I dropped my daughter off at the train station this evening. High on the wall of Union Train Station in downtown Portland, the sign above the lobby store said: Parcels, News, Cigars. After my daughter boarded her train, I wandered over to see if Parcels were the same as Sundries.
A little boy, maybe 9 years old, waited on an old wooden bench and watched as his grandmother shuffled back from the lobby store, clutching a dripping ice cream cone. When she finally reached him, he grabbed on and said “thanks, Gramma.” She sat down with a huff that rattled the bench and the ice cream promptly fell on to the boy’s shoe. He looked like he wanted to cry, but in that split second of reaction to losing that hard won ice cream, you could also see his face register – he was too old to cry.
One bench over, a woman with a lap-full of toddler, grabbed a handful of baby wipes, tucked her little one under her arm, walked over to the little boy and wiped the ice cream off his shoe. She didn’t say anything about: cleaning up kid-splatter was a reflex.
Just a few feet away, a grubby man in sagging, dirty jeans, (he looked homeless), had been asking people who walked by, “hey, can you spare some change?” Read More: JADGS: A Trifecta at the Train Station
My car was packed with little girls and dogs and our destination was Jamison Square for a hot summer’s evening, picnicking and playing in the fountain. We pulled into the drive through at Burgerville on Martin Luther King Blvd in Portland; the one near the Oregon Convention Center. We placed our order, pulled up to the window and was greeted by the friendliest, most gracious and happiest-to-have-a-job order-taker I’ve ever met. He wasn’t a teenager or college kid and if he wasn’t just plain delighted about providing customer service, than he sure fooled me. It’s good to have work.
I dug in my purse for my debit card and…didn’t have it. Not a credit card, not cash, not even my check book. Nada. I’ve had this moment before. This is a moment I hate. I told the guy, “Sorry, this sucks. I don’t have my card. I only live five minutes from here. Just hold on to my food and I’ll be right back.” Read More: JADGS Burgerville
Once again, Pakistan is drowning from natural disaster. They haven’t recovered from their earthquake and now, flood has taken their collective breath away. These war-torn, desperately impoverished yet strikingly resilient people are suffering from their own “Hurricane Katrina.” And once again, Americans are called upon to dig deep into their hearts and pockets and help them. And we will. Americans are among the most generous of nations and our citizens can’t help themselves. They will help.
Of course, CARE was already on the ground and able to help in a hurry. That’s because Pakistan is one of the countries they have development projects in. What’s frustrating is that while the need never abates, resources do so when the call goes out for help, fewer people are moved to donate. It’s like we suffer from crisis fatigue and still, we’ll help.
So, in order to lighten the mood from so many disasters, let’s talk about humanitarianism from a different angle: Saving the World – A Fashion Story.Read more: JADGS Saving the World
Portland is a weirdly wonderful city filled with generous do gooders, even while they’re trying to be all cool, aloof and alt-cultural. PDX Pop Now and Portland Bridge Festival were teeming with hipsters, hippies, students, divas and those who will not be classified. Young men with trying-too-hard mustaches and young women with handcrafted skirts and treasures from the Goodwill bins, yards and yards of silk of sarongs, crinolines and the special clothes one saves for Burning Man. They were all there, so present for the music enhancing their own unique vibe of sophistication. And yet…they couldn’t help themselves. They were good. So good.
Standing in Rotture, (the warehouse turned music venue that has donated their space for the past five PDX Pop Now festivals), a teenager crowded in with a hundred other fans, listening to free music with her boyfriend. Standing next to her was my daughter, hanging out with her friends, just having fun. The teenager fainted and the surge of do-gooding began.
Read More: JADGS JADGS-PDX Pop Now and the Portland Bridge Festival
I wrote an introductory email this week to Senator Merkley, telling him I’m going to be his new best friend, as Oregon’s state and district chair for CARE. Merkley is already a big supporter of the type of work CARE does. He’s spent time in developing countries and gets why it’s important to help our global neighbors out of poverty. He was an exchange student in Ghana while in college, then went on to study international relations at Stanford and then worked in India and Mexico on projects like building and operating an environmental camp for Mexican children.
It won’t be a hard sell talking to him about women’s issues and poverty alleviation. We’re already players on the same team. Plus, his wife used to work at Providence Hospital (my ex-employer) with my friend, Kelly who says both he and Mary are super nice. That’s such a bonus. I know CARE supporters in other states are fighting an uphill battle when they have meetings with their Senators and Congressmen. My job will be breeze
So, maybe you’re asking, why IS it important to help our global neighbors out of poverty? That’s not such a lame question considering how tough things are here at home.
I am forever pitching article ideas. I like writing about people who are doing something to make life better for others. Sometimes that’s a child selling cookies and brownies door-to-door and donating the money for kids in Haiti. Sometimes it’s a rockin’ NGO helping girls in some small corner of the world learn to read. A lot of the time, it’s CARE - my favorite, excellent, and totally hot global humanitarian organization. This is the stuff that sparks me.
So, I pitch and pitch to magazine and newspaper editors but far too often here’s what they say: “Gosh, we love this idea. We think it’s great you want to write about it, but we only have so much space for do-gooder stories. Maybe they’re just being nice and shutting me down easy, but I think the truth of the matter is: they only have so much space for do-gooder stories. The thing is, there are millions of really fascinating do-gooders out there, myself, of course, included. They all have a story of why they’re inspired to do something fabulous.
Read More: Just Another Do Gooder Story