Confessions of an Urban Gardener

By Olivia Clarke

me

I first ventured into the PSU Community Garden last June, and I’ve been managing the Honors plot ever since. Thus far I’ve harvested strawberries, tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers, among other homegrown goodies.

The Community Garden is a great opportunity for PSU residents to make sustainable food choices and build community. However, I’ve encountered some downsides to having a vegetable garden on a college campus. Most residents leave for the summer, which happens to be an extremely important season for gardening. Plots get hopelessly overgrown during this season, and work that is put into the garden during the academic year is often wasted. Security issues have led to the installation of a lock, which puts a damper on the “community” vibe. I’ve also known some of my vegetables and bricks to go missing, and some plots even include homemade signs that read, “Please stop stealing our vegetables!” I find this lack of trust unfortunate in a community space.

Yet even considering these drawbacks and annoyances, I wouldn’t want to see the space used for any other purpose. Sure, college students might not be the most consistent or reliable gardeners, and the lock and the occasional theft can be irritating. The commitment to maintaining the communal spaces in the garden could definitely be higher. But for those of us who maintain our plots on a daily basis, gardening is a refreshing and rewarding addition to our college experience. It keeps us close to the earth, and it ensures that we know where our food is coming from. And what can I say? Those cherry tomatoes are delicious.

If you’d like to have your own plot in the Community Garden, just sign up here!

On Ditching Cinnamon Toast Crunch for Organic Spinach

By Chelsea Ware

whole foodsMy first quarter at PSU taught me just how much of an impact healthy eating has on overall well-being. Like many students away from home for the first time, I considered frozen pizzas the base of the food pyramid. When I wasn’t at Victor’s in Ondine eating cake and burgers for lunch, I was at Starbucks setting a record for the most iced coffees consumed in 24 hours. While I didn’t gain the notorious “freshman 15,” I did notice other changes. I was constantly catching a cold, my skin looked dull and I was tired during my classes. I decided to make a change and embarked on a journey to find healthy, nutritious food items that are college budget friendly.

My favorite place to shop is Whole Foods Market. With the nickname “whole paycheck” many don’t see them as being economical. However, I disagree. While they do have some pretty expensive items, they also have a wide array of name brand products that are comparable or less expensive than the same items at other grocery stores. For instance, their 365 roasted red pepper pasta sauce for $2 is amazing. In addition, the knowledgeable and friendly staff is great when it comes to finding low priced items. Whenever I go in, the employees at the butcher counter tell me what is on sale and give me recipes on how to use it. As a result, I’ve never had a problem eating right and staying within my financial plan at Whole Foods.

The Safeway near campus has made many recent improvements to offer healthy eating options. They have expanded their organic produce section and added a larger assortment of nutritious staple items such as brown rice, organic granola, and whole grain bread. With a club card, Safeway makes it convenient and affordable for students to make healthier choices.

The Farmers Market is also a great resource for wholesome eating. For those like me who live on campus, the one in the park blocks on Saturday mornings is a fantastic place to purchasing fresh produce. Strolling by the various booths trying samples and socializing is a fun way to spend the morning, and I love knowing that my purchases benefit the local community.

Learning to cook in bulk with quality ingredients has had a huge positive impact on my health. I have a stronger immune system and I feel much more energetic during the day, and I’m sure that if you try it, you will see a difference too. For quick nutritious recipes, I recommend checking out http://greatist.com/health/cheap-healthy-recipe-collection. Feel free to post your tips for overcoming bad eating habits below!

Tips for Living in the Dorms

By: Amanda Katz and Marilynn Sandoval

Ahh at last, the time when every incoming freshman student counts the days until they move out of their parents’ home and into a college dorm. Keeping in touch with their future roommates, who may be from other states and countries. Trying to figure out who will bring what and what their taste and preferences are.

Well, we have some tips for you incoming freshman. Having lived in the dorms for a combined three years at PSU, we have learned a few things.

1. Keep your doors open during Viking Days so you can meet new people!

2. Walk through each floor saying “hi” to others with their doors open. Hey, you could meet your new best friend!

3. Bring these essentials: cleaning supplies, laundry hamper, power strips and a side table.

4. Get involved with activities during Viking Days and throughout the school year. They are fun and there is free food at almost every single one! Here’s the schedule: http://bit.ly/ZaXCdy

5. Invite students you don’t know from your floor to hang out with you.

6. Be nice to your Resident Assistant; they are there to help you, not hurt you.

7. Don’t bring: toaster ovens (not allowed), extra clothes (if you don’t wear it often don’t bring it), gigantic stereos (leave them at home unless you’re a DJ), things that hang off a ceiling (not allowed).

8. Ondine students: Bring bed risers, so you can lift your bed off the floor. You can find these at your local stores such as Target, Walmart and TJMaxx

Broadway students: Save space by lifting your bed up from the lowest setting to the highest setting (ask your RA if you have questions on how) and putting drawers and other storage underneath.

9. Roll up t-shirts in your drawer to space save.

10. Lastly, bring posters, photos, and wall art to liven up your walls.

Hopefully these few quick tips will help all you freshman looking forward to the moment you have “freedom.”

So, our fellow dorm-life students, are there any other tips you would give to first-time students living in a dorm? Would you recommend living in a dorm or not?

Living in University Pointe

It is that time of year, again. A new school year, new classes, and for me, a new place to live.

University Pointe, the new on-campus 16-floor apartment building, is finally open for lease to all students this fall. The apartments definitely surpassed my expectations of a typical apartment. My roommates and I chose the private four-bedroom and two-bathroom option. It is fully furnished, with lots of personal and community amenities. It is definitely an upgrade from my first-year shared room when I lived in the Broadway dormitory. With my own room and no RA, I enjoy my own independence and privacy. However, there are Community assistants and on-site staff to help whenever it is needed.

There is a controversy with the cost of the apartments. For my four-bedroom room, it is $599 per person. Compared to apartments in the surrounding Portland area, the cost averages around $300-600 per person (rent.com). Before I decided to live in the apartments, I considered these off-campus alternatives in Clackamas, Beaverton, and other areas in Portland. Ultimately, I chose University Pointe because it was conveniently on-campus, therefore, saving a few hundred bucks from not purchasing a parking permit or transit pass. In addition, the utilities are all included in the rent.

If you are looking for a place to live on or off campus, check out these sites:

  • pdx.edu/housing/buildings
  • portland.craigslist.org/apa
  • rent.com
  • apartments.com
  • univpointe.com

Sex and the dorms

You’re at your dorm with your date and about to hook up, but your roommate walks in, now what? Well, some Portland State University students chimed in on this awkward dorm situation. Jacob Stein, a sophomore and King Albert housing resident at PSU, says, “I would tell them to get the hell out and let me be intimate.” Some choose direct confrontation and others take a more passive approach. Robert Penziol, a freshmen and Ondine resident at PSU, says he would awkwardly wait for them to leave.

There are many ways to go about avoiding this unfavorable situation. First, communicate with your roommate and compromise on something you both feel comfortable with. You can negotiate days and times that you are guaranteed privacy or establish a system. This could be a code that would alert your roommates not to enter the room. Instead of the cheesy sock or cowboy hat on the door, you might want to decide on something more demure that you and your roommate are aware of, but subtle enough that your RA won’t know what’s going on.

A PSU student, who prefers to remain anonymous, uses a dry erase board on their door to write an elusive sex code, only he and his roommate distinguish. They’ve changed it over time when others started catching on, but so far they’ve used the phrases: Better than chocolate, hunting rabbits, batter dip the cranny ax in the gut locker, and cannonball the fiddle cove with the pork steeple. Clearly, students at the PSU dorms are getting creative at avoiding the elephant in the room… What would/do you do?