Friday, June 5, 2009

Pacific Hemlock: Portland, Oregon, Reed College, Reed Houses

Portland, Oregon

Bent top Doug Firs, Western Red Cedar, Pacific Hemlock with their droopy tops. These are the dominant species of forests west of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, in Oregon and Washington. Doug Firs, in particular, also give form to Portland's skyline, especially in my mind - from riding to and from Reed on a bicycle for many years.


Reed College

The themes of Humanities, what a secular, academic institution is, and critical thinking, arise again and again...

Reed College is bohemian - atheism, communism, and free love are not unfamiliar concepts there - and (perhaps because) it's a book oriented culture. ...

Might each of these aspects loosely be metaphorical computer programs? ...


As I was walking to the Student Union this morning, a Reedie who graduated in 1968 was carrying a heavy harp in a case from the east parking lot. I asked if I might help carry it, and she accepted my offer. As we were walking, I asked her about Reed in the 1960s. She mentioned how white and black students, and the black student union, had shut down Reed then, in the context of protests going on all over the country, especially anti-racism and anti-war protests.


Reed Houses

Reed houses are fascinating 'institutions.' Each house takes on a life of its own. Students live together in them with other students (possibly 4-12), communally or cooperatively. In a way Reed houses give form to student cooperatives or communes, where students learn to live communally. Reed houses emerged partly because Reed doesn't have enough housing on campus for all students, and living like this with others is less expensive than living at Reed. With my personal interest in freedom and autonomy from Reed - a form of anti-establishmentarianism - I moved into a Reed house after my first semester in a dormitory at Reed. It was in this context, and influenced by the communalism of the 1960s and 1970s, that my interest in communities emerged. In progressive Oregon, Reed houses are part of the fabric of life in SE Portland. In the context of the bookish and intellectual milieu of Reed, I came to think through a lot of different aspects of communal living, and eventually visited Alpha Farm, 60 miles west of Eugene, a number of times, entertaining the thought of living there, lived at Pendle Hill, a Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation, southwest of Philadelphia for 4 years, and am writing an ethnography about the Harbin Hot Springs' community.


Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.

Pacific hemlock

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