Living the Dream

By: Sharon Nellist

10258891_10101685513754293_6293913161816303566_oOne of my favorite things about Portland State University is how we are incredibly diverse. I have had the opportunity to meet so many new people from all sorts of backgrounds. I have been exposed to various cultures by those interactions right in my PSU backyard.

January 18 was no different than my past experience with diversity, except in one major way. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), Oregon Campus Compact, hosted over 400 students from PSU and six other local colleges and universities to come together in unity and love. Our goal was to serve and prove that we are not just dreamers, but if we believe then the DREAM will become a reality.

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Coffee’d up and ready to serve!

We served 14 community sites throughout East Portland and Gresham, logged 1,428 hours of service, and made an economic impact of $32,944.

I was privileged to lead a small group of students and AmeriCorps volunteers to serve the Dharma Rain Zen Center on their 14-acre former landfill site in Northeast Portland. In those four short hours it did not matter what school we came from, or what homework we needed to do when we returned; we put ourselves aside and focused on them. We were weeding around bare fruit trees, towing wheelbarrows of mulch downhill, and trying to avoid being poked by blackberry bushes while removing them. And even though we may not see a huge impact from our service at that moment, like the bare trees, we know that the fruits of our labor will be noticed with time and more love.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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At the Dharma Rain Zen Center

 

Explore the Eastside

I live in Northeast Portland, and I love it. Sure, it takes me 25 minutes to bike to campus, and I can’t roll out of bed right before class starts, but for me, there is no better quadrant. I know some of you agree with me, but for those who doubt the awesomeness of the Eastside, let me tell you a little about it and maybe you’ll be more inclined to stretch your Portland horizons.

If you take a short trip over a bridge (there are plenty to choose from, so don’t be shy) the first thing you may notice is that it feels more spacious. There are few tall buildings, and you’re never far from a park. You might also notice a sudden change of pace; things are just a little slower over here and a little quieter. When I go out for a walk through my neighborhood, I pass by kids playing in their yards and people walking their dogs. It’s rare that I hear a horn honk. On warm nights, I sleep with my window open and hear crickets and the wind rustling through the trees.

If I’ve had enough of the peace and quiet and I want to be where the action is, I just hop on my bike and ride over to Alberta or Hawthorne or Belmont or Mississippi. There are tons of places to shop, drink and eat, and in my experience, it’s a bit cheaper over here. One of my favorite Eastside things to do is go to a theater pub (I’m partial to the Laurelhurst Theater on East Burnside and 28th).

Fellow Eastsiders, what are some of your favorite things about this side of the Willamette?