Category Archives: opening our minds

LTE to Oregonian on cellphones

Dear Oregonian,

I read the article recently about the teacher who finds her students texting and her reaction to that experience. I gave up my cellphone 2 years ago and have hardly looked back. I first did it because I didn’t like the disruptions in my life – phone calls, texts, you know the drill.  While others have been stepping up more and more towards smart phones, I continue my distance. It’s interesting because I’m in the high-tech industry, have been for the past 15 years as a software tester and now a teacher of social media and email marketing. You’d think I’d be swimming in mobile technology – but I’m anything but! And I Love It!  

As a businessperson I do think it’s important to be available to all possible inputs out there – phone, text, email, social media (OK, perhaps not FAX).  I also enjoy LPs, Cassettes, CDs – yep!  But when it comes to mobile, I feel my unplugged life makes me a calmer person.  It makes me a less-distracted one – I’m becoming a better and better driver because my attention is improving rather than being scattered.  And, I think it’s even an advantage in business as when I’m talking to someone, they have my full attention – I am not about to be interrupted during our talk.  I never take a call, or interrupt something for something buzzing or ringing in my pocket or on the restaurant/café table (please don’t!, it’s a tech turd, actually!).

Yes, I can’t always be reached by people who I love. Yes, I miss out sometimes on last minute invitations or impromptu gatherings.  Yes, I’d love an app to do this or that.  But no app is going to plant garlic cloves. No app is going to stir a pot of chili.  No app is going to replace a hug – in fact, my sense is that apps increase the distance between us – taking our time with community and friends and focusing our attention elsewhere.  

Without mobile technology my life feels richer than it ever has. If you’ve never done a tech-fast before – give it a try. There are many great articles out there about how one works and their benefit. Who knows, maybe you’ll join me someday (unless you’re already there) and give up your cell, altogether.  You can do it.  You might even like it!

With gratitude,

Albert Kaufman

PS – see other writing I have done on this topic: Why I originally gave up my cellphone, and The Cellphone game 🙂

This just in from the NYT on 8.26.12 – get rid of the tension

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If you’re packing for the playa, a couple quick reads

This one by Mark Morford of the San Fran Chronicle (I recommend subscribing to his weekly column…) is very good.  And then there’s this… for those staying at home, but a reminder to those going, too 🙂

From Aspen Madrone, goddess.  “As I feel you all prepare for the burn, embody the words of Mo Lohaus. may i burn the man at home this year”

may i burn the man at home this year may i finally become a full participant
may i kick the culture consumption habit cold turkey and get on with resonating funky genius and vulnerable enthusiasm

on my
own channel, 24-7
may i see every public space as center camp and roll around on the ground with strangers lovingly and with worshipful presence
as we contact one-in-other
may i strut my feathers and leathers and muppet cape
and naked benevolent childish soul everywhere i go
feeling fully in character
may i trick out my apartment like a theme camp and invite people in off the street
to lavish them with exorbitant gifts
of presence and affection, lovingly prepared because i can
because i am rich and overflowing and giving is why i am here
may i share shattering rock-bottom truths
with everyone, as casually as tea
like old lovers with nothing left to prove or improve on in the utter safety of the silky oscillation
between me and we
may i strip the locks off my heart and hold open house
with everyone i meet on the bus in line for groceries
or at the gas station
granting them the hallucinated embellishment of fur, goggles, nudity and dust
and allowing myself full excitement
and wonder at who they might be
may i look past the surface
and see into everyone
recognizing pirates
alien ambassadors, superheroes and translucent mermaids
may i call my campmates
or show up at their houses
as easily and shamelessly
as i might wander up to their tents
and never need a reason
for pressing my nose on their cheek
or for flopping on the couch and snuggling
may i love fully, fluidly
everyone who pulls me deeper into living and put away any residual shame
about how my love looks
remembering: we’re in the desert!
remembering: we’re dusty and unkempt and beautiful! remembering: we are mad ones and saints and divas all and there is no expectation of tidiness
remembering: there will be grit and friction, there always is,
but in the cathartic blessing
of our meeting and self-discovery
no one notices
remembering most of all
that my emotional nudity is my ticket to the event past the gate and greeters
to unity and a friendly universe
and is always honored and gratefully received
may i hallucinate freely
seeing volvos as giant bunny slippers and hondas as mobile cupcakes
may i notice the installations of genius and wild vision
all about me
may i see the dreams made real in my daily built world
may i touch the wide round belly of the pregnant possible
with both my hands
may i witness those around me
strutting their beauty and hope
their frailty and unfinishedness
and quirky unique poised artful
equilibrium above the abyss of judgment and may i yell out my approval, and applaud
may i witness the gifting that happens
every moment
the trade of glances, smiles and kind words
that are as quenching and comforting
in this daily wasteland of formality and alienation as popsicles and mist baths ever were
may i burn the man every day
may i take his idealized ass down
may i take the icon of who i am supposed to be and gently release him to flame
may i take his habits, opinions, head noise timidity and ego-protective arrogance and lovingly douse them with gas
this is my religion,
humbly, devotedly, and persistently performed: THAT MAN will BURN
may i build the temple every morning
and honor and celebrate
those who have sung the song of my life, who have held my life
like their own dear infant in their arms
may i build the temple every morning
and be awestruck by its beauty every day as i smear it with prayers and tears,
and then at dusk
release it in holy smoke
may i smell it burn
and know that that was it: this one day was my whole life and it is over
and if i am blessed to wake once more…
may i do it all again
more fiercely, more passionately
more graciously, goofily and generously
until my life measures up
to the love i feel
as i walk, bike or ride an octopus through the eternal city of dreams in which my soul is at home
mo lohaus www.lohaus.mobi

Gifting Economy


I was having a discussion with folks in the Portland Burning Man community yesterday, and here’s something I penned about gifting:

“Jason, I would say it’s not an exact science, and rather perhaps more of an
art form this giving and receiving.  I’ve been working on something
recently that’s in a similar vein, Farm My Yard (http://farmmyyard.org ) and it’s been an interesting trip.  I thought it would be an a + b = c kind
of experience, but instead, it’s full of thousands of variables and every
situation is different.

same with giving and receiving.  it’s not that cut and dry.  each of us is
in a very different place in life – may be same age, but diff class
background.  may have same skin color, but different gender.  may have
different life experiences – having had a lot, easy access to stuff; or
none at all.

that said, I take each situation as well as I can in the moment and use my
judgement, wisdom, and also make plenty of misjudges and mistakes along the
way.

thank God there has been Burning Man, because that has been an incredible
crucible for me to try this type of exchanging, gifting, asking/receiving,
activity out for the last 12 years.

one year I came back and started FreecylePortland – and I don’t mean that
as a show-offy comment, just that I think about this concept A LOT.  and
try to live it, and share it, and yeah

hope everyone’s having fun preparing this year….

Then, later, I added this in. Feel free to play in the comments section!

I’d love to hear you take a few minutes and spell out what a gifting
economy is.  your words, a few paragraphs, go.

winner is all of us.

I’ve gifted you with some of my understanding of gifting economy 🙂  what’s yours? 

Farm My Yard Design Contest in full swing!

I’m having fun with a sign design contest. Check it out @ http://farmmyyard.org/yard-sign-design-contest/
Here’s Kate posing with my first sign this weekend. This is going to be good!

Pulling Together

In my work as a networker, social networker, email marketing, Facebook teaching, activist, kibbutznik, I tend to think big picture much of the time. At one of my recent Facebook classes, one of the participants, Robert, pulled me aside and asked “why aren’t we Portlanders pulling together more of the time?”  He had lived in San Diego and watched as the new age movement prospered there as many of the participants would support each other by buying one anothers’ books, attending each others’ seminars and basically boostering for one another – the helping all boats to rise theory in action.  And, it worked.

I agree with Robert and have often thought that our community could use a directory of services, a bank/fund for helping members through tough times as well as something that might be available for scholarships for dance workshops or similar purposes.  Since I think that ecstatic dancing is the cat’s meow, and one of the best methods for staying healthy and smart and is also a great community creation tool (like), I’ve also been interested in seeing it spread far and wide. To that end, I wrote this piece last year, and also turned it into a cute cartoon.

Since then a few folks from Portland have gone and started ecstatic dance in their new communities – Erik Blender in Orcas Island and Cheri Anderson in Surprise Valley near Phoenix are the two that I’m most familiar with, and if there are more – please let me know about them.  If you know people who live near these areas, please send them Cheri/Erik’s way – as their success will both add to their financial well-being, but will also move more people in the direction of the goodness we have found.  Spreading good ideas = healing the planet.

In this vein, Eleanor O’Brien’s show, Dominatrix for Dummies, is a big shout out for ecstatic dance. Eleanor’s show is playing in Seattle 4 more times – we all know people who live in Seattle – help her show sell out and help your friends find their way to the dance floor (The Seattle ecstatic dance scene is building with new dances starting up at OmCulture and beyond.  They even have a clothing optional dance… Portlandia???)  Eleanor and her show are also about to take the show further afield to Santa Cruz, CA, Orlando, Edmonton (Canada), St. Lawrence, NY and elsewhere.  If you want to help spread the goodness of ecstatic dance and support one of our own, figure out how to track what Eleanor’s doing (her email list is a good start, get on it!) and send your friends and relatives to see her when she comes to their town. She’s probably also up for performing her show in towns that are on her road-trip route if you want to go the extra mile 🙂

Pulling Together for reals

What would our community look like if we were all pulling for each other a little bit more?  I’ve got a list of local healthcare providers who are mostly dancers that I share with the world. What would happen if we routed our buying decisions through a dance filter?  It’s certainly something to ponder. I welcome your comments and involvement.

Thanks for dancing
Thanks for continuing to show up
Thanks for continuing to DJ
Thanks for continuing to make alters
Thanks, Thanks, Thanks!

Albert, Caffe D’arte, April 18, 2012

Road Scholar (Elderhostel) Program in Portland, Oregon – Sustainability issues

Your comments welcome below. Thanks for your input. What do you think?
Thanks to Annelise Kelly, The Palate Pioneer, for her editing brilliance!  

March 16, 2012

Road Scholar
11 Avenue de Lafeyette
Boston, MA 02111

Attention: Domestic Program Development

Hello!

My parents have been enjoying Road Scholar programs for many years. When planning to visit me in Portland, Oregon recently they were interested in combining their visit with one of your programs. It occurred to me that Road Scholar could offer a program around what this city is really excelling at – sustainable development, urban planning, mass transit and other related topics. I imagine participants might be interested in exploring these topics and taking some of what Portland has learned back to their own communities.

Portland has attracted some of the brightest minds in the sustainability movement. Their exciting work is creating a stir worldwide. I find living here fascinating (watch an episode of the new IFC show, Portlandia, and you’ll quickly see what I mean). I imagine some of your participants would enjoy visiting the “real” Portlandia and learning what all of the buzz is about.

Portland’s excellent food and natural attractions such as the Columbia Gorge would help make such a program quite popular.

Here are a few of the courses/topics I propose for a Portland Road Scholar program:

  • Community Gardens/Orchards
  • City Repair – a local group that works to make the city more livable cityrepair.org
  • Mass Transit – light rail/street cars/buses = Livability – streetcars? – we make them here!
  • Depaving – removing pavement and adding in community gardens – depave.org
  • Neighborhood Councils – Portland has more than any other city and they are effective at creating change
  • Neighborhood Art Walks: Last Thursday on Alberta St., 1st Thursday in the Pearl , and more
  • Reviving main street – small businesses thrive in Portland – Buy Local Movement
  • Bike Culture – seeing Portland by bike
  • Tree planting (Friends of Trees) and other eco-conscious ways that the City’s infrastructure is being improved – storm water, bioswales…
  • Hi-tech: Portland is a center for technical innovation. Participants could take part in social networking classes, learning how to document their Portland experience and share it with friends. I’ve been teaching classes in this since 2009 and I would love to offer my services.
  • Portlandia behind the scenes – why is Portlandia funny? A Portlandia screening in an old movie theater and then visits to some of the places shown in the series
  • McMenamins– This thriving local empire restores local movie theaters, chapels, and lodges into thriving brewpubs, restaurants and hotels. Their success speaks to Portland’s appreciation of history and culture of creative re-use.
  • The Re-Building Center – the re-use of building materials
  • Portland’s quality-of-life values: getting rid of the freeway separating downtown from the river led to many other improvements and helps make Portland one of the most livable cities in the United States. See also: our amazing urban growth boundary
  • Farmers Markets, food carts, local restaurants
  • Ecstatic and Tango dance – both are experiencing steady growth in Portland (we are also the center for NIA and other body movement therapies)
  • Alternative medicine –Portland’s alternative healthcare scene is thriving (acupuncture, massage, watsu, etc.)

These are some sample topics. I can imagine many more which could contribute to an evolving program for those who visit Portland.

As a 10-year Portland resident and an avid networker I have contacts with many experts on the above topics who would serve as excellent teachers. I would be glad to coordinate any and all aspects of this project and am also excited to collaborate, another Portland skill! I have long had an interest in teaching retired people life skills and this course could include tracks in financial management, alternative healthcare choices and other later in life skills.

Portland is a special place. It’s repeatedly listed as one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. If this idea interests Road Scholar let’s discuss the idea further. I hope we can make a Road Scholar Portland Sustainable City program happen. And, I’m sure my parents; Rich and Hannah Kaufman will be the first to sign up!

Sincerely,

Albert Kaufman

Moregonian

From a FB conversation yesterday

I have an idea for an article for BlueOregon that I might write. It goes something like this. What if we (Portlanders/Oregonians) lived with a newspaper that had a more even keel to it, instead of reaching off into far right positions as the Oregonian often does. Instead, what if our paper had more of a positive, progressive take on things. Instead of seeing a forest and thinking board feet – once in a while the paper might give environmental/tourism/other species a chance. Instead of mirroring the views of business alliances and conservative religious views we might experience something less op-ed intensive, and more straight news. I wonder how our lives might be different. My guess is that there would be more readership, and perhaps more people would take leadership in the community as they’d have less fear of sticking their necks out and become part of an attack in the editorial pages of the local paper. I think it would probably also lead to more reasoned debate on the issues of the day. Thoughts?

…‎Jonathan: not sure I want to start a new paper. Just wondering “what if”. What if I lived in a town where the paper reflected the zeitgeist of the people who lived there. And it does happen. Eugene has a paper that is very “Eugene”. It’s actually incredible to read. Especially the letters section. Instead of keeping everyone in a constant state of suspense and printing and lot of bullshit, the paper seems to encourage creativity and action.

(Sarah mentioned the great small papers we have here ) I want the main paper to be that good, too. I could be. I was in Las Vegas recently. Their paper is even-keeled, and pleasant and interesting and topical and seems more useful than keeping everyone fighting all the time. There didn’t seem to be a vendetta like the O has with the Mayor, with environmentalists, with Occupy Portland, with some of the City Council members. the paper is a bully. The paper also supported Bush and Gordon Smith which were so unreflective of the people who live here that they just stood out as stupid, and awful. They continue to be that on a daily basis, thus making our City less friendly, less cooperative and more libertarian and crass.

I think we can have better and deserve better. It’s not going to just happen magically. It may be one more area we have to fight for in our lives.