May 20th, 2012


Multnomah falls on my initial drive out to Windward

I’ll first begin with an introduction of myself. My name is Daniela, and I have arrived as an intern at Windward from Phoenix, Arizona. I attend Arizona State University and am double majoring in business and sustainability. I also find that I have a strong interest in science, so, as part of my time here, I am conducting some analysis on the Duckponics system as part of my thesis project.

My arrival at Windward has been a very exciting and enlightening experience, especially because I love adventure and learning new things. I also consider myself a bit of a nature girl—I love to be out in the natural world and find it very calming and healing for my mind.

When I walked off of my flight, the first thing I noticed was the difference in the air quality. The air felt so great to breath in, and soothing to my lungs, that I could not stop taking deep breaths to fill my lungs. I then met with Karen, who showed me some wonderful views of Portland, introduced me to Windward, and gave me some helpful explanations about what I could expect and prepare myself for. She also let me hold her pet snake!

Lindsay then picked me up and we began our drive to Windward. Shortly into the trip, I was awed by the view along the Columbia River, and the waterfalls that poured from great heights along the cliff to the right. Upon noticing my interest in the falls, Lindsay offered to stop and get a closer view of Multnomah Falls.

Walking up to the bridge to the falls, I learned a lot about the landscape of the area, how the rainfall was higher by the falls near Portland, and then decreased by the time it reached Windward, creating very different ecosystems in the two areas. It was extremely exciting to see the falls rushing before and below me.

Acorn, where I am staying.

I continued to feel very welcomed into the community, with Jeff greeting us as we arrived at the Acorn, my place for the summer, which had the welcoming touch of handpicked wildflowers in the room. I really appreciate the warm welcome I had from everyone.

Now, when I call Windward a paradise, I don’t mean it as the normal concept of paradise, with lush beaches or forests, and a luxurious place to stay. Windward has more the essence of a farm or countryside home. The structures have an air of practicality and focus on making it work, which could give a bit of a tacky look to it, especially to one from city life who might be used to seeing buildings designed specifically for aesthetics and to give a certain image.

However, I find it cozy and refreshing. The acorn I am in, for example, has a slightly rusted metal bed frame with peeling white paint, a light blue carpet floor with a blue rug and pink mat, two small windows, a skylight, and a few drawers and cabinets, plus plenty of bugs and spiders in the nooks, crannies, and corners--I think I already found a spider making a new home of my sleeping bag.

But I find it very cozy, with what I believe to be handmade quilts on my bed and the hand picked bouquet wildflowers on the cabinets. I enjoy the blend of colors, and the mirror that has a hand-decorated frame of wood and moss that I assume to come from the forest. It gives it character and life to have such a handmade touch, rather than the perfectly designed, matched and constructed buildings of city life that have an air of sterility and lifelessness. Also, this touch of life in the acorn and the many other structures brings the natural world around you and its beauty into greater focus.

A frog living near the duckponics

Some of the things I have really enjoyed so far may seem simple and commonplace, but I find it is often those little things in life that are important to fully appreciate. I love how refreshing that air is and how critters can be found everywhere. I was lucky enough to find some frogs in the Duckpond area--the ones that probably kept me up the first night with all of their croaking--and was able to catch one on my arm.

I also find the work enjoyable. The physical use of my body for work feels good to both my body and mind. I like to use my hands and problem solve, so putting together the PVC on the Duckpond with Lindsay was an exciting activity for me. I have also had some very good conversations with the people here, and look forward to learning more and engaging more in thoughtful discussions.

So far, my welcome to Windward has been very warm and exciting. I feel almost as a child, learning new tasks I had not done before and having that childlike sense of curiosity about how everything around me works, making me want to soak up all the information that I can. I look forward to my work here, and am excited for the discoveries and information I will learn here at Windward.