Thank You for Not Breeding

img_4856 by Steph Holton

On Friday, April 21, Portland State hosted its annual Earth Day Festival, which featured booths from dozens of environmentally-minded student and community organizations with a passion for educating and engaging the public in sustainability efforts. I passed through the festival several times that day but only stopped by one booth, simply because I could not resist knowing what was meant by the words on its canopy: Thank You for Not Breeding. It turned out, this was a booth promoting the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which supports the complete cessation of human procreation to allow the earth to reset itself from the damage caused by the human race.

When I asked whether the movement had considered promoting limited procreation, the person manning the booth told me that while the goals of the movement are essentially impossible, even the birth of a single human being beyond the current population is unjustifiable because of the damage inflicted on the earth and the loss of life due to starvation every day.

I agree, the goals of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement are impossible. However, overpopulation is becoming a greater issue every day; the human population doubled in the years between 1960 and 2000 alone, while more than 10,000 species go extinct each year. A global increase in life expectancy is partially responsible for the population bubble we see now, but there has also been a dramatic increase in birth rates in modern times. That points to the necessity of nationally and globally supported resources for family planning. There are myriad facts on this topic, which of course are too numerous to list here; however, for those who are interested, some great resources to look into are:

https://www.populationmatters.org/

http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/family_planning/en/

and http://wwf.panda.org/

Don’t Forget What You Love

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Recently, I have found myself falling away from some of the hobbies I love in order to study and do homework. Even though college is definitely a time to figure yourself out and find your identity, I started to miss parts of myself I’d accidentally left behind.

For years I sang, played guitar, and enjoyed performing the songs I’ve written at open mic nights. In fact, Portland’s flourishing music scene is a key reason I chose PSU—and yet I still have not been to an open mic. For the entirety of winter term, I only picked up my guitar once and never wrote a new song.

I also haven’t been running as much. I loved having a goal to train for that culminated in a competitive race where I really tested my limits. Moving to Portland from Idaho, I was excited to participate in the races it had to offer. As in the case with my singing and songwriting, fall and winter term passed by and my runs grew few and far between.

Despite entering spring quarter of my freshman year with two academically successful terms behind me, I felt rather unaccomplished and disappointed. On a whim, I signed up for the Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon with only a month to train. After my first long training run, I immediately felt like part of my old self was back—and in a good way. I have also queued up possible open mics to go to and ended my creative drought by writing a song.

Looking back, I see that I took the “fresh start” of college too literally and ended up sidelining the things I love to do. It’s very easy to get swept away in the idealized college life of self-discovery. Despite the transformations I’ve undergone, the biggest learning curve was realizing that not everything about me has to change.

 

Identity Exploration

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-11-12-pm By, Melissa Pyle

One of the reasons I was drawn to Portland State University as my alma mater was the city’s unofficial motto to, “Keep Portland Weird.” I felt if a city could embrace this sentiment it would complement my own life experiences. In short, it has been a long and weird journey to get to where I am today. I am a non-traditional student, I did not come to PSU straight out of high school. In fact, I am a twenty-seven-year-old adult trying to navigate academia, and it has come with quite a learning curve of its own. The most difficult and rewarding aspect of college for me is finding comfort in exploring my identity and challenging my experiences and beliefs. Life is a journey of self-discovery and education is the hallmark of transformation. I know I’m not the same person as I was when I startedsearching this long weird journey which is both scary and exciting.

I challenge you to explore your identity, in whatever way that may mean to you. Perhaps, just look more closely at why you do something a certain way and change it or even simply try a new activity. The change doesn’t have to be tangible or indefinite, it’s an opportunity to approach life from a new perspective.

Lobbying for a Cause

edit 12By Jesse Turner

On Tuesday the 28th, I joined Planned Parenthood, with whom I intern with their Teen Council program (a peer-to-peer sexual health education program) and five other organizations as a part of the Reproductive Health Equity Coalition to lobby state senators and representatives to pass House Bill 2232 which requires coverage for reproductive health services, procedures, medications, and devices for all Oregonians, insured and uninsured, documented or not. Planned Parenthood was a part of the Reproductive Health equity coalition so the Teen Council program got to join over 100 individuals who acted as citizen lobbyist for reproductive justice. We were split up by our districts and had pre-arranged meetings with our state senators and representatives. My senator was unavailable, but my representative, Janelle Bynum, was able to meet with us.

In preparation for Lobby Day, we had been told to think of why this bill is personally important to us. We would likely have five or six other individuals with us in the meeting so we would not have long to express to our representatives why we wanted their support. My district is fairly large, so I figured I would not have to speak much, if at all. That morning, I found my legislative captain, the person who had been trained for this event and was familiar with lobbying, and she asked me if I was ready to walk to the Capitol Building as our meeting time was coming up. I asked if we should wait for the rest of the group members. She said, “I think you’re the only one!” To my surprise, I was the only constituent from my district, and thus had the entire fifteen minutes to speak to Janelle Bynum, a woman I really admire and voted for.

I expressed to her why, as a young LGBTQ woman who works multiple jobs but still cannot afford all of the reproductive and health care services she would like, this bill is incredibly important to me. It wasn’t a particularly heart-wrenching narrative, but she listened to me and share her own support and concerns about the bill. I left her office feeling confident that she would support the bill, and excited that I was able to participate in my local government for something I cared about.

The Ultimate Way To Get Involved

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Get involved is a phrase every college student has heard. As an incoming freshman, I didn’t put much thought into getting involved because I wasn’t entirely sure of the benefits. On top of my doubts, the sheer number of student organizations to choose from was overwhelming. But as I settled into Portland, I realized I lacked the competitive outlet I’d had back home with running track and knew I needed something to fill that void.

That something soon became Ultimate Frisbee (also called Ulitmate Disc). I’m not sure what drew me over to the Ultimate info table during a Viking Week event—outside of PE class, I barely touched a Frisbee—but I’m forever grateful I made the stop. Joining Ultimate has proved to be one of the best decisions I made this year.

In an Ultimate Frisbee game, seven players from each team take the field. On offense, there are typically three handlers (the players primarily responsible for throwing the disc) and four cutters (the players running around to get open for a throw from a handler). The handlers and cutters work the disc downfield against the defenders to hopefully score a point in the end-zone. Overall, it’s sort of like soccer, except you’re throwing and catching a disc instead of kicking a ball. From my first practice where I learned these Ultimate basics, I was hooked on the sport’s fast pace and intensity.

The practices and tournaments give me something to look forward to outside of classes and homework. Best of all, I gained an entire team’s worth of friends who made the transition into college easier simply by being there. My time on the PSU Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team has been a tremendous growing and learning experience. The memories I have of team dinners, sideline cheers, and coming out victorious against tough opponents are irreplaceable.

Now I have a new understanding and respect for what being involved does for a person. Especially as a freshman, becoming involved was a critical step for me to take to make new friends, find a support group, and establish Portland as my home away from home. Ultimate Frisbee filled my need for a competitive outlet, and also something I didn’t even realize I’d been looking for—a sense of belonging.

Bursting The Political Bubble

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Liberalism is a disease—a shirt design that wouldn’t turn heads in my small hometown in Idaho. I was raised in a conservative community of 950 people and my graduating class was 15. When I decided to go to college in Portland, I effectively jumped from one political bubble to another. This division between urban and rural ideologies hit home during an Honors class discussion on LGBTQ rights. A fellow student spoke up and said that conservatives didn’t understand the reason behind these rights because they “came from a place of privilege.”

For a moment, I struggled to process this statement. Immediately, the farmers back home who work relentlessly from sunup to sundown during harvest came to my mind. They are, hands down, some of the hardest workers in a thankless job, and far from privileged. In addition, rural areas just don’t boast the amount of high-income jobs that a city does. These people may be conservative, but it isn’t coming from a place of financial privilege.

Ironically, I distinctly remember political discussions back home where people thought of Democrats and liberals as privileged. These conservatives looked at how Democrats wanted to raise taxes through the roof, how liberals “wanted everything for free,” and figured they had the money to pay into the system. All they had to do was look at the wide variety of Hollywood A-listers who have voiced support of the Democratic party—think Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Katy Perry, Madonna—and see people worth millions of dollars supporting candidates that want to hike taxes up on the majority of people making less than six figures.

This political “bubble” effect is dangerously blinding and makes it easy to lose perspective. As someone who has lived in the two extremes, I find it odd that both sides seem to think their opposite opinions stem from thinking the other has had life handed to them in one form or another with money or opportunity. Liberals and conservatives—rich and poor—can be found in every nook and cranny of this country. Therefore, the reason for such contention between them isn’t a matter of privilege; it is the misunderstandings that arise from either side thinking they are undeniably right that cause most attempts at communication to fall on deaf ears.

Let’s be friends

Blogger Profile Pic

By: Sara Kirkpatrick 

Have you ever met someone and thought, “I would just love to be friends with this person?” However, before you could articulate “hello,” the fear of awkwardness and rejection stopped you.

Even extroverts, such as myself, from time to time find it uncomfortable when having to initiate conversations with fellow classmates, and fall victim to the above line of thinking.  This is particularly true when approaching classmates that I would like to get to know better.

For instance, last winter term, I met a fellow PSU student through SBA’s Fearless Friday workshops. She was knowledgeable, funny, outgoing and double majoring in my same fields. I immediately wanted to befriend her, but my fear of being awkward preventing me from introducing myself, and I said nothing.

sara-and-susieFortunately, in the next term, I found myself sitting next to this same SBA student in a PSU workshop.  This time, I decided to take the advice of a recent blog post I had read, 11 ways to turn strangers into friends, and pushed myself to use one of the blog’s suggestions: Imagine that the other person is already your friend.

In doing so, I stepped out of my comfort zone and was not only rewarded by a friendship with this classmate, we eventually became freelance partners, offering our collaborative talents and creativity to clients. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t taken the risk to put myself out there to meet someone new.

I encourage each and every one of my PSU colleagues to take a chance today and talk to a classmate who you’d like to become friends with. You never know where that friendship might take you.  Who knows; you could be sitting next to your future business partner!