Friday, June 6, 2014

Old growth forests: The ones who walked away from the 7/11 near Reed College, or "Near, To, From"

The ones who walked away from the 7/11 to Reed College ~
{not Ursula Le Guin's "The ones who walked away from Omelas"}

Bent-top Doug Firs, 
Eight months of rain, or more,
Hippie, beat and bohemian worlds,
Students bicycling home -
Then with wet feet and who
Can't ever get quite warm enough -
To their collective houses -
Ah, community, communities, and communitas -
At one or two in the morning
After living another day, night and life
In Reed's library
Hanging with friends,
Learning and thinking.
Is Reed's culture closing 30 years later?
This is Oregon, this is a
West coast stop
On the hippie trail ...
Not from Edinburgh, Scotland,
Across Europe and the Middle East to
Kerala, India, or to Free Tibet ...
But sleeping in Reed's Student Union,
Whomever you are,
On the way from there to here to where,
May be no more.
Is in loco parentis
Back with authority's loco-ness,
Which the '60s questioned in so many ways?
Reed's Student Union doors are locked,
Community Safety Officers
Are visible,
And this didn't happen in the 1980s
At Reed College.
Yet the currently enrolled Reedies I've met
Are still vibrant and bright,
With textuality and science and conversation,  
And Reed seems still a dream,
A life of the mind,
A haven for Beats and thinkers,
Who are students and young.

Reedies reveled in the '60s and '70s
Which ripples wound
Their ways into the 1980s
When I, a student,
Found freedom of mind here
with friends.

I just saw my old Plant Evolution professor
Yesterday; I studied Pilobolus in his course,
A fungus which pops its top to propagate,
As well as old growth forests
among other living ecosystem processes.

Old growth forests,
Douglas-fir, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar forests,
Are the dominant species here
In Western Oregon,
Yielding only to commerce,
And profit, but not completely within
Pacific Northwest sociality,
Which is also 1960s-informed,
And environmentally-conscious.
What is happening to alternative culture at Reed?

The Cathedral Forest Action Group
Took nonviolent direct action
In protest
To preserve the less than 1%
Of remaining old growth forest majesty,
And the spotted owl ...
Cooperatives are sensible human business practices,
In the resistance
to destructiveness of modernity.

At the 7/11 little chain convenience grocery store
Near Reed College,
With fairly low prices,
Which stands out like a sore thumb,
Almost grotesquely -
And that's what makes it eye opening
As a space station of
Crass modern commercialism -
We got two packs of playing cards -
Kai, Chloe, Lexi and I -
And played Wizard at Lexi's,
Right next to this 7/11 place of Americana,
With its unnatural garish neon lights,
Its packaging that could make
Anthropologists come
Alive with fascination about consumption -
But not me, ~ {for Harbin's alternative culture,
Its HAI-workshops,
And its clothing-optional
warm~pool~area are far more interesting,
And its warm water deeply harmonizing}.
What is the culture that produced this 7/11,
so far from the natural, so far from woodcraft?
Not open from dawn to sunset, and
Not in harmony with the winds, waves and waters,
The earth and the sky, of the Oregon coast,
Or Mt Hood, - so accessible from Reed's once-open,
Youth hostel-like ski cabin,
With sauna, in Government Camp,
The 7/11 corporation turns a profit from 7am to 11pm
And thus takes its name
from its open-for-business hours.
So be it. We shopped there, bought there -
I bought the playing cards, with my credit card,
And Chloe bought "Souper Ramen Noodles,"
In the big sealable, disposable, paper bowl ...
Just add hot water
For a satiating student's meal -
And went next door to Lexi's
To play the card game "Wizard,"
around Lexi's wooden kitchen table.
Like good folks gathered around the table,
To plan organizing in unions
Down by the Willamette river,
Or with the Wobblies,
In radical Portland fighting for social justice,
We Reedies, of different generations,
Connected, about atheism,
talking and sharing and playing.
I took at Taoist, no-win strategy,
And Kai won this card game.

Upon leaving Lexi's
And crossing SE 28th Street,
I talked with my friend Kai,
Whom I love for her hippie
Radiance and wonder and smarts,
And whom I know from Reed
From the '80s as co-student,
{and who has also been to Harbin and loved it}
And her daughter, Chloe,
Wondering where have all the
Broken-top Doug Firs gone?

Eight months of rain, or more,
Hippie, beat and bohemian worlds,
Students bicycling home
At one or two in the morning
After living another day, night and life
In Reed's library,

As Portland, the city of fragrant roses,
And Reed, grow through time, ~
Kai's daughter, Chloe, says Reed's
Mind expanding learning explorations,
Are still 'ahappening,
reading- and Reed-wise.



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