Old Fashioned, Organic, and The Smashing Burrito

Before you read any further, you have to watch this short video… If you have watched the show Portlandia, you know exactly what Portland is all about. If you haven’t… sit back and relax…

We came to Portland to visit a friend, as we were on the way up to Seattle, and he told us to watch this video before we got there.

It turned out to be 100% accurate.

It’s all organic, chilled out, and young people do go there to retire.

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But we started the visit with a smashing burrito! Tomek, who is a partner at the “FUEGO burritos and bowls” food carts business, brought us a couple of his best burritos. Food trucks are one of the Portland staples, and Tomek’s burritos are one of the best! They’re only open for lunch and you can find their locations on their site.

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old-fashioned-short1Tomek is a friend from Poland, but he has lived in Portland for years, before  the hippie-organic movement exploded. He wanted to show us the best that his town has to offer, and so we went on the search for his favourite cocktail, the best “Old Fashioned” in town.

Michal and I are new to the Old Fashioned drink; it’s a simple, yet hard to perfect mixture of Bourbon, Bitters, Orange Rind and Simple Syrup. We sampled these delicious little drinks in bars all over town, and they all had their own twist. And they were made all the more enjoyable by the local bands that were playing here and there.

Mornings were lazy breakfasts from farmers markets or at brunch spots; at the farmers market, we took so many samples that we weren’t particularly hungry for breakfast… but of course, everything’s local, everything’s organic, and everything’s triple the price!

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The organic, vegan, local movement is hard to get used to… Even when Michal asked for some milk at a bar, they apologised and said that they were a vegan bar! A little bit strange…

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Portland is surrounded by gorgeous mountains, and Tomek took us hiking to a spot with amazing views of several peaks. After the previous evening’s bar tour, it was good to get some exercise.

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After a good barbecue, we went to try a couple more Old Fashioned’s at a couple of bars that we couldn’t visit the day before since we didn’t have our passports (If you’re a foreigner visiting Oregon, make sure you bring your passport as ID otherwise they won’t let you in.)

When we came back, we were greeted by a garden on fire! The hot ashes from the grill had fallen onto the wood chips that the landlord recently spread all over the back garden. Had we come back an hour or two later, the house would probably have been gone!

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So after playing firefighters, we spent the rest of the night celebrating the fact that we had been spared and learned our lesson.

We had a wonderful trip – Portland is definitely a fun place. But the health-food hippie culture brought out Michal’s rebellious side – after finding out that the bar we were in was vegan, he asked for a steak…

But if you want eat chicken-with-a-name, sleep in until 11am, and live the 90s dream, Portland is the place to be.

Is It O.K.?

An earthquake in Nepal kills thousands of people. A pregnant, homeless young woman sits on the streets of New York City begging for change. A child in the Philippines loses her mother, and suddenly becomes the breadwinner for her four siblings.

Is it OK?
No.
It’s not OK. We live in a world full of situations that are not OK. They are so not OK that they are overwhelming. There are so many issues in our world, both at home and abroad, that need our attention – sometimes it all seems to be too much. What could I possibly do?
There is no simple answer. And I can’t pretend to have found a nice, neat solution. But I can do what I am good at. I can use my voice, my melodies and my stories to bring hope, to bring awareness, and to bring change, at least in one area for now, and hopefully more in the future.
is it ok2I wrote the song “Is it OK” about a very different issue – it is about me struggling with my personal dreams… is it OK for me to pursue my goals, is it OK for me have these gifts and not use them to their full potential? The song is me wrestling with who I am and my responsibilities in life.
But, as people have listened, the song has taken on a new meaning. And that meaning is found within the lyric: “Is it OK to retain such a colossal amount of gold and hold it in your hand for so long without letting go?” 
We hold gold. And I don’t mean cash. I mean all of our resources; our wisdom, time, networks, finances, relationships, experiences, talents… And it is not OK for us to hold onto that gold and keep it to ourselves, when our neighbours are suffering.
We shot this music video in partnership with a charity in the Philippines  who work to lift those who live on less than $0.50 out pf poverty (www.caremin.com). We have been telling the story of poverty for many years… and last year, we were trying to come up with a new, creative way to highlight what poverty looks like. So we decided to do “poverty in slow motion”.

When you shoot in slow motion, suddenly everything looks just incredible. So cinematic. The simplest, the most mundane things all of a sudden look extremely beautiful – someone blinking, a drop of water. And so when we were getting shots in the communities in the Philippines, everything looked spectacular.
But the unfortunate truth is, it actually doesn’t matter how you decide to shoot. At the end of the day, poverty is dehumanising, it is ugly, it is haunting. When you cut to the wide shots, the real time shots, the “reality”, it is then that you realise just how desperate these situations are: the flies, the rubbish, the insufficient food, the unstable shelter.
By presenting this stark contrast, we hope to shed some light on the reality of poverty.
It is not OK.
Please share if you believe that the level of global poverty is not OK. Lets not hold onto our gold; let’s share it, invest it, give it away, and make a change.

Louise Wright