reactions) are actually crowded together. I’m not at all certain of this method, but I am currently set on remaining agnostic to differences and placing no value or codification on the system as a whole. My methods include:
An accurate tracing from USGS topographic maps (just the river ways currently), which taught me a lot both through the intimacy of drawing the rivers – how the shore moves, how it got moved, where it got straightened and filled in by the USACE. You can see some older maps here. Drawing offers time and movement, and tracing offers freedom from too much interpretation.
I got some atlases from Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (thanks to Sallie Edmunds) which were very helpful start points at understanding the various use-values of the shoreline.
To actually get tangible information (cars, chemicals, spa services, cement factories:
- Use the 2001 Willamette River Atlas to keep the whole picture in hand,
- Then go to google maps, where I can determine a shoreline address by using their “what’s here?” feature,
- Input that address into portlandmaps.com, navigating that rich interface (need to find prostitution? noise, garbage, hazards or elevation? This site can help you), to see what businesses are within a 1/2 mile radius of the spot I found. I hope I’m wrong and there’s a GIS database that lists all leaseholders as well as leasees, as many of the major real estate holdings are simply “Port of Portland” or “Toyota” and they rent out space. This also is a getting-to-know-you strategy.
-The shoreline can be further researched by going to the Oregon DEQ’s Land Quality Environmental Cleanup Site Information Database, and inputting some of the big land holders I found on the River Atlas, (like Schnitzer Steel) which is a goldmine (snort) of the perhaps less desired agents of influence like barium, lead, antimony, which have leached from prior practices.
I can sense how this map could obsess me – going through the sites is minor sleuth work, and although it’s exhausting, it has rhythm. Something(s) is missing though, which I look forward to unearthing.
YEP. How is this possible?
From Oregon Metro today, Zoo releases 850 endangered butterflies into wild
Once common along the Oregon coast, the Oregon silverspot was reduced to four Oregon populations by the 1990s. The species was listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1980 – one of two Oregon butterflies listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
“They face a lot of obstacles,” Andersen said. “Development, motor vehicles, bad weather, pesticides, invasive species, natural predators like spiders.…”
In addition to releasing pupae, the Oregon Zoo raises and plants thousands of early blue violets, on which the Oregon silverspot depends, into butterfly habitat.
“When the caterpillars hatch, they’re tiny – just about the size of Abe Lincoln’s nose on a penny,” Andersen said. “But they will eat more than 300 nickel-sized violet leaves before they’re ready to pupate.”
Last summer, before the final batch of 2012 pupae were sent to their new beachfront homes, Oregon Zoo photographer Michael Durham captured what is believed to be the first time-lapse video of a silverspot caterpillar transforming into a chrysalis.
“What he captured was nothing short of magical,” Andersen said. “When a caterpillar pupates, all of its molecules literally liquefy, and it reformulates as a butterfly. Sometimes you need to have a meltdown in order to change your life.”
Start by replicating Antonie van Leeuwenhoek‘s famed microorganism (a rotifer) (replete with crowns).
Continue on a folk art expedition to make heroes out of our invisible microbial community members.
There is no reason to the system yet, whatsoever.
Don’t know where it’s going, but they are REALLY fun to draw: