Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Connection in Komiza, Croatia

So picture this. I'm going for a hike on the island of Vis, on the Dalmation Coast of Croatia. Over in the distance, what's that white rock sliding down the hillside? Unconsolidated trash. I start snapping pictures.
The next morning I run up the hill for a closer look. Sure enough, it's the local landfill for the little town, Komiza. Not only that, there's another visitor.
Whenever he is early for work, he drives up to the dump to "see if there's anything interesting." He says that winter and spring are the "best trash seasons" because there are more interesting pieces of furniture and old tools from spring cleanings.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Denmark Photos

Above please find a slideshow of my top picks (pix!) from my brief journey through Denmark.

Here is the link to the photos directly in case you want to see them at your own pace.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Danish in Denmark.

Denmark went by quickly.

It was flat.
Windmills rotated clockwise on the horizon.
Bikes abounded.

Given a day in Copenhagen, I walked for a few hours. The palm house at the Botanical Garden was hot.
My ultimate objective, to eat a danish (with a lowercase "d") was achieved on this street corner. Note the trash can and the bikes!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

West Coast of Norway, and Family in Farsund!

Headed down the west side of Norway, Shanna and I stumbled across this interesting design for a compost bin. I quite like it -- it's a plastic tub with a flip top lid, and then another removable lid that sits directly on top of the organic material (shown). There are also latches that keep the entire thing enclosed, but are readily opened to release the material (not shown).
We then went to Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock. It was about an hour-and-a-half walk up a well-cared for path. I wasn't expecting such pretty scenery on the climb. Marty snapped this photo of me on the actual rock, which is a 25 meter x 25 meter slab of granite that has a sheer drop off. I did do a headstand, but no too close to the edge.
On the way down, we watched the moon rise in the east.
We then took a little detour to a fishing town called Farsund. I was on a mission to find out any additional information about my great uncle, Gabriel (or Frank) Samuelsen, who rowed across the Atlantic with his buddy, George Harbo, in 1896. There's a song about them. There's a book about them. They are written up in Wikipedia. I wanted more.

This librarian (in a very nice library, by the way), helped me find a book on the Atlantic Rowers. It is in Norwegian, but has pictures that I've never seen before. The book was for sale in the bookstore down the street. Marty bought me a copy (thank you, Marty!). I am so excited to have this little nugget of my history; I'll add the book to the copy I have of the log Harbo and Samuelsen kept while crossing the sea over 55 days in a little rowboat. Talk about hard core.
In wandering around Farsund, the original home of Samuelsen before he went to New Jersey, I went up to the graveyard. I found a Samuelsen and a few Sorensens. Relatives? Perhaps. Regardless, it was neat to ponder what I would be like if I had grown up in Farsund, Norway.
And so our journey in Norway came to a close in a campsite just east of Kristiansand. We took the ferry south to Hirtshals, Denmark, and drove down to Copenhagen. More on Denmark in a bit.

Norway Photos

Here is a slideshow from my time in Norway.

Here are the pictures from my time in Norway in case you want to see them at your own pace.

(Don't worry, not all of them are of trash.)


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fjords, Bergen, and Sand

Hello from Sand, Norway.  I am sitting at a little picnic table.  A few feet away a little boy is learning to cast his hook into the sea.  It is Sunday and the bakery is closed.  

So Norway.
The scenery.  My goodness.  I was expecting some pretty sweet views -- Norway delivered.  Over near Oslo, it was one cute house after another in richly farmed fields.  I was surprised at how many grain houses there are -- little houses on stilts.  They reminded me of the rice houses in Madagascar, only cuter, with fresh coats of paint.

We went up over a mountain pass.  It was windy and barren, and the rocks were covered in lichen.

Then we dipped into fjord country.  I guess it's all fjord country, but we saw the biggest, longest fjord.  It seems that every turn of the road (or boatride, as the case may be) reveals a whole new spectacular view that balances "stunning" with "adorable".  Oh, and did I mention the waterfalls?  Yeah, Norway has waterfalls.  Lots of 'em.  The braided gushing ones.  The high-cliff tendril ones that get swept away in the wind and then cascade down the cliff.  The nestled-in-a-valley ones.  Mother Nature didn't mess around when she worked on this part of the planet.

In that sense, it seems strange that most emigrants went to... WISCONSIN.  I guess the grass is always greener.

Anyways, we then went to this coastal town, Bergen.  Bergen is a fishing port.  We went down to the fish market, loaded with tourists, salmon, and crabs (and smelly dumpsters).
They, we took a little train (a "funicular") that goes up a really steep hill to view the entire region.  Not only was the view spectacular, but the trash cans had built-in ash trays (pictured below).  (Side note: there is a strong correlation between benches, trash cans, and ash trays.)
This is a pretty typical "Meredith shot".
Then, we meandered down the streets and wooded paths to town where we splurged on an ice cream.  I even found some potential relatives!
That evening, we went even further out to the coast and caught a ferry south.  This, quite possibly, was the most spectacular ferry ride I have ever taken.  Time of day had to do with it: sunset.  Trash had to do with it: the ferry had recycling.  The lunar cycle had to do with it: an almost-full moon was on the rise.
We gulped in the scenery -- rocky islands, pine trees, and little summer houses with boat docks.  We camped next to the lapping water that night, and took an invigorating swim the next morning (very brisk; very refreshing; very salty).
So now we've come to a little town called Sand.  My friend's family has a farmhouse here and generously offered it to us.  Thank you, Endre (and Family!).  (By the way, Sand not only has interesting recycling containers, pictured below, but the hotel has been composting for more than two years.)
My research (a generous term) has been proceeding.  I have primarily focused on taking pictures (heh -- "focused" "pictures") of all things related to trash.  Dumpsters.  Trash cans.  Recycling cans.  Signage.  I have not done as many interviews as I expected, but it is rather strange for me to jump into someone's space and start asking them about their trash habits.  I am thinking that the places where I have an inside scoop (Germany), I'll be able to get a little more cozy with the locals.

Since one of the stipulations of the fellowship I got calls for a "deep love of beauty", I figured I'd close with this pretty shot of a wooden boat at sunset.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I got to tour a recycling center north of Oslo, called ORAS (with a slash through the "O").  It stands for Ovre Romerike Avfallsselskap IKS.  Their main drop-off spot is a great big circle, filled with well-marked dumpsters below.  In 2007, 59,700 cars dropped off their recycling.

While most residents are well-intentioned, they sometimes mess it up.  Here is Shanna, saying, "These items are not paper!"

Our amazingly polite guide (especially given our late arrival), Arild Snekkerhaugen, actually jumped in the paper dumpster and pulled out a box.  It was stuffed with plastic bags and an electronic cord.  He said that people have trouble separating materials.  The center requires constant supervision.
This is another shot of the circle of dumpsters.  If you click on it, you can see the signs that go around the circle.
We then walked over to Oras' cutting edge composting facility, which is slated to open test operations in two weeks.  It is Norway's first commercial composter with technology developed in Finland.  I was really surprised to learn this; I was under the impression that Norway had a very advanced composting system.  What I have heard thus far is that most of the organic waste in Norway currently goes to waste-to-energy plants.

The composting tubes (pictured below) are big and yellow.  Organic material is fed in one end, heated up to 70 degrees Celsius, and comes out the other end after 12 days.  They then spread the composted material out to cure for 60 days.
Thank you, Arild!  Best of luck as you continue to expand your operations.

Shanna and Marty

I am currently traveling with Shanna and Marty.  They got married a month ago (congratulations!), and very graciously invited me to tag along on their honeymoon when they found out I was planning on going to Norway.

Shanna and Marty just bought a Volvo in Sweden.  Volvo offers some incentives: they reduce roughly 8% off the sticker price; they give you two roundtrip tickets to Europe and one night in the Gothenburg Hotel; they also register and insure the car for two weeks while you tour around a bit.

It has been smooth traveling thus far.  I did the tour of Oslo Airport on my own.  Marty kind of dragged his heels when I said that we were touring a landfill on Day #2 (understandably so), but then it turned out to be a really neat recycling facility.  I think he asked the most questions of all of us!

Anyways, thank you, Shanna and Marty, for bearing with me when I ask to pull over to the side of the road "because we just passed a really cute trash can."  

In Oslo: Vigeland Park

We went to Vigeland Park, where the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) has more than 200 sculptures depicting human emotions and activities.  

The sculptures were incredible.

I thought this guy looked very perplexed while looking at the trash can.

Nothing like swinging the bronze statues out over the water.

Monday, September 8, 2008

OSL Airport

I landed in Oslo Airport on Monday, September 8, 2008.  
The receptacles in the baggage claim were bold and simple.
Willy Helseth and Carine Wilhelmsen kindly took me on a tour of OSL's recycling system.  Here they are in front of the area where aircraft waste is deposited.  Thank you so much, Willy and Carine!
The bins had pretty good signage.  I rather like Norwegian.
We even went up to the control tower!  Here I am with my temporary OSL badge.  As you can see, the weather is a bit cloudy. I hope it clears up by the time we make it over to the fjords on the west coast.

I took lots of notes and 65 photos... to be shared at a later date.  Please comment if you enjoy what you see, or would like to see other things.

On Lufthansa and Through Frankfurt

So I'm on the Lufthansa flight from Portland, OR, to Frankfurt, Germany, and I go to the bathroom.  Looking in the mirror, a little sticker on the window clearly shows where to put the trash.  In the middle of my jetlag haze, I think, "I need to take a picture of that."  So I go back and get my camera. I'm not sure what the guy sitting next to me thought -- she's taking pictures in the bathroom?   I think this is beginning a long career of getting funny looks as I take pictures of random waste-related objects.

Then, in Frankfurt Airport and snapped this photo of their recycling/trash bins.  It's a sneak preview of my internship at Fraport, coming up in October.

And then it was on to Oslo Airport...

Last Day in Portland

I had a great last day in Portland.  It was the Belmont Street Fair in Southeast.  In true Portland Event Recycling fashion, they had clearstream containers paired with each trash can.

This is what the street fair looked like.  They closed off traffic, and set up booths with food and crafts.
That evening, my buddy Dave threw a going away party. Rachel made an amazing cake with three flavors, lego figures, and trains and cars.  Thanks, Rachel!

I dressed up in a trash bag for the party, which was themed "Trash or Treasure".  

Finally, I got some really cute cards from friends that were full of well-wishes.  Zip, what?
After a few hours of sleep, Gene dropped me off at the airport.  It was weird to go to PDX to actually travel (I've worked on Portland International Airport's Waste Minimization and Recycling Program the last few years).  As I walked towards the Lufthansa gate, I snapped these photos of the public area recycling bins.

Light was streaming in on the North Terminal Food Court waste bins.  PDX is the first airport to offer public area composting.  The signs look great -- clear pictures, simple text, and bold colors.   

Here's another card that I got.

And the journey begins.  
People.  Behavior.  Waste.  Technology.  Talking.  
That's what it's all about.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Tijuana Project

Through a friend of a friend, I was connected with this neat group that works with "pepenadores," or informal recyclers.  They're called The Tijuana Project.  I hope I can meet up with them when I head to Mexico.

Bingen, WA, at sunset

This weekend I spent time outside of Hood River, OR, where kite boarders kite and mountain bikers get muddy.  

In a little town called Bingen, WA, just over the river, I got to
 see the recycling center at sunset.  30-yard drop boxes never looked so good.