I love my Dream Into Change salons, and I’m taking them international this summer! I will be visiting the lovely Vancouver, BC, by train (of course!) at the end of June and beginning of July, and I will be and hosting a vegan-themed salon while I’m there. I can’t wait to hear what all those cool Vancouverites are dreaming up!
A month before that, I will also be hosting a vegan-themed salon in Boston (Cambridge, to be more precise) over the Memorial Day weekend,when I visit that fair city to connect with a dear friend. I’m finding that the vegan social and activist scenes in Boston are different from those in the Western cities I’m more familiar with, so I’m interested to see what sorts of things the movers and shakers (and aspiring movers & shakers!) in that region are dreaming up as well. The number of all-vegan restaurants in the Boston area seems to have just about tripled since the last time I was there, in 2013, for my East Coast Empathy Tour… so I know there must be cool things percolating!
And finally, right here in my own Portland backyard, on May 9th I will be hosting my first ever sustainable-transportation themed salon. Portland is well known for being a great bike and transit city; I myself have lived here happily since 1990 without ever owning a car. There is constant innovation in those arenas, and much of it comes from the grassroots. I want to learn what people are working on and envisioning right here where I live.
More details about all the events can be found on my Events page, and as always, I would love your help in spreading the word about these events. So, if you know people in these cities who might be interested, please share the event links with them!
I met Mike Farmer about fifteen years ago. A friend of a high school classmate of mine, we first connected over our shared geeky love of progressive rock music. (Mike was even in a prog band at the time!)
Over the years, from a distance of 3,000 miles, I observed as he met and fell in love with his partner Marya, bought a house in Washington, DC, and, eventually, went both vegan and car free.
Since then, we have played “vegan tour guide” in each other’s cities, and stayed in touch online. I have also enjoyed following his travel blog Adventures in Veganism.
A few years ago, Mike told me he was starting to dream up a vegan bar in DC. I loved the idea! I knew how much he loved vegan food and various libations (always carefully paired) and as DC’s vegan restaurant offerings slowly increased, I thought his idea of a punk dive bar with international cuisine sounded like a perfect complement to the other options available.
Fast forward to now: It’s happening! He has just launched a crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo to kick-start the business. I strongly encourage you to watch his promotional video and consider contributing to the effort… and in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this interview he granted me, talking in depth about his motivations, plans, hopes, and fears as a culture-shifting entrepreneur:
When, and how, did the idea to open this pub come to you?
The idea came to me about five years ago. I hung out in a vegan friendly dark dungeony bar in Adams Morgan, Washington DC, called Asylum. On their buy-one-get-one-half-off Tuesdays I’d get up to six plates of their vegan wings while listening to punk and watching skateboarding or surfing videos on Fuel TV (I neither skateboard or surf, but I loved it). I was in heaven. Also, I traveled the planet quite a bit, and have always loved trying the local cuisine. Since becoming vegan, I’ve been able to veganize many of my favorite international dishes, as well as having perfected my tofu scramble recipe over a period of about nine years. Then I thought, What if I created a bar that had a fun gothic feel to it, similar to Asylum, but was completely vegan? I could serve international pub comfort food that I’d experienced around the world, veganized, plus a fantastic brunch. I hate to sound like the person who feels so accomplished after making one good meal that they decide to open a restaurant, which is sort of how it is with me, but I’m also on a mission. At the end of the day, I want to build the sort of place where I would want to go, and hope everyone else will, too. I’ll add that, sadly, Asylum closed and reopened as a barbecue place, but at least I was able to buy a bunch of Asylum’s old decor. When people get bit by the vegan bug, they just want to go out and change the world, and this is how I want to do it.
What aspects of your life shifted to enable you to pursue it now, after several years of dreaming about it?
I work in IT by day and a bartender by night, which has allowed me to save a good chunk of money thus far. But it’s not enough. So I’m doing a crowdfunding campaign now. I have many locations in mind, but most getting rented before I’ve managed to save enough money to have a shot at it. As well, property prices are rising so quickly that I may very well be priced out of the market before opening anywhere here in Washington DC, so I need to do this soon. Also, I can keep working away at saving for it, keeping all my ideas in my head, and dreaming about it forever, but it’s never going to get done that way. Ready or not, I’m now starting to take the larger steps I need to in order to make this a reality. It’s time to hit the power button.
Obviously you’re just at the beginning stage now, with the crowdfunding campaign just starting. But what obstacles have you had to overcome already?
All obstacles thus far have been internal. I’m scared, I’m out of my element, I have so little knowledge of this industry. I sometimes feel trapped not knowing how to even begin. But I really want to do something meaningful with my life, and I’m pressing on. I keep reminding myself of the phrase: “Nothing ventured…” If I may offer some words of encouragement to anyone reading this: It’s scary and complicated at first, but take the first step. You may soon realize that what you were fearing isn’t nearly as dreadful or difficult as you thought.
What further challenges do you foresee in the year ahead?
Once open, I will be the owner, manager, bartender, barback, repairman, dishwasher, conflict resolver, accountant, inventory clerk, and other duties assigned. It’s a very unglamorous job, but I know it will have great rewards.
What is your dream for this pub? What sorts of impacts do you hope to have, on your city, on veganism in general, and/or on any other population?
My goal is to help save animals, save the environment, and save my neighbors who are suffering from diabetes, cancer, and other diseases whose condition can be improved by diet. One thing I really want to do is to work with local food assistance organizations and invite their clients to PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) Food for Life classes at the bar when not open for business during the weekday. The classes teach how to cook delicious and affordable nutritious meals. A friend of mine is certified to teach these classes, and he seems on board with the idea, too. In these classes I’d also like to provide info about how our local farmers markets double the value of some food assistance vouchers. Imagine the win for the farmers, the customer, the animals, the environment, not to mention our healthcare system. Also, I hope my place will be a gathering place. I want justice focused non-profits to hold their events there in the hopes that they will understand the intersection of the justice they’re seeking and the animal, environmental, and food justice The Living End is focused on.
When did you go vegan? What inspired you to do so?
The first spark came when I adopted my cat Burbank in 1998. I began questioning having a companion animal while eating others, so I wanted to start reducing the amount of animals I consumed. My now ex-wife and ex-girlfriend were not supportive of this at all. Then I met Marya. In 2007, less than two years after meeting, we bought a house together. Within a few days of moving in, she said, “I think we should make our house vegetarian.” It was a bit more than what I was aiming for and a bit of a surprise, but after not getting any support from my previous two relationships, I couldn’t refuse. We still had cheese plates with a bottle of wine several times a week, and once I remembered enjoying it so much I proclaimed loudly “I’m never going vegan!!!” Then… Marya read me aloud a line from Carol Adams’ book “The Sexual Politics of Meat” that tied government control over women’s reproduction with animal agriculture’s control over animals’ reproduction in the production of milk and eggs. As we’re feminists, that really hit us hard. Then, in summer of 2008, I participated in the Sticky Fingers/Compassion Over Killing Vegan Hot Dog Eating Contest. I was disqualified in the first round, but Compassion Over Killing gave me a bag full of vegan goodies and some pamphlets and magazines. I took them home and read through them, then said “Marya, I think we’re going to have to go vegan.”
Anything else you’d like to mention?
I’ve been working as a defense contractor for 26 years. And, let me tell you, defense contractors get paid rather nicely. If I didn’t care so much about making such a difference in the world, I’d just keep my head down, stay where I am, and watch the world go by. But, as I keep reminding myself: “We’re here for such a short time, how can we not spend it making a difference?”
Well, we did it!! Yesterday, I spoke on the phone with Tom Hall, Amtrak’s VP of Customer Service, and Gary Gunderson, head of their Food and Beverage Services department. Mr. Hall had received helpful letters from a number of you, and was willing to commit to adding vegan menu options to all dining cars in their next menu-change cycle. Their Culinary Advisory Team meets once a year, in October, and develops the two menus for the next year: one spring/summer menu and one fall/winter menu, and this coming October they will be sure to add vegan options for next year.
Here is an excerpt from the follow-up email I received from Mr. Hall after our phone call:
“As I outlined, our immediate plans to improve our vegan offerings are to introduce the Vegan Burger on our Long Distance Dining Menus in our next menu change. This has been a successful item in our lounge/café service and should transition well to the dining car. In addition our spring/summer dining car menu change will include an Entrée Salad that will allow the meat and cheese to be ordered separately which in turn will make the base salad vegan compliant and a much heartier portion than our current side salad. We will continue to search out new options for our dinner service offering. As I committed, we will be tasking several of our Amtrak Culinary Advisory Team (ACAT) members with developing vegan dinner options at our upcoming fall ideation session. Any new items designed in the course of that event will be introduced with our spring/summer 2016 dining car menu. As we discussed it would be extremely helpful if you were to forward me some of your suggested items which I will pass on to the culinary team. We will certainly be looking at how we can leverage the vegan offerings as “Healthy Options” as you suggested, the Healthy Option category that we currently offer has been favorably received and fairly successful.”
So, if any of you have further ideas for menu items that would be easy to prepare and store in their small kitchen spaces on board the trains, please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will pass them along. A couple of logistical things to keep in mind, if you do want to make such suggestions:
*Items should not need to be fried, because each car has only one surface for frying, and they want to be respectful by not potentially “contaminating” vegan food items by cooking them on the same surface with meat.
*Anything that would appeal equally to non-vegans and vegans alike would be great; in the past, the vegan options they tried were not ordered enough to avoid spoilage. Potential for spoilage must be kept to a minimum in order for these new menu options to succeed.
Thanks again to all of you who followed this campaign, signed the petition, shared it via social media, and/or wrote personal letters to Amtrak staff offering encouragement and support. We approached this campaign in a persistent, positive, respectful, and collaborative way, and I am absolutely thrilled about this outcome. And, I’m already dreaming up some trips to take on the train next year!
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This past Tuesday, I was honored and delighted to be interviewed by Brock Dittus and Aaron Flores of The Sprocket Podcast. This podcast has been running for the past four years, and the current hosts interview a variety of people who do various things that exemplify their tagline of “Simplifying the Good Life.” In my case, we discussed my East Coast Empathy Tour, my perspective on being a “professional listener,” my recent (and ongoing) petition to Amtrak to offer vegan meal options onboard, and various local sustainable-transportation history and miscellany. Take a listen here!
Yesterday I wrote about my trip to San Diego, and how much I love taking the train. I do indeed love it, and I loved the trip. (And I’m having a great time here in California so far!)
One thing that bothered me, though, was the lack of vegan options in the Amtrak Coast Starlight’s dining car. (You may recall that I have had this problem before.) Amtrak doesn’t offer vegan meals on the standard, fixed menu in their dining car. They do, theoretically, offer them by special order, as long as you place the order at least 72 hours in advance of your travel date. (This is because the meals are not prepared on the train; they are prepared and packaged elsewhere, and placed on the train at scheduled commissary stops in large cities.) This time, I planned ahead to do so, and the woman who took my reservation over the phone assured me that I would receive either pasta or chili for each of my three scheduled meals. (Including breakfast, though I thought those two were rather unconventional choices for a morning meal.)
When I arrived in the dining car for my first meal at dinner, though, the attendant once again told me they had no record of my request, and no vegan meals on board. I ended up eating side salads and baked potatoes for the remainder of the trip.
I was disappointed and frustrated, but I wanted to take that energy and turn it into something positive rather than simply stewing in it. So, I decided to start a petition on Change.org:
More and more Americans are choosing a vegan lifestyle, for ethical, environmental, and/or health reasons. Amtrak can better welcome this growing segment of society onboard, making vegan meals easy for passengers and staff alike, by changing their on-board menu.
As it stands now, long-distance train passengers must pre-order vegan meals 72 hours in advance, so that the train staff can pick up the pre-made meals at scheduled commissary stops in large cities. On both of the two long train trips I have taken in the past two years, however, the meals I ordered never made it onto the trains, so I ended up eating side salads and baked potatoes for several days.
The dining car menus currently do include vegetarian options (such as scrambled eggs for breakfast, a veggie burger for lunch, and six-cheese lasagna for dinner). However, all these meatless options still contain animal ingredients, such as eggs or dairy. I am requesting that Amtrak change its fixed menus on all trains that include dining cars, so that at least one all-vegan entree option is available onboard at each meal.
I would love for you to sign it, and/or share it with friends via Facebook or email, if this is something you support.
I’m also curious, though, to hear if any of you have found a way to turn a frustration or stumbling block into an empowering opportunity for activism. If so, please share your story in the comments!
This winter I’ve been battling a mild depression. (You, too? Seems like it’s been going around.) Somehow in the fall, my mojo started to falter. I think it all started in late September, when my partner experienced some serious setbacks in his efforts toward self-growth and serving his community. I did my best to support him through circumstances outside of his control, but I was disheartened to witness the way things unfolded and seemed to compound over time.
Meanwhile, I was struggling in my own practice. I hit a slump, where new clients were few and far between, and my energy dragged when I thought about taking the actions I would need to turn things around.
My social life slowed down, too. I had been so overwhelmed with social commitments in the summer and early fall that I told myself I needed to slow down, and take more alone time. But when I did that, it also contributed to a feeling of loneliness. I wanted more connection, more nurturing touch, more of the emotional and mental synergy that comes from connecting with others.
And, since I live in Portland, the weather got colder and rainier with each passing week. And darker. (And darker. And darker.)
I found myself struggling to enjoy the life I’ve worked so hard to craft. Each day I would hope things would get easier, or that my spark would return. Each day, those things did not happen. (Instead, I fell into a rut of junk food and zoning out on computer time.)
I know that I am not alone in this. I know that our culture (and climate, for many of us) tends to isolate and depress us. Even (perhaps especially) those of us who are idealists, who want to make each day of our lives meaningful, for ourselves, for our communities, and for the world at large. When we have lofty goals and high ideals, it can be all the more depressing when a day goes by without any “breakthroughs” or exciting progress toward the world we are all working to create. And when a week, or a month, goes by and those things remain scarce, it can become very disheartening.
I thought of writing a blog post, here, to share my struggle and to let anyone reading know that if you’re going through this, you are not alone. And that we all struggle, and we can all get through it. (And, that if you’re going through this and want to talk to a practitioner who can listen and “get it,” without trying to fix the problem or put a Pollyanna-ish life-coach spin on the situation, that I am, as always, Happy to Listen. 🙂 )
But even that seemed a bit too much of a downer for a blog post on a site called Dream Into Change. I wanted to offer some glimmer of hope. But I needed to find it for myself, first.
I had hoped, this winter, to spend a few days in San Diego, which I have done each winter for the past three years. I had intended for it to become an annual tradition, and even to increase to twice per winter or more at some point. I love that hit of sunshine and warmth—and the magic that is Balboa Park—in the middle of the darkness that blankets my otherwise beloved Portland during the cold months.
But this year I was feeling short on money, which only added to my depression. I didn’t think I could justify the trip. And, for that matter, my energy was so low it was even hard to get excited about the prospect of it.
One day, about a week ago, though, I read something online about San Diego, and I felt a pang of wistfulness. I missed that place! Maybe I could just do a web search for flights, and see what it might cost. Couldn’t hurt to look, right?
One thing I am discovering about myself is that once I get the idea of a trip into my head, it is very hard to walk away from it. When I search online and find options that are too expensive and/or inconvenient for me, rather than giving up, I am spurred to think more creatively, to see if there might be a way I could make it work.
In this situation, I discovered that the inexpensive direct flight I had become accustomed to taking had been discontinued. I thought about taking the train, since I vastly prefer it to flying anyway, but dismissed the idea because I didn’t have much time to take for the trip, and the round-trip cost would be prohibitive.
But San Diego had gotten under my skin. I was not willing to give up, once I had decided I wanted to go. I kept looking. I finally realized that I could use some of my carefully saved Amtrak mileage points to take a first-class ride—sleeper compartment and all—down south, and then catch a one-way flight back for only $100. Yes. This would work!! I searched Airbnb, and found an affordable house in the exact area I like to stay, just north of my cherished park. Everything was coming together! Within a couple of days, I had booked the whole trip.
And as I type, I’m sitting in the Amtrak Coast Starlight Sightseer Lounge car, just south of San Jose, looking out the spacious windows at sunshine and Spanish-style architecture. When I awoke this morning, I peered out the window of my berth and saw palm trees.
And I am thrilled to report that my mood has improved about 100%. I look forward to enjoying three days in San Diego, catching up with friends, hitting my favorite vegan restaurants, enjoying some contemplation in the beautiful cactus garden, and taking a break from the bleak. Getting my mojo back!
I would love to hear from any of you, if you have favorite spots to visit, or a spur-of-the-moment trip that lifted your mood, or another “trick” besides travel that snapped you out of a funk… or even just a shared lament if you’re finding yourself in a dark place at the moment.
Vegan/vegetarian advocacy (or even simple social “defense”) can be challenging throughout the year. But when turkey and ham dinners with family, friends, or coworkers start happening, it can be especially stressful and frustrating.
Whether you expect to be dodging snide remarks or jokes from relatives around the turkey, or you’d like to talk persuasively about veg*anism to your co-celebrants to encourage others to give it a try, this workshop can help. We’ll be talking about using NonViolent Communication (NVC)* tools to build connection, rather than divisiveness, when talking about these charged topics.
We won’t be talking about fact-based, point-by-point rebuttals to anti-veg*n statements, since there are plenty of online resources for that. We’ll be talking instead about how to get in touch with our own feelings and needs around animal rights, environmental concerns, and/or health, and conveying them–if and when we choose to–in a way that is more likely to encourage openness in our listeners, rather than argument or defensiveness. The goal of the workshop is to increase the potential effectiveness of our persuasive conversations, while also decreasing our risk for the anger, bitterness, depression, and burnout that sometimes go along with living by a certain set of beliefs that many of our loved ones may not share.
The venue is small, so attendance will be capped at six participants. There are two events: November 22 and December 13.
*Disclaimer: I am not a certified NVC instructor. However, I have been involved in studying, using, and facilitating the learning of NVC for the past twelve years, in a variety of online and in-person capacities.
Hey, all! My travels in California are, sadly, drawing to a close. I have had a wonderful trip so far, and I still have two more days to look forward to: tomorrow here in the Bay area, and Saturday on the train back to Portland. I have met some wonderful people through Airbnb, the San Diego Vegans Meetup group, the Dance Jam folks in San Diego and Encinitas, and on the train itself. I look forward to many more such trips in the future, traveling all over the country, and probably into Canada as well.
One mild downside to the trip has been the lack of readily available vegan options on the train. I posted here a few days ago that I would be writing a letter to Amtrak to request more options, and I have just emailed them that letter (at www.amtrak.com/contact-us) so I thought I would post it here in case it inspires any of you to write as well. I know I’m not the only one who cares about this!
I am just finishing up my first-ever 15-day-pass vacation, from my native Portland through California, on the Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner. It has been wonderful so far! I have always loved rail travel, and I’m choosing to make it a bigger part of my life. (I’m even blogging about it, at www.dreamintochange.com, if you’d like to take a look.)
I’ve been happy with the experience overall, but I do have a request. I would love to see some vegan entrée option on the regular dining car menu. I very much appreciate that you offer a vegan burger in the café, and I enjoyed one last night. I’m also aware that you offer vegan options in the dining car by pre-order. However, I didn’t realize the 72-hour cutoff for ordering them until about 68 hours before my trip began, so it was tricky for me to find adequately filling meals when I got on board. I know I am not the only traveler who would value having vegan items to choose from on the main menu for each meal.
I see that you do offer at least one vegetarian option at each meal. If these options were vegan (no animal products at all, including dairy, eggs, or honey) vegetarians and vegans alike could enjoy it, and there would be no administrative and logistical hurdles for Amtrak nor passengers, such as there are now with the pre-ordering procedure. You might even consider making the vegan options gluten free, as well, to appeal to another growing segment of the population and address two issues simultaneously. (I’m guessing that your vegan chili and dolmas are gluten free, and that the vegan pasta is not.) Options for breakfast might include a tofu scramble with vegetables, or a vegetable hash with home fries. Lunch and dinner could be chili or dolmas, or perhaps a vegetable stir-fry (with or without tofu and/or rice) or a hearty Southwestern salad with tomatoes, corn, beans, and other vegetables. Or any number of other options, of course – these are just a few suggestions.
I plan to do more train travel, and more blogging about it, in the coming years and decades. I would love to let my friends and readers know that their dietary choices will be easily accommodated if they should choose to join me in “riding the rails.”
Thank you for your consideration. I appreciate all that you do.
OK! Now to head out with some friends to an all-vegan Japanese restaurant (http://cha-ya.blogspot.com), which will be a first for me. I love traveling!
My California journey is under way! It is turning out to be less of a working trip, and more of a vacation, than I had envisioned, but I’m finding that I’m OK with that. There will be plenty of time to work when I return to the winter drear of the Northwest … now is my time to bask in the sun! Still, I do intend and hope to weave some Dream Into Change work into the remainder of my time in the Golden State.
My travel on the train so far has been every bit as much fun as I had hoped. I took the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Portland to San Jose, complete with a sleeping compartment. Unfortunately, I attempted to reserve my vegan Dining Car meals 68 hours prior to my trip, and they have a 72-hour cutoff, so I missed it. Fortunately, the dining car staff were pretty accommodating as I cobbled together meals from what was on the main menu. For example, for two meals I had steamed vegetables, brown rice, and a baked potato – all of which were ostensibly parts of meat-centered meals – which I seasoned with one of the Newman’s “light Italian” or “balsamic vinaigrette” dressing packets they provide to each table. Not ideal, but workable. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the vegan meals I ordered for the return sleeping-car portion of the journey, in about a week, will be on the train when I board it.
I think I will write a letter to Amtrak, asking them to offer vegan meals on their regular menu, with ingredients they could stock on each train. (The way it works now, they must request them from an outside vendor when a passenger pre-orders them.) Each meal on their menu has at least one vegetarian entrée option now, but none are vegan. It seems to me that this could be easily remedied. Perhaps after I write the letter, I will post it here in case any of you would like to send a similar one. I’d love to see more people eating animal-free meals as they ride the rails!
One thing I love about taking the train, vs. driving or flying, is how community-oriented it is. In the dining car, for example, you are always seated at a table with fellow travelers, and I had some great conversations over meals. Many rail passengers – especially those in the sleeping-car section – are retirees, with interesting stories of their lives and work. One thing that struck me, given my interest in helping people to align their values and passions with their paid work, was that many of these folks seem to have done that. I enjoyed hearing their stories. I also had lunch one day with a young woman in college who is studying criminal psychology. We had a great, uplifting conversation about restorative justice. She had not heard about it, but when I described it, she loved the idea.
Right before I ate with her, I had read an incredibly moving and inspiring article about restorative justice, from the front page of The New York Times. I highly recommend the article, which follows the recent story of a 19-year-old Florida man who killed his 19-year-old girlfriend, and her parents’ decision to forgive him and undergo a healing victim-offender dialogue together. I am so heartened to see these ideas gaining mainstream media coverage. I also noticed at various points in the article that NVC-based communication skills could have prevented the tragedy from happening in the first place; it only strengthens my resolve to do everything I can to spread awareness of these two ideas as much as I am able.
On a related topic, on this trip I have also been reading Nancy Mullane’s Life After Murder,which had been recommended to me by a fellow volunteer at the Oregon Prison Project. Mullane is an NPR reporter who followed the stories of five men convicted of murder, who had been serving life sentences in California prisons.
It is an eye-opening look at how “normal” people who commit violent crimes can be, as well as at the flaws in our justice system and the California Department of Corrections (and the governor’s office), with respect to actually meeting the needs of safety in the community while recognizing the humanity, and ability to change, of many of these inmates. I recommend the book.
I arrived in Santa Cruz late Sunday morning, and enjoyed spending time with my friend, and gracious host, Lisa. We went to the beach, the woods, and several vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants, and had a lovely time. I had hoped to also lead a workshop in Santa Cruz, and Lisa had helped me to publicize it; but the enrollment was low, so I needed to cancel it. Perhaps just as well, because I came down with a cold, too.
On Tuesday morning, she took me to the bus mall in downtown Santa Cruz, where I hopped a comfortable, wifi-equipped bus back to San Jose and the Amtrak station.
I got on the train, and had another, totally unexpected, community connection: for my coach ticket between Santa Cruz and LA, I was seated next to a woman who has worked for the state PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups for many years. I worked for OSPIRG, and a couple of related groups, for many years myself. We knew several people in common, and talked about politics, progress, and idealism. Totally unexpected connection. So glad I took the train!
After our chat, she had work to do, so I spent most of that journey in the sightseer lounge car, enjoying the scenery of rolling hills and, eventually, the Pacific Ocean at sunset.
Now I’m in Los Angeles, for my first time ever! I’ve lost my voice with the cold, which is a bit surreal; but I’ve been enjoying the sunshine, the beach, and – of course – some great vegan restaurants. My cousin Nathalie has been a wonderful host, and I’ve enjoyed spending time with her after many years apart. Today, I had lunch and caught up with a former Portland ecstatic-dance community friend; tonight, I am looking forward to dining with a friend from high school whom I have not seen since our graduation night in Virginia, 22 years ago!
My southbound train trip is fast approaching, and my excitement about it is building daily. I’m definitely looking forward to taking a break from Portland’s wintertime rain and cold … and I’m also really looking forward to expanding my Dream Into Change reach to more people and more cities! I am in the final stages of securing transportation and lodging, and now it’s time to turn my attention more fully to the connections I’m seeking to foster during my travels. Along those lines, I would love your help!
My itinerary is as follows:
Santa Cruz Sunday, Jan 6 – Monday, Jan 7
Los Angeles Wednesday, Jan 9 – Thursday, Jan 10
San Diego Friday, Jan 11 – Monday, Jan 14
Santa Barbara evening/night of Tuesday, Jan 15
Oakland/Berkeley/San Francisco Thursday, Jan 17 – Friday, Jan 18
Then back to Portland!
My intention is to offer my four-hour workshop (“So you grew up … What do you want to be NOW?”) in each location except for Santa Barbara. If you are interested in signing up for the workshop, and/or helping to promote it and/or willing to offer your home as a venue (in exchange for free admission to the $40 workshop) please let me know as soon as possible, by emailing me at email@example.com.
My other intention is to meet with as many people as possible in each city who are doing innovative work in one of my four main areas of focus: 1) veganism, especially in an educational, advocacy, or entrepreneurial role; 2) sustainable energy and transportation, such as bicycle advocacy or innovation or solar advocacy or innovation/entrepreneurship; 3) touch-positive and/or sex-positive culture, and/or ecstatic dance; and 4) Nonviolent communication (NVC) and/or restorative justice, including prison reform or innovative projects relating to incarceration and/or transition into society for inmates upon release.
I would love to talk with any of these folks to hear about their projects, and possibly also to interview them for this blog and help to spread the word about their work. So, if you know anyone who is involved in any of the above, again, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know about them (and/or please forward my contact info to them).
This trip represents a very exciting beginning for me. I want to expand my reach beyond Portland. I want to work with people from all over the country – and indeed around the globe – to move our culture forward in all of the above ways. In the future, I plan to take more train trips, to other regions. Possibly my next trip could take me to Seattle, Vancouver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Toronto, and/or Montreal! The next one might include Boston, New York, Washington, and Raleigh, NC. Other future destinations include Victoria, BC; Austin, TX; Melbourne, Australia; and London, England. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty adventurous!
But first things first. In about a week and a half, my first great rail adventure will begin! I can’t wait to experience California, and I can’t wait to see some of you there!